Kings long ago lost their mystery; now even the tribunes of the people are willingly conniving in the trivialisation of their own persons, and even the process by which they were chosen. In such a climate the self-respect of the electorate cannot last for long.
Heads of state issue comments and official statements via the internet’s social meda channels, going round and about their own Parliaments. All elected representatives must follow, for that channel is their Chamber now. – If they do not tweet they will not have a voice at all, for utterances in parliament are obscure. Indeed, it used to be said that the best way to keep a secret was to disclose it in a speech in the House of Lords; perhaps that is now also true of the Commons. Is anybody listening? Is there anybody there?
Some will think this an interesting, even an important stage in the evolution of our democracy. I am not so optimistic. An erosion of the dignity of State involves the slender range of common interests to which it gives body; and it leaves employees of the state in a much stronger position. Indeed, as social cohesion loses its gravitational power, never strong, the personnel of functional government will necessarily use the state’s monopoly of violence or force in small ways and large to prevent disintegration. And it will be a strange man that does welcome this, for it will be obviously necessary, but he will be a fool that does not fear its longer consequences.
The faceless organ of state power must become stronger as elected politicians and the electorate itself lose dignity, and without a dignified politics and a self-respecting electorate, the organ of state can no longer be held in check. Since it is made up of men and women, the state can only be self-serving, for we know no other condition, institutional or personal. But when in balance with politicians and people, a compromise is forced upon the personnel of government. But without this limiting pressure the organ of state must expand, for it has no other option, and since it will often be exapnding in response to disintegration in the public sphere it will have much justification.
Unless the people and their representatives can regain self-respect and dignity, unless they can rescue themselves from triviality, the end of this trajectory is an authoritarian state. – The consequences of being game for a laugh, or showing a sense of humour, are grave in the extreme. Worst of all, perhaps, the recovery of dignity may also pass through this unappealing authoritarian stage. Louis Napoléon is not a pretty thought.