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DEMOCRACY: USE IT OR LOSE IT

December 13, 2015
 

DEMOCRACY: USE IT OR LOSE IT

 

An internet professor posed the question of whether participatory democracy is possible and asked for responses. Here is a copy of my response along with an addendum for your perusal.

 

Democracy, like musculature, withers with disuse. The process of self-rule includes giving up some freedoms as well as gaining some in going along with the “dictatorship of the majority.” Athenian democracy and what we call democracy as practiced today by an indifferent and sullen electorate are far from congruent. Much was demanded of those ancient Greek politicians AND the polity in fleshing out democratic processes; today one brags about how he/she has done his/her democratic duty by voting (and many don’t even bother to do that)!

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so it is with the political. When and if democracy goes south (as it appears to be heading now under assault by the rich and corporate class), another version of the way to conduct state-citizen interaction will surface, as we see today as anti-democratic libertarian and tea party elements vie for power. I have blogged many times that democracy is our most valuable asset held in common, and that if democracy goes away there is no more reason to have a country as we descend into a mere agora-like marketplace of greed and avarice to a Piketty-predicted implosion of capitalism (“unless attended to”).

We are neither “attending to it” nor zealously practicing our Athenian legacy of government by self-rule and the “consent of the governed,” with the result that we are headed for Third World status economically and some form of market dictatorship politically. I think there is still time to reconnect the citizen to an active role in self-rule, but time is fleeting and such evidence as the Texas School Board’s removal of Civics as a required course in the state’s high schools is not encouraging. So far as I am concerned, when our democracy goes, so do we. Orwell, move over! (End of response)

Addendum: While we Americans fret and argue over Trumpism, wage inequality, environmental concerns etc., our most precious asset (our democracy, which determines the fundamental ways by which we govern ourselves) is wasting away. It really doesn’t make much difference who is elected or how much wage and wealth inequality are ignored by a Congress on the take if we lose our democracy (the right of the people to self-govern). Why? Because without a self-governing strategy in place, another will replace it, and my guess is that it will take the shape of a corporate dictatorship since the corporate culture owns or controls virtually all of the assets in place in this country.

If I am correct, then banking and other corporations will finally have achieved their ultimate goal, i.e., no regulation or other public control of their activities at all in the final victory of capitalism over the former right of the people to self-govern. However masked by the corporate culture after the total corporate takeover of what was once (with all its scabs) our government, such a result bears all the earmarks of dictatorship, hence my reference to Orwell in my response above. If we are to continue to have a democracy, then it is incumbent on each of us to at least acquaint ourselves with the issues and vote our interests while simultaneously and robustly resisting attempts by the corporate culture to remove our right to self-government, a right, incidentally, that was gained by the blood of patriots. I have often blogged that democracy is our most precious asset and one of the last things worth dying for, and I reiterate that insight here.  GERALD   E

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