Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The slow (whimpering) decline of democracy. . .

One obviously need not be an expert in 'political science' to understand that things are reaching a rather difficult point in political history. Almost every country in the world now refers to itself as a "democracy" and yet democracy has never really been subject to the concerted attack by mainstream political culture the way it is today. The past fifty years have witnessed a great deal of "democratization" all over the world, but while more countries have democratized, more people have searched for ways to thwart the process and to gut the already existing democratic institutions. Tyrants and dictators have realized that they don't need to actually be democratic they just have to say that they are democratic. Thus, Mr. Putin in Russia gives speeches about his election to office and the great Russian democracy and it doesn't matter how corrupt and undemocratic his nation really is. This is the old "tell a lie often enough and with enough conviction and it becomes the truth" kind of strategy. And this approach is becoming successful in more and more countries as the concentration of the media creates a situation in which governments simply need to keep the rich and powerful on side and they can be more or less as corrupt and undemocratic as they want.

Countries like Iran and Russia actively refer to themselves as "democratic," and so does Canada. Well, Canada is not Iran or Russia, not yet. But it is easy to imagine that if it stays on the path on which it has been set by Mr. Harper and his cabal, in a generation or so it will be a mirror of Russia; a country in which democracy is simply a label but has no significant meaning. We are already well on our way. Our government can prorogue parliament whenever it wants with no consequence, it can effectively shut down parliamentary debate on any issue, it can use its self-appointed speaker to avoid retribution for blatant violations of House rules,  it can use fraud to win elections while underfunding and under-informing the very body that is supposed to investigate such malfeasance, it can gut regulations to the point that we become little more than a mechanism for extracting resources and sending them to other tyrannical nations, and it can do all of these things while blithely bragging about its democratic principles.

There is no doubt that democracy is in trouble, here and abroad. And the most desperate trouble is to be found in the state of denial of our so-called leaders.


karen said...

A few years ago during a union election, I somehow became privy to the machinations of some of the upper echelon. They were trying to manipulate one Local because the fellow who actually wanted the BR job was a real union man, but the mucky mucks were trying to sell the union off. As the situation was being explained to me by one of the architects, I said, "Oh, I see: democracy is too important to be left to the people." He lit right up, "Exactly!" he beamed. I did a little bit of subversion, and things went okay as far as real democracy is concerned. I later heard it described as "managed democracy."
I think about that a lot when I read the news.

Owen Gray said...

It's should be apparent to all that Stephen Harper is no democrat.

Now is the time for a united opposition to raise hell.