Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

PEOPLE & POWER

‘People’s power’ or ‘democracy’ (demo=people & kratos=rule) has always been a grandiose ideal pervading many an organized society, old and new. However, praxis on the ground (various systems of political governance) have had and still have difficulties achieving this sought after objective. In fact, the history of highly organized societies is anything but (democratic), at least in the original sense of the word! The more organized a society, the more hierarchical it becomes. Thereafter, the notion of people’s power recedes to the background giving way to representative political governance! This deep-rooted discordance is one obvious affliction of modern societies. A technical name exists for such incongruity in the world of psychology. Unfortunately, ‘civilized societies’ have many such discordant issues that squarely fall in the category of ‘cognitive dissonance’! Even though the phrase is frequently used to describe a psychological condition of an individual, it has recently gained currency in the description of the larger human collectives and its constructs!
One hundred years ago to the day, an experiment to install a system of genuine ‘people’s power’ was initiated in Imperial Russia. The Bolsheviks spared no effort in trying to set up ‘people’s power’ across the vast land of various nations and nationalities, in what later became the USSR (United Soviets Socialist Republic). To help achieve their project of ‘people power’, the soviets started out by classifying the general populous along class lines. The peasants and the workers were to be the vanguards of the whole movement, as they constituted the majority of citizens. In addition, an enlightened group of elites was selectively assembled to steer the radical transformation at all levels. This group became the communist party of the USSR and ultimately monopolized all representation of the people! The whole country was subjected to the doctrine of the ‘dictatorship of the proletarian’, the party being the sole proxy of the people. The experiment in the USSR was used as a template to forging development and democracy. The distilled observation is; direct people’s power was proxied to selected elites; and herein lies the problem! The rest is history!
Western democracy is also predicated on representative governance or representative politics. Here again, direct democracy (by the people) is not seriously entertained. Participatory democracy is not encouraged in the West, as it tends to undermine the role of the manipulative politicos and their dominant bosses, the 0.1%, who literally owns these countries. Admittedly and at times, smaller countries like Switzerland conduct plebiscites to decide on certain issues. Many of the so-called Western ‘democracies’ have morphed into outright plutocracies, the ‘rule of money’. See the articles on page 52 & 53. Nonetheless, the project of continuously hoodwinking the sheeple (human mass), facilitated by representative political governance, seems to be losing steam, so to speak! It is well known that all sorts of manipulations are used to discourage wide spread voting by the sheeple, lest the massive turnout pushes the whole process of representation towards direct democracy! In the west, it is ‘capital’ that has become the ultimate decider, not the demos, establishment rhetoric aside. It is the ‘deep state’ that is in charge here. No wonder ‘populist movements’ (to use the phrase of the establishment) are sprouting all over.
We believe, the western model, however hard it is pushed by global dominant interests, might not get wide reception in the countries of the periphery. Reasons abound. To start with, domestic capital is very weak and hardly independent. It also lacks broader vision, outside of its immediate interests. These and other reasons makes domestic capital a highly suspect entity in the periphery. As a result, capital might not be able to install sustained plutocracy, as it did in the North. On the other hand, ‘mafia states’, the equivalent of ‘deep states’ in the South, are fledging. The ‘mafia state’ is mostly composed of oligarchs, officials of reigning political parties, policy makers, government officials/functionaries, lumpen bourgeoisie, etc. The Arab Spring was one such reaction to the ongoing criminal arrangement of the ‘mafia state’. Resistance movements along these lines are gradually moving south to sub Saharan African countries. Kenya, Ethiopia, etc. are all facing public outcry about their entrenched ‘mafia states’, clandestinely operating behind established formal states. Moreover, the sheeple in the periphery, just like the sheeple up north, is becoming increasingly aware of the unsustainability of the modern world system. All these spell trouble to representative political governance!
In all the above, it is representative democracy and not people’s power, (i.e. the original idea of democracy) that is running the show! Very importantly, under representative politics the prevailing economic paradigms are not to be interrogated by routine elections, however much it is desired by the majority. Such things are regarded as sacrosanct, not subjected to democracy. One should wonder why countries waste time/resources by conducting regular elections that have no measureable impact on established economic dogmas! As the political activist and writer vividly put it: “If election mattered, it would have been disallowed.” Emma Goldman. Good Day!