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cure for the problems of democracy is more democracy."
Philosopher John Dewey
that we live in a democracy; but it is a belief, like many others,
that we are raised with, and we seldom open for examination.
We use the
term 'democracy' quite loosely, yet who really decides how our lives
are lived? 'The people?' or the rich, who own the politicians?
In the U.S.,
as in much of the West, we dwell in societies run by a political
class, each with a number of barriers between the popular will,
and the elite will. In Britain, an unelected House of Lords performs
that role; in Canada, the Senate reigns as a
barrier, and in the U.S., the Electoral College decides who shall
be president not the popular vote. In these and other societies,
political parties are professional operations that raise tremendous
funds to pay for media campaigns, which only serve to further distance
the so-called 'representatives' from the people, and as a result,
democracies are getting declining numbers of voters.
journalist and researcher, Richard Swift has written:
in voter participation has spread beyond North America (in the
US less than 50 per cent of the electorate bothers to vote and
the last Canadian elections witnessed the lowest turnout in the
country's history). Most noncompulsory European voter participation
has dropped significantly over the past 20 years. A study of 15
Western European countries found that membership in political
parties had declined almost a third from 8.2 per cent of the electorate
in the early 1980s to 5.2 per cent by the mid-1990s. To take just
one graphic example, the British Conservative Party once
one of the largest political parties in the world with three million
members after the Second World War has now barely a tenth of that
number. [fr. Swift, R., *The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy* (Toronto:
New Internationalist/Between the Lines, 2002), p. 20]
No matter the
political party, it is the market that really rules, whether a government
claims to be 'liberal' or 'conservative.' They are sworn to please
their paymasters, even if that means betraying the many who voted
modern political campaigns depend upon such vast sums, they rely
on the very wealthy to finance them. They thus become agents of
such wealth, and increasingly out-of-touch with average, working
class, and even middle-class people. They speak of, defend, and
protect the interests of those who paid for them - the very wealthy.
As in much
else in American life, the same rule holds true for politics: you
get what you pay for.
It is therefore
questionable, in the extreme, when the US claims to be 'bringing
democracy' to Iraq. For the political class, 'democracy' is but
a synonym for 'market-ocracy.' When they say democracy, they mean
a system where the capitalist market
sets the rules, and gets the benefits of the society.
In Iraq, market
forces, masquerading as 'forces of freedom', means opening up not
just the vast oil reserves to Western exploitation, but, as we have
seen under the US occupation, the exploitation of the Iraqi economy
under a regime of privatization, where water rights, public services,
electricity, all are opened up to international (primarily American)
What we are
seeing are the spoils of war.
meant 'the will of the people', then who could dare question that
the majority of Iraqis would love nothing better than for the Americans,
and other foreigners, to leave their country? Indeed, US president
George W. Bush, who has never been accused of being a deep thinker,
got the gist of this right when he remarked in his recent press
conference, that 'no one likes their country to be occupied.' (One
wonders if the case of the Palestinians ever entered his mind!)
'democracy' is a cover for business dominance. It is the same all
over the world where the Americans claim to want to 'spread democracy.'
The Holy Grail
of this modern-day Crusade is wealth the same as for all
other empires before it, no matter what the justifications.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.