Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Progress or Dystopia, Part 3

Democracy

Then there is the argument that, whatever flaws our current system may have, at least we are freeing ourselves from the shackles of tradition and tyranny. Democracy is spreading around the world. Surely, no one can deny that the formation of modern democracy is a marker of human progress.

What’s really at work here is another case of “loaded words.” Sometimes, using particular terminology may hinder a thorough reflection on the realities of a situation. It is clear, if one looks beyond the fa├žade of elections and representatives, that the only form of rule that exists is oligarchy. The average citizen in this modern world, no matter to which country she or he belongs, does not have any say whatsoever in how society is organized or how it functions.

It’s a wonder that a country like the U.S. can even sustain the illusion of any sort of real participation. People can choose between two candidates that have been pre-selected for them by party elites and corporate donors, and with whom they may have very little in common. People in the U.S. often lament that fact that neither candidate really represents their views or talks about the things they feel are important. Yet, for some reason this does not give anyone pause about the U.S.’s status as a democracy, or to rethink the idea of democracy in any critical way. How is it empowering to go into a high school gym every few years and bubble in the name of someone who doesn’t really represent your views? What kind of “voice” is that really?

Then, there is the matter of campaign rhetoric versus reality. Stated views – in fact, the entire structured opposition between (or among) the parties – often have little to do with actual policy. I have presented evidence on numerous occasions of the continuity between presidential administrations in the U.S., regardless of political party. It does not matter whether a Republican or Democrat is in office. And it does not matter what any candidate’s or party’s official views are; those views bear very little resemblance to what actually happens. (The fact that a Republican governor – and now presidential candidate – enacted such a similar healthcare plan to the current Democratic president, despite all of the polarized rhetoric that has come to characterize the issue, only goes to show that the rhetoric itself is more for show than anything else.)

In fact, the people who are elected into office are largely irrelevant. All of them merely exist to sustain an illusion of representative democracy, and, in actual fact, always carry out the agenda of the global elite. The people who pull the strings and call the shots do not change and are not affected by elections. Elections are scripted, flashy and designed to distract people from what is really going on before their own eyes.

As I have argued before, the seeming lack of democracy in other countries is merely a result of poverty, with its concomitant difficulties in sustaining the necessary ideological infrastructure.  Like technology, the enjoyment of civil rights tends to be limited mostly to the well-to-do (globally speaking).  It is a benefit that exists only by virtue of a system that simultaneously deprives others of many comforts and securities.  Of course, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in such conditions, it is nice to be able to voice our opinions without fear of retribution.  The other side of that coin is, the ideological infrastructure that makes this condition possible also ensures that we live in ignorance.  The question is then, is it better to know the truth and not be able to say it with impunity, or to be completely in the dark, but still able to say whatever you want?  I would also argue that "freedom of speech" is honored only so long as it is not threatening.  Julian Assange can tell you that.  And, of course, modern democracies always have recourse to "emergency powers" (one benefit of being at war) and means of legalizing all manner of abrogations of supposedly guaranteed constitutional rights.  If you live in the U.S., for example, you can be surveilled in any number of ways, detained without any probable suspicion, and denied rights of due process.  Just ask Muslims.  Or black men.

A constitution does not guarantee that people will be treated without prejudice, or that their privacy will be respected.

And voting does not change who is in power. It does not alter the basic structure and functioning of society. It only serves to legitimate the system. No one has any more voice in today’s society than they would have had at any other time in history. The only difference is that we are now less likely to see what is really going on, and more likely to continue in our delusions that we, the people, have the power.

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