by Bhabani Shankar Nayak 22 July 2022
Rule of law, transparency, accountability and citizenship rights are fundamental pillars of constitutional democracy. These pillars are eroding rapidly. The democratic cultures based on equality, liberty, justice, reason, science, secularism, tolerance and mutual respect for dissenting and diverse opinions are declining across the globe. The corporatisation of electoral campaigns, market command over political parties, corporate control over political processes and policies are mortal threat to the citizenship rights and democratic polity. The capitalist assault on democratic governance is creating conditions of political, economic, social and cultural crises, and giving rise to reactionary forces. Major democracies in Europe, Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania are facing the crisis of legitimacy and citizens are losing trust over their own states and governments.
The democratic governments are not representing their citizens interests but standing behind the crony capitalist corporates. The culture of depoliticization is growing in a massive scale which accelerates the fall of democracies as the most reliable form of governance. Such a trend helps capitalism as a system to survive and to expand their control over every spheres of lives as depoliticization normalises democratic deficiency. The sharp decline of democracy in principle and practice helps an unaccountable, illiberal and unsustainable capitalist system to grow with the help of reactionary and conservative forces in the society. In search of profit, capitalism creates conflicts to control human and natural resources with the help of a securitised police state.
In a market led democracy, state and government, rule of people’s power is replaced by rule of money power. The millionaires and billionaires are funding political parties to participate in the democratic electoral processes to access state power and legitimise their profit seeking illegitimate systemic drive to control all resources. The infiltration of money into politics threatens the very foundation of democracy as a form of governance by the people, where majority rule to respect minorities, and uphold the interests of the masses. The corporate mega donors and their non-profit and civil society organisations are sponsoring political leaders and their parties with unlimited funding to shape corporate friendly policies at the cost of people and the planet. The data driven social media platforms are accelerating these processes of market led corporate control over our democratic polity by hiding every form of available alternatives.
The corporate led consulting firms are managing public relations and manipulating public opinions with the help of false propaganda. Edward Bernays in his book, Propaganda (1921) argues that “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.” Such strategy creates social, political and cultural foundations in service of capitalism by transforming need-based politics to a fraudulent desire-based politics, which can’t be achieved.
The British firm Strategic Communications Limited Group (SCL) is the parent company of the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica has played a major role in different political campaigns in America, Europe and Asia. In the name of providing data and analysis, such firms have unprecedented influence in shaping public opinion in support of reactionary political ideologies threatening democratic politics in different parts of the world. Such practices undermine democracy and citizenship rights by promoting false narratives.
In this context, struggle to save democracy is a struggle against capitalism. The survival of democracy depends on preventing corporations that subvert democratic institutions and processes Capitalism is not compatible with democracy that ensures equality, citizenship rights, liberty, justice, secularism and scientific ethos in the society. The working of democracy depends on deepening the struggles against capitalism. The local, regional, national and global solidarity of all struggles against capitalism is central to uphold democratic values in defence of people and the planet. Let people decide how to reform their democracy and revolt against capitalism for the very survival of lives, livelihoods and the planet. Democracy is a product of mass struggles against all forms of inequalities and exploitations. It is time for the masses to struggle and reclaim democracy from the claws of capitalism.