Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Democracy is dead

This is nowhere more obvious than in the greatest democracy of all time, that city on the hill on the banks of the Potomac.

Americans have for several generations now freely elected politicians who consistently do NOT work in their interests.

How is such a thing possible?

Those who framed the constitution could not have foreseen how technologies two hundred years hence would distort their intentions. As communication technology has become ever more pervasive, and as the "public" has become ever more informed, a curious thing has happened.

In the dog-eat-dog world of winner-take-all capitalism, the winners have taken over the means of communication.

Just as the authors of the second amendment could not have imagined .50 caliber sniper rifles and 600 rounds-per-minute assault rifles, the men who dreamed America into realization couldn't have seen radio and TV and the internet on a horizon two centuries distant.

But here we are.

During the many years Hitler flunky Albert Speer enjoyed in Spandau Prison to reflect on the error of his ways, he once opined that if the Nazi's had television they'd be ruling the world.

He wasn't kidding. The power of technology to shape public opinion is a modern phenomenon.

In the US, technology has allowed the ruling class to control the dominant societal narratives for several generations now, and the results are not pretty. Unions are virtually non-existent, elite initiatives like the Citizens United case have legitimized corporate activism, and the greatest democracy in history has become the play-thing of moneyed interest groups.

The US has become a cartoon democracy.

Here in Canada we have a buffoon democracy.

The Harper gang won their 2011 majority on the strength of about a quarter of eligible voters, but that quarter has enabled an anti-democratic reign of error that will impact Canada for many years.

Nowhere in history has a Canadian government had such a gulf between the public image it pursues and the reality of its policies.

This is the most jingoistic government in memory, forever celebrating Canadian military prowess while cutting back funding to the military.

It has the most aggressive pro-Israel policy while closing embassies that could provide vital communication channels for making positive things happen in the neighborhood.

It shamelessly reshapes foreign policy to favor Israel and Ukraine in regional conflicts to entice a few votes from right-wing Jewish Canadians and right-wing Ukrainian Canadians.

It re-defines foreign aid as aiding Canadian mining companies operating in foreign lands.

None of this would be possible without the benefits of the internet and television advertising.

The "only democracy in the Middle East" could not survive without the never-ending stream of technology-enabled propaganda that has for years succeeded in presenting the bully as the victim.

We saw it again today. The casualty count in the latest Gaza adventure stands at 200-1, and nobody needs to ask who is at 200, or who is at 1.

But our media are saturated with stories blaming the victims, our political elite make more news blaming the victims, because after all, we have an obligation to support the only democracy in the Middle East.

Democracy is dead.

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