INTRODUCTION TO 1977 EDITION
All Truth is eternal. Although first published over thirty years ago, Jame Guthrie's book on the truths concerning the relationship of the individual to government is more appropriate than ever. Warnings concerning the shape of things to come have been graphically confirmed by the shattering events which have taken place since the end of the Second World War. The mass media of the world is full of references to "democracy", which allegedly is more widespread than ever. The voting age has been reduced to eighteen. But the individual has less control over governments than he had 50 years ago.
The central theme of James Guthrie's book was stated by the distinguished British constitutional authority, Professor G. W. Keeton, in his prophetic work, The Passing of Parliament (1952): "The history of modern political society is in large measure the history of the struggle of the ordinary citizen to exercise some influence upon government and of his repeated failure to achieve that modest ambition."
One chapter in Keeton's work carried the chilling heading, "On The Road To Moscow." The people living under the Soviet tyranny have the "right" to put a mark on a piece of paper periodicall. But they can only select from candidates chosen for them by the Soviet totalitarians. In countries like Canada, Australia and Britain, electors have been brainwashed into passively accepting the view that democracy is functioning because they can Meet members of Parliament only from amongst candidates presented to them by the party machines. Parliaments of today in the English-speaking world are no longer the type of representative institutions originally evolved. A tyrannical party system has iNcreasingly excluded men and women of independent spirit from Parliament. But only because many electors blindly support the party game.
Of Scottish background, James Guthrie was an electrical engineer whose training is reflected in his extremely lucid and precise literary style. Although Our Sham Democracy is dated in the sense that it refers to Australian affairs towards the end of the Second World War, the truths and principles enunciated are relevant to all countries where at least the shell of constitutional government still remains. The example of electoral action suggested by James Guthrie indicate what is so desperately required today: initiative by electors, associating to use their social power to bring the elected, paid political servants under their effective control. The development of Votes' Policy Associations, Electors' Associations, and greater attention to the value of Municipal Government to resist the drive towards even greater centralization of power, was all foreshadowed by James Guthrie.
The tenets of the Christian Gospels are just as valid today as when first enunciated. But they must be applied in present circumstances. I was privileged to know the late James Guthrie over many years. He was a scholar who spent much time in studying the lessons of history. He believed that "practical Christianity" was essential if a society were to be developed in which the natural rights of all individuals are protected and the human personality can flower to the full. I commend a careful study, and then the application, of the truths outlined in Our Sham Democracy.
Erie D. Butler