At last, a chance for real democracy? Part 2
The elected few follow the party line or their own self-interest rather than the majority view of their constituents who have had no ability to influence their representatives in current Western-style democracies..
- Modern democracy devolves into oligarchy
- Or even plutocracy
- When plutocracy holds sway
- Is real democracy even achievable?
Modern democracy devolves into oligarchy
Because canvassing the electorate is an expensive process for a prospective representative, even when there is a ceiling set for the amount of money that can be spent on self-promotion, candidates for election usually affiliate themselves to a major political group whose agenda roughly matches their views. These groups tend to concentrate on issues they consider to have broad appeal and be centre-left or centre-right. They may nominate a candidate whose background and original location is far from that of the local community, of whose primary concerns the nominee has no knowledge or experience. The groups’ general policies also may not address any of the issues of concern to the local community, which is therefore left with a choice between two unsatisfactory evils.
Because of the elected representative’s affiliation to a particular group, he or she may not be able to vote in accordance with the community’s majority view but instead, for the sake of continued support, is required to follow the stance dictated by the group. The electorate are governed by political agendas over which they have little control. This is oligarchy – rule by a clique.
Or even plutocracy
When there is no relatively low and rigorously enforced limit to the amount candidates can spend, personally or via ‘supporters’ on supporting his or her candidacy, then the field is open for the lobbyists employed by the multinationals and banks to influence representatives to vote in their favour by supplying massive funding and other perks. A similar situation tends to arise when a particular group has been in power for a long time: relationships with the leaders of major industries are developed and favours are supplied in return for funding and the enjoyment of ‘high life’. This results in plutocracy – rule by the super-rich.
When plutocracy holds sway
The effects of plutocracy are evident. In Britain, the concentration by the Conservative government on supporting the food manufacturers rather than protecting the electorate allowed BSE (Mad Cow Disease) to enter the human food chain, infecting members of the electorate with incurable degenerative brain disease, and for that fact to be covered up for nearly a decade. In the USA, drugs produced by US combines have a fast track to the market, whereas drugs from overseas companies must undergo rigorous and expensive testing lasting 14 years or more before being admitted to the market. The result is the rash of US drugs, once the latest thing, which are now the subject of massive lawsuits for significant, and in some cases even lethal, side effects. Despite the lessons that should have been learned from the Thylidomide tragedy, another drug causing major birth defects has been massively prescribed without its tragic side effects being uncovered.
In the USA, the highest earners pay less percentage tax than those on minimum wage. Many large corporations pay little or no tax. The claim is that these are the echelons that employ large numbers and therefore helping them expand by tax reductions creates new jobs. Unfortunately, big business is not interested in job creation, only in making more profit. If the whole workforce could be replaced by robots working 24 hours a day for the sole cost of a little electricity that could be supplied by solar power, then big business would dispense with its workforce in a heartbeat because that would produce more profit for its shareholders. If any component can be purchased more cheaply abroad, if any service or manufacturing operation can be performed more cheaply abroad, then those jobs are exported … and the cost of providing for those made jobless falls on the taxpayer, the lower paid and the struggling self-employed whose businesses are the seeds from which new job growth can come but are being starved of funding. Big business will not be interested in creating local jobs unless it is highly profitable (subsidized) and will not stop exporting jobs unless draconian penalties are applied for doing so to compensate for the loss of tax revenue to the local and national economy.
Plutocracy results in the poor and middle classes being bled white and forced into increasing poverty while governments at local and subsequently national level are cash-strapped because there is so little money left to fuel the economy above subsistence level, therefore reduced income from sales and purchase taxes and, as joblessness increases, from income tax. Big business does not suffer from abandoning an expensive economy in favour of production in a cheaper one … and nor do the legislators in their pocket, the representatives elected by the local communities to protect the community’s interests (and by extension the national interest).
Is real democracy even achievable?
Can anything above the size of a town achieve a real democracy and avoid the slide into corrupted alternative forms of governance? Perhaps modern technology now allows us that opportunity, as some recent events have shown.
Read on: At last, a chance for real democracy? Part 3 - A real democracy in future?