Democracy is a word commonly used, and even more commonly confused with ‘liberalism’ – but what is democracy? Does it mean absolute freedom of movement and speech without limitation? Or are we confusing democracy with (neo)liberalism? Is not democracy a government of the people, by the people and for the people?
The term democracy is equated with capitalism as if they were one in the same thing; indistinguishable systems of political and economic governance. A manipulation designed by Edward Burney’s and PR agencies throughout the 20th century, creating the first wave of Anglo-American consumerism.
Democracy has become synonymous with ‘free’ market, neoliberal, consumer capitalism but they couldn’t be further apart in essence.
This so-called ‘free’ market is far from free for the vast majority of the global population living on less than a dollar a day and is certainly not democratic.
The few are free to exploit the many.
The confusion lies in the divergence between ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’ political and social democracy, which splits the Rights of Man to be ‘free from’ oppression and slavery with the Rights of Big Business to be ‘free to’ dominate the distribution of goods and services and control the money economy.
“Give me control of a nations’s money and I care not who makes its laws” – Mayer Rothschild
Following the very visible hands trade transactions take, the flow of money dictates the distribution of goods and services and hence levels of (in)equality and democratic value.
Where once liberty and equality were the measures of democratic value, money has become the measure of democracy; whoever has the most money has the largest vote. Liquid capital flows through the arteries and veins of the governing body right to the heart of democracy. In other words people with a lot of spare cash to speculate have a lot of purchasing power, which make government and civil authorities prone to corruption.
Money is the means by which to govern, epitomised by the American electoral system – but here in Britain too we have similar financial corruption. Put simply multinational corporations have more money than most governments; hence they have more ‘democratic’ power.
Lest we forget this Con-Dem government is not a democratically legitimate government. This government was not voted into power but has assumed power undemocratically, and does not serve in the interests of the people as their policies – such as 50% tax cut for the wealthy – clearly indicate. This government barely represents 10% of the U.K, never mind allowing citizens to actively participate in and shape government policy.
The democracy of participation as active citizens engaged in political decision making juxtaposed to the ‘democracy’ of elitism, and the engineering of consent, controlling the masses by keeping the passive and docile consumer happy is the important dichotomy to be grasped here.
Lobbyists, lobbying teams, political think tanks, corporate groups and rich investors fund election campaigns for political gain, and scandals have demonstrated how successful and powerful individuals and interest groups can be. At the very least politicians are ‘sympathetic’ to their donors’ business needs and interests and act accordingly.
The ‘mob’ (majority) is not trusted to make ‘rational’ political decisions by business elites, so decisions must be made for them. While stimulating the new consumers’ unending, irrational desires, leaders of industry continue to plunder world resources and market capitalist allocation of resources as somehow democratic. How very rational of them. Until this changes Britain cannot call herself a true democracy.
There is a massive difference between a democratic system that acts in the interests of a community, public or country to defend their rights and liberties – freeing them from the chains of colonial and imperial conquest and oppression.
In contrast to a neoliberal system (sold as a democracy) that acts in the (self)interests of the individual capitalist – giving them the freedom to maintain colonial legacies; acquire greater monopolies of power; accumulate (and hoard) vast amounts of wealth; engage in imperial voyage to enslave populations; and decimate environments – destroying people’s lives and homes in abundance – all in pursuit of profit.
In the wake of globalisation, new technologies and computer systems allow for the free flow trade of goods and financial capital around the world without being carefully monitored and regulated by governments. This is the marker of freedom and democracy Bush and Blair sought to spread across the world, starting with Iraq and Afghanistan.
The freedom to invest in companies profiting from exploitation is regarded as legitimate democratic practice; and enshrined by Neo-conservatives and right-wing economists like Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys as a democratic right.
The sweep of political reforms designed by Friedman and his Boys throughout the 1980’s (privatisation, IMF loans, de-regulation of markets) were the birth of neoliberal policies that ensured the few got very rich while the many remained impoverished. The current stock markets of financial exchange follow these principles of (neo)liberalism. Remarkably, Neo-liberalism is still somehow seen as a virtuous symbol of democracy.
Corporations are given a licence do what they want under the guise of democratic rights. They have the right to exploit the worlds natural resources – for profit; they have right to exploit labour – pay people so little they can barely afford to live – for profit; and they have the ‘democratic right’ to manipulate markets and sell arms to perpetuate a global war economy – for profit.
This is no democracy at all; simply a back screen portrayal of conspicuous images, selling ‘liberty to all’ constructs that mask the neoliberal reality of conglomerate power.
Watch ‘The War on Democracy’ by John Pilger (under the Documentaries section) for more info…