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How Capitalism Is Killing Democracy


Spurious George

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How Capitalism Is Killing Democracy

September/October 2007 (Free Registration Required)

Free markets were supposed to lead to free societies. Instead, today’s supercharged global economy is eroding the power of the people in democracies around the globe. Welcome to a world where the bottom line trumps the common good and government takes a back seat to big business.

It was supposed to be a match made in heaven. Capitalism and democracy, we’ve long been told, are the twin ideological pillars capable of bringing unprecedented prosperity and freedom to the world. In recent decades, the duo has shared a common ascent. By almost any measure, global capitalism is triumphant. Most nations around the world are today part of a single, integrated, and turbocharged global market. Democracy has enjoyed a similar renaissance. Three decades ago, a third of the world’s nations held free elections; today, nearly two thirds do.

Conventional wisdom holds that where either capitalism or democracy flourishes, the other must soon follow. Yet today, their fortunes are beginning to diverge. Capitalism, long sold as the yin to democracy’s yang, is thriving, while democracy is struggling to keep up. China, poised to become the world’s third largest capitalist nation this year after the United States and Japan, has embraced market freedom, but not political freedom. Many economically successful nations—from Russia to Mexico—are democracies in name only. They are encumbered by the same problems that have hobbled American democracy in recent years, allowing corporations and elites buoyed by runaway economic success to undermine the government’s capacity to respond to citizens’ concerns.

Of course, democracy means much more than the process of free and fair elections. It is a system for accomplishing what can only be achieved by citizens joining together to further the common good. But though free markets have brought unprecedented prosperity to many, they have been accompanied by widening inequalities of income and wealth, heightened job insecurity, and environmental hazards such as global warming. Democracy is designed to allow citizens to address these very issues in constructive ways. And yet a sense of political powerlessness is on the rise among citizens in Europe, Japan, and the United States, even as consumers and investors feel more empowered. In short, no democratic nation is effectively coping with capitalism’s negative side effects.

This fact is not, however, a failing of capitalism. As these two forces have spread around the world, we have blurred their responsibilities, to the detriment of our democratic duties. Capitalism’s role is to increase the economic pie, nothing more. And while capitalism has become remarkably responsive to what people want as individual consumers, democracies have struggled to perform their own basic functions: to articulate and act upon the common good, and to help societies achieve both growth and equity. Democracy, at its best, enables citizens to debate collectively how the slices of the pie should be divided and to determine which rules apply to private goods and which to public goods. Today, those tasks are increasingly being left to the market. What is desperately needed is a clear delineation of the boundary between global capitalism and democracy—between the economic game, on the one hand, and how its rules are set, on the other. If the purpose of capitalism is to allow corporations to play the market as aggressively as possible, the challenge for citizens is to stop these economic entities from being the authors of the rules by which we live.

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THE RULES OF THE GAME

Why has capitalism succeeded while democracy has steadily weakened? Democracy has become enfeebled largely because companies, in intensifying competition for global consumers and investors, have invested ever greater sums in lobbying, public relations, and even bribes and kickbacks, seeking laws that give them a competitive advantage over their rivals. The result is an arms race for political influence that is drowning out the voices of average citizens. In the United States, for example, the fights that preoccupy Congress, those that consume weeks or months of congressional staff time, are typically contests between competing companies or industries.

While corporations are increasingly writing their own rules, they are also being entrusted with a kind of social responsibility or morality. Politicians praise companies for acting “responsibly” or condemn them for not doing so. Yet the purpose of capitalism is to get great deals for consumers and investors. Corporate executives are not authorized by anyone—least of all by their investors—to balance profits against the public good. Nor do they have any expertise in making such moral calculations. Democracy is supposed to represent the public in drawing such lines. And the message that companies are moral beings with social responsibilities diverts public attention from the task of establishing such laws and rules in the first place.

