Sunday, November 28, 2010

Influx of capitalistic values into democracy

Sad influx of capitalistic values into democracy

In most of the countries in the world, irrespective of the political system, capitalism is the reigning economic system. Freedom of enterprise is its hallmark. Competition to sell more, or create high demand for own products over that of others is also its inevitable feature. Maximum efficiency, by way of avoidance of wastage, optimum utilization of the resources in hand, whether raw-material,labor or the Time factor, do also form the integral aspects of Capitalistic way of doing things most efficiently!

One of capitalism’s great champions of our century, Ayn Rand wrote, Capitalism is the very symbol of man’s ultimate freedom. It gives the entrepreneur the ultimate expression of his creativity. It gives the same freedom to his customer, as well as employees too. They are also free to choose their products from the open market, or their preferred employer from the job market! An atmosphere  of complete freedom!

But when the reigning political system of modern day- Democracy- has also adopted the above principles of capitalism for upholding freedom of man, it should make an interesting subject of study! It is a plain truth, that modern democracy has adopted many of the 'values' and 'lessons' from the Capitalistic system to perfect the former's working principles and the hold on their 'markets' etc.

Though their products are different, markets are different, targets are different, Capitalism's base Values on efficiency, her absolute fixation on her well defined goals etc, turned good lessons for Democracy. If Capitalism's field is producing WEALTH, Democracy has her similar goal; creating maximum Political power! If selling maximum goods makes capitalism work most efficiently, creating larger and larger electorate is Democracy's success mantra. Explore all available ploys to gain maximum voters, let it be a Caste-equation, economic class identities, religions, language, culture, and even economic class identities like poor class, working class, middle class etc. Political parties routinely exploit such class or communal strategies to divide the people and woo them to certain VOTE-POCKETS. In every respect, such high-skilled strategies matched, or even exceeded similar marketing strategies of modern industry leaders! 

In a way, Democracy has more financial planning (wealth) involved in their profession than that in Capitalism; it is very clearly a commercial investment, perhaps much more larger a scale than that of typical industrialists! Huge amounts are to be spent on election-propaganda; they are not only for direct payments to specialized consultants ( we know, both in US, India etc,there are specialized election campaign and planning consultants, whose fee is hefty!) but also for party workers at all the nook and corner of the big countries. In many Federal States in India, candidates often bribe voters with alcohol, gifts and even plain cash! Election commission in India deploy special squads during election times, to check the movement of large volume of cash and alcohol!

Election time or not, political donations from Industrialists are routine. It makes the base capital, as well as running capital of political parties. Industrialists get rewarded by way of helpful licence laws and rules when the party comes to power. Crony capitalism is nothing but Political entities and industrialists turning close cronies for common  good.! Now, this relation is famously known as 'Neo-Liberalism'.

Organizational efficiency is where Democracy has learned much from Capitalism; It not only involves the financial efficiency, but also the meticulous development and deployment of party cadres, their local,district,State and Central level management.

So, in every respect, management of modern Democracies is much complex an entrepreneural task than that of plain industrial management.

We say, Democracy learned the tricks from Capitalism because, Capitalism originated bit earlier than Democracy.  It was the unfortunate shift of the basic concept of 'Human freedom' ( 'inalienable', according to American Founding fathers) to 'economic freedom of man',that caused the maximum damage to man's freedom!  The so called 'development or progress' of State had suddenly turned ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT and PROGRESS  of the States. States had adopted 'economic development of man' as the whole and sole motto, than what the American Founding fathers had envisaged as the primary purpose of a democratic State, ie to PROTECT RIGHTS VIOLATION OF MAN, especially FROM THE hands OF THE STATE and her apparatus!

The early-stage, primary mission of typical State as envisaged by American Founding fathers had died down, but their new motto, the economic development of all men, also hasn't picked up. One will wonder why; was it due to the basic faults of capitalism, or due to the new development of 'neo-liberalism'? 

 Perhaps, it was due to the predominance given to 'equality of opportunity' to all citizens to create wealth, instead of giving them unconditional EQUALITY in the arena of State governance. A very few only could utilize their 'opportunity' well, and create great wealth. The rest majority had to turn, or even degenerate into the status of 'resources' for the former minority's exercise of 'wealth making, and for their turning into ELITES in the society. 

This turn out has directly eroded the underlying sacred goals of democracy, and transformed it into a matter of entrepreneural task for political parties collectively, and its leaders individually - -for capture of the governmental power, and relishing its fruits by those entrepreneurs!

Both democracy and Capitalism shares more common tasks: in the matter of  competition:  winning is not the  only game, but pinning down the competitor too forms integral part of the game. It often moves beyond mere counter propaganda in Democracy; it turns nasty, and at times bloodier than the battles for the throne that once Kings had fought in older times. Political killings are not something new in democracy. 

Though under capitalism man stands reduced to his primordial jungle elements,thanks to Darwin's theory that might have influenced Adam Smith, the theory of the survival of the fittest. In Democracy too, every player knows that, it is a fierce fight for survival; here it is not a matter of making wealth and survive in the market, but the Prize in question is the proverbial realm of KINGS, the realm of RULING people and their lives and assets, a goal that is the pinnacle of every man's dream!

Capitalism gives all the care to keep the mainstream world look like the well decorated lobby of a star hotel; the PR factor is central for big business. Similarly, the PR factor is much central in Democracy too; Media institution has emerged as a means to cater to this need exclusively! PAID NEWS phenomenon is now tarnishing the image of modern media, as they meet the PR need of Political parties and their individual leaders, don't know out of professional responsibility, or for huge payments received under the table!

Capitalism pre-fixes each one’s place in the society as it was during the old caste ridden times. In democracy too, it is similar.  Citizen has a place, a pre-defined value, and a State provided identity. Any one who dares to assert one’s individuality over and above such pre-fixed role will court trouble. He will run the risk of being branded a trouble maker, an odd man out. Hence, one has to bury his individuality within, to make a typically good, law-abiding citizen of the country, willing to carry flags of his masters and leaders, when ever called for.  

We know that, in modern factories and work places too, a same atmosphere prevails; if any employee acts beyond his role, against his role as useful aid in the production and profit making process, he will be thrown out sooner than later!

Democracy, thus has become a meek and obliging maid in the capitalist society. It is the MASTER in the books, but plain reality of the day reveals, that actual masters are the industrialists! Political leadership comes and goes,but Capitalists will always be there, without altering the subject matter of this small deliberation, ie. it is Capitalism's values that helped Democracy to organize herself, and sustain.

Is it not time for us to revisit democracy’s  foundation- principles? Can we, man's sense of Reason permit the above degeneration of the People's from of govt as a commercial enterprise? 

Would love to share with the readers, this author's series of blog-posts on the theme of 'reinventing democracy', at link:

By : Abraham J.Palakudy  
An independent researcher and seeker in fields like mind, Reason, philosophy,Spirituality and Polity

Twitter: Voice of Philosophy@jopan1
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