Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – A play for the modern age?
I recently went to see the production of Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” at the Bridge Theatre. The Bridge Theatre is a new theatre on the Southbank of the Thames River, near Tower Bridge and the London Assembly Building. I originally booked it because I have a daughter who is doing A Levels in English and Classical Civilisation and thought that the play would be good for both. I wasn’t particularly pleased when I saw that the Director (Nicholas Hytner) had done the play in modern costume rather than as might befit the costumes that would have been appropriate for the historical Julius Caesar. I was completely wrong on this!
This production of the play is superb, very compelling and emotionally convincing. The sound effects and stage props gave a vivid and gripping image of the noise and ruin of modern civil war.
The cheapest tickets were for people to stand in the pit of the theatre. The audiences seats are all around the outside of the centre in which all the action takes place. You can’t therefore really call it a stage, but the theatre had various sorts of clever ways of bringing stage props in and out with the various parts of the floor raising and lowering and having the crowd acting, in effect, as live props around whom the action was taking place added tremendously to the atmosphere of the play.
We came in to a US Presidential style campaign rally with a fantastic rock/punk style band with banners flying and being waved enthusiastically and placards held up of Great Caesar! (David Calder).
The Left/Liberal Directorship of the production actually didn’t grate at all despite the attempts to introduce Trump style touches with red baseball caps and, in fact, these seemed to simply make the whole play feel that much more up to date.
The casting was multi-ethnic and also cast quite a number of women in roles which Shakespeare had written for men and who were historically men as well as being orignally homogeneously white Caucasian Romans, but these touches of political correctness did not detract from the production.
The play has various relevancies to the modern world and not only with Shakespeare’s superb language and ringing phrases, but also the productions political messages include Brutus (Ben Whishaw) as the archetypal Left/Liberal elitist obsessing about and making academic public speeches about abstract constitutional theorising. This is including his unwillingness to follow through the logic of the assignation to include the killing of Caesar’s immediate friends and, in particular, Mark Antony. He is the embodiment of the worst of all possible generals – the one who wants to be nice to the enemy!
Mark Antony (David Morrisey) was superbly played, as Shakespeare draws him, as a superbly effective, emotive and populist speaker but with more than a whiff of dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Shakespeare’s play and this production rightly points out that most people are not moved by appeals to abstract constitutional ideas, but are much more ready to support and engage with ideas expressed with real emotional punch. The play’s topical message for us therefore is that, in campaigning for England and England’s future, we need to avoid the trap of the Brutus approach and aim to be more Mark Antony, albeit an honest Mark Antony!
Saturday, 10 February 2018
REMOANERS/REMAINIACS MAY HAVE "NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER"!
The article below caught my eye recently. I thought the author’s take, on the self-serving and somewhat callous and socially abusive attitudes of the British Political and Managerial Establishment, as well as that of globalists and internationalists, is rather well explained in the article. Although the author has fallen into the regrettable jargonistic approach of all too many academics in British universities who seem to take a somewhat snobbish view about explaining things in language that could be easily understood by lay people.
I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist but when I was at university I was interested in psychology and did do a course on it before deciding that I didn’t think that Freud and Jung etc., really offered both useful insights into human nature. Also I realised that their theories came with deeply demoralising, not to say amoral, philosophical core. Even so it is interesting to see the theory of “Narcissism” being applied rather effectively to criticise management and politics.
The thought provoking article also prompted me to wonder whether the same theorising could be applied to the petulant, spiteful and socially abusive behaviour of Remainers, who are exactly the sort of people to whom this theory of Narcissism should be applied. This behaviour is exactly the sort of behaviour that the theory of Narcissism would predict that a self-serving elite would react in this way when they didn’t get their way and when they felt deprived of their sense of entitlement, both in the case of the vote for Brexit in the UK’s EU Referendum and also in America as a result of the election of Donald Trump!
"Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power or success, or about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them."
Then consider this:-
Signs and symptoms"Persons with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are characterized by their persistent grandiosity, excessive need for admiration, and a personal disdain for, and lack of empathy for other people. As such, the person with NPD usually displays the behaviours of arrogance, a sense of superiority, and actively seeks to establish abusive power and control over other people. Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition different from self-confidence (a strong sense of self); people with NPD typically value themselves over other persons to the extent that they openly disregard the feelings and wishes of others, and expect to be treated as superior, regardless of their actual status or achievements. Moreover, the person with narcissistic personality disorder usually exhibits a fragile ego (Self-concept), an inability to tolerate criticism, and a tendency to belittle others in order to validate their own superiority.
