Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thank you Hackney

That was the legend on a bus advert I saw t'other night.

Now, who is this Hackney the old gent in the photo was thanking?

I supose a political candidate would say Hackney is the people who live in the geographic area of the London Borough of Hackney.

A Weberian sociologist may say that Hackney is a geographically based brueaucratic entity.

An elector of Hackney may say it is the council, and their elected councillors.

Liberal democratic theory would say that it is the ruling group on that council.

The last is important. The Hackney being thanked in the advert, I'd suggest, is the council, implicitly the ruling group of the council, who have dispersed the tax revenue of the council to some effect or other. According to liberal theory, we should reward the munifiscence of the municipalists. The elected politicians trade gifts with us - their gift tax revenue dispersements, ours, a vote.

In ancient Rome - the political oligarchy our modern democracy barely resembles (indeed, the Roman republic was, I'd suggest, more democratic than our society, possibly) - office holders were meant to pay for things out of their own wealth: a practise which justified tax farming and corrupt use of offices.

After all, liberal democracy is supposedly based on private venality (pursuit of office and power) being harnessed to public good.

Now, my point is, that so long as the local authority is seen as a person, an other, a stranger, an alien, so long will it not function as a democracy. You cannot be grateful to yourself, nor should you be grateful to someone who does what they are suppsoed to do (I refuse to thank drivers who stop at Zebra corossings, for example).

I'd suggest that it is this relationship of buying support that is flawed and corrupt - in the first instance.

No thankyous for Hackney.


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