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terça-feira, abril 26, 2005

The real reason why it doesn't matter who you vote for

There is a far bigger issue underlying the lack of electoral choice. It is the absence on all sides of any idea of humanity's history-making potential. Politicians and commentators now seem to be cut off from the past, yet fearful of the future. They are locked in the present, endlessly going over the managerial minutiae of how to meet immediate targets for spending or healthcare or something else. There is little sign of grand visions of how the Good Society should look - and no ideas as to how such a society might be brought into existence.

The belief in people having the capacity to come together and change the big things was once a principle on the left. But the right also had a sense of destiny and a belief that history was worth fighting for. Politics was centred on the figure of the active human subject. Now it views us more as passive objects to whom things happen.

There are no longer any political parties or movements with roots in society, that could give people a sense of greater things being possible. This is often seen as a shift from the collective to the individual. But it is more than that. The decline of the old collective institutions has not been matched by the rise of any robust self-assured individualism. Instead, the typical citizen of our age is seen as an overwhelmingly vulnerable individual, insecure and in need of ever-greater protection from all manner of supposed threats, a victim waiting to happen.

This assumption of our vulnerability runs right through the policies of every major party standing in the 2005 election. It is clear in all the various strands of their politics of fear, from the self-terrorising view of terrorism, through the doom-mongering about man-made global warming, to the assumption that feeble humanity is now at the mercy of microscopic 'super-bugs' such as MRSA. So long as this demoralised view of the human condition prevails, politics can have little deeper meaning.

spiked-politics | Column | The real reason why it doesn't matter who you vote for


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