The DSM-5 indicates that persons with NPD usually display some or all of the following symptoms, typically without the commensurate qualities or accomplishments:
- Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
- Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
- Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
- Needing continual admiration from others
- Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
- Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
- Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
- Intensely envious of others, and the belief that others are equally envious of them
- Pompous and arrogant demeanour
What do you think?
Here is the full text of the article:-
“Narcissism is increasingly being observed among management and political elites. Recognising how it underpins policy making and how it becomes increasingly prevalent in socially destructive ways is key to re-engaging citizens with the political process, writes Marianna Fotaki.
Derived from the ancient Greek myth of a beautiful youth Narcissus, who died through falling in love with his own image, the term narcissism – coined by Sigmund Freud – has travelled widely in the past one hundred years, shaping popular culture, business and public policy.
Psychoanalytic ideas present an important framework for understanding the rise of the culture of narcissism in work, management and organisational settings. Narcissism, is applied to individuals who are incapable of empathy, unable to relate to and totally unaware of other people’s needs, or even their existence. Under growing uncertainty and the ruthless striving for innovation that characterises late capitalism, it is increasingly observed in business leadership. In 2000 Michael Maccoby argued narcissists are good news for companies, because they have passion and dare to break new ground.
But even productive narcissists are often dangerous as they are divorced from the consequences of their judgements and actions, whenever these do not affect them directly. They will strive at any cost to avoid painful realisations of failure that could tarnish their own image and will only listen to information they seek to hear, failing to learn from others. Popular portrayals of corporate figures as ‘psychopaths’ who unscrupulously and skilfully manoeuvre their way to the highest rungs of the social ladder are presented as fundamentally different from the rest of humanity. However, this is a misconception obscuring the pervasiveness of narcissism and mechanisms that enable it.
Susan Long has persuasively argued that whole societies may be caught in a state of pathological perversion whenever instrumentality overrides relationality – that is, whenever narcissism becomes dominant, other people (or the whole groups of other people) are seen not as others, like oneself, but as objects to be used. For instance, when markets are seen as anonymous ‘virtual’ structures, employees may be seen and treated as exploitable commodities. Such behaviours are pathologically perverse in that people disavow their knowledge of the situations they create through narcissistic processes.
Public policies have been subject to these pathological perversions. Separating risk from responsibility in the financial sector was not merely about creating perverse incentives enabling people to engage in greed through financial bubbles that were bound to burst, but about disengaging policy makers from the all too predictable consequences of such policies.
Another example is the dramatic shift in public policy that has occurred in Europe where instead of ensuring liveable wages, access to affordable health care, public education and a clean environment, there is an increasing preoccupation with how to unleash the alleged desire of citizens to enact their preferences of how public services should be provided. The justification is that citizens want to choose between different providers to ensure that they get the best quality. However, at least in health care services, this is not borne out by the evidence. In reality, the logic of consumerist choice valorises individualism and narcissistic self-gratification by undermining the institutions created to promote public interest. The re-modelling of the public organisations as ‘efficient’ (read flexible and dispensable) business units, the widespread privatisation of the Commons and the diminution of the value of the public good are just a few of the means by which this have been achieved.
We see the effects of these changes in the NHS: imposing a market ethos on health care staff, and a focus on indicators and targets, has led to the distortion of care. Studies have shown the long term reality of the suffering, dependence and vulnerability of mentally ill patients is disavowed, and the complexities of managing those in psychological distress are systematically evaded. It is replaced by work intensification and demands on the overworked front line staff to show more compassion. Equally, the needs of patients for relational aspects of care are ignored as they do not fit with the conveyer-belt model of services provided in 10-minute slots by GPs in England.
The institutionalisation and systemic sanctioning of such practices involving instrumentality, disregard for sociality and relational ties, and pathological splitting from one’s own actions – all originating in individual narcissistic processes – constitute a state of pathological perversion on a societal level. The increasing narcissism among management and political elites is also enabled by the public at large, who may be projecting on to them their own desire for power while splitting off ambivalent feelings emerging from this desire. The progressive marketisation of public services illustrates both the insensitivity of policy makers to the impact of their policies on those who are less able to benefit from them (i.e. the less affluent and less-well educated citizens) but also in appealing to the narcissism of voters. Thus the issue of how much choice is possible and what are the inevitable trade-offs involved (between choice and equity or quality and efficiency in public health systems) is sidestepped by politicians and their constituencies.
