Every now and again landmark issues test our concept of ‘Democracy’ by laying an unpalatable truth open to the public gaze. And the only conclusion we can then draw is that ‘Democracy’ has lost its definition (if indeed it ever had one). It has become simply another word for ‘rule’.
This is no shock. In England we as a population are used to being ruled. lorded over and treated dismissively at best, more generally with contempt. Effectively the UK system is a plutocracy: the monarchical tradition, though ostensibly symbolic, always shaping the thinking of our ruling class and providing the yardstick for government. A seething undercurrent of financial interests is what really controls the destiny of the common man, and if there is new money to be squeezed out of what remains of Shakespeare’s precious jewel you may assume the tourniquet is already applied. Which is why, against the wishes of almost everyone, 100 licences were granted by government yesterday for Fracking.
I can’t believe there is anyone out there who does not know, now, what Fracking is – the process for extracting oil or gas from shale by boring deeply beneath us and bullying the strata into submission. Below ground it’s by-products include earth tremor, the random release of gas, and introduction of chemicals into the water table that will ultimately find their way to our rivers and pollute them. Above ground Fracking sites disrupt normal life with the usual paraphernalia of industrial scale mining and heavy transport. It is destructive and has no place in an eco-system trying to supply its energy needs from other than fossil fuels. Even those who love it only seek to defend it on economic grounds (the usual news-media lizards with their dulcet insincerity oozing over the breakfast table), but hey; why bother to defend it at all?
We are the people – we have no voice.
Embarrassingly, it turns out that some prime Fracking sites occur in our National Parks; you know, areas that are preserved as being of outstanding natural beauty; that sort of thing? So immured are we to flagrant abuse, so dulled are our senses by constant outrage we seem prepared to absorb this additional blow with little more than a plaintive murmur: just as we are complacent to the fact that most sites are in the Midlands or North of England. The only Fracking experiment so far conducted in Britain caused an earthquake, so you may be certain the ‘Shires are not at risk of intrusion: the home turf of our ruling elite is safe.
Personally, I stopped believing in ‘Democracy’ long ago. Those who manipulate us are far too astute to allow their ambitions to be compromised by a five-yearly vote, and ‘Political Science’ is only a palliative for an endless cycle of self-justification and lies. Of little help when the custard pie is delivered in your face, it merely offers the cloth to wipe away some of the damage and walk on. The creed of modern politics – promise everything but deliver only what you really want – means we will never discover the true will of ‘ordinary people’ regarding Fracking. There will be no referendum, heaven forbid – just an assurance when our next ‘General Election’ comes that Fracking was always a cornerstone of the victorious party’s energy policy. Somehow we will be persuaded we actually voted in its favour.
Living in modern western society equates rather to being passenger on a very powerful and glitzy ocean liner with agents of Mephistopheles for a crew. We know the place we are being taken is not somewhere we should be, and we know the means of travel is morally heinous, but we have no way to stop it because we can’t seem to find the engine…