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Who Owns the Politicians?
Publication date: 2002-11-20

Are 'Our Politicians' Really Ours? Exploring the Demagogical Usage of 'We'

It is common for journalists to refer to politicians as “our politicians” or “our political parties”. But why “our1”?

Political parties are groups of arrogant, ignorant, intrinsically dishonest people, united by a common set of prejudices and fantasies, like Socialism, Social Democracy, Working Class, Industrial Relations, Government Running the Economy, etc, etc. The purpose of all these fantasies (or ideologies) is to persuade the public that they should be given practically unlimited powers to manage other peoples lives, while being exempt from any responsibility for the results of their actions. There is absolutely nothing in belonging to a political party that makes one competent, honest and responsible enough to be qualified for holding an administrative job. As somebody said back in the 20th century, “They are not fit to run a whelk stall”.

So, what any sensible person has to do with that political lot to entitle them to be referred to as “ours”? How many people feel that politicians are “theirs”?

Some journalists even talk about “our unions”! Trade unions are private voluntary organisations. What have “we” got to do with “them”?

Some journalists even suggest that activities of political parties should be subsidised out of taxes? What public interest is there that government officials be members of political parties? Is not the purpose of the activity of the political parties to have their members placed in government jobs? Why should the public subsidise job hunting activities of politicians? Should they not finance promotion of their own careers out of their own private funds in the same way as people in other walks of life, like journalists, actors, bakers, butchers or plumbers?

And some journalists even write about the “integrity of politics”. It is possible to talk meaningfully about integrity in government, but “integrity” and “politics” is a contradiction in terms (like honest fraud). Politics is abuse of government powers to advance a particular interest. Government must be impartial and objective, not partisan and political.

The only way to achieve integrity in government is to make it non‐political.

And some journalists even talk about protecting “politics from influence peddling”. It is impossible “to protect politics from influence peddling”, because politics is inseparable from influence, whether this influence is achieved by sending a check to a party headquarters, or by ticking a ballot paper in the hope that, if the party you are voting for is elected, it will favour you at the expense of somebody else.

To protect government from influence peddling one would have to define clearly and strictly the purpose of government, to reject the misconception that government and politics are the same thing, to establish effective procedures of controlling government activities, and to ensure that any statement made by a person holding a public office is factually true, logically valid, relevant to his official duties, and, if acted upon, is capable of achieving the intended results within acceptable time and acceptable cost.

We would also need to abolish all legal immunities, and make government officials responsible for the results of their actions. If they are honest and competent, they have nothing to be afraid of.

WE, THE PEOPLE, need honest and competent administrators, not political demagogues advancing their careers by pandering to popular prejudices, wishful thinking and desire to get something for nothing.

Once we have such government, then, and only then, will it be possible to talk about OUR GOVERNMENT.

Notes:   -----   to top

1) Journalists and politicians use “we”, when they mean either themselves or some group of people, in order to make the ideas or behaviour of the group they are talking about appear to be general, and, therefore, “socially acceptable”. As in “we all tell lies nowadays”, or “we are all heavy drinkers nowadays”, or “we all spend more than we earn nowadays”, etc.

This demagogical usage of “we” by politicians and journalists is in sharp contrast with the ways the prophets of the Bible and the Qur'an refer to people of whose behaviour they disapprove. The prophets use the word “those”, where politicians use the word “we”. As in “those who tell lies deceive themselves”, or “those who drink alcohol harm themselves”, or “those who spend more than they earn will end up with heavy debts”.

The reason for this different way of addressing people is that politicians seek popularity by pandering to popular vices or posturing as part of the crowd, while prophets seek to guide people towards healthy and successful life by telling them the unpleasant truth.

So next time you hear a politician or journalist using “we”, ask yourself, “What is he after? Is he leading me to the Path of Success, or to the Pit of Hell?

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