A narcissistic denial of reality deflects the citizens’ attention from a much needed social critique. Understanding how narcissism underpins policy making, and how it becomes increasingly prevalent in socially destructive ways of managing employees and manipulating the public, is therefore a necessary first step towards re-engaging with the political process.”
(Here is a link to the original article >>> Narcissistic elites are undermining the institutions created to promote public interest
Monday, 5 February 2018
THOSE IN POWER DEFINE THE MEANING OF “EXTREMISM”
I noticed in the Guardian on the 23rd January edition an article by Peter Walker, the Political Correspondent, entitled
“New national security unit set up to tackle fake news in UK”.
The key extracts are:-
“The government is to set up a dedicated national security unit to tackle fake news and disinformation, Downing Street has said. The prime minister’s spokesman said.
One specific area agreed as needing new resources by the national security council as part of the NSCR is the spread of fake news, he said.
“We are living in an era of fake news and competing narratives. The government will respond with more and better use of national security communications to tackle these interconnected, complex challenges.
“To do this we will build on existing capabilities by creating a dedicated national security communications unit. This will be tasked with combating disinformation by state actors and others.”
The unit will “more systematically deter our adversaries and help us deliver on national security priorities”, he added, saying there was as yet no information on where it would be based or who would staff it.”
Here is a link to the original article >>> https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/23/new-national-security-unit-will-tackle-spread-of-fake-news-in-uk
It is worth noting that Oxford Dictionary’s definition of “extremism” is:– “The holding of extreme political or religious views; fanaticism”.
Anyone who is not a fully signed up multiculturalist or, to quote the Judicial Appointments Commission (on the requirement for judicial office in our cartel democracy), a person “who can demonstrate a life -long commitment to equality and diversity” should bear in mind what I explained in one of my previous articles called “Fight the Good Fight with all thy might” (here is the link >>> http://robintilbrook.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/fight-good-fight-with-all-thy-might.html) when I pointed out that now even a scripturally based Christian has been re-defined by the British Government as an “extremist”!
Also the expression of any view at odds with the official one is likely to be classed as “offensive” just like the Electoral Commission calling our slogan “England worth fighting for” offensive. (click here for my article on that called “UK’s Electoral Commission rules that “England worth fighting for!” is OFFENSIVE!” >>> http://robintilbrook.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/uks-electoral-commission-rules-that.html)
This means of course that we are now truly in a political landscape where it can rightly be called out saying what John Tyndall did years ago, that:-
“The first lesson is to realise that it is our lack of power not our so-called “extremism” that is the big deterrent and anyway what is “extremism”?
At different times across history extremism has meant different things.
So what has changed since then? Has the truth changed? Is what was true then no longer true now? No. What has changed is power. Power then was in different hands and that is what we are up against. Those who have the power today…. they are able to determine what is mainstream and respectable and what is extreme.
We have to understand that “extremism” is a meaningless term. It is entirely what the current makers of public opinion decide it will be. No more, no less.
Our activity must be geared to the winning of power. That still has to be said to some people… They are crusaders for the truth but they don’t relate it to necessities of winning power. It cannot be said enough.
‘Power is what must be won.’
First just a little bit of power, then more power and finally complete power.
Activity geared to anything else is a waste of time.
But we one day will be answerable to our grandchildren and our grandchildren are going to say to us when that great time of decision came what did you do? Did you give in or did you fight?
Are we going to say to them well the struggle was too severe. The odds were too strong. Perhaps we left it a bit too late. We hadn’t a chance and therefore we lost our country, we lost our nationhood?
Or will we be able to say to them with pride and honour I was one of those who fought and there were more and more who came and fought with me. I went off into the streets and worked and struggled for our Cause. We stood firm like the men at the Alamo, like the men at Rourke’s Drift, like the men at Blood River. We fought to the bitter end and we won!”
For original click here >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlNtIMAdvLk
So it is worth bearing in mind that what is meant by the word “offensive” is also changing.
