Western democracies are no longer fit for purpose. - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15138044
As someone who loves the West, it hurts me to say this but I feel we have arrived in the age where our democracies have become fully rotten. That is, they no longer serve their purpose which is to represent the people at large's wishes well.

This is not an advocacy for terrible regimes abroad, from Saudi Arabia to China, but simply a harsh criticism of what we have become today.

Some major points that come to mind:
1. Disconnect between political elites & citizenry.
Our democracies simply do not pass to the top anymore, the desires and wishes of the citizenry at large. There is an immense gap between our elected elites, and the masses. Visibly the power of influence resides with the wealthy and financial elites, not the citizenry at large. Our entire politics are defined by what the pharma lobby, the energy lobby, and others, want there to happen, not what mom & pop around the corner want for their country.

2. The media.
Entirely corrupt from top to bottom. They cannot even be called media anymore. What is the media today? Corporations funded by, you guessed it, private interest groups, which inevitably push an agenda. In fact the media has become so powerful that it can be called the fourth branch of government in Western democracies.

Now you can well argue that the rot of democracies is something that predates the current era by a long shot, and I would agree. But it seems that now, our democracies are devolving towards something more and more obviously tyrannical in nature.

Take the European Union for example, the biggest example of a completely undemocratic institution. Nothing that happens in the EU, no longer makes any sense to the common European Bürger.
And it seems that our elites have no qualms suspending our civil liberties in an instant, if it suits their agenda.

The only question everyone is wondering is: Where is all this going?
#15138049
lancer345 wrote:As someone who loves the West, it hurts me to say this but I feel we have arrived in the age where our democracies have become fully rotten. That is, they no longer serve their purpose which is to represent the people at large's wishes well.

This is not an advocacy for terrible regimes abroad, from Saudi Arabia to China, but simply a harsh criticism of what we have become today.

Some major points that come to mind:
1. Disconnect between political elites & citizenry.
Our democracies simply do not pass to the top anymore, the desires and wishes of the citizenry at large. There is an immense gap between our elected elites, and the masses. Visibly the power of influence resides with the wealthy and financial elites, not the citizenry at large. Our entire politics are defined by what the pharma lobby, the energy lobby, and others, want there to happen, not what mom & pop around the corner want for their country.

2. The media.
Entirely corrupt from top to bottom. They cannot even be called media anymore. What is the media today? Corporations funded by, you guessed it, private interest groups, which inevitably push an agenda. In fact the media has become so powerful that it can be called the fourth branch of government in Western democracies.

Now you can well argue that the rot of democracies is something that predates the current era by a long shot, and I would agree. But it seems that now, our democracies are devolving towards something more and more obviously tyrannical in nature.

Take the European Union for example, the biggest example of a completely undemocratic institution. Nothing that happens in the EU, no longer makes any sense to the common European Bürger.
And it seems that our elites have no qualms suspending our civil liberties in an instant, if it suits their agenda.

The only question everyone is wondering is: Where is all this going?


corruption happened as soon as more and more groups became franchised into the system. I think raising voting age, and only allowing people who have a Positive contribution to the country to vote. If you collect more from the government then you generate, you lose your right to vote.
#15138053
lancer345 wrote:The only question everyone is wondering is: Where is all this going?


Your qualms with democracy can also be applied with non-democracies FYI. I don't remember anyone discussing the demise of democracy on here until Trump went full dictator after losing the election a few weeks back. My instinct says that once Trump is chucked out of office by one way or another, the question of whether democracies are fit for purpose will vanish with his fat ass.
#15138055
Oxymoron wrote:corruption happened as soon as more and more groups became franchised into the system. I think raising voting age, and only allowing people who have a Positive contribution to the country to vote. If you collect more from the government then you generate, you lose your right to vote.


Voting is not really the problem, as it's meaningless anyway in our "show democracies". Voting is just a tool left to the citizenry to give it the illusion that they matter (they don't).
Your vote is worthless. Because the candidate that gets elected will anyway have to fit the mould that the establishment wants it to fit. This is why major financial groups make donations to candidates.

Your qualms with democracy can also be applied with non-democracies FYI. I don't remember anyone discussing the demise of democracy on here until Trump went full dictator after losing the election a few weeks back. My instinct says that once Trump is chucked out of office by one way or another, the question of whether democracies are fit for purpose will vanish with his fat ass.


