Monday, July 11, 2011

Can Democracy Survive?

The other day I was reading a liberal blog which touted the idea of personal sabotage as a valid political campaign tactic, something which I commented on earlier. I made a comment on that blog as follows,

The playing field is level now that we have dragged ourselves down to their level and are all wallowing around in the mud. I am so proud of “American exceptionalism.”

I received a reply, “There’s a word for political parties that unilaterally disarm: ‘minority.’”

Think for a moment about the concept that, in American politics, refusing to “wallow in the mud” constitutes “disarming” and conceding an election, relegating your party to a minority status. Discussing issues and policies will not win an election, it is necessary to sabatoge one’s opponent with “gotcha” gamesmanship. Think for a moment what that says about the status of democracy in “the great experiment” that was founded in 1787 on the continent of North America.

In another, somewhat less liberal blog a commenter observed,

Democracy is an anomalous form of government that only works during periods of high resource availability and low social stress. Normally governments are of two types, and countries and regions have tended to alternate between them.

- Monarchic, where a powerful executive purports to act on behalf of, and is supported by, the lower classes.

- Oligarchic, where the executive is weak and power is distributed among the class of landowners, merchants, financiers and military leaders.

Wars and revolutions tend to establish the monarch. Periods of peace see the erosion of central power and eventually result in an oligarchy. For example, in China we are seeing the transition of the monarchic form under Mao to the oligarchic form of today. A similar process is happening in Russia.

Has democracy failed in America, given way to oligarchy now that resources have become scarce and our society is strained? It would be all too easy to conclude that it has. Foreign policy is controlled by the military, domestic policy is controlled by corporations, and elections… Well, based on “Citizens United” and the comments above, elections are purchased by corporations, won by “gotcha” games and have nothing to do with issues and policies. Whatever that is, it certainly is not democracy.

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