In the English Democrats Judicial Review Case in which we were judicially reviewing the Electoral Commission’s removal of our long registered description saying ‘England worth fighting for!’ They claimed this is now offensive. Evidence was produced of the Electoral Commission’s thinking which read as follows:-
“LE: I would retain all the descriptions except the ‘fighting for’ one. They all advocate support for England, which is itself exclusionist (ie, it excludes other parts of the UK). But favouring one part of the UK is an established policy position that parties can and do hold, not just in relation to England. If the slogans referred to the English I would be more concerned, as that is a distinction based on race. I don’t think you can read ‘English’ into ‘England’ in this instance. In my view the phrase “worth fighting for” is commonly used and understood in a non-violent context. Phrased like ‘ideas worth fighting for’ or ‘relationships worth fighting for’ are common (try a Google search), and would not be read to mean physically fighting for them. If this description was seen in the context of all the others, I think it would be reasonably clear its intention was non-violent. Seen on its own, however, as it could be on the ballot paper, I think that it is arguable that the only way to ‘fight for England’ is a violent or militaristic way. Seen on its own, I think it can be viewed as offensive in the context of this by-election. It’s the potential for that to happen which leads me to conclude that we should remove it.”
So it now appears that it is okay to say as one slogan does which is still registered with the Electoral Commission ‘Fighting for Wales’ and of course the Scottish Party is allowed to ‘Fight for Scotland’, but the English are not allowed to be “exclusionary”!
I produced evidence in court of the Oxford Dictionary’s meaning of ‘offensive’ which is defined as follows:-
1. Causing someone to feel resentful, upset, or annoyed.
‘the allegations made are deeply offensive to us’
1.1 (of a sight or smell) disgusting; repulsive.
‘an offensive odour’
2. attributive Actively aggressive; attacking.
‘offensive operations against the insurgents’
2.1 (of a weapon) meant for use in attack.
‘he is also accused of possessing an offensive weapon’
2.2North American Relating to the team in possession of the ball or puck in a game.
‘Shell was an outstanding offensive tackle during his 15 years with the Raiders’
But clearly the Establishment wishes to be able to re-define what it considers to be “offensive” rather than taking account of what ordinary people think or even what the Oxford Dictionary says that the word means! As per George Orwell’s 1984 “War is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength!”
Welcome to the Age of “Cartel Democracy” in the UK where even our English language has been co-opted into the Cartel Parties determination to dominate us all and extinguish English nationhood. Who is willing to let them win without a fight?
Thursday, 1 February 2018
A few weeks ago I was reading an article by the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan’s, in the Sunday Telegraph called in the print edition “Coalition politics has turned European democracy into a beige dictatorship”. Here is a link to the original article >>> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/21/coalition-politics-has-turned-european-democracy-beige-dictatorship/
In that article he says:-
“Several Western European countries have had German-style traditions of permanent coalition. In some of them, favoured parties were more or less permanently in office. These became known as the “cartel democracies”, because the ruling parties used legal and financial barriers to prevent newcomers from breaking through. Austria, Belgium and Italy were textbook cartel democracies for most of the post-war era.”…
You can always spot the symptoms. The public sector grows as the various coalition partners scrabble to find sinecures for their supporters. In Austria during the Christian Democrat/Social Democrat duopoly, every position, from the headmaster of a village school to the director of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, might be allocated according to party membership card. These membership cards, by the way, were actual physical things: the Italian versions, beribboned and bemedalled, were especially magnificent, signifying, as they did, a precious IOU.
Cartel politicians, being unchallenged, could award themselves handsome perks, such as legal immunities and high salaries. When I was first elected to the European Parliament, MEPs were paid at the same rate as a national parliamentarian in their home country. The Austrians, Italians and Germans earned twice as much as anyone else. The cartel parties were quite flagrant in their attempts to stop newcomers from posing a challenge. In Belgium, for example, restrictions on private donations made parties dependent on state funding – which was then withdrawn from the Flemish separatists following a parliamentary vote by their rivals.
Secure in office, the old parties were able to ignore public demands for tax cuts, immigration controls, powers back from Brussels or anything else they could fastidiously dismiss as “populist”. Because leaders from a previous generation generally decided who could stand on their party lists, politics remained stuck in a Fifties corporatist consensus.
Only in the Nineties did the system start to break down. Fed up with the complacency and sleaze of their semi-permanent rulers, voters began to grope around for battering rams to smash open the old system. In Italy, they found a Trumpian avant la lettre – Silvio Berlusconi, who made a point of issuing no party membership cards. In Austria, they turned to Jörg Haider’s anti-immigration Freedom Party. In Belgium, they elected the Flemish nationalists. Only in Germany has the old partitocracy remained intact – at least until now.
Last year, Germany’s Christian Democrats suffered their worst result since 1949. The Social Democrats suffered their worst result since 1933. How will it look if the two losers get together to form a government based on all the things that had characterised the old racket – more immigration, deeper European integration, little economic reform, and the dismissal of all opposition as unconscionable populism?”
