Why We Hate Politics (Colin Hay)

A brief mention, courtesy of my daughter, of Colin Hay and his book Why We Hate Politics.He traces the rise of political disenchantment across a range of democracies. Unsurprisingly he finds that institutional apathy has been replaced  by a wide range of political and social activity which isn’t tied into the old hierarchies.

I’ve only seen his book in summary and I’m assuming he examines some of the issues that arise from this. With the demise of the great ideologies, communism, socialism, fascism, we no longer vest in the state all our hopes and expectations. Capitalism thrives, but it’s unshackled liberal capitalism that’s in vogue. Without the expectation that we can be lifted up by a hand that’s beyond and greater than ourselves, we’ve lost a sense of where we fit in the political system. We don’t want the state interfering, but we do want it providing, a very hard balance for politicians to strike. 

Out of this Hay conjures and  defends ‘a broad and inclusive conception of politics and the political that is far less formal, less state-centric and less narrowly governmental than in most conventional accounts’.

How Hay suggests power is devolved down to different levels I don’t know, but one comment struck me. ‘The political realities we witness are shaped decisively by the assumptions about human nature that we project onto political actors.’

We see good in many areas of our local lives. With an endless diet of negative news we see evil in the grander scheme of things.

We can see politicians either as champions of the local at a national level, or just by the process of elevation transformed into a self-serving coterie. Events of recent years have firmly rooted politics and politicians in the latter camp. More often that not without justification, but it seems that it’s what we expect, so it’s what we think we get. And just in case there’s any doubt in our minds, there’s the press to reinforce this view many times over.

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