It is rule by the people. It used to mean rule by the ‘property owning free people’ in ancient Greek times. The slaves did not get involved in any democratic discussions. However after about 1500 CE, Europe started to go through a series of social, economic and political revolutions which have altered the way humans live, and how they see themselves and their place in the world.
First we had the English Revolution, with Oliver Cromwell beheading the King.
Second the American and French Revolutions which sort of continued from where Cromwell had left off.
Third the Russian.
All of the revolutions were driven by a new way of thinking which was given ultimate expression by the Enlightenment. Cromwell was more motivated by the Reformation of Catholicism. The reformation declared that man was his own priest.
Broadly the net effect was that we were given Democracy in its modern form. It was said that ‘the people’ (the general mass of people) ruled themselves by selecting representatives and putting them in charge. Obviously in the beginning not everyone was allowed to vote…this came later.
These representatives then made laws and voted in the house. The house was split in two with an executive and a legislature, so that power could be restricted. In England the property owners were in the House of Lords, and the others in the House of Commons.
However the Democratic State encroached into every aspect of an individuals life and as time went on, its role has grown unceasingly. It educates, it heals, it controls and owns some industries considered basic to the common good directly and it legislates for the whole market and society. How long a man/woman should work, how much he should be paid, where he can work, etc., corporations have also been regulated. These regulations have combined to create a fewer number of large companies dominating the market in all or most industries, making it very costly and difficult for smaller companies to enter the market or to survive. Unfair advantage was given to large corporations by the State. The State has increased its taxing powers and pays for all these services which it provides. The State can also conscript the whole population into one of the wars that it starts if it feels the need to. Refusal is barely allowed. The representatives do not actually go and fight in the wars they start. They just start them organize the killing orgies and finish them and they get ‘the people’ to do the actual fighting, dying and killing. Wonderful and inspiring war time speeches can still be heard inspiring the people to make greater sacrifices for the common good.
We are told that this is the best form of government known to man, we have arrived at it through long struggle and at last we have found a way of ristricting Power, keeping it in check and ultimately we can vote the horrible lot out of government which gives us ‘freedom’ as opposed to dictatorship where Power is invested in one man, or a few of them who remain in power for as long as they want.
Some will say ‘it may not be perfect’, but it is better than dictatorship or monarchy.
Is the way we are governed and told to live by the State really exactly as the rhetoric of Democracy claims it is? Once every 4 years ‘the people’ get to vote…after that they have no say over how they are governed. Power has incrementally increased its scale and scope and it has extended into all spheres of life. If we actually examine voting as a method of choosing our rulers…it is not good at all. Let us say party X is in power, does a really bad job of it after 4 years…50% of the electorate actually turn out to vote (the other 50% know it is useless to vote). Out of the 50% that do vote, 30% still vote for party X and 20% for party Y. It means X has won because 30% of the population support them! Of course in reality there are more than just two parties, so theoretically a party can get into power with a tiny vote.
Let us say party X is in power they do whatever they like for 4 years…then come election time they start to say they spent much of their term mopping up the mess created by the last party, now they need another term to fix things properly for everyone.
Party Y the main opposition, just wants to get into power. It wants to gain all that extensive power and rule which it says party X is doing badly. In this way party X and party Y carry on, not really changing anything, just blaming the mess on each other. Meanwhile State power has grown and continues to grow. If some evil person was to take over the running of the State they could from this centre control the lives of 60 million people in general and in detail affecting all aspects of their lives. (A King never had this power, even if there was no one on the throne, it was hardly perceived in the small towns and villages where life continued as before that ‘we are in trouble’).
In addition to this, complex societies cannot change the whole administration every time there is a election and a new party gets in. There are civil servants and other groups who remain, sometimes they have greater power over the new MP with portfolio (who is after all new and without experience). The long serving civil servants act as advisers to the politician and head of the department. They also worked with the last party in power in the same way. So in-back the running of the country does not change when a new party gets into power.
If we look further, we see that elections are won largely through PR (public relations), thus the whole selection process is a PR exercise. The mass media can give a favourable promotion of some ‘leaders’ and a negative one for others, so they can create the ‘next leader’. The mass media are private companies, AND as the word mass implies hugely influential their owners are very rich and have their own political and economic agenda and interests, it is conceivable that they could select and promote someone into power who will do their bidding for them once they are in power.
Media barons also are part of a class of people, they have commercial links, they all have vested interests and influence, they can have the party and person they desire put in place. They could also support both parties, and ensure that both parties whichever one wins will do their bidding. The ordinary man on the street has no chance.
A newspaper baron wants to keep his wealth, he has shares stakes and investments in other corporations, these other corporations buy advertising space from the newspaper, they are unlikely to promote a candidate or party which would threaten their position now would they? I do not think so.
So as time goes on democracy becomes more and more entrenched and more and more powerful, it even ‘educates’ people to believe it is good and in their best common interests. Voting appears to be just a ‘facelift’, behind the scenes the State remains. The personnel in the foreground change, the background remains the same. This is not freedom at all.
The people start to believe that the State gives them freedom and liberty! When in fact the State takes them away and pretends to give them back to the individual. Sure the State can give me security, and may protect me from other States or from bullies, but the price is that all of us live under totalitarian and powerful States. Security can be organized differently without curtailing my liberty, but we are told this is the best way, and anyway ‘we are the people’, so ‘we choose’. States will also make war with other States and get individuals under their command to sacrifice their lives, we are not allowed to question ‘our State’ at such times, because it represents ‘the general will’ and knows best what to do in these situations, besides anyone who questions the State at such times can be considered to be ‘the enemy of the people’ because he is questioning the State which represent ‘the people’. The idea that we get less State intervention is given lip service, but in practice it is inexorably increasing and changing the personnel every for years changes nothing.