These comments chimed strongly with my experiences of the way in which Labour and the Conservatives have embedded themselves within the State, in such a way that for years now it has seemed to matter little which party was technically in power. The classic “LibLabCon” even when the other party is in power many of the key people within what is supposed to be its rival still have plum political patronage jobs.
So I looked further and found the BBC’s Home Editor, Mark Easton, had written an article which was published on the 12th June 2017. Which asked:- “Has British democracy let its people down?”
Mark Easton’s reply is:-
“Parliamentary democracy is one of the British values that English schools are now required, by statute, to promote during lessons - not debate, not discuss, promote.
If some teachers interpret their new role as propagandists for this kingdom's existing system of governance, that would be a shame, because right now there are questions about how well our form of democracy is serving the UK.
Far from providing the stability and legitimacy it promises, one could argue that our democratic system has served to expose and deepen social divides.
Some would say it has even contrived to leave our country vulnerable at a critical moment in its history.
Rather than seeking to close down critical challenge of our form of democracy, do we need a serious and urgent conversation about how we can improve matters?...
Our two main political parties were founded and evolved to deal with the social and economic challenges of the industrial revolution.
Conservative and Labour, Left and Right, capitalism and socialism - these ideological movements were a response to the economic and cultural challenges of power moving from the field to the factory.
But power is moving again, from the national to the multinational.
How citizens think we should respond to that shift is the new divide in our politics.
It is less about left v right and more about nationalism v globalism….
…Old-fashioned political tribalism is actually on the wane…
And the diminution of local government in England, the weakening of the trade union movement, the impotence of political protest movements, the increasing centralisation of overarching authority to one house in Downing Street - these add to the sense that the "demos" (people) are increasingly excluded from the "kratos" (power).”
Here is the link to Mark Easton’s original article>>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40245805
I think that much of what Mark Easton had to say here is right, particularly in his analysis of what the division now is; not left and right, rather globalist/ internationalist as against nationalist/patriotic.
It was said by many of the more astute commentators, including Professor Matthew Goodwin of Kent University, that the appeal of Euroscepticism and of Brexit to English nationalists anxious to “get our country back” and to “take back control” was, when focussed solely on the EU, somewhat misconceived.
Professor Goodwin in particular was saying that for people who identified themselves as being English, that their desire to get back control was a confused response because the problem wasn’t the EU, it was the British Political Establishment which is seeking to break England up and to change English society and English communities in ways that English people don’t want.
Its support of the EU was a system of this attitude so the real struggle ought to be focussed on England and on the English taking back control. The British State and British Political Establishment not only no longer cares about them or about what they think about things, but also actively works against English interests. Its default position is internationalist or globalist.
I thought therefore I ought to look at what academics have written about “Cartel Parties” and see whether that is a concept which helps to explain the problems of power that we have currently got in England. So a quick search of the internet showed me the article you find here>>> https://ecpr.eu/Filestore/PaperProposal/77c01c49-8fe0-4c5f-a83e-c64362debb30.pdf
This article actually found that the UK was not a Cartel democracy but that is because the article was written in 2001 and not in 2018! For the last 20 years we have lived in the sort of political environment which is all too clearly explained in this paper. The key points of the article are here:-
“Cartel parties in Western Europe?
Changes in organizational structures, political functions and competitive behaviour among the major parties in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
By Klaus Detterbeck
University of Göttingen
Among the various attempts to pinpoint the changes in West European political parties which have been going on over the last decades, the cartel party model (Katz & Mair 1995) has been one of the most provocative of… In their article Katz & Mair (1995) are constructing an evolution of party types from the late 19th century onwards to show how parties have changed from being party of society (mass parties) to being part of the state apparatus. The provocation, the cartel party model entails, lies in its claim that the established parties in Western Europe have adapted themselves to declining levels of participation and involvement in party activities by not only turning to resources provided by the state but by doing so in a collusive manner. The inter-penetration of party and state, so the argument goes, has been achieved through co-operation between the major parties - most obviously by unanimously introducing and expanding public subsidies to themselves. The former opponents now run a party cartel which excludes new and smaller parties. These changes on the level of party competition are associated with decisive changes in the internal balance of power among the individual cartel parties, their relationship to society and the quality of the democratic process in Western democracies per se. Thus, Katz & Mair (1995) are depicting a fundamental change of party democracy in Western Europe since the 1970s. Precisely because the consequences of the alleged cartellization would be so dramatic - a self-referential political class unremovable from power dominating politics and determining their own infrastructure- it is necessary to empirically review the central hypotheses of the cartel party model.
