13 October 2010

The caste of politicians

Brendan O'Neill articulates our disenchantment with today's politics, commenting on the recent leadership contest for the UK opposition Labour Party:
[T]his was a decadent, neo-aristocratic affair, with various party grouplets shifting their allegiances around for no clear or rational reason, while media insiders sought to provide a political personality and narrative for Ed [Miliband, the eventual winner]. Spiked, 27 September
More than ever, politics resembles a caste system. Any causal relationship between the public's goals and actual outcomes seems more and more to be coincidental: a random occurrence, independent of the wishes or actions of the politicians.

Social Policy Bonds offer a way to reconnect the public with policymaking. Under a bond regime, instead of choosing professional politicians, people would choose the social and environmental outcomes they wish to see. Instead of government-funded ministries and departments choosing how to bring about undeclared, vague, or mutually conflicting objectives, as under the current system, a bond regime would see the spontaneous creation of a new type of organisation, whose structure and activities were entirely subordinated to society's goals.

Of course, any adjustment to such a rational system of policymaking would take time. In my book I describe a migration pathway; essentially entailing the gradual reduction in funds allocated to traditional organisations along with a corresponding expansion of funds allocated to redeeming Social Policy Bonds. It would mean a radical re-thinking of the way in which society is organised. But the alternative - the entrenchment of a political caste almost totally removed from ordinary people, and consequent alienation of even more of us from politics - would be far less edifying.

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