Tuesday, February 17, 2004


The modern democratic system is not based on power but, rather, on authority. It is misguided to regard the likes of George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard as wielding power in the normally accepted meaning of the term - if only because what they can do is constrained by various legislative and judicial procedures.

Rather, Messrs Bush, Blair and Howard exercise authority. Elected leaders govern, in between elections, on the basis of the legitimacy which comes from election. Consequently, attacks on politicians as a profession are essentially assaults on the political system itself - because they challenge the very legitimacy on which, in democratic societies, authority is based.

Gerard Henderson outlines the minimalist position on democracy in the Sydney Morning Herald (link via Back Pages)

I wonder where Gerard stands on the subject of government ministers who attack the legislative and judicial procedures which constrain their authority and prevent them from indulging in the naked exercise of power.

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