Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst (centre and centre left) with other suffragettes outside Holloway prison, probably celebrating a release.
“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
When feminism begins to distance itself from politics, as it does periodically, I believe it loses both its direction and its source of power which come largely from a democratic political system. I hear people say why should I invest in politics, politicians lie! All people lie! All people are self serving; we have to have the presence of mind to see that an investment in a political system that gives some representation to all people is in all our long term interests. Turning our backs on the amazing political achievements that have been made over the last few centuries, at enormous cost to our forbears, is a retreat into perfectionism.
I could list the revolutions that were fought, I could highlight the harsh existence of the 80% of the population that made up the working classes in previous centuries, but it all seems so long ago to people around today. There is an intrinsic problem with progress, that is, that people born after any improvement in social conditions, take those conditions for granted.
Suffragette being attacked by the police.
The minds of the populations of many Western nations have wandered, we were prepared to be silenced, we voted for political labels instead of overseeing their substance. We need to watch our politicians relentlessly, we also need to back them hard when they stand for social equality and civil rights; walking into seats of political power is like walking into pressure chambers, if the people don’t back you, the corporate lobbies will crush you.
Two apparently insignificant events have recently caught my eye, the first was a documentary shown on the BBC about the child labour of the industrial revolution, which both documented it (a good thing) and yet subtly trivialised the horror of it, as if to say, was it so bad? The second was a news item shown on the BBC where a Chinese financial expert was asked by the reporter, whether he considered that democracy was causing our economic problems, and if he thought, we would be better off without it! This is serious, I have never seen such an interview in my life before. Our government and our broadcasters are becoming corporate mouth pieces. Gulag Britannia is creeping up on us again after over a century of liberation, and the bodies of our freedom fighting ancestors are turning in their graves.
Christabel Pankhurst, exercising her hard won vote.