Thursday, 5 January 2012


Fed up with a democratic process that questions your every move and challenges your every ideological assumption? Despair no more. Democracy may be a finely-honed, intricate and complex mechanism that has been put together over thousands of years, but there’s still no reason why you can’t pull it to pieces; just follow this handy step-by-step guide.

1.    The key structural component of any democracy is capitalism, or rather, the process whereby individuals can harness their own skills, talents, desires and ambitions in order to improve their lot in life. In order to dismantle democracy, you must first switch off the capitalist power supply. There are a number of safe and proven ways to do this:

The “Fanny”: Cleverly perfected by the immensely talented innovator William J. Clinton, this simple procedure will almost certainly bring your country’s capitalist economy to a grinding halt. Firstly, put in place legislation that requires mortgage lenders to lend money to people who have absolutely no means of repaying it. Secondly, ensure that there is no penalty for defaulting on your mortgage, allowing people to simply pack up and walk away from properties they can no longer afford. Thirdly, allow government accreditation of mortgage lenders purely on the basis of the number of such loans they are prepared to hand out. Leave to simmer for about a decade or so, then sit back and watch the entire apparatus collapse in a heap.

The “Brussel Sprout”:  Success has many fathers, and this elaborately cunning process is no exception. With special commendation going to H. Kohl, F. Mitterand, J. Delors, T. Blair and numerous other inventive and dedicated individuals, this scheme involves a lengthy “hoodwinking” period, during which the people of a variety of utterly incompatible and dysfunctional economies are ensured that tipping all their odorous economic ingredients into one big melting pot will create a magic pudding of peace, harmony and unending wealth. Crucially, any sceptics who question the wisdom of such a recipe must be labeled “radicals”, “hardliners” and even “fools” by the press of the day.

The “Brewster” (aka the ‘Swan Dive’): In extremely rare circumstances, you may find you have inherited a large amount of money due to the frugality and caution of your predecessor. If so, it is obligatory that – as in the John Candy comedy ‘Brewster’s Millions’ – you blow the entire lot in as little time as possible. Soon you will be safely back in debt.

2.    Well done. Now that you’ve successfully thrown a spanner into the capitalist works, it is crucial that you repeatedly reinforce the negative connotations associated with it. Some suggestions:

Pen an essay, as did Kevin Rudd, claiming that “it now falls to social democracy to prevent liberal capitalism from cannibalising itself.”  Express sympathy, as did Ed Millaband, for the goals of the ‘Occupy’ movement, emphasizing the need to “rid the country of irresponsible, predatory capitalism." With any luck, you should soon be hearing, from respected writers such as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jessica Irving, that “If we want (market) fairness, we have to demand it of our governments.”

3.    Congratulations. You have now successfully unhitched capitalism from democracy in the public’s mind, so you can start embellishing your own role. The following steps can be taken in any order:

Find a cause. Ideally, one that requires massive government taxation and involves a ‘doomsday’ threat for people to get passionate about. Traditionally, wars and crusades have proven popular, but why not be more imaginative? Nowadays apocalyptic scenarios can be conjured up out of anything from Y2K viruses to a 12th century imam sitting at the bottom of a well – or even polar bears scurrying off ice floes.

Bloat your public service. If people rely on you for a living, they are hardly going to want to get rid of you.

Strengthen your unions. Get the public used to the idea that faceless men and back room deals, as opposed to the ballot box, will decide who runs the country.

Rewrite history. Wherever possible, airbrush your opponents out of the picture.

Open your borders. Nothing undermines democracy faster than replacing controlled immigration with chaos and confusion.

Reduce individual wealth. Find a handy and oblique euphemism (we recommend ‘quantative easing’ or ‘expansionary monetary policy’) for printing as much dosh for yourself as you want. Then spend it. Fast. Alternatively, just keep borrowing lots of money. (China’s usually good for a touch-up, but remember to call it a ‘stimulus package.’)

Redistribute the loot. With capitalism on the ropes, now is the perfect opportunity to ramp up those taxes on profitable companies and splash out the money bribing, er, ‘compensating’ the great unwashed.

4.    Don’t forget – you need to start ignoring the electorate’s wishes and begin imposing your own ideology upon them. If you’re floundering, why not form a coalition and borrow someone else’s whacko beliefs? Remember, nothing thwarts the will of the voting population more than when the ruling party throws in their lot with a group of self-serving, hypocritical, unmandated Independents, Greens, religious fanatics or whatever. This allows government to waste time and money on fringe issues, elitist lobby groups, nanny-state opinionists and so on, thereby removing the need to stick to any actual election promises. (Warning: if your coalition looks like coming unstuck, quickly purchase a Speaker. Any old one will do.)

5.    You’re almost there! For the final flourish, get a few disgruntled fellow-travellers to come up with some “alternative ideas” to “improve” democracy. These could include government by lottery, or even better, government by appointment of “interested parties” and “academic experts.” Make sure you give them lots of fancy names. And while you’re at it, polish up your own sales pitch. Ensure that whatever you promise the electorate is actually devoid of any credible meaning. Stuck for ideas? Be brave. Try something really inane, like “moving forward”, “say yes to the future” or even “we are us.”

Well done! Have fun and enjoy your dismantled democracy for years to come.

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