Political Evolution

 In the introductory discussion of ‘political catalysts, politics was described as a ‘process’ by which some form of ‘governance’ is imposed, not necessarily by democratic means, such that its scope can also encompass autocratic and authoritarian governance. As such, the word 'governance' does not necessarily imply ‘by the people’ plus it may also be highlighted that when the nature of political governance is aligned to an ideology, possibly rooted in philosophy, economics or religion, it may not necessarily prioritise governance ‘for the people’.

Reference might also be made to an earlier discussion of political evolution that may provide some further historic background to this ‘brave new worlds’ discussion, where the different ‘styles’ of governance were considered in terms of three fundamental functions.

  • Executive:        Drafts both policy and laws and administers the legislative and judiciary processes.
  • Legislative:       Develops, debates and approves both policy and laws as prioritised by the executive.
  • Judiciary:          Implements the details of the laws and passes judgement.

In practice, the independence of each of these functions can differ considerably depending on the ‘style’ of governance, i.e. autocratic or democratic. However, while we may have an idealised preference, such that most might assume autocratic governance is not a ‘good thing’ , such governance can sometimes be effective and possibly even necessary. For democracy based on an ill-informed majority subject to manipulation by fake news with its own agenda is not necessarily a ‘good thing’ either.

Note: While we might wish to separate genuine political governance ‘by the people, for the people’ from the imposition of autocratic or military power, history is littered with the failure of possibly well-meaning, but weak democracies. Equally, we may have to recognise that many elected democracies may only have the support of a minority within the total population, which is often the product of an electoral system that only offers one or two alternatives at best.

Within the scope of the extremes being outlined in terms of autocratic and democratic governance, it may still be argued that autocratic governance may be more susceptible to the adage that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Of course, it would be naïve to assume that democracy is immune to corruption, although it possibly offers more opportunity to seek redress if the judiciary is actually an independent function of the state. In the light of such caveats, we possibly should not be too surprised that the political process often turns out to be compromised, subject to political machinations, which simply fails to deliver many of the long-term solutions that society now needs. This said, public opinion also plays its role in this state of affairs, especially in democracies, when the government concludes that even the ‘right decision’  would be too unpopular with the general population to be pursued.

Note: It would appear that any discussion of political evolution has to begin anchored to the systems that exist today. In this respect, autocratic governance may have the power to ignore the wishes of the majority, but in so doing may act in its own self-interests or as demanded by some underlying ideology. Of course, democratic governance may also act in its own self-interest, such that it becomes preoccupied with maintaining the support of the electorate and, as a consequence, can become paralysed when it comes to taking necessary, but unpopular, decisions.

It is recognised that this opening description will appear to be a somewhat negative opinion of politics, although it may well be one that many now hold. However, while the history of politics might be framed in terms of a battle between autocratic and democratic governance, the future of politics may become a battle between global or national governance. For it seems that future political, economic and technological change may only widen the divisions between the winners and losers, where the winners will support the benefits brought about by the globalist agenda, while the losers may seek the protection of a nationalist agenda. The pros and cons of these positions might then be fought out in an ongoing war of words.