Is it or isn’t it?

What is “democracy”? I’ve been asking the question ever since I was a kid. Just as I asked what is “good art”?

Is it at all possible to arrive at a universally acceptable definition of “art”? Let alone “good” art? Art historians and critics maintain it is. I suspect that in any case, there is a lot of humbug involved, but not only humbug. There is an ingot of the sublime in there somewhere, in art, that is, but I have long since ceased to even try to grasp it.

Likewise, most of us in so-called democratic countries fervently believe in “democracy” without necessarily knowing just what we are so passionate about or why?

What we do know is that we don’t want to live in certain other countries. The thing is, most people living in most countries – except in those that have been rendered uninhabitable, and even in some of those – want to continue living there. I very much doubt that our rationale for living where we live has anything to do with democracy, even in the USA, which considers itself the mother and the father, of democracy.

Why do I doubt that? Well, for one thing, because I don’t consider the USA a democracy. And whereas life has been, until very recently, easier for most people in Europe than for most people in the USA, democracy in Europe, too, is slithering down a slippery slope.

Democratic features in so-called democratic countries

1) Elections

It is true that every few years we are allowed to vote for a person or a political party to represent our district. It’s called “parliamentary system”, and it worked well enough – although it wasn’t infallible – when we were few, when we knew the contesting parties and could assess the results of their labours. We knew whether A. was a “man of honour”, whether or not B.’s financial enterprises tended to be solid and beneficial to the community.

Nowadays, we cannot possibly know all the individuals who run for office. The contestants, be they individuals or political parties, all formulate their programmes as ambiguously as possible so as to attract people who might have very different, often opposing, needs and wishes. We no longer have even an inkling of the real aspirations* of the contestants. We therefore depend on political analysts. In short, we depend on the media.

*Explanatory digression about aspirations:

A school of economic thought associated with Friedrich Hayek quietly started with a whisper in the 1930s in the almost secretive Mont Pelerin Society. But it rapidly gained in popularity among the “filthy rich”. “Neoliberalism” – as we now refer to it, or “market fundamentalism” – has seeped into our pores and infiltrated all economic activity, not only in “democratic” countries, but also, and not least, in dictatorships.

The economist Maynard Keynes tried to stop the neoliberal avalanche, but he died shortly after the Bretton Woods Conference (1944), where he was a key player but lost to the USA which has dominated most of the world ever since. Neoliberalism was violently imposed on the global south and has reluctantly been embraced even by European “labour parties” (which explains their dwindling popularity).

For a long time after Keynes’ death, market fundamentalism had few heavy-weight opponents. No corporations were going to protest, obviously. Intellectuals in frayed shirts were unable to move the electoral “masses”. Thus it has been until fairly recently. Even now, though there are several brilliant economists opposed to neoliberalism, they are basically ignored by the top dogs.

What I am trying to say is that a politician may say that he intends to improve care of the elderly. However, he may not tell you whether or not his approach to care of the elderly is “neoliberal”. Believe me, it matters!

End of digression

Voters know nothing of the ulterior motives of the man or woman they vote for. He/she may be sincere, but is more likely to be an inveterate liar. Voters are kept in the dark about the machinations of the political party they vote for. So we, voters, have no choice other than to vote for “the nice guy” or check our favourite sources in the media.

Candidates that cannot entirely conceal that their aspirations are neoliberal (i.e. that they prioritise capital (the haves rather than the have-nots) are assisted by the media (the “respectable” press, TV-channels, news networks, social media, etc. etc.) The mainstream media serves the important function of dressing up capital because it is owned by capital. For example: If capital is in favour of a war, the mainstream media will sugar the war.

So: Regardless of who wins an election, nothing much ever changes, except for the worse – for most of us, that is. Yet, they have the gall to complain about low voter turnouts.