It is much the same with what passes for corporate charity. Under today’s intensely competitive form of global capitalism, companies donate money to good causes only to the extent the donation has public-relations value, thereby boosting the bottom line. But shareholders do not invest in firms expecting the money to be used for charitable purposes. They invest to earn high returns. Shareholders who wish to be charitable would, presumably, make donations to charities of their own choosing in amounts they decide for themselves. The larger danger is that these conspicuous displays of corporate beneficence hoodwink the public into believing corporations have charitable impulses that can be relied on in a pinch.

By pretending that the economic success corporations enjoy saddles them with particular social duties only serves to distract the public from democracy’s responsibility to set the rules of the game and thereby protect the common good. The only way for the citizens in us to trump the consumers in us is through laws and rules that make our purchases and investments social choices as well as personal ones. A change in labor laws making it easier for employees to organize and negotiate better terms, for example, might increase the price of products and services. My inner consumer won’t like that very much, but the citizen in me might think it a fair price to pay. A small transfer tax on sales of stock, to slow the movement of capital ever so slightly, might give communities a bit more time to adapt to changing circumstances. The return on my retirement fund might go down by a small fraction, but the citizen in me thinks it worth the price. Extended unemployment insurance combined with wage insurance and job training could ease the pain for workers caught in the downdrafts of globalization.

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http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php...3934&page=0

Another good article from Foreign Policy Magazine, thought I would share it with all the Capitalist dogs here :P

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I am a capitalist dog... and proud of it. I fail to see how capitalism is hurting democracy, after all it was the maxim of capitalism : Capitalism only works if the majority profits from it that created universal suffrage.

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I am a capitalist dog... and proud of it. I fail to see how capitalism is hurting democracy, after all it was the maxim of capitalism : Capitalism only works if the majority profits from it that created universal suffrage.

I see Capitalism hurting Democracy when the leaders of Canada, US and Mexico meet behind closed doors with business leaders for secret meetings about which direction our countries should go in and potentially go in together under one Union. I see protesters heading over there to voice their opinion and being kept miles away so these political and business leaders can have their meetings without being disturbed by the people's opinion. I see undercover cops pretending to be protesters and trying to incite violence to discredit the people's concerns.

Or at any WTO rally where huge numbers of people are clearly upset and unhappy with the way that business is given a greater role in decision making than the people who vote, these people get attacked by police when many of them are protesting peacefully, though some are protesting violently and that usually happens when they realize peaceful protests are easy to ignore.

I see corporations contributing large sums of money to all parties to ensure whoever the people elect are in their pocket regardless of party, I see no alternative other than to vote for the Corporate Party's many wings, the right wing and the not so right wing which is called the "left".

I see wars being waged for profit, that the profit driven media helps mold public opinion to support such wars, I see people protesting such wars all around the world and being ignored because their interests are clearly not important when there are huge contracts to be given out, billions to be spent and resources to be secured to ensure this profit driven system can keep running.

I see Coke and Pepsi cans and numerous other junk foods being sold at schools even though they clearly are a disadvantage to students and teachers trying to educate because these junk food companies partly fund these schools because there is not enough money for education but billions for profit driven war. I see our health system, our education system and our social system losing more and more funding while privatized jails are being built to house the ever increasing prison population that is no doubt a product of poverty.

I see corporations attempting to privatize water in countries and trying to make a buck off of the most basic human right, harassing people for putting out buckets to catch rain water because they can't afford to pay for the water after it is privatized and eventually these people rioting and reversing such insane laws while the media and our governments attempt to demonize them for being "Communists". I see jobs being sent overseas and immigrants flowing in to achieve cheaper labour rates and larger profits.

I can hardly see anything that is untouched by the drive for profit at the expense of the human race, I want to see our race evolve and move forward but all I see is fatter, dumber people being pushed through our failing education system because they are less likely to care or do anything about this madness... so I have naturally fallen back on the only thing I can imagine that can fix this, and because I don't believe reform is possible on a system so inherently backwards, I want to see it all fall down starting with the top, the USA :)

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OK guys, how is that capitalism if some dudes, of whom we know that at least one cannot spell capitalism, mount a, so called, globalization conspiracy against the public?