Not really. The problems of other political systems (communism, etc) are a different beast entirely.
And this politically motivated opinion is off-topic. Whether it's Biden, Trump, any leader, my point is about structural problems which go well beyond a single candidate.

Biden is not going to make the lobbies or the corrupt media or the problems with the voting systems disappear.
#15138057
lancer345 wrote:And this politically motivated opinion is off-topic. Whether it's Biden, Trump, any leader, my point is about structural problems which go well beyond a single candidate.

Biden is not going to make the lobbies or the corrupt media or the problems with the voting systems disappear.


Right, the structure problem isn't democracy but Capitalism. Corporations are using their money to buy out your politicians for their advantage. You don't have that problem in Europe so think of it like that. So all I can say is that perhaps democracy is still fit for purpose but an end to the two party system and a cap on election spending is needed.
#15138059
B0ycey wrote:Right, the structure problem isn't democracy but Capitalism. Corporations are using their money to buy out your politicians for their advantage. You don't have that problem in Europe so think of it like that. So all I can say is that perhaps democracy is still fit for purpose but an end to the two party system and a cap on election spending is needed.


Believe me, Europe is very corrupt too. Though I wouldn't call it corruption, that's very third world (officials taking bribes, etc). I would rather call it plutocratic democracy. That is, access to power is limited and controlled, and government itself is increasingly tyrannical to protect the political power of those that wield it.

I believe we need a ground up revamping of our systems. And it's not going to happen tomorrow.
There is a concept in political philosophy stating that any system protects itself. The type of reforms needed threaten the system, so its protecting itself against reform and becoming more tyrannical in nature.

What I believe we're going to evolve towards is direct rule by corporations and even more crackdowns until every freedom is eroded.
#15138064
lancer345 wrote:Believe me, Europe is very corrupt too. Though I wouldn't call it corruption, that's very third world (officials taking bribes, etc). I would rather call it plutocratic democracy. That is, access to power is limited and controlled, and government itself is increasingly tyrannical to protect the political power of those that wield it.


Corruption (or whatever you like to call it) is common in all forms of government fullstop. But it is more common in a one party system. Because you can always vote out a corrupt official in a democracy. Not so easy in a dictatorship.

As for Europe, they have a electoral proportional system so they have parties in power that have to compromise alot which helps out in terms of ending the usefulness of corporate buyouts. If America had something similar it would help them out I guess. Perhaps electoral reform can be put on that list I said before.
#15138175
I agree with the OP.

I am beginning to think that the best answer to politics is not necessarily having a government that is ever mobilized for political causes, but instead having guaranteed rights (as in a bill of rights), and then simply a series of bureaucrats who operate to fulfill the bill of rights, ensure an efficient economy, guard the borders, and participate in wars that are in our interest.

To cap it all off, it would be best if there was a balance between several estates. We've found that oligarchs are adept at manipulating the media and the people to get them to their bidding, and demagogues will also appear. There needs to be something immobile about the system -- something that is highly dependent on it for its existence, and owes their esteem and rank to it. It would make sense to have very autocratic, rigid elements in place to protect the sanctity of the rights, and to make any attempts at institutional capture difficult. Since they themselves would be limited by tradition & caste to the roles that they have, they would also be incapable of taking over the institutions that share the other half of the power.

I think something like this would be ideal for actually preserving human freedom -- democracy itself naturally decays into oligarchy, tyranny, or anarchy.
#15138190
What is destroying democracies are populism and conspiracy theories:

lancer345 wrote:2. The media.
Entirely corrupt from top to bottom. They cannot even be called media anymore. What is the media today? Corporations funded by, you guessed it, private interest groups, which inevitably push an agenda. In fact the media has become so powerful that it can be called the fourth branch of government in Western democracies.


Democracies require an independent media. That's why the populists attack the media. Populists and fascists hate the independent media because they can't tolerate criticism. Their fake news and conspiracy theories are so imbecile that they won't stand up to criticism.

Take the European Union for example, the biggest example of a completely undemocratic institution. Nothing that happens in the EU, no longer makes any sense to the common European Bürger.


