In the UK following its EU referendum, “the People’s Will” is a phrase now often being quoted with reverence as something unarguable, final, almost sacred, however uncomfortable.
The phrase is being quoted most often and with greatest reverence by the public figures who helped to secure the Brexit vote by whatever means they could – through withholding information, through misinformation, through lies – with motives and in a manner entirely self-seeking, immoral and disreputable.
In doing so, these individuals showed nothing but contempt for the “People” and for their “Will.” In fact, the “People” were used – in this case “successfully” – as mere putty in the hands of the perpetrators, to do the perpetrators’ will. By “perpetrators” I mean some politicians and many of the press.
One of those politicians has now been rewarded with the post of Foreign Secretary, turning the UK yet further into a laughing stock, a banana republic which has just now flung itself onto the rocks.
But there is some substance to that reverence for the People’s Will, however misplaced in this case, besmirched by narcissists, anti-social and unworthy, who tend by their nature to besmirch everything they touch.
In a democracy, the “People’s Will” is the final authority. The “People’s Will” is sovereign. The politician is a servant of the people and accountable to his/her electorate as well as to the law. Otherwise we have dictatorship, autocracy, tyranny – sheer random unfettered individual wilfulness. But, as we have seen, the “People’s Will” can be abused.
If we turn to the People as our final authority, as the final word, we must make sure that the People are properly equipped to arrive at and issue that word as responsibly as possible, that they are adequately informed, that they are sufficiently prepared for their task. The parallel with legal process in this regard, is fair. The electorate is like a jury. As a jury must be as carefully and fairly informed as possible, before they are asked to pass judgement on a fellow citizen, so must the electorate be properly served and engaged, before they vote in election or referendum.
The component of language now comes into play. The people, and the democratic process by which they pass judgement and wield authority, depend on language. It is all in the words. The power of words for good and for evil cannot be over-estimated.
For public servants, elected by the people for service to the state, to misuse language deliberately to deceive The People, is thus a crime against the state, against not just due process, the state’s life-blood, but against the sovereign authority of the state, the means by which the People’s Will is arrived at.
Using language in the political and public realm deliberately to deceive is thus a form of High Treason and should be punished as such. The word “traitor” is appropriate in these cases.
Committing fraud is usually associated with money, a material currency, easily measured and counted. People who are caught committing fraud in these terms, end up in gaol, which is the way Society treats people it regards as felons. But defrauding society through language, from a place of authority and influence, when enormous consequences hang on how those words are received, is a far worse crime than defrauding people of material wealth.
Truth is indeed sacred. Democracy is centrally and necessarily reliant on a shared reverence for truth, a shared devotion to the truth, from every citizen, but above all from their elected leaders. For Press and Politicians to play with the Truth as if it’s a putty which they can shape to their own wills, makes them enemies of the State and of humanity and of Love and Truth and everyone’s future on this Earth.