Now I have nothing against participatory democracy. Or localisation. Or patient involvement. All can be of benefit. But this is a speech by a man who yearns for power and who thinks it is all that matters in life. And he’s wrong. My own experience tells me that most people are more than willing to forego decision making on many issues to others, most of whom they will consider to be experts on issues where they need advice. And others – very many others – simply don’t want power. …….It’s not just that not everyone wants power, but that some are wise enough to realise it is not for them to have. They don’t want to, and maybe can’t, make the decisions that power demands of them. Which is absolutely fine. They can manages the consequences of power, implement the decisions taken with considerable ability and prepare information that informs the decision making process. But to pretend all want power is absurd. Some (in fact, I’ll be candid, experience suggests that this is many) don’t want to be in charge on a whole wide range of issues. I think none the less of them for that. I just think it’s absurd to pretend they have a quality they don’t possess when they have plenty of others to celebrate instead.
One suspects that the conservatives of left and right don’t much like the “mass” and its badly informed preferences. Let us take care of you, they cry. Let tradition celebrated by wise elders, or planning implemented by wise experts, guide you, oh you sadly misled mass. (The ruling lords and the monopolists view the clerisy’s conservative theorizing with delight, resting assured that the elders and the planners will inadvertently shield their rents.)
So, which form of liberalism would you prefer?