Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blame Canada

Well, reading about Meriky made me reckon I ought to check out Canda for a wee while, mainly by way of contrast. After all, Canada is the answer to the question how could things have been done differently in America - sort of.

Anyway, I checked out Bumsted's The Peoples of Canada: A Post-confederation History. After a couple of paragraphs, somethings struck me.

Now, I've never been keen on the argument that the ruling class granted democracy as a fraud to keep the workers in their place. What struck me, though, was that from the 1780's onwards, Canda had experience of relatively stable, relatively popular elections.

The government was, of course, appointed by London, and all acts were subject to British Parliamentary approval. However, there were popular assemblies, which could threaten the Governor, and certainly which pressed for local interests. These assemblies were, though, monopolised by oligarchic interests.

The thing was, not everyone who could vote did - the votes were not collected locally but at Market towns, representatives were unpaid and votes weren't secret. This combination allowed a relatively stable elite to dominate the electoral process. There is another factor which I'll consider in a different light tomorrow.

The point is, to what extent did the practical experience of oligarchic representative democracy allow sections of the Briutish ruling class to believe they could sfely extend the franchise without releasing the demogorgon? A different proposition to the straight con thesis.


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