Tag Archives | Democracy

This Is What Dollarocracy Looks Like

Dollar symbol gold.svg

Rugby471 (CC)

John Nichols (featured in Pay 2 Play!) writes “The 2014 election campaign was an exercise in dollarocracy, not democracy,” at The Nation:

In a democracy, citizens are in charge, votes matter and the governments that take shape after elections reflect the will of the people.

In a dollarocracy, money is considered “speech,” corporations are considered “people” and elected officials take their cues from the billionaires and corporate interests that write the biggest checks. Campaigns cost exponentially more from cycle to cycle (the 2014 price tag will exceed $4 billion for federal races and billions more for state, local, judicial and initiative and referendum contests), and government becomes reflective of the demands of donors.

But that is just the most obvious evidence of the crisis.

Dollarocracy is about a lot more than the money raised and spent in campaigns. It is about the collapse of meaningful journalism, resulting from the downsizing and closure of newspapers, the replacement of local news and talk radio programming with syndicated “content” from afar, the reduction in political coverage by local television news outlets, and the horse-race coverage and spin that tend to characterize national news programs on broadcast and cable television.

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6 Scenes We Love About the Sham of Democracy

via Film School Rejects:

Did you vote? If not, is it because you don’t think your vote matters? I can understand why you might believe that, because of how cynical we’ve gotten about democracy in America. Some of that is due to the real world, what we’ve seen or what we’ve been told about political and electoral corruption, not that either is anything remotely new. Some of it, though, is due to the way the movies reinforce that idea that elections are shams.

We’re long past the days of Frank Capra, although his movies weren’t exactly free of the evils of the system; they just treated them as the stuff of villains and seemed hopeful about idealism and democracy in the end. Since then we’ve had Watergate and Bush v. Gore and numerous Election Day controversies a decade, and through it all we’ve had exaggerated depictions of the worst of the democratic process.

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Facing Up to the Capitalist Within

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

“Prayers on deck, slaves under the deck—John Newton’s Christian slave ship.” Credit: http://emmock.com/2013/01/22/bible-blog-945/

Georgie Wingfield-Hayes writes at openDemocracy:

It’s easy to blame the economic system for causing social and environmental problems, but what is that system built on? Isn’t it us?

John Newton (1725-1807) is best known for penning the hymn Amazing Grace in the later years of his life as a minister in the Church of England. In 1788 he published a pamphlet entitled Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade, in which he spoke out strongly against what he called “a disgraceful branch of commerce.” But for much of his life Newton worked on slave ships, including four years as captain of his own vessel taking stolen African men and women to the American colonies.

Newton’s transition from slaver to minister and activist was inspired by one particular event. On a return journey to Liverpool in 1748, a great storm had threatened to sink his ship, and the fear he was forced to face affected him profoundly, changing his views about the people who were imprisoned beneath his feet.

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The Illusion of Democracy

Hartwig HKD (cc by-nd 2.0).

Hartwig HKD (cc by-nd 2.0).

via News Junkie Post:

From people’s rule to a broken social contract.

It is ironic, considering democracy’s pitiful state worldwide that, in accordance to its etymology, it literally means “common people’s rule” or, more simply, “people’s power.” The English term democracy and the 14th-century French word democratie come from the Greek demokratia via the Latin democratia. The Greek radical demos means “common people,” and kratos means “rule, or power.”

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From Dictatorship to Democracy

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 4.49.09 PMFrom Dictatorship to Democracy

Last night, whilst watching TV, a very interesting documentary was on, called How to Start a Revolution. I had never heard of the book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” before, nor how it had been instrumental to the Velvet and Orange revolutions of Eastern Europe, not to mention several other popular uprisings around the world (Arab Spring, etc.). The methodology in the book are tried, tested and have worked all around the world.

The 198 rules (in the appendix) are a road map to peacefully overthrowing a repressive regime and may represent human-kinds last best hope of changing our seemingly inevitable course towards climate induced species extinction.

This should be required reading for anyone who has any wish to change the current oligarchical status-quo of psychopathic elites willing to kill us all for a few more dollars.

You can read the full book here

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[Interview] Legalise online protests to safeguard democracy

By 2nd Anoniversary via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

By 2nd Anoniversary via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

via New Scientist:

You argue that the internet should be used for disruptive demonstration. Isn’t it already?
Currently, the entire internet is private property. In the US, there are laws that protect freedom of political speech in “public areas” – sidewalks, roads and parks – where you can stand with your sign.

There aren’t spaces like that on the internet, even though it has become a very central location in many people’s lives. To say that, because of a technicality, the speech rights you have in other areas of your life simply don’t exist online would be to abdicate the power of the internet to corporations and governments who often have very little interest in challenging the status quo.

One type of online protest overwhelms servers to crash websites. How does it work?
An activist distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is essentially when you and your friends go to, say, whitehouse.gov and hit refresh a bunch of times to bring down the host server so that other people can’t access the site.

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Down With Western ‘Democracy’!

GodBlessAmericaAndre Vltchek writes at CounterPunch:

A specter is haunting Europe and Western world — it is this time, the specter of fascism. It came quietly, without great fanfare and parades, without raised hands and loud shouts. But it came, or it returned, as it has always been present in this culture, one that has, for centuries, been enslaving our entire planet.

As was in Nazi Germany, resistance to the fascist empire is again given an unsavory name: terrorism. Partisans and patriots, resistance fighters – all of them were and have always been defined by fascist bigots as terrorists.

By the logic of Empire, to murder millions of men, women and children in all corners of the world abroad is considered legitimate and patriotic, but to defend one’s motherland was and is a sign of extremism.

German Nazis and Italian Fascists defined their rule as ‘democratic’, and so does this Empire.

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What’s So Bad About a SuperPAC?

FEC Colbert Super PAC

Or, how I came to love the (money) bomb

Celebrated intellectual property lawyer and Harvard professor Larry Lessig writes at Medium:

The single most important change in American politics today is not the rise of Internet-driven, small-dollar contributions. It is the SuperPAC. The Net may have fueled Obama in 2008. (It almost gave us Howard Dean in 2004.) But all that is old school now — completely professionalized and, in the end, not the most important. What is important is the big contributions, not the small.

What is important is not Paypal, but a brand new version of a very old game — pay to play.

It astonishes me that this is a controversial statement. But it is. After 2012, many pundits declared that SuperPACs didn’t matter. Things in 2013 looked much as they did in 2012. And anyway, as speech absolutists on the right and left insist, all SuperPACs do is enable more political speech.

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Rethinking Democracy

rubio_jeffersonA pretty compelling read introducing the radical idea that maybe Democracy needs to be reconsidered. Old hat to postmodernism, of course, but maybe it’s time for some mainstream exposure for these notions.

via Salon:

This is what democracy looks like: grotesque inequality, delusional Tea Party obstructionism, a vast secret national-security state, overseas wars we’re never even told about and a total inability to address the global climate crisis, a failure for which our descendants will never forgive us, and never should. Maybe I’ll take the turtle costumes after all. The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing.

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