Sunday, 29 January 2012

Can the Old System Survive Social Media and the Age of Mass Communication?

This evening a new poster at the Brentford TW8 community forum expressed the desire that more independents should be elected to Parliament but regretted that, in his view, this will never happen.

I responded to the contrary but feel others may wish to contribute to the debate, which they can do either at the forum or through the Comments section below.

My post on the forum is reproduced verbatim:

"The party system has changed surprisingly little over hundreds of years. The Tories have become the Conservatives, the Whigs have become the Liberals, the latter (largely) merged with the SDP to form the Liberal Democrats and about a century or so ago the Labour Party joined the private members' club and, after a short time as the third party, replaced the Liberals as one of the two major forces in parliamentary politics.

"But in terms of form and substance, it has been the same old same old for centuries.

"However one should never underestimate the power of the Internet. The 'net is probably the most significant invention in the history of man since the wheel. It completely transforms our ability to receive information, and in some cases at least it gives us a chance to better understand that information which we receive.

"The UK and western news media still pumps propaganda quite relentlessly at us, but if we want another perspective Russia Today and al-Jazeera (just to give an example) are just a click away. "Little" people like you and I, with just a modicum of Internet savvy, can spread our own news and views virally through the use of social media, blogs and forums.

"What has this got to do with anything? Well it means both news and opinion will become increasingly more difficult for the political establishment to channel in the direction in which it wishes it to go. Okay, our governments are still conducting wars under false pretences and are by and large getting away with it but a significant - and more importantly, growing - minority are beginning to ask questions.

"Far fewer people blindly follow the official line of their favoured party than was once the case (although as you can see from this forum there are still those who do).

"What has this all got to do with anything? Well it is my view that the political system as it is currently configured cannot survive a cultural sea change as radical as the one we are currently undergoing. Either our "democracy" has to adapt and embrace more real and meaningful public input on a truly massive scale, or else it will reveal itself to the majority for what it has always truly been and die.

"Independents of one kind or another will dominate our politics within a generation. Most reasonable people would regard this as a positive development. Those who don't either have a selfish personal stake in sustaining the inequalities and injustices of the current system or else they are simply stupid.

"This forum is blessed with some fine examples of both."