“Democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”— Franklin D. Roosevelt, president & statesman
It is an interesting contradiction in modern times that even as we live in democracies, we spend a huge part of our lives in dictatorships. Almost all of the organisations we are part of – whether in school, at work, or in our spare time – are modelled after autocracies (or oligarchies, at best): there is a single leader, or a small group of leaders, at the top and the rest of the organisation is a strict hierarchy of power and privileges. The only real exception is the large, mostly invisible “organisation” which we live in and which we call a “country”. And even there the democratic part is limited to its political branch only; all the rest of the organisation – the bureaucracy, the institutions, all the rest – are organised the same as the rest of the country: autocratically.
It is as if we have taken a monstrously huge and complex organism, hacked of just the head and replaced it – and only that part – with a democracy. All the rest of the monster persists…
And… we expect that to work out fine?
Autocracies are power-hungry structures. It lies embedded in their very DNA. The way they are organised means that power flows ever upwards through the pyramid to be concentrated at the very top, the pinnacle of the structure. And the people who gain to the top, the kings and the queens (or “executives”, “managers” or whatever the word of the day is), are invariably those who seek that power, who revel in it, who wants it. And power always wants more.
Have you noticed how every company you ever hear of or work in, dreams of growing? How all the plans and strategies you see and hear for the company’s future describe in loving detail how the company can get larger, richer, grow and spread out and dominate the market?
That is the siren call of power made manifest. More, more, more… and never enough.
You will never see a company which says “Enough! We are satisfied with what we have and want no more!” They all want more. All of them.
So this democratic country you live in, it’s whole body is actually riddled through and through with metastases of autocratic growths, all of them trying to get as large and dominant as possible. Feeding off the resources of their host, subsuming larger and larger parts of it (privatisation, anyone?), until scarcely anything is left.
A process which is, in many cases, even actively accelerated by the very politicians we elect!
At what point does democracy die, and what kind of world will be left to grow on its rotting carcass?
We may all live to find out…
Western democracy rest on four pillars: the parliament, the executive (prime minister/president, secretaries & their departments), the courts, and the media. All of them are required. And – rather unfortunately (to put it mildly) – none of them are immune to the subversive influence of the autocracies.
Of the four, the media are probably hit the hardest. In many countries, the News are by now owned almost exclusively by private corporations. The national, state-owned news media – if any are left at all – are being killed off. An early preview of the effect, which this will have on our society, is available for free in Australia, where the Murdoch empire controls almost 60% of the newspapers and most of the TV news.
The courts, on the other hand, would probably be regarded by most as highly resistant to privatisation or influence from private parties. And yet… in 2013 the British government floated plans to privatise them, as part of the “austerity” program. And if you take a broader look, you will find that significant portions of, for instance, the prison service is already privatised in many countries. The effect of which, by the way, has been to reintroduce slavery into modern society.
And then, of course, there is the other front: the political attack upon the courts. In the US, for instance, the Republican party is methodically trying to subsume as much of the judiciary as possible in their quest for ultimate victory over the Democrats.
As for the remaining two pillars – the parliament and the executive. Well, what difference, really, between a privatised politician and one who depends upon corporate money and support to get elected? At what point does that politician stop working for the democracy and start supporting corporate autocracy instead?
The people believed that they had killed off the aristocracy after the French revolution. That the bourgeois was gone and obliterated after the Russian revolution. That the country was forever removed from the grasp of kings and queens after the American revolution.
They were – naïve.
President Roosevelt saw it a century ago and warned us about it. The autocracies survived just fine, and they have been slowly taking over their host ever since…
– Northern Dragon © 2019. All rights reserved.