Three dimensions of party change
Analytically there are three dimensions on which Katz & Mair (1995) are describing party change since the 1960s and on which they are conceptualizing the cartel type. I will look at them in turn:
· Political role: representative vs. governmental functions
· Party competition: cartellization and exclusion
· Organizational structures: parlamentarization and stratarchy
The political role of parties concerns their position between the sphere of society and the sphere of the state. The cartel party model postulates that West European parties have increasingly lost their capacity and their eagerness to fulfil their representative functions for society (interest articulation and -aggregation, goal formulation, political mobilisation), whereas they became more strongly involved in executing governmental functions (elite recruitment, government formation, policy making). The professional party leaders thus became more concerned with the demands of the parliamentary arena than with interpreting party manifestos or discussing politics on party congresses. The near exclusive dominance of parliaments and governments enabled parties to rely on a new source for financing and staffing their organizations which made them relatively independent from party members or donors. Cartel party are therefore characterized by a weak involvement of party members and historically related interest groups (classe gardée) in party activities on the one hand, and by an emphasis on governmental functions and state resources on the other hand.
Turning to the level of party competition, the mutually shared need for securing the flow of state resources has changed the relationships of the political opponents towards each other. In a process of social learning - facilitated through the daily interaction of professional politicians from different parties in parliament - the party actors realized that there are common interests among the „political class“ which laid the basis for collective action (von Beyme 1996; Borchert 2001). The process of cartel formation has two facets: cartellization aims at reducing the consequences of electoral competition, basically through granting the losers, the established opposition a certain share of state subventions or patronage appointments. Exclusion aims at securing the position of the established parties against newly mobilized challengers. This can be achieved through setting up certain barriers for newcomers in the electoral competition (e.g. thresholds), excluding them from access to public subventions or media campaigns, or excluding them from access to executive office by declaring them unacceptable coalition partners („pariahs“). However, a cartel doesn’t have to be closed completely. The co-optation of new parties which are willing to play according to the established rules of the game may strengthen the viability of a party cartel. Katz & Mair (1995) argue that the formation of a party cartel poses a fundamental problem for the West European party democracies as it denies the voters the possibility of choosing a political alternative – “none of the major parties is ever definitively out“ (ebd.: 22) -, and gives munitions to the rhetorics of neo-populist parties on the political right. In the long run, cartellization will widen the gulf between voters and politicians and make it increasingly difficult to legitimize political decisions.
The organisational dimension is concerned with the balance of power inside the parties. The “mechanics” of internal decision-making are determined by the structural and material resources of the various “faces” within the organisation. Cartel party are characterised by a further strengthening of the “party in public office” which can be explained by their direct access to political decisions in parliaments and governments, their access to the mass media as well as by their better access to state resources (e.g. parliamentary staff). The dominance of party executive organs through parliamentarians, the marginalisation of party activists (e.g. through member ballots) or the professionalization of election campaigns are organizational indicators of the cartel type. The second organizational feature of cartel parties consists in the vertical autonomy of different party levels. Whereas the national (parliamentarian) party elite tries to free itself from the demands of regional and local party leaders as far as political and strategic questions on the national level are concerned, the lower strata insist upon their autonomy in their own domains, e.g. the selection of candidates or local politics: Each side is therefore encouraged to allow the other a free hand. The result is stratarchy“ (ebd.: 21).
Although the causal relationships between these three dimensions are not clearly spelled out by Katz & Mair (1995), it seems to be the logic of the argument that the increase of vulnerability (less party members, more volatile voters) caused party change. Vulnerability brought about a declining capacity of parties to fulfil their representative functions (e.g. interest articulation) which led them
a.) to concentrate on their governmental functions (e.g. selecting leaders, seeking parliamentary majorities, passing laws) and,
b.) to collude with their established opponents in order to secure the required resources for organisational maintenance.
The freedom of manoeuvre which party leaders needed to do both led to internal party reforms which strengthened the “party in public office”. As a result of these changes, the linkages between the professionalized party organisations and the citizenry further eroded, which in turn intensified the trend towards the sphere of the state and towards inter-party collusion (see Young 1998)…
The core element of the cartel party type can be seen in the self-interested co-operation between the major parties which aims at securing organizational resources (public subsidies, patronage) and career stability (income, reelection, alternative political jobs) for the individual politician.