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The Philosophical Imperialism of Bush and Blair/Brown


John Simkin
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In a recent speech, David Miliband, Britain’s foreign secretary, that it is the country’s national interest to supports movements for democracy throughout the world. This included the sending of troops to invade countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In doing so he is breaking from a long liberal tradition that has given a priority of freedom over democracy. This tradition, that dates back to John Stuart Mill, is in marked contrast to the current philosophical imperialism expressed by Bush and Blair.

As the philosopher John Macmurray has pointed out, there is no moral imperative to impose a way of life on others by force. To do so is to deprive them of their most precious possession, their freedom. Force may be justified to stop aggression or genocide, but never to impose an ideal.

There is also the problem that compared to most countries in the Western World, Britain is not a true democracy. The Blair government was elected to power by only a minority of the population. The “first-past-the-post” system can no longer be described as a democratic system. Until we have proportional representation, an elected second chamber and an elected head of state, we cannot accurate describe our system as democratic. Therefore, it is hypocritical to use military force to impose a system on another country when we don’t have in our own country.

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Guest David Guyatt

You cannot accurately describe it as democratic even if those liberal requirements were met.

This is just shuffling the deck the same deck. What is needed is an entirely new approach that protects the citizenry from the rapacious greed of big business and the crooked dealings of the politico's.

Elected representatives would have o be answerable to their constituents all the time -- not just once in every five years. The laws of the land would have to be radially altered to ensure that elected representatives served the needs of the people and not the needs of business and their party. There would have to be punitive measures put in place to deter the political class filling their pockets and surrendering their have-vote-will-travel attitude. This would need - at the very least - to include a very stiff prison sentence for serous infractions. I actually think there is an argument t be made that it should fall within the confines of the treason act.

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I love the idea of the Unwritten Constitution that you have in Brittain. How does that work?

It works in the interests of the ruling elite. Politicians constantly tell us we have the best and least corrupt system in the world. Unfortunately, because most people in the UK have little knowledge of other systems, tend to believe them. However, recent surveys show that the British electorate is growing more critical of our political system and the people who run it.

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