Sunday 10 July 2011

The Dictatorship of the Democratariat

It’s almost a matter of faith in certain circles of the Great Indian Muddle Class that the only way ahead for politics is the two-party system; and right-wing politicians wistfully say they’d love to see a two-party system in the country.

Well, we already do have a de facto two-party (actually two-alliance) system, and the way it works provides excellent proof of why the right wing wants a formal two-party system.

Briefly, any two party system – however it starts out – ultimately degenerates to the point where it offers people the choice between the far right and the ultra-right. Whichever way you vote, you lose.

And that’s why the corporate-owned media cheer on the two-party system, manufacturing consent among the Great Indian Muddle Class, for whom, as everyone knows, my contempt is boundless.

Now, let’s see just why a two-party/alliance system goes right as fast as you can blink. They usually start out as relatively centrist; one left of centre, talking of worker’s rights and old age pensions, social services and environmental issues; and the other defending the property owners, industrialists and upper classes, those who “create wealth”.

As we all know, in the modern world, any election, anywhere, revolves around money; money for buying the media off, money for campaigning, money for slush funds and payoffs, money for schemes to keep the voters happy with bread and circuses. This means that, inevitably, the side with more money to throw around will garner more votes and will form the government. Now where is this money to come from?

Obviously, in the modern world, there’s just one sure-fire source of large amounts of money, and that is the corporate world. The industrialists will pay off those who will lower their taxes, relax or dump environmental safeguards, wreck worker’s rights and allow the maximisation of profit. Therefore, the right-wing party will end up winning the election, and the left-wing party will discover that unless it can get a share of the corporate funding, it’s headed into political oblivion. So, come next election, it’s going to pose as even more right-wing than the right-wing party.

Of course, the left-wing party will have a dedicated voter base already; all the workers, poor people, and middle-class professionals who aren’t of the High and Mighty set. They’re a captive voter base, because they have no choice but to vote for the left, even when it goes right; who else can they vote for? What choice do they have? Actually going right, therefore, will have little effect on the captive voter base of the left party. But it will make a great deal of difference in the funding available, and make it easier to buy the fence-sitting vote which actually makes or breaks these elections. All they have to do is show some lip-service of sticking to their original agenda, even when their actions show it to be completely false. For instance, the Indian Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led government in the state of West Bengal took, in 2008-09, land at gunpoint from farmers to hand over to a notorious right-wing industrialist to set up a car factory.

These parties fall into a pattern. They acquire established media sources which then become their mouthpieces. Their top leadership becomes insulated from the lower echelons and spends more time with capitalist robber barons than with their own voters or lower-ranked members. Leaders are selected on the basis of their fealty to the money, and nothing more.

For instance, in India, the Congress party keeps saying it’s the party of the Aam Aadmi – the Common Man. However, aam also means mango, and in its actual behaviour the Congress treats the average citizen as a mango to be sucked dry and thrown away. And the so-called “Prime Minister” is someone who has never won even a municipal election in his life and keeps talking about “growth” while allowing prices to explode into the stratosphere.

Ergo, what happens in a two-party system is a competitive jostling for the extreme right-wing space, where the only actual issue is who can more cravenly serve the interests of the corporate world. What the voters want is completely immaterial. In the end, your choice is between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as the Indian writer Arundhati Roy (who's hated by the Great Indian Muddle Class for possessing a conscience) said a few years ago. It’s fairly obvious in just about any “democracy” one cares to name today.

Therefore, in my considered opinion, a two-party system is not, and cannot be, a democratic one.

The multi-party system is fine, in theory, With a much larger number of parties to choose from, obviously people can vote for some party or other which will represent their interests, from the extreme left to the lunatic right. The problem, of course, is that this generally leads to a situation where no party has enough votes to form a government, and in the end alliances have to be formed. Once alliances are formed, the slow slide to a two-alliance system, and therefore to a right-versus-righter choice, is inevitable. A few small left-wing parties will be left plaintively calling for social justice, studiously ignored or caricatured by the corporate-owned media. And among the right, the struggle for survival means that all parties will end up looking alike in all fundamentals with only their names to tell them apart.

Therefore, apart from voting, which becomes a formality, there’s nothing “democratic” about these “democratic” systems. Whoever wins, you lose.

I’ll stick out my neck here and say that a one party system can actually offer more opportunity for genuine reform and advancement, over time, than a “democratic” system. A one-party state doesn’t need to gather money for electoral purposes; it doesn’t need to worry about keeping commercial interests happy. Therefore, the only struggles are entirely within the party, and usually competing forces will either compromise or one side will prevail. Either way, there is a greater prospect for long-term change in a one-party system than in the airless and predictable non-choice of a two-party or two-alliance system.

This isn’t meant to be a ringing endorsement of a one-party dictatorship; all I’m doing is pointing out that the alternative is a de facto dictatorship by oligarchy.

Neither option is particularly pretty, but that's all there is.

For now.

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