BRENDAN O’NEILL ON THE BREXIT RESPONSE: The Howla Against Democracy.
There’s a delicious irony to Remainers’ branding of Leave voters as confused individuals who have simply made a desperate howling noise, whose anti-EU vote was a ‘howl of anger’ (Tim Farron) or a ‘howl of frustration’ (JK Rowling). Which is that if anyone’s been howling in recent days, it’s them, the top dogs of the Remain campaign. They are howling against the demos; raging against the people; fuming about a system that allows even that portly bloke at the end of your street who never darkened the door of a university to have a say on important political matters. That system we call democracy.
In all the years I’ve been writing about political stuff, I cannot remember a time when anti-democratic sentiment has been as strong as it is right now. No sooner had an awe-inspiring 17.5m people rebelled against the advice of virtually every wing of the establishment and said screw-you to the EU than politicos were calling into question the legitimacy of their democratic cry. Apparently the people were ill-informed, manipulated, in thrall to populist demagoguery, and the thing they want, this unravelling of the EU, is simply too mad and disruptive a course of action to contemplate. So let’s overturn the wishes of this dumb demos. . . .
Media commentary has dripped with contempt for the moronic people. ‘Some of the oldest and whitest people on the planet leapt at a chance to vote against the monsters in their heads’, howled a writer for Esquire. There’s much talk about the people being ‘manipulated’ by lies and misinformation, as if they’re lifeless putty in the hands of the likes of Farage. Some have gone so far as to twist the definition of democracy in an attempt to rubbish the people’s will. ‘The idea that somehow any decision reached anytime by majority rule is necessarily “democratic” is a perversion of the term’, says Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff. Sometimes, democracy means making sure the people ‘avoid making uninformed decisions with catastrophic consequences’, he says. So it can be democratic to thwart the majority’s wishes if we think they’re stupid. And they have the gall to talk about manipulation.
And make no mistake: it is their aim to thwart our will. They want to use the law or politicians’ clout to undermine the result.
Traditionally, when the leaders and scribes resist the revolution, you hang a few from lampposts and the rest fall in line.