In 1913, Emily Davison stood in front of the King's horse as a protest for women's suffrage and was killed. A century later and many people say that they don't bother to vote – it's a waste of time. Why? For all that they legislate, so much seems beyond the reach of politicians. They no longer seem to be the prime shapers of our daily lives; Sir Tim Berners-Lee has done more for us than MP's. Politicians seem powerless, obedient to the more powerful dictates of 24/7 media, security against terrorism and the making of big money, rather than to the wishes of an electorate.
Other people say they no longer know who to vote for. Neither Left nor Right can offer a way forward that appeals any more. As Maurice Saatchi ponders, our experience of socialism didn't create wealth and our experience of free-market economics has soured to ballooning corporate greed and growing social inequality. Yet we still seem expected to choose between having either big government, or big companies. As Saatchi says – we no longer know which is worse.
What do these two things have in common? One word: BIG. Whether you are the Citizen of an over-bearing State, or the Customer of a corporate conglomerate that straddles the globe, the end result is the same. There comes a point where size goes beyond inspiring and starts to feel crushing. You feel dwarfed, intimidated. What you face is simply too big to comprehend and digest. You feel your smallness and thence your powerlessness. You feel peripheral, at the bottom of a long chain of command, shut out. You can't help but ask what can one person do and end up by walking away. In such a big environment, who is going to miss you?
If there is a way forward that might hold some appeal, maybe it would be one with a healthy sense of proportion towards government and business in relation to people. Keeping both on a more human scale would mean people feel they belong and that they count – rather than belonging as yet another number to be counted. If government or business are at a size that people can comprehend, then it will feel workable and they will feel a willingness to engage.