Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Democracy and Reform

Are there any two words in the English language more abused than these? The worst is the misuse of the word “reform” which literally means to end abusive practices, but now is nothing but a feel good label used to sell some sort of change. As a consequence, most changes are now marketed as “reforms” no matter how odious. The use of this technique of selling by labeling is so ubiquitous that even opponents of these changes usually refer to them as reforms once they have been successfully branded as such. It has reached the point where when I hear the word “reforms” I cringe knowing that it is usually the powerful (or their representatives) who apply the labels, and that their changes rarely benefit the average person.

Following closely is the word “democracy”, yet another feel good label which misrepresents reality. While definitions may vary, democracy should refer to the ability of the broadly based citizenry to have significant input into the functioning of the political economy. I am not aware of any true democracy existing anywhere on the planet, the concept having been degraded to the use of elections to bestow the appearance of legitimacy on the government. In the Western “democracies” this consists of citizens voting for elite funded candidates who effectively manage the political system for the benefit of their elite constituency. Many citizens don’t bother to vote, those that do frequently vote for the lesser evil. Basically, our society is a corporate/financial plutocracy in which groups of elites band together to select candidates which are then sold to the public in an expensive marketing extravaganza. A capitalist democracy where money votes and where elite social control is legitimized “democratically” through elections. That is the reality, democratic theory a misrepresentation of reality. To be fair, in theory elections could provide a modicum of citizen input and control in certain situations.

An example of what I am talking about is the current situation in Hong Kong where “pro-democracy” civil disobedience is now occurring in a supposed effort to wrest control of the nomination process for the Hong Kong executive from a government appointed committee to a more open process involving public participation. Though rarely mentioned, it should be obvious that this public participation will be strongly influenced by the capitalist marketeers who will manufacture consent for policies the elites favor. In fact, the so called “pro-democracy” movement is being largely financed and directed by Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, along with the usual suspect NGOs (USAID, NED, etc.). This is not to suggest that the people of Hong Kong don’t have real grievances, of course they do. Who doesn’t in an increasingly neoliberal world of austerity and repression? The point being what does real world democracy have to do with any of this? Where in the world has the vote saved the citizenry from being screwed by their elites?

Now whether or not one prefers corporate/oligarchic social control over state-run bureaucratic control, it should be obvious that we are not talking about democracy in any meaningful sense of the term, and that talking about a “pro-democracy” struggle is a marketing technique, nothing more. This is particularly true in view of the numerous examples of US intervention to overthrow democratically elected governments which resisted American efforts to manage their economies in support of Western corporate business objectives. In fact, the very notion of imperial support for true democracy and people power is utterly preposterous.

It should be noted that US support for this anti-government action is part of empire’s overall plan to destabilize and weaken both Russia and China in order to secure continued US global hegemony. It should be further noted that much of the support for these anti-government activities is due to dissatisfaction with the worsening economic conditions for the majority as a consequence of neoliberal globalization, a process which will only be exacerbated by increased corporate/financial control, a likely consequence of these sought after “democratic reforms.” Of course, for the lucky few, a corporate controlled political economy promises rich rewards.

The point I am trying to make is that talking about the Hong Kong protests in terms of “pro-democracy reforms” only obfuscates the reality of the situation. This is a three-way struggle for power. Beijing wants to integrate Hong Kong into the PRC system of state capitalism emphasizing government control. The Hong Kong fat-cats are pushing for increased corporate/financial control of the Hong Kong government and possibly increasing plutocratic influence within China itself. The US wants to destabilize and weaken China as part of a global power struggle. It should be further noted that the internet and social media are important tools in implementing and coordinating dissent in targeted countries, and an integral component in full spectrum dominance.

(rev 12/4/14)


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