Beyond Democracy

“We’re in danger of losing our democracy!” is a warning cry I hear often. A variant is that “we lost our democracy over the last few decades.” They’re both wrong. The truth is that

we never had a democracy; we’re in danger of losing our illusion of democracy.

The USA has been a plutocracy (rule by the rich) thinly disguised as a democracy ever since the country was founded on slavery and genocide. Gillens and Page proved statistically in 2014 what most of us already saw: Regardless of elections, the rich get the public policies they want, and the rest of us don’t. In fact, the rich have ruled most of the world for the last 10,000 years. But for 200,000 years before that we all shared as equals.

Inequality and plutocracy are inevitable if we don’t share. Indeed, money IS influence. It finds a way through or around any legislator or legislation that attempts to keep it out of politics. The only way to end rule by the wealthy class is to not HAVE a wealthy class. But that would require sharing, for trade increases inequality by favoring the trader in the stronger bargaining position.

The illusion of democracy is wearing thin, so things may soon get a lot worse or a lot better.

  • Worse is more overt plutocracy, based on brute force.
  • Better is real democracy. To many political activists, that is the holy grail, the ideal form of government. But in our present culture, 51% would still ride roughshod over 49%, both sides making poor choices for lack of knowledge or caring. “Representative” democracy is even worse: Power corrupts; representatives pursue their own short-term profit through war, austerity, and ecocide.
  • I’d prefer going beyond democracy. Change the economy to sharing, the culture to caring, and the politics to consensus; those changes must happen together. It’s hard to imagine, so we need more people talking about it.

Join the conversation.


2018 Oct 15, version 1.08. The leaflet fits on two sides of 1/3 page.