Democracy in Flames

It’s been a while since I read such a thorough and thoughtful critique of current political and social predicament. Unfortunately, it’s in Russian. But I will translate an especially poignant paragraph:

The peculiarity of our current historical fragment is that democracy equates itself with free market; today, democracy is dependent on competitive triumph of the strong over the weak. Democracy declares victory of success over failure as its achievement. Competition per se is not the problem: every participant, however strong, has a chance to win. But what makes these particular triumphs different, from, let’s say, the triumphs of Pericles, is that a society doesn’t win from the victories of the strong. The subject of Pericles’ democracy or Jeffersonian democracy was society, and not some particular outcome of a competition. Today’s society – is a stage for a free market; people are spectators at best, but rather a hindrance to the competition. In theory, democracy does not allow for the triumph of the strong over the weak: such triumph happens in the course of a competition; it is moderated by the rights of other citizens – the strong is dependent on society where he shares the responsibilities of citizenship. But the hybrid of the last decades – “democracy – free market” – cements the victory over the weak as something permanent, creates a caste of “super citizens”, the strongest players, citizens of global market – but not citizens of a particular society. The successful are automatically becoming powerful political force; and not in any given stand-alone country – since the market is not subject to boundaries. Banks’ CEOs, heads of corporations, owners of natural resources companies do not represent society; they don’t even represent their own capital – they represent the new formation, new democratic nomenclature.

I’ll file it under “deep thoughts”. For my Russian readers – a great long weekend read. Maybe I’ll translate more later. This needs to get bigger circulation.

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2 thoughts on “Democracy in Flames

  1. David says:

    Thanks for the translation, I look forward to more.

    I guess the question is what at this stage can the permanent weak do about it? The heads of government, with all its public resources and legal controls, already openly serves its corporate overlords with fealty. I fear that in the near future it may become completely privatized.

    On a personal note, in the last two decades I’ve passed through disbelief, disappointment and despair to find some comfort in a quirky kind of urban Taoism. Perhaps Jefferson is an anachronism and corporate governance is the wave of the future. Perhaps I’m still too much of a dreamer…

    Then again…

    This evil has long roots in history, but it has only revealed itself in the last forty years, and openly and boldly just in the last twenty-five.
    Perhaps it’s just a challenge that free people must first recognize and then overcome if they wish to remain free.

    “I see in the future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed.” Abraham Lincoln

    “Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.” Thomas Jefferson

    And, if you still dream, then I’ll leave you with this quote from Kurt Cobain:

    “Never give up,
    Never give in,
    Never sell out.”

    Rock on, Bearing Light.

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