“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
― Winston S. Churchill
The above is clearly not in accord with the thinking of our 'betters,' aka the corporate elite, who are now lamenting the terrible things that democracy can bring about.
Billionaire CEO Steve Schwarzman first sounded the alarm in January at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"I find the whole thing sort of astonishing, and what's remarkable is the amount of anger, whether it's on the Republican side or the Democratic side," he said, in a slow cadence that served to highlight his confusion. "Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of the stuff going on on the Republican side. How is that happening? Why is that happening? What is the vein in America that is being tapped into, across parties, that's made people so unhappy?"Schwarzman's bewilderment gave way to introspection and analysis, leading some to conclude there is too much democracy, thereby paving the way for demagogues like Donald Trump, who 'prey' on the emotions of the masses.
"Now," he concluded, smiling, "that's something you should spend some time on."
James Traub, writing in Foreign Policy, goes further:
It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them. Is that “elitist”?Such an assertion provoked a strong response from Jake Johnson:
It is elites — including Traub himself — who have for decades cloaked devastating wars in the soaring rhetoric of "humanitarian intervention." It is elites who have forced upon crumbling economies austerity that has served to prolong and worsen already dire circumstances. It is elites who have peddled the fantasy of neoliberalism, which has created a system that lavishly rewards the wealthiest while leaving everyone else to compete for the rest. It is elites, political and corporate, who have devastated the environment in the name of profit. It is elites who have crashed the global economy.Writing in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi says,
The masses, for their part, are always there to pick up the costs.
And they're sick of it.
"Voters in America not only aren't over-empowered, they've for decades now been almost totally disenfranchised, subjects of one of the more brilliant change-suppressing systems ever invented.And so the schism between the elites and the masses continues. What is left unspoken, however, is the role that all of us can play in counteracting this alleged debasement of democracy.
People have no other source of influence ... Unions have been crushed. Nobody has any job security. Main Street institutions that once allowed people to walk down the road to sort things out with other human beings have been phased out. In their place now rest distant, unfeeling global bureaucracies.
Elites, by forcefully eliminating avenues for democratic progress, have cultivated the environment in which anti-establishment sentiment now thrives.
And the major political parties of the wealthiest nations on earth, in order to curry favor from big business, have pushed aside the needs of the working class, often disregarding workers as racists unworthy of attention. And the punditry has dutifully followed suit.
We have a choice. We can choose to go along our merry way, content and narcotized by the trivial diversions available to us, or we can speak forcefully whenever the occasion demands that we do, and we can refuse to cede authority to the uninformed and the ignorant by turning out in droves during elections, debates, etc.
There is nothing inherently wrong with our democratic institutions. It is its potential participants who need to be regularly reminded of their responsibilities in facilitating their effective discharge. To say that there is no real choice in our political leadership may be true to some extent. But to use that as a reason for withdrawal will only serve the interests of a minority at the expense of the majority.
Anger is justified, but it must be tempered with reason. Otherwise, all will indeed be lost.
*Thanks to Kev for bringing this to my attention.