Controversy Corner

Too many people nowadays have their opinions for no good reasons, but only because “everybody” knows it is true. We find it immensely annoying that people are not prepared to think for themselves – received wisdom may be right or may be wrong, but to refuse to challenge it, or accept that it may be challenged, is the sign of mental stagnation. This part of “Trash City” is designed to provoke a response, by attacking widely held attitudes, and hopefully forcing you to consider YOUR viewpoint. This is open season time; any subject, trash or non—trash may be hit, and we’re looking forward to receiving either your replies or your own rants.


People normally talk about democracy as if it were something sacred, and to be preserved at all costs. However, it is my belief that democracy is a fallacy which occupies a far-too important place in today’s society.

Let me first elaborate exactly what I mean by democracy. I do not mean free speech, a free press or any of the other frilly bits round the edges – I mean the strange ritual every five years or so when most of the adult population go in to a curtained booth and put an X on a piece of paper in order to choose the next government.

Democracy is based on the principle that everyone should have a say in deciding how the country should be run. This is a fairly ridiculous idea, especially when you extend it to other fields. Everyone should have a shot at carrying out a heart transplant. Everyone deserves a chance to play for Arsenal (exception : everyone deserves a chance to play for Spurs — given their current form, they’d probably improve). Everyone ought to try their hand at flying the space shuttle. Silly, because you need skill and a lot of experience in these areas, so why should it be any different when it come to the vital task of choosing a government. which is an even more important task?

Personally, it seems to me to be a far better idea to take things like the choice of economic policy out of the hands of the people, 99% of whom (including myself) do not know the difference between monetarism and terrorism, and leave them up to those who understand the ramifications of their actions. I don’t doubt that a party that promised to abolish taxes would be pretty popular, but they’d wreck the economy if elected.

Of course, democracy has its place. When people’s views are of roughly equal value, either because they have the same skill and experience or where the matter in question is one where these factors are unimportant (such as moral issues), then democracy is probably the best way, but to believe that this is so for all issues is to be oblivious to the obvious.

My ideal system of government would be one where the various areas would be ‘ruled’ by houses of people with appropriate qualifications. For example, matters involving the economy would perhaps be discussed by a sample chosen at random of people with economy degrees.

An excellent example can be seen in the legal system in this country. The idea of being tried by ‘twelve men good and true‘ is a good one in theory, but selecting people at random from‘ the electoral roll is not going to get you twelve good people very often, especially in sensitive cases where sexism, racism or political viewpoint can make a difference. IfI was innocent, I’d rather be tried by a jury of 12 barristers or lawyers, who’d be far better able to see through the flim-flam put up by the prosecution than the random collection of lager louts, Sloane Rangers and other people with no legal knowledge provided by our ‘democratic’ system. This is not to mention the many areas such as fraud, where a detailed knowledge of the subject would be é distinct benefit for the jurors.

Overall, the sooner we get rid of the idea that democracy is the be—all and end-all of political systems, the better it’ll be for this country. It has it’s place, but there are also times where it’d be a far better idea to forget about it, and admit that there are times when it lS best to leave things up to the experts.