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The Editorial

Black boxes

End-time society will not be any kind of meaningful democracy.

John Benton, Editor

Figure Image
image: iStock

We enjoy many benefits of democratic ideas. But the end-time world will be dominated by trade and the arrogant misuse of wealth (Revelation 18). The political landscape at the start of 2019 brings this apocalyptic vision to mind.

Yellow vests and Brexit

The violent gilets jaunes protests in Paris were supported by vast swathes of the French electorate of all political persuasions. The anger against President Macron was fuelled by the perception of a government unconcerned to listen to or look after its citizens. The President was only forced to a negotiating table by the chaos caused. The people’s voice had been ignored. Politicians know better than voters.

Mrs May’s having to be forced to publish the Attorney General’s full legal advice concerning Brexit negotiations, smacked of the same attitude – so might a second referendum. With the crucial Brexit vote delayed in the face of a looming government defeat, it is arguable that whatever happens now is unlikely to result in what the majority of voters in the referendum had in mind – control over our own borders, laws and money.

Hotel California

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, whose country was brought to the breadline by the draconian demands of the EU rather than find a more humane way of dealing with the country’s debt problem, has long warned of the situation Britain now faces.

His experience convinced him that, despite appearances, the EU does not negotiate (in any meaningful sense of that word) with anyone. He would say that it is obvious if you think about it. No team of bureaucrats is actually going to be consulting with the 27 different countries over matters in question. Rather there is simply a predetermined checklist which has to be ticked by Britain or there is no deal. The controlling agenda for the EU is the survival of the euro. Decisions that count are made by unelected economists within what is called the Eurogroup. This is a ‘black box’, whose workings are impenetrable and unknowable to any outsider. No democracy here. The members view themselves as ‘adults’ who deal with reality, whereas Europe’s electorates are regarded as infantile and delusional. Varoufakis describes the political web woven by the EU using the sinister lyrics of the famous 1970s song by the Eagles, Hotel California, a seductive but demonic place where ‘you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’. The Northern Irish backstop seems to have been used in just this way.

Varoufakis is a left-winger and tends to blame the system rather than individual politicians. But a Christian understanding of humanity and the universality of sin and personal pride cannot let them off the hook so easily. Many Greeks committed suicide under the swingeing privations of EU-imposed austerity.

The word in the box

This tragedy was reflected in a modern-art installation by the second wife of Mr Varoufakis, Danae Stratou. The work comprised of hundreds of black boxes laid out in formation. Inside each one was a word from a member of the Greek public answering the question: ‘In a single word, what are you most afraid of losing, or what is the one thing you want to preserve.’ The word most frequently chosen had nothing to do with jobs or pensions. It was the word ‘dignity’.