Plus Ça Change?
By Barry Jones
People want access to the lawmakers who govern their lives. In all that is written on the subject, perhaps 10 to 20 percent of the “intellectuals”, “activists” or “commentators” are getting the point. The majority are preening themselves with a car crash, or more like a veritable motorway pile up of university degree words and sentences with which they assume intellectual superiority.
Throughout British history the landed gentry have used their position to manoeuvre their resources, which included their serfs and vassals, to increase their power, and they have used intellectuals to explain to the masses how their greed is necessary to improve the living conditions of the poor.
Warlords reward their fighters, landlords have granted larger plots of land and kings have given titles. All have been advised by people who have their own greed for power. Through all these wars and political changes the common man has pursued their own goals in life. Anglo-Saxon Britain was rife with fighting and changing of rulers. Men were taken off their farms or smallholdings to fight for their lord. When the battles were over, or the season wasn’t conducive for war, they went back to their homes and family to get on with their lives. When the ruling classes created the kingdoms of England, the same applied. The overriding need for the people was to be at home, growing and harvesting crops to feed the family and, hopefully, have surplus enough with which to trade.
The Norman Conquest held no different meaning to the people. Although the language of the ruling class had changed and the strata of state and church had different names, the need to farm and produce goods was the paramount goal. Taxes were paid and lip service was paid to the king or lord. Through the middle and late medieval age, the nation’s wealth grew and trading led to the rise of the wealthy merchant. Money and politics began to have a greater influence on a wider group of people, but the majority still had the simple aim of a caring family and community. Although injustice was still common, the centuries had shown improvement in awareness and, through discussion and consent, laws were created to protect the innocent. Society had a structure which included resort to courts and access to lawmakers.
Throughout all this, the merchants and ruling classes made decisions which increased their wealth and power, and the working class had to put up with it until they realised that they had a power of their own. The 20th century brought about the biggest change of all. The rise of the unions and the massive impact of two World Wars brought about the society that wanted more. Travel and opportunity to advance position showed that the working class did not have to rely on a master, and family and community thrived. All this was possible because, finally, the majority had access to the decision makers and could say, “No, I don’t agree with you”.
The years after the Second World War held new terrors. Smaller wars, international tensions and financial crashes created headlines and scare stories which had the ruling classes scuttling around and being voted in and out of power. The majority just got on with their lives. The normal impulses still applied. Looking after family and community was the priority whilst the politicians sorted out the mess. If they didn’t succeed, we got rid of them.
In the last three centuries we have got used to the system. Them and us. Rich and poor. Finally, in those centuries we had realised that injustices can be removed, and wealth can be spread around.
Within the EU that access is no longer available to us. The contact with those we assumed had the power to make a desired change no longer has any impact on the rules disseminated down the line. In effect, we have disowned and let down all those who, in the last two hundred years, have fought and died for the power of the people.
Ideology has clouded facts and intellect has neglected the majority.
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