The whole point of democracy and free enterprises is to force competition on elites who are desperate to remove competition.
What’s the point of going over reforms that aren’t even possible in the present status quo? That’s a good question, as any discussion of major systemic changes can be dismissed as pointless (given that they’ll never ever be adopted), and an interruption from the “genuine work” that can be handled within the existing system.
On the other hand, we might ask: what’s the point of discussing what is do-able in the status quo, i.e. shallow feel-good policy fine-tunes that modification nothing in the power structure!.?.!? To put it simply, everything is eventually a shallow feel-good policy fine-tune if it doesn’t change how power, “money,” credit and resources are generated and dispersed.
The argument for discussing “difficult” systemic modifications is this: we must ponder other methods to structure who has power for 2 reasons: 1) to confirm how far we came down into neofeudalism and neocolonialism, and therefore how frantically we require to re-arrange the class structure, and 2) to check out different models of governance and economic incentives, with an eye on the value of competition in between ideas and systems.
Richard Bonugli and I talk about ways to restore or reinvent democracy in our recent podcast, The Roundtable Insight Vision Series: Democracy (29:36).
Although this sounds negative, it isn’t: democracy is not truly about self-rule, it’s about keeping an elite-run system steady by institutionalising a safety valve and a governor on elite greed, corruption and mismanagement.
Democracy provides the rabble a restricted voice as a method of limiting elite misrule, which is the natural path taken by elites all over, in all periods. The elite echo-chamber is: we’re entitled (by birth, rights given by the gods, remarkable intelligence, merit, etc) to rule, and for that reason whatever we decide is smart– even if it is self-serving and delusional.
Other designs of governance count on competition in between elites to keep whichever elite is currently dominant from destroying the entire arrangement via their hubris, narcissism, greed, corruption, stupidity, deceptions of splendour and all the other pathologies of power.
These models tend to stop working since the dominant elite tends to see getting rid of competitors as an excellent strategy for consolidating power— similar to corporations constantly seek monopolies or cartel arrangements to get rid of the pesky threats of open competitors– which as we all know, introduces the possibility of losing, which a bad thing. To eliminate the possibility of losing, get rid of competitors: what an outstanding solution!
This is why “industrialism” isn’t truly about free enterprises, any more than manifest destiny is about “civilizing the natives;” it’s all about removing competition and rigging markets. In this method, “commercialism” and democracy are a best partnership, as each claims a noble cloak to obscure the actual machinery of elite self-service.
The strength of democracy in system terms is it presents a feedback loop that serves to restrict systemically hazardous extremes, for instance, a dictatorship that needs everyone to wear their underwear on the outside of their clothing, or (ahem) a system like ours that has actually boiled away social movement and financial security, leaving a rapaciously exploitive maker that feeds off encouraging bad people to borrow even more cash to convince themselves that they’re not bad and powerless.
The rich own the income-producing capital, the poor “own” financial obligation: the rich own the home loan/ vehicle loan/ student loan, the bad owe the home loan/ car loan/ trainee loan. Funny how neofeudalism works: the financial aristocracy remains in the castle, secured by the Central State, and the debt-serfs are toiling away down there, protected by, well, nobody. However by all means, vote for your preferred star on the tawdry side-stage erected to amuse the general public: what flourishes, what emotion, what comedy.
(Please pardon the outburst of “truthiness.” I’ll try not to let it take place once again.)
If democracy is boiled away, the only pressure-relief valve and governor-on-greed left is messy uprising or an unpleasant uprising plus the wholesale desertion of the status quo by the technocrat class that keeps the entire thing glued together (what I call opting out).
The prime instruction in governance is to constantly, constantly, constantly centralize power to extend the reach of the elite presently at the wheel, and to restrict the number of grubby hands attempting to reach the wheel. Centralizing political power makes life considerably easier for elites, as they only need to bribe, blackmail or convince a handful of folks on top to seal their power/ monopoly/ cartel.
I discuss this in my book Resistance, Transformation, Freedom.
Think about the troubles of sealing a quasi-monopoly on banking if banking were restricted to the county level. The prospective cartel grifters would have to pay off, blackmail or persuade 3,000+ county councils, all of whom are far closer to citizens and far more exposed to competition than federal regulators or the Federal Reserve or Congress-critters, who as we all understand, are re-elected like clockwork other than in a few cases that are essentially signal noise.
This highlights the worth of Subsidiarity in a democracy, with Subsidiarity specified as “the concept that a central authority ought to have a subsidiary function, performing just those jobs which can not be performed at a more local level.”
The Subsidiarity principle just works in a democracy if capital is likewise democratized. What’s easily forgotten or left unsaid is: capital constantly “votes” three times.
1) Capital’s beneficiaries, allies and workers will vote to keep their gravy train running;
2) Capital influences the public with advertising campaign and public relations, all of which are rather budget friendly;
3) Capital affects the political/ regulatory power players in personal, a.k.a. lobbying, revolving doors between corporations and the political/regulatory agencies, junkets, farcically puffed up speaking charges, etc.
The only possible conclusion: if we don’t democratize capital, democracy is boiled away. I want this could be sugarcoated, but it’s just like my other aphorism: if we don’t change the way money is developed and dispersed, we’ve modification nothing.
Simply put, if we don’t change the money/credit system and democratize capital, then all we’ll ever have is more shallow feel-good policy tweaks: all sound and fury, representing nothing.
There are ways to re-structure the system to restore/ transform democracy. Ellen Brown has actually made a convincing case for public/ community banking for many years, and the same idea can be applied to private-sector business: How Community Business Can Smash Monopolies (through Sadie).
It seems difficult at this point to decentralize power and capital, however with the pressure-relief valve and governor-on-greed of democracy both handicapped, the system is beginning to shake apart at the joints. I’ve typically discussed the numerous classes and elites jostling for power in the U.S., and it’s possible some elite might awaken to the necessity to restore the possibility that those with the vast majority of wealth and power may actually lose, i.e. restore genuine competition in the economy and our system of governance.
This competition begins with the competitors of ideas. That’s the point of our conversation on Democracy (29:36), which covers many other interesting concepts for decentralizing/ reinventing democracy.
Where to start? Here: the whole point of democracy and free enterprises is to require competition on elites who are desperate to get rid of competition.
(by means of K.K.)
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