Anybody following closely the Davos meeting sees it is big capitalists who tell politicians year after year that they need an expanse of democratic rights and personal freedoms.

If the politicians (who all just went into politics 'cause the only other job available was CEO at Microsoft) don't understand that, and prefer to give in to lobby groups of apprentices of capitalism, then that is hardly capitalists who are at fault.

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And what do you propose as the alternative ?

Communism ?

Fascism ?

Scientology ?

How about we all surrender to Islam ?

Hey.. we could do a LOT worse than convert to Bhuddism.. sell all our possessions and beg for a living.

Happy with that ?

Precisely WHAT is your point here Manslaughter ?

Meow Purr.

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If we were wise we would say that no form of Goverment works for all types of people. One mans heaven is another mans hell.

The problem with the human race is its leaders are encapable of excepting this. Every leader is essentially a single minded muppet who doesnt want to except the floors in their own ideas and beliefs.

Democracy, Republic, Monarchy, Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Theocracy, Communism, Totaliltarianism, Authoritariansim, Anarchy and every other form of government you can think of is a load of rubbish. Some citizens in each one have a great time some get their lives ruined.

What every person on this planet needs to do is to firstly shut the mouths of their leaders.

Secondly is to get Goverment tailored to the individual person and by that I mean a tailored state for each person.

All citizens should be given ID cards. On that card their psychological and genetic profiles should be stored.

The nation could be made of a 1000 states each one made to benefit a differant makeup of person. All these states co-exist together but your ID card determines what areas of the real state you can go in.

So in effect if you need controlling the state you live in as far as you are concerned controls you.

If you are capable of being good when given complete freedom then the state you would live in from your point of view would be totally free.

Etc, Etc.

Then goverment would work for all people.

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Capitalism is great but only when everyone benefits from it as opposed to a small group who's desire is power over others and ownership of whatever they can get their hands on.

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Capitalism is great but only when everyone benefits from it as opposed to a small group who's desire is power over others and ownership of whatever they can get their hands on.

But that is not capitalism, that is called Plutocracy.

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But that is not capitalism, that is called Plutocracy.

Capitalism always leads to plutocracy.

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Capitalism always leads to plutocracy.

Only if the majority is passive enough to let it happen.

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No more secrets.... or meetings...is that the answer?

So people who run off with company secrets are the ones that succeeded.

Thats how its done now.

Stock broker goes off with company customers and sets up office with same data line,

will help against monopoly.

Do we have secrets now that would help, the California Energy crisis and Enron would be avoided.

Does UFOs and 9/11 Mysteries count as bettering our world if they were not secrets in the first place.

I can't say if no secrets or having secrets are better, cause the no secret world can't be

envisioned due to the hidden existence of deeds past done.

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I came from extremely poor beginnings and if it were not for capitalism, I would still be poor. You can go with communism if want but I will stay with capitalism.

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Another good article from Foreign Policy Magazine, thought I would share it with all the Capitalist dogs here :P

WOOF WOOF (wags tail) oops sorry... did'nt mean to scare you ships-cat :P

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Precisely WHAT is your point here Manslaughter ?

Uhm create discussion, question how "free" people really are.... and well basically... to be honest I just really felt like calling someone, anyone really, a Capitalist dog ^_^ This article seemed like a good one to post and do that.

.... actually what I meant was, to tell you Capitalist dogs that you are slaves to the corporations and they are destroying the world and only Hugo Chavez has the power to save you and the rest of humanity from the Satanic NWO owl-worshipping... corporatist Zionist Reptillian-bloodline Luciferic Bankers :yes:

Edited by MansLaughteR
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.... actually what I meant was, to tell you Capitalist dogs that you are slaves to the corporations and they are destroying the world and only Hugo Chavez has the power to save you and the rest of humanity from the Satanic NWO owl-worshipping... corporatist Zionist Reptillian-bloodline Luciferic Bankers :yes:

That's right folks, socialism has never worked because the right person has never been in charge.

