Friday, November 17, 2006

They can't cope with freedom

Oh dear, oh dear. This freedom idea is quite a good one but it can go too far. I mean, if people are free to voice their views what will happen to the respect that they should have for their betters, a. k. a. politicians who want to ensure that we do not break out of those boundaries and who, needless to say, have our best interests at heart.

Such seems to be the opinion of Matthew Taylor, the Prime Minister’s outgoing chief adviser on political strategy. Mr Taylor (soon to be ennobled, perhaps?) has also been head of the left-wing think-tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research and is going on to become the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA).

He was delivering his speech (“speaking as a citizen not a government spokesman”) at a conference on e-democracy. The immediate problem is that the internet and its, as yet unpredictable, consequences are not to be pinned down in conferences attended by those who like attending conferences. (Yes, yes, I know. There is one coming up tomorrow and I am speaking at it but hey, you don’t have to attend it.)

So what does Mr Taylor think about the influence of the internet and the blogosphere on political life? Well, on the one hand it is, of course, a good thing but really, it seems to be contributing to the crisis in the relationship between the people and politicians. How so?

But it was too often used to encourage the "shrill discourse of demands" that dominated modern politics.

And, of course, all too often used to criticize politicians and advance ideas that are beyond that cosy consensus some politicians have built up with the dead-tree and drive-by media.

In fact, the real problem with the internet that it cannot be controlled and real democracy and real desire for freedom is expressed through it. And boy, does it hurt!

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