John Chuckman


“How the oligarchy wins…”
“… two recent books can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs’

I’m sorry, but this is just not possible, at least not without something close to a revolution.

In every Western country we like to call a democracy, the truth is that they have only an elaborate stage set of democracy.

I prefer the term “plutocrat” to “oligarch,” but whatever word you choose to use, the facts of society are the same.

Power, no matter how it is granted, is power.

And money is power, serious power.

We can see this in a thousand aspects of our societies from the long-term success of someone like Harvey Weinstein in business to the many powerful lobbies which determine the direction of national policy.

In the United States, the last national election was between a multi-billionaire and the best financed candidate in history, a woman who burnt through somewhere between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to lose.

It has been studied, and the fact is that members of the American Senate spend about two-thirds of their time raising money.

The American House of Representatives actually has call rooms were Representatives spend time every week raising money.

And when I say “raising money” I don’t mean the contributions which come from the likes of you or me. I mean big money from big sources of money, the only ones who really count.

Look at a phenomenon like Macron in France. He came from nowhere and seems to have very limited talents, yet the plutocratic interests who backed him managed to grab the French Presidency.

Former French President Sarkozy, a man who proved mostly ineffective, took huge sums from General Gaddafi to the richest woman in France, a woman rumored to not have been even fully competent at the time.

Not only are the contributors of big money – both individuals and lobby groups – at the center of Western politics, but our very institutions are constructed to accommodate leadership which does not reflect the views of a majority. This is done in many structural ways from district gerrymandering to the nature of the “first past the post” ballots we use.

Look at Britain’s most utterly incompetent modern politician, David Cameron, the man who single-handedly created the entire Brexit mess plus engaged in a terrible lot of dishonest and brutal behavior in the Middle East. He was never popular and ruled with something over 35% of the vote. Britain’s institutions accommodated that.

In Canada, Stephen Harper, the man most Canadians likely regard as the shabbiest ever to rule the country, managed to do terrible things with about 39% of the vote.

And everywhere, people don’t vote for war, interests do, rich interests, and they get what they want.

Response to another comment saying oligarchs may be better than democracy sometimes:

Yes, but the fundamental issue has always been, how do you choose the oligarch and how do you get rid of one who is clearly badly failing or abusing power?

Democracy is a compromise, but it is one that virtually no one argues against. At least leaders are obliged to leave periodically.

Churchill had it right when called democracy the worst form of government except for all the others.

Oligarchy clearly serves some developing countries well, always assuming the oligarchs are people dedicated to doing their best for the country as a whole. And they do do that sometimes.

Yet, we have supported nonsense like killing a Gadhafi, who gave his people good government and peace, and pitching Libya into chaos.

All in the name of democracy from our dishonest “democratic” politicians.

Look at Israel, always slapping itself on the back as the Mideast’s “only democracy,” while it consorts happily with kings and tyrants in its neighborhood and continues to hold millions of people in occupation against their will.

Posted October 16, 2017 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized


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