Nobody really believes in democracy. Everyone is for democracy when they are on the popular winning side. But when you are not winning, looking for a fix is overwhelmingly tempting. After all, you know you are right (whether you are or not.) And it is totally unfair when you lose. Look at the US, supposedly the premier democracy, trying to make the Justice Department an arm of the Republican party. Or look at them trying to bring “democracy” to Iraq and Afghanistan down the barrel of a gun. The means determine the ends. Justifying is irrelevant. Violent and oppressive means lead to violent and oppressive ends. Criminal means lead to criminal ends.
In addition, in the words of Vandana Shiva:
Centralized economic systems also erode the democratic base of politics. In a democracy, the economic agenda is the political agenda. When the former is hijacked by the World Bank, the IMF, or the WTO, democracy is decimated. The only cards left in the hands of politicians eager to garner votes are those of race, religion, and ethnicity … fundamentalism effectively fills the vacuum left by a decaying democracy.
And speaking of centralized economic systems, giant transnational corporations are dwarfing sovereign countries, even large and wealthy sovereign countries. I read the following over at Global Guerrillas:
There’s a mountain of evidence that the global system is now so large, fast, and fluid that nation-states have lost control. The market is now in charge, and even the most powerful nation-states are merely participants. Worse, uncontrolled markets are prone to disruptions (price spikes, shortages, starvation, etc.), corruption (hollow states, predatory money, etc.), and melt-downs (economic, environmental, etc.).
He does mention that some, such as Thomas Barnett see it as a frontier. But adds:
In my view, the global system is an open source platform (in engineering speak, a bow-tie control structure). This type of platform grows very quickly due to simple rules of interconnection and is VERY resistant to upgrades after they are established. This simplicity is actually a design feature, not a flaw, since it enables a bewildering level of complexity to develop on the periphery (the two ends of the bow-tie, radiating outwards). Doesn’t look like a frontier to me…
Now there may be an element of diagnosing the problem according to his area of specialization here, but what he describes is well worth considering.
here’s michael klare, from his latest book
In the emerging international power system [energy-surplus vs energy-deficit], we can expect the struggle over energy to override all other considerations, national leaders to go to extreme lengths to ensure energy sufficiency for their countries, and state authority over both domestic and foreign energy affairs to expand. Oil will cease to be primarily a trade commodity, to be bought and sold on the international market, becoming instead the preeminent strategic resource on the planet, whose acquisition, production, and distribution will increasingly absorb the time, effort, and focus of senior government and military officials.
h/t to b real
One thing I wonder is, will the importance of controlling resources pit corporations and government interests against each other in the US? Up until now they have moved most of the time in lockstep since the founding of the country (see the quotations at the bottom of this page.) Or will the quest for resources tighten the lockstep? Partly this will depend on the voters. In recent years many US voters have been locked into the developed world version of the fundamentalism that characterizes a decaying democracy. Will it be possible for voters to break out of that pattern and realistically consider their economic interests, especially considering the way news is reported in the US? There are plenty of people and institutions that will be working hard to prevent democratic trends. Or will the desire of the government and the military to control resources lead to an end of democracy and to an even more autocratic state? That certainly seems the desire of the present US government.