Pre-Democracy and its Discontents

Politics can be like a lovely pie made by a lovely piemaker from a lovely recipe. We can all agree that it is lovely, but we sometimes find it hard to discern whether it was made lovely by the piemaker or by a rigidly determined and pre-existing ideology or set of ideals. These arguments can often spoil the pie, dampen the crust, or lead to angry accusations that the piemaker has betrayed the recipe and the blood of the people. Sex can sometimes be involved too. Who is to separate the piemaker from the pie?

Sometimes, however, clear distinctions can be drawn. Sometimes a recipe of ideas so obviously informs political policy and politicians that one would have to be completely mentally insane not to notice it. Whether temporarily insane or permanently insane is not the issue. What is the issue is that many of today’s statesmen in countries right around the world and some closer are being influenced, infected, provoked and informed by a single idea, perhaps even a single book, written by a single man (who was married). That idea is ‘pre-democracy’; that book is Betraying the Future; that man is Gregor Brod. His wife was called Anna- that is not the issue.

Born in Prague in 1883, the son of a Czech father, Brod travelled as a young man all over the Europe of his day, meeting famous writers and waiters in the cafes of Paris, of Vienna, of other places which have cafes. Understood by most to be a drunken wastrel, Brod borrowed heavily and vomited everywhere- owing a substantial sum of money to Franz Kafka until the day of his death.

During this time Brod wrote over two thousand plays and 174 novels, none of which found a publishing house. In 1918 he turned to non-fiction, writing his controversial history of Islam in which he claimed the religion did not actually exist, but had been invented by the Bolsheviks in order to "satisfy their hunger for darkness." Five years later he was dead, having perished in an encounter with a swan. In his briefcase was found the manuscript for Betraying the Future.

This book is Brod’s attempt to outline what he sees as democracy’s fatal flaw. While democratic governments legitimately represent the people of today, writes Brod, they do not represent the people of tomorrow. There are more future people than present people, obviously, and they are frequently forgotten about. Why else, argues Brod, do we expend so much energy castigating political leaders of the past? This is not only unrepresentative but morally bankrupt.

This central idea, in a gruffly modified and modernised form, has guided the hands of many world leaders since the book’s republication in 1992. Tony Blair’s recent speech on European integration is evidence of this, containing the lines-

"Though the people of Great Britain present are not in favour of ceding the pound and accepting the Euro I am almost certain that the people of Great Britain yet to come will be. The people of great Britain past are dead and cannot and will not vote. Don’t worry- you’ll thank me for it later."

George W. Bush’s stance on Iraq also shows Brod’s influence, the president recently telling an audience of kindergarten children-

"If we enter into a conflict in Iraq and American servicemen are slain violently I may become unpopular and be voted out of office to be replaced by a Democrat. But what about the wishes of the people who vote in the next Republican president? Don’t they count for anything?"

The most obvious advocate of ‘pre-democracy’ in the world today, however, is Ariel Sharon, who has told friends that he does not consider himself to be a representative of the Israel of today, with its occupied territories populated by millions of Palestinians, but the Israel of tomorrow, when the increase in settling and a government funded ‘Mad Sex’ program change the demographic profile of Gaza and the West Bank into "mostly Jewish" areas. T-shirts bearing the slogan "Whoopee for Arik!" have recently started selling well in settler communities.

There has been some criticism of pre-democracy but most of it has been by communists and women. They do not like pie.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...