The UK vote to leave the European Union is being hailed by the Leave side as a victory for democracy. During the campaign, Conservative Boris Johnson claimed that those supporting Brexit were doing so out of a desire to restore UK democracy. He made headlines by comparing the European Union with Hitler, claiming that both were pursuing a similar goal in trying to create a powerful superstate. As the polls closed he tweeted that democracy had been served. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has made his career by vilifying the European Union as an enemy of democracy and promising that Brexit would free the UK from its ‘anti-democratic’ grip.Far from being a victory for democracy, however, the Referendum campaign and the UK’s vote to leave have undermined democracy. Continue reading
Heracles, son of Zeus, is one of the great heroes of ancient Greek mythology. His most famous feat was to slay the fearsome Hydra, a multi-headed creature whose breath could kill instantly. Even the Hydra’s smell was said to be so poisonous that anyone who approached it died in agony. In his effort to kill the Hydra, Heracles smashed at its heads with his club. However, no sooner had one head been destroyed than two more grew in its place, an expression of the hopelessness of his struggle. Realising that he could never defeat the Hydra alone, Heracles called for help to his charioteer Iolaus, who burned the stump of each head as soon as it was struck off to prevent others growing in its place. In this way Heracles was able to finally cut off all the heads, including the final immortal head, of the Hydra. Continue reading
The foundations of our modern system of democracy were first put in place in ancient Athens. Athenian society was never fully democratic in the way that we would understand a democratic society today. Slavery remained widespread, women were never allowed to participate in political affairs, and the elite who were eligible to take part in the democratic decision-making processes of the state never made up more than ten percent of the entire population. Despite these shortcomings, the Athenians established some of the fundamental principles of democratic government. Continue reading
The following four testable hypotheses form the basis of a coherent and comprehensive narrative to explain how psychopaths and people with narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders have an enormously detrimental impact on societies all around the world. Continue reading
Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.
The spread of democracy has been one of the most profound political changes in human history, and provides an indispensable defence against those who abuse power by oppressing others. But as many pseudo-democracies attest, elections on their own provide only a weak and often impotent defence. In many countries today that are deemed to be democratic, elections are simply a sham used by leaders to legitimise autocratic rule. The fundamental pillar upon which democracy must rest, and without which it becomes a mockery of itself, is the rule of law. Continue reading
‘In the name of innovation, a sinister alternative financial universe had been created, in which customer care and ethics had been swapped for pure greed and down-right treachery.’ Iain Martin
Fred Goodwin, the former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, illustrates the difficulties we face when we try to identify the role of people with dangerous personality disorders in contemporary events. Continue reading
When institutions are strong, citizens demand rights; when institutions are weak, citizens beg for favors.
In many countries today, governments are designed not to govern but to serve the personal enrichment of ruling elites. Under such kleptocratic systems those in power do not exercise the functions of state but concentrate instead on extracting resources for personal gain. For such regimes, governing is just a front activity.
Kleptocracy is a major factor fuelling instability across North Africa and the Middle East, and is a major cause of the rise of Islamic extremism across the region. Continue reading