While the US plutocracy is steadily marching towards fascism, the EU is the last remaining bulwark of democracy in the world.

What's wrong with you? Have you not learned anything from history? Why are you hell-bent on once again destroying your country?

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#15138410
Is there a point of reference anywhere? Western democracies(which) are worse now compared to when?

Without this point of reference, no meaningful conversation can take place and everything said up to this point is just a mish-mash of unfounded idealistic expectations.

The disconnect is not with liberal democracy and the modern day but with what people unrealistically imagine it to be.

Modern liberal democracy has enfranchised more people than any other time before, it has lifted even more out of poverty and has secured the fundamentals for a huge portion of the population. Which modern country was more democratic in the past and when was that anyway? Populism is part of democracy and always has been. The media are also far weaker today than they were 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago.

Atlantis wrote:While the US plutocracy is steadily marching towards fascism, the EU is the last remaining bulwark of democracy in the world.


The US does not sacrifice Texas to Mexico so that New York can buy and sell more drugs from Mexico.
I highly doubt you can claim with a straight face that the EU takes into account the will of Europeans more than the US takes into account the will of the Americans.
#15138412
noemon wrote:Is there a point of reference anywhere? Western democracies(which) are worse now compared to when?

Without this point of reference, no meaningful conversation can take place and everything said up to this point is just a mish-mash of unfounded idealistic expectations.

The disconnect is not with liberal democracy and the modern day but with what people unrealistically imagine it to be.

Modern liberal democracy has enfranchised more people than any other time before, it has lifted even more out of poverty and has secured the fundamentals for a huge portion of the population. Which modern country was more democratic in the past and when was that anyway? Populism is part of democracy and always has been. The media are also far weaker today than they were 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago.



The US does not sacrifice Texas to Mexico so that New York can buy and sell more drugs from Mexico. I highly doubt you can claim with a straight face that the EU cares about the will of Europeans more than the US cares about the will of the Americans.


Also, what's the alternative?

I actually think there may be issues for which Western liberal democracy may be having trouble to deal with. But I don't think the alternatives are doing that much better either.
#15138414
‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947
#15138505
noemon wrote:Is there a point of reference anywhere? Western democracies(which) are worse now compared to when?

Without this point of reference, no meaningful conversation can take place and everything said up to this point is just a mish-mash of unfounded idealistic expectations.

The disconnect is not with liberal democracy and the modern day but with what people unrealistically imagine it to be.

Modern liberal democracy has enfranchised more people than any other time before, it has lifted even more out of poverty and has secured the fundamentals for a huge portion of the population. Which modern country was more democratic in the past and when was that anyway? Populism is part of democracy and always has been. The media are also far weaker today than they were 10, 20, 50 or 100 years ago.


It's not possible to quantify democracy, well, I guess there is some sort of index, but that's not necessarily meaningful to this debate.

The fact is that the first 50 years after the war saw the spread of democracy (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Central and East Europe, Latin America, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and a number of other 3rd world countries). There was the common assumption that democracy and the market economy would eventually spread to all countries. That trend has come to a halt and may be about to be reversed because populism undermines democracy from the inside and because China offers an authoritarian model to strengthen national economies while weakening individual rights.

Nobody can deny the backsliding that's happening in Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Russia and numerous other countries. Even China is turning more authoritarian than it has been in decades.

Populism is not a new phenomenon, but today's populism is quite clearly different from what we have seen in the post-war area. In fact, today's populism can be seen as a new manifestation of the fascism we have seen in the first half of the 20th century. Populists like fascists are intend on using democracy to abolish democracy. That's not even in doubt.

The US does not sacrifice Texas to Mexico so that New York can buy and sell more drugs from Mexico.
I highly doubt you can claim with a straight face that the EU takes into account the will of Europeans more than the US takes into account the will of the Americans.


In the EU, Mexicans wouldn't be treated as pariahs and bandits; they would have the same rights as all other citizens of the Union. I had a good life in Asia, but as a foreigner you are always at risk to the arbitrariness of the host country. That's why we returned to Europe. There is no other place on this planet where you have equal rights, no matter what country you live in.

Comparison with the US are absurd since EU members have national sovereignty and can leave the Union any time they want.
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