Democracy’s Crisis in 10 points

Published on Dissident Voice, by Jan Oberg, June 6, 2014.

… It’s not always included in the definitions that democracy requires a reasonable level of knowledge and information, freely available. For instance, one often hears that India is the world’s biggest democracy but 26% of the people are still illiterate (287 million people).  

So the ”world’s largest democracy” also has the world’s largest population who can’t read and write. In comparison, China illiterate citizens make up about 3% and is regularly called a dictatorship … //

… Are young people giving up parliamentary democracy? … //

… The state of democracy – 10 points:

  • 1. The state is being challenged from below and from above?
    Democracy is tied to the state, to ”my country”, and not to the world society. But the state is getting weaker due to pressures from both below and above. It’s often stated that global problems can only be solved by supra-national co-operation but those issues are discussed in various interest and regional associations and ad hoc forums. There are no democratic decision-making mechanisms at the global level.
  • 2. Economic aspects dominate?
    Most of what is discussed in democracies are related to the economy, and that further reduced to the politics of the wallet. The pervasive focus on economy signifies that, over time, national politics has become a – relatively powerless – tool in trying to adjust the economic globalisation that is roaring ahead – anything but confined to the single country, but truly globalising.
  • 3. Materialism over life values:
    ?Parliamentary democracy’s obsession with economics makes it uninteresting for those who believe that democratic debate should also deal with values, ethics, concepts such as justice and peace. Over time democracies have phased out every quality of intellectualism and philosophy – even discussions of visions of the better future society … //

… Citizens’ sense of not getting through to decision-makers:

  • The sentiments expressed by an increasing proportion of citizens in the Western world is that it is extremely difficult to “get through” to the people who make decisions on the top. Compared with a few decades ago, these top decision-makers also seem to feel it less important to be in direct dialogue with the constituencies. Some no longer responds to email (or have gate keepers) or even snail mails, quite a few do not respond to critics of their policies in the media.
  • In one of his last interviews, French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) said that every time you vote, you give away power. That statement points to the essential, classical distinction between representative democracy and direct democracy. In the first you delegate to someone else who has convinced/seduced you, to take care of your interests.
  • We know this generally leads to false promise-making and considerable disappointment with the whole idea of politics. In the second, citizens take issues in their own hands – which of course has other disadvantages and encompasses a whole series of other problems. But without a vibrant citizenship, no demoracy is possible.

Least bad but far from good enough:

  • In summary, while democracy perhaps remains the least bad system, we should take care not to equate that statement with democracy being good enough.
  • It is no test of its quality that Western democracy is – ceteris paribus – better than authoritarian regimes or outright dictatorship.
  • Complacency in this matters could easily lead us towards whatever we associate with the opposite of democracy in years to come. Was the EU Parliamentary elections an indicator of just that at a deeper level?
  • Since the above discussion is very critical, the next article will invite the reader to a dialogue about some possible things that could be done to regain the basics of democracy and make it better for the future.

(full text).

(Jan Oberg is a peace researcher, art photographer, and Director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) where this article first appeared. Reach him
here. Read other articles by Jan


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Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Government as we wish it or government as we will it, on Dissident Voice, by Arthur D. Robbins, June 6, 2014;

Spanish State: After the Abdication of the King, It’s Time to Checkmate the Regime, on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin no 993, by Esther Vivas, June 6, 2014;

We’ll Get You: An Albanian Boy’s Life Ruined by Blood Feuds – part 1, on Spiegel Online International, by Katrin Kuntz and Maria Feck (photos) in Shkoder, Albania, June 06, 2014 (14 Photos in the Gallery): Blood feuds still exist in Albania and those involved have to live a life in hiding. They include people like Leonard Qukaj, who has left his home only rarely in the last four years for fear of being murdered by a rival clan — or by his own uncle …;
Part 2: You Drink a Lot of Raki When You Do this Work;

Millions of Arabs Will Return, on Dissident Vice, by Roi Tov, June 6, 2014;

Reporting on the Middle East: Please go back to the streets, on Intrepid Report, by Ramzy Baroud, June 6, 2014;

Ostrich economics, on Real-World Economics Review Blog, by Lars Syll, June 5, 2014;

The Democratic Deficit: Europeans Vote, Merkel Decides – part 1, on Spiegel Online International, by Spiegel staff, June 02, 2014 (Photo Gallery) Before the European Parliament election last month, voters were told the poll would also determine the next Commission president. In a silent putsch against the electorate, Angela Merkel is now impeding the process. She fears a loss of power and Britain’s EU exit …;

Part 2: Merkel’s Not-So-Grand Plan;

Sweden’s Elite More Loyal with NATO, the US, and EU than with Its People, on Dissident Voice, by Jan Oberg, May 2, 2014;

Meinungen und Stimmungen 2014, 21.10 min, von GOHWEST, April 8, 2014;

Volker Pispers erklärt das System: Schulden, Rente und die Schweiz, 14.10 min, von desperodair am 27. Januar 2012 auf YouTube hochgeladen;

BWL Studenten: Die Gezüchteten Zahnrädchen Der Elite, 7.11 min, von Mainstream Smasher am 30. August 2008 auf YouTube hochgeladen: Ein krankes Geldsystem braucht kranke Berufsgruppen;

25 scary bridges, 8.03 min, uploaded by list 25, Nov 8, 2013.

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