I’m pretty sure people in so-called democratic countries do not know how the people of Palestine have been mistreated for decades and how the entire population of Gaza is being tortured to death. I have to believe that most people in so-called democratic countries are not deeply immoral, not evil, and that, had they known what is going on, they would never ever, ever have allowed it. I have to believe that they allow it only because they are being kept in the dark. I have to believe that, because if this were not so, we would have to welcome the impending demise of the human species.

Anyway, I know that the mainstream media does not inform us, because I, too, read the mainstream media.

The mainstream media tells us that the US economy is doing brilliantly, so US citizens should vote for Biden and EU citizens should continue to bank on the USA. Indeed, the US economy is doing brilliantly, but the gems are not trickling down to the average US citizen. In October 2023, US debt was 33 trillion USD, probably more like 35 trillion now – yes, that’s trillion!

A US default on the national debt:

… would trigger the domestic economic equivalent of a nuclear carpet bombing. —

In the U.S., a staggering 7% of federal spending goes to servicing debt. Those taxpayer dollars are no longer doing anything to strengthen the economy or improve the lives of its citizens. And every time we run an annual budget deficit, that spending on debt service goes up.


I put to you that this is not what the average US citizen voted for.

I put to you that the average citizen of so-called democratic countries is not raring to go off to the upcoming Olympic war games, which are being prepared and sponsored by Biden and his ilk, together with Stoltenberg, Cameron, Macron, Baerbock and St. Ursula, etc. Top dogs in so-called democratic countries will, of course only see the “action” they hanker for on their screens, they hope. Alas, or should I say fortunately, once the really heavy punches are delivered, even they might not be spared.

The Russian deputy foreign minister has allegedly suggested that these people should devote less time to video games and somewhat more time to reality, over which they seem to have a slim grasp.

2) Freedom

Those who can afford it, can do almost anything they want to do, short of murder (or even murder if they can afford to conceal it).

But: Such freedom is also enjoyed by the privileged few in fascist states.

It is true that there are countries where religious mores or prevailing values and attitudes impose limitations on what you can wear and how you can behave in public. Even in democratic countries, there are many such communities. More often than not, the restrictions are supported by a majority, but a minority will feel heavily suppressed.

No matter where you live in the world, there will be minorities. Some minorities will have a tougher time than others, it is true.

3) Freedom of expression and of information

This is the most important and possibly the only, real asset of a democracy. This is the truly invaluable ingot!

Those who express seriously dissident views will not be prosecuted or imprisoned or tortured in a democracy. Those who want to know what the powers-that-be are up to can access that information in the mainstream press of a democracy.

But that most invaluable of rights, one which is absent in many of the countries we “don’t want to live in” is no longer guaranteed in the the so-called democratic countries either. True, small-fry dissidents will only be ridiculed, ignored, maybe even spat upon. They will be jeered at in social media, eventually blocked from all forums and isolated, but they will not be imprisoned.

However, we have now learnt that if a dissident really manages to unmask the powers-that-be and reveal their crimes, as did Julian Assange, he will be prosecuted, tortured and slow-motion-killed.

We have seen that the mainstream – i.e. “respectable” – press is no longer available to heavy-weight dissidents who truly challenge the establishment. There are intelligent and very well-informed people who question the wisdom of US forever-wars, into which European allies are dragged, and many more who question the wisdom of US and EU support for the ongoing genocide. Those who speak out are paying a price. They are labelled “conspiracy theorists” and are blocked from all platforms, including not least the “respectable” press. Many are expelled from universities or lose their jobs. Many will undoubtedly have to get heavily into debt to cover legal defence fees.

Those who seek knowledge about the forever-wars search in vain in the mainstream media, where views preferred by capital, and by extension any ruling party, will dominate.

I put to you that most people in the USA/EU would be furious if they knew that their taxes were contributing to the death by starvation of Gazan children, to the stunting of those who do not die.

I put to you that voters in so-called democratic countries are not free to make “informed decisions”.

I put to you that we are nearly as brainwashed as the citizens of Oceania in 1984 by Orwell.

Admittedly, those who doubt the magnificence of whatever party is the ruling Party are not killed. They are just not heard or seen. They are “vaporised”.

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