Friday, September 10, 2004

Reinventing democracy

/ democracy / fixes /
Nobel prize winner in literature José Saramago, talks about the waning of democracy and how to save it. Excerpt:

To describe a government as socialist or social-democratic, or even conservative or liberal, and to apply the word power to it, is a cosmetic operation. Real - economic - power lies elsewhere. We perceive it only dimly. It slips away whenever we approach it yet hits hard if we attempt to loosen its grasp and subordinate it to the public interest. Citizens do not elect governments so that those governments can serve up the citizens to the market on a platter. But the market conditions governments to make a present of their citizens. In our era of free-market globalisation, the market is the super-instrument of the only powers worthy of the name, economic and financial power. That power is not democratic: it was not elected by the people; it is not managed by the people; and the people’s happiness is not its aim.

These are elementary truths. Political strategists of whatever shade impose a safe silence so that no one dare imply that we are continuing to nurture a lie and act as willing accomplices. What we call democracy looks more and more like government by the rich and less and less like government by the people. We cannot deny the obvious: the masses of the poor called upon to vote are never called upon to govern. Assuming the poor could form a government in which they were the majority, as Aristotle imagined, they would lack the means necessary to change the organisation of the universe of the rich who dominate and control them.

No comments: