Within the past three years, the western world has seen two key political events which hint towards a public quest for change: the 2016 election of Donald Trump and the EU Referendum both countered the established political pattern. It is important to note that these events are not necessarily symbolic of an uneducated, radical electorate but of one that desires change. Therefore, it is important to consider the extent to which the electorate is unhappy with their existing political systems, and how far political change needs to go to better the lives we live.
History repeating itself…
Historical trends signify a link whereby public discontent has led to anti-establishment change. Mussolini’s fascist seizure of power in Italy materialised in a scenario of discontent after the First World War because civilians felt that the political system had failed to meet their demands and expectations. By a similar token, the Communist seizure of power in 1917 Russia rose out of public discontent with the economy and the failure of the government to ensure victory in multiple wars. Communism also rose under Mao in the Chinese Civil War after the country was ideologically divided by war with Japan. Ultimately, examples of radical political change are often tied to war aftermath. However, in an age of nuclear weaponry, a war comparable to these historical examples is highly unlikely to occur in the UK. Therefore, if radical change is deemed necessary, it requires an alternate trigger. Whilst change has been urged and considered within world politics in recent decades by groups such as the alt-right, and the far-left, there has been a sheer lack of consideration for change outside of the already established political realms.
Considering David Runciman’s recent podcast with Russell Brand, it is important to question whether discontent surrounding a failing democracy is enough to move the political system towards the empowerment of another form of politics. Runciman fears that the established political package is not able to transform fully, and that there must be some sacrifice in order to progress away from the disenfranchisement of today.
What needs to be changed, and what can you do?
I feel it is unquestionable that the current state of UK politics is somewhat inept in meeting the demands of the public. Whilst issues such as Brexit have prevalence in some respects, there is in fact a larger problem in that UK politics tends to focus on traditional issues such as this, rather than paying attention to humane issues. Policies surrounding topics such as the environment, disparity, poverty, and education are of great importance but fail to receive comparable attention because of the nature of this capitalist government.
Therefore, whilst traditional political discussion is important, there is a deeper issue in that this system overshadows key social and human problems; such topics prevail in their relevance when considered outside of life’s materialistic realms. Presumptuously, without these materialistic and competitive influences most would look to an ideological system grounded in community and meaningfulness, rather than more mundane and relatively unimportant ‘political’ issues. As a result, whilst it is important to consider political issues such as Brexit, immigration, and the economy, it is also key to look beyond such barriers to a wider picture which considers what we actually desire from our lives as representatives of ourselves, the nation and the world.
With this in mind, people should be urged to take action rather than to accept the established system; environmental decline provides an excellent example whereby public responsibility is essential. At the widest and most prominent level, capitalism has failed to protect and maintain our role as representatives of the planet. It is of no doubt that the world as we know it has entered a relatively rapid decline in recent years whereby habits and ecosystems are changing for the worse. Although many are aware of this issue, there has been a significant lack of progress in preventing such; whilst much of this negative change is due to corporate, large industry, the individual should not simply accept this issue as out of their hands. Perhaps it need not be stated that change will not come unless change is made. Thus, as the capitalist system continues to fail to meet public demands in many cases, it is the role of the public to pressure for and implement the positive change that they desire. This mindset extends beyond worldwide demands, and can be applied at a national scale to issues such as court system failures and poverty, as well as at a personal or regional level.
If nothing else, this discussion hopes to reinstall and alert the individual to their role within the political system that they exist in. Whilst the electorate stepped outside of the status quo in the 2016 Brexit vote, this responsibility for change in an era of discontent should be promoted further. Ultimately, the established and accepted capitalist democratic system has failed to meet demands and needs at multiple levels, and such will not change unless a mindset for progress is widely accepted and believed in.