Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 17, 2005
WCR Letters to the Editor
Let's scrutinize democracy
Glen Argan's thoughtful Sept. 26 editorial("No scrutiny of Canada's elite") raised the important question of democracy. Key concepts in Catholic social teaching such as the common good, the preferential option for the poor and the priority of labour over capital can be realized only in a true democracy.
The word democracy simply means government of, by and for the population - rule by the ruled and all of the time. You can't be a little pregnant.
Nowadays, the word "democracy" is trotted out a hundred times a minute by politicians, especially during elections. Few of them know what it means; they believe it is the system that we now have. But we aren't even close to meaningful democracy.
A simple test will show how far from democracy we really are. Look at the school curriculum. What information is allowed? Is genuine democracy ever a topic? Are the root causes of poverty and inequality taught?
Look at the mainstream media and ask who determines what is reported and what is left out? Does the corporate media ever debate true democracy? Look at Parliament and the legislatures. Who makes the big political decisions and who are chief beneficiaries of those decisions?
So-called "democracy" in state-capitalist societies has always meant that elite elements based in the business community control governments by virtue of their dominance of the private sector, while the population watches passively.
It is a system where electors, if they vote at all, have no choice but to rubber stamp, on one (election) day every four years, the corporate agenda (profits over people), and guarantee the legal protection of the privileges of the wealthy and the powerful.
Many have become addicted to commercial television. It exploits the emotional needs of vast audiences feeding them mindless shows designed as entertainment. Viewers are diverted or distracted from identifying the causes of their problems, let alone the understanding of any sensible solutions to them.
Even newscasts are often little more than infotainment or fear-mongering. For the tiny number of ruling elites, the system functions best when the people are confused, afraid and obedient. They're easy to control that way.
Tax-deductible advertising makes up 60 per cent or more of the self-censored daily newspapers. The idea is to turn citizens into apathetic consumers, and convince them that the way to deal with their empty lives is by buying more and more stuff.
Vaunted possessive individualism ensures that they will be disconnected from encountering the needs of others. After all, you are what you own in this materialistic society.
There is little doubt that the provincial government cannot tolerate dissent, the essence of democracy.
The current Klein government is big business, and it has its own propaganda apparatus, the Public Affairs Bureau, from which information can be easily controlled or spun away. We pay $13 million a year in taxes for that.
Lately, a few mainstream writers have been hyping what's called the "democratic deficit." Things like redressing the absence of opposition MLAs on government committees or holding longer legislature sittings are touted as ways to overcome the deficit. But these are merely window dressing.
It wouldn't make any difference if we had proportional representation, or even if everyone participated in the ratification of the ruling elite's decisions.
The bottom line is that the economy is held largely in private hands.
The other Golden Rule obtains: the few who own and control most of the gold make all of the important rules. Big dollars vote every day.
In a real democracy, there would be popular, not corporate, ownership and control of our natural resources. Economic democracy would mean significant income equality, but the rich-poor gap is wider than ever.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.