August 12, 2017

Word: Democracy is dying

Paul Mason, Guardian - Let’s be brutal: democracy is dying. And the most startling thing is how few ordinary people are worried about it. Instead we compartmentalise the problem. Americans worried about the present situation typically worry about Trump – not the pliability of the most fetishised constitution in the world to kleptocratic rule. EU politicians express polite diplomatic displeasure, as Erdogan’s AK party machine attempts to degrade their own democracies. As in the early 1930s, the death of democracy always seems to be happening somewhere else.

.... In her 2015 book, Undoing the Demos, UC Berkeley political science professor Wendy Brown made a convincing case that the world’s backsliding on democratic values has been driven by its adoption of neoliberal economics.

It is not, argues Brown, that freemarket elites purposely embrace the project of autocracy, but that the economic microstructures created in the last 30 years “transmogrify every human domain and endeavour, including humans themselves, according to a specific image of the economic”. All action is judged as if it has an economic outcome: free speech, education, political participation. We learn implicitly to weigh what should be principles as if they were commodities. We ask: is it “worth” allowing some cities to protect illegal migrants? What is the economic downside of sacking tens of thousands of academics and dictating what they can research?



Anonymous said...

Last night the most incredible thing that could happen happened - i met an alien - a person from another planet - i just came round the corner of a bush and there she was - i laughed a little laugh, meaning: an incredible thing is happening - this inspired her with confidence to speak to me - she referred to the latest atrocity, massacre - and then she said: you know, you people of this planet, you don't realise, you are choosing war, violence, all the time - how? - you call it ambition, and you think it is a virtue - you all choose a career path that will give you the most money you can manage to get - and it doesn't matter how much money it brings in, no amount is too much - you call it success - it is like children unsupervised grabbing for as much cake as they can get, and grabbing from each other endlessly, evermore bitterly and violently - scratched faces and tears and everworse - your nightmare of bullets and bombs - with no thought for fairshares - i am a constant traveller, and i have been to 100s of planets, and this is the only planet where the people have not thought of fairsharing - where the people have no concept of fairsharing - your brainy person stephen hawking said it: there is enough for everyone to have a luxurious lifestyle, if you only do away with maldistribution - but no one heard him - there is enough for every working person in the world to have $50 an hour - that is $100,000 a year for a 40 hour week - enough to satisfy every need and most desires - but you have pay ranging from 10,000th to 100,000 times that - and you don't even have the idea of overpay and underpay - somehow you manage to think that pay from 5cent to $5,000,000 an hour is somehow right and just - and somehow you think that equal pay reward for equal time sacrificed to work is somehow unjust and wrong - and the ever-increasing violence drives the weapons race, and you already have the bomb capacity to put up enough smoke to block out enough sunheat to drop the temperature to -10C and snowball the planet - 22C colder than an iceage - and even this doesn't make you stop and say: hang on, something is wrong - you are going to be extinct before you reach 2050, i think - - and i said i think you are right - we are going to be extinct soon - we parted then, with no more words, with complicated facial expressions of mingled pity, sorrow, resignation, grief, horror, etc - even a bit of a twitch of the corner of the mouth in an attempt to see a funny side to it all - and then she went back to the stars and i went back to the nightmare of bullets and bombs, under the blank gaze of rolling sun and moon

MAMADOC said...

BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL!! I must be from outer-space too since that is how I think...

Tom Puckett said...

Or read chapter 13 of CS Lewis' Last Battle:

"Aslan," said Lucy through her tears, "could you—will you—do something for these poor Dwarfs?"

"Dearest," said Aslan, "I will show you both what I can, and what I cannot, do." He came close to the Dwarfs and gave a low growl: low, but it set all the air shaking. But the Dwarfs said to one another, "Hear that? That's the gang at the other end of the Stable. Trying to frighten us. They do it with a machine of some kind. Don't take any notice. They won't take us in again!"

Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs' knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn't much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn't taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a Stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he'd found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said "Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey's been at! Never thought we'd come to this." But very soon every Dwarf began suspecting that every other Dwarf had found something nicer than he had, and they started grabbing and snatching, and went on to quarrelling, till in a few minutes there was a free fight and all the good food was smeared on their faces and clothes or trodden under foot. But when at last they sat down to nurse their black eyes and their bleeding noses, they all said:

"Well, at any rate there's no Humbug here. We haven't let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs."

"You see," said Aslan. "They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they can not be taken out. But come, children. I have other work to do."

Or One by Richard Bach....

Cheers, Tom

greg gerritt said...

All too true

Anonymous said...

US pacifist isolationist democracy is distinct from the eternal European war of all against all. Not TR but Wilson ended our pacifist isolationism by including the US in the ongoing Euro world wars. The disengagement after WWII never happened as the US absorbed the Axis project of one Euro top dog running the world versus the now obviously defeated FDR-JFK American defense of democracy. The first victim was the Constitution with its separation of powers which is today considered subversive to an orderly military junta.