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The Rule of the Market

Short Version: mp3, 2.99 MBs, 3:44
Long Version: mp3, 4.05 MBs, 5:03

[Col. Recorded 4/23/04]

"The cure for the problems of democracy is more democracy."
— Philosopher John Dewey

We believe 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.

As Toronto journalist and researcher, Richard Swift has written:

The decline 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 for them.

And because 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) businesses.

What we are seeing are the spoils of war.

If democracy 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!)

For Americans, '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.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.