CHOWVEZ CHOWVEZ HE"S OUR MAN... IF HE CAN"T DO IT NOBODY CAN !

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I think there are those who are in the illusion that Socialism results into the ideal democracy.

Edited by AROCES
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The US is not a Free Market.

A huge portion of patents come from the Gov. and Military sector and are then supplied to corporations. Tax payer funded Corporate R and D basically.

Another example: The recent Tax Payer funded bailout of the Private banks.........

No, we have plenty of Corporate welfare in this Country.

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That's right folks, socialism has never worked because the right person has never been in charge.

Actually... NO form of government has ever "worked" ;)

And that is because humans are in charge(naturally lol) and humans make errors and are inherently different from one another and that difference makes it impossible to satisfy everyone because everyone wants different things. Some governments attempt to repress this division by silencing dissent, by silencing dissent they give everyone one vision of what the country should be and what it is, for good or bad intent this singular vision and focus makes a country stronger. Other governments allow varying degrees of dissent and allow its people mutiple visions of what the country should be(but only to a degree, multiple economic systems are rarely tolerated), these countries are forced to water themselves down, dilute themselves to satisfy everyone, bickering and stagnation set in and different goals are set by its people but are muddied and not met, divisions and hatred between parties begins and its like a constant tug of war where most of the country's focus and energy are pitted against one another. Wars are launched by one party and hampered and obstructed by the other, for political reasons, and this weakens the country to such an extent that people wearing sandles and firing 30-year old communist made firearms start to drag them down, spending billions and billions of dollars on not only the war itself but also profit driven corporate corruption, this piles debt upon debt upon debt until this country..... oh you know what I mean :lol:

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The US is not a Free Market.

A huge portion of patents come from the Gov. and Military sector and are then supplied to corporations. Tax payer funded Corporate R and D basically.

Another example: The recent Tax Payer funded bailout of the Private banks.........

No, we have plenty of Corporate welfare in this Country.

You got something there, but watch out ... better look at the end scene of Easy Ruder before telling an American that he really is not free...

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We need to educate ourselves and empower ourselves. Capitalism is great, but the society as a whole has to be intelligent enough to know what they want. For the whole Democracy/Capitalism thing to work the society itself has to be educated, politcally aware and as individuals think for ourselves. We need to be our own watchdogs and protect the ideals that keep the whole concept running, but always in the direction of the common good. Most importantly we all have to be watchful of anyone or anything that threatenings the common good, becuase if it is threatened we need to get angry and stop it, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore"

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We need to educate ourselves and empower ourselves. Capitalism is great, but the society as a whole has to be intelligent enough to know what they want. For the whole Democracy/Capitalism thing to work the society itself has to be educated, politcally aware and as individuals think for ourselves. We need to be our own watchdogs and protect the ideals that keep the whole concept running, but always in the direction of the common good. Most importantly we all have to be watchful of anyone or anything that threatenings the common good, becuase if it is threatened we need to get angry and stop it, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore"

Excellent stuff! and so true.

Democracy cannot be true when we are sold lies and deception.

You cannot have Democracy without an informed public. And that is exactly what they do not want.

The whole thing seems to me to be set up to preserve the financial hierarchy and limit the input of the so called unwashed masses.

Hence Billionares and Corporations have better tax rates.

Hence we have an income tax rather than a purchase tax

Hence year after year Americans consistently say they want more social spending and less military spending, yet the trend is the opposite.

Hence the vast majority of Americans have wanted Universal Health coverage for some time.

And now they ship our industries overseas thus making us compete with slave wages, and thus driving down wages here. Hence that increases worker uncertainty. Hence workers are scared to organize and ask for a raise. Hence we have ten percent of the Unions we had in the seventies. Hence median income is dropping while productivity is rising and the stockholders are making a killing. Hence severe poverty is the highest it has been in thirty years.

But at least you have people waking up to this scam.

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