Is Democracy linked with Capitalism?
The text reads as follows, please be patient as it is rather long-
So I was reading this book by John Ralston Saul entitled: "The Unconscious Civilization" where he talks about propoganda, corporations, and government. One particular point worth mentioning is the fact that he points out that democracy is not linked with capitalism: (but it is a bit of a read)
- "Let me begin from the self-evident. We are more than one. We are more than a family. We are more than several families. We are many tens of millions. We exist, therefore, in societies. It has been several millennia since those of us in the West have been able to live outside society, except in odd, temporary cases. IN Canada the West was opened without the larger social structures falling away. There are a few people today who can live virtually along in the Arctic on research stations and the like. They constitute a few hundreds of us out of millions. The individual therefore lives in society. That is the primary characteristic of individualism. The only question is what form will society take. There are four options: a god, king, groups or the individual citizenry acting as a whole. How then, could individuals possible replace government? In a democracy they are government. This myth of the triumphant, unattached individual is pure romanticism, and, I repeat, romanticism is a handmaiden of ideology."
- Individuals do not beat large companies or defeat large armies; why would we expect them to replace governments? The point is that there will always be a government. If individuals do not occupy their legitimate position, then it will be occupied by a god or a king or a coalition of interest groups. If citizens do not exercise the powers conferred by their legitimacy, others will do so. Many of those who see individualism as an alternative also believe that government should be kept excluded from certain areas. Public enterprises are the first thing to go on their list for exclusion. The citizenry might well wonder why they should put artificial limits on their only force. The power we refuse ourselves goes somewhere else. Yet no other legitimacy is capable of disinterest. If the citizenry agree to exclude themselves from any given area, they are automatically excluding the possiblity that in that domain the public good could have any role to play.
- This is what makes the neo-conservative and market-force arguments so disengenuous. Their remarkably successful demonization of the public sector has turned much of the citizenry against their own mechanism. Many of us have been enrolled in the cuase of interests that have no particular concern for the citizen's welfare. Our welfare. INstead, the citizen is reduced to teh status of a subject at the foot of the throne of the marketplace.
- God has been replaced today by another ideology called teh marketplace. Hume may have admired commerce. He didn't see it as a deity. Even if you do take teh market theorists' interpretation of Hume at face value, why should that encourage the citizen to abandon government in favour of the private sector? After all, if man is governed by interest, then those who succeed have no obligation to worry about the 99% living at various levels below them. I would argue that to a great extent we are already well engaged in teh act of cutting our own arteries -- in both the wrists and the throat. If we are slipping into such a foolish act, it is largely because we have allowed ourselves to be convinced by our own elites that the democratic system is a secondary product of the free market system. And so, if the system and its managers -- supported by their acolytes in departmetns of economics around the West and by teh invasive buzz of their eager neo-conservative courtiers - if all these people and institutions indicate there must be changes, well, we bow our heads in respect.
-In the 12 century, Aelred of Rievaulx was talking about the three loves - love of self, of others, and of God. Tehse three, 'though obviously different, yet so amazingly dovetail into one another that not only is each found in all of them and all in each, but where you have one there you have all, and should one fail, all fail.' Note that these three loves have nothing to do with hope, faith and charity, the standard hierarchical qualities of a faithful believer as recognized by teh church. Note also that faith and hope were passive qualities. The believer's faith and hope were expressions of what he would recieve from divine forces. Charity also was passive for the vast majority who were rarely in a position to do more than recieve the moral, ehtical and concrete charity of the elites.
- eventually, the 12 century humanist renaissance of teh individual faltered before the onslaught of a bureaucracy of Catholic lawyers who had begun to reorganize the papacy. Royal families began to grab away the power of their citizens in an attempt to centralize their kingdoms. A certain bitterness gew in humanist circules, particularly against the professional careerists - the special courtiers of the day. Yet the humanist movement by no means died. In the 13 century, the Magna Carta did far more than settle power for the barons. Particularly in clause 39, the rights of all free men were laid out. Essentially no free man was to be dealt with by authority outside the law. Over the years that term expanded from 'no free man' to 'no man' to 'no man of whatever estate or condition.'
- Thomas Aquinas cleverly laid out the concept of the natural verses the supranatural; that is, the citizens versus the faithful Christian. The natural was regulated by the active Hellenistic virtues - Justice, Temperance, Prudence, and Fortitude; the supernatural by the passive official Catholic virtues of faith, hope and charity. This mean the individual citizen could now participate in public affiars without being overwhelmed by Christian requirements or assumptions. The whole Humanist movement fell back for a while, then advanced again with the translations of the Bible in teh 16th century, which took powerful language our of the hands of authority and put it into the hands of the individual. Part of that wave of humanism was led by Erasmus; another part by the Italian Renaissance.
- But then, the revolution in England the middle of the 17th century brought a whole new class to the fore as Cromwell was supported neighter by money nor the big families but by the yeoman and the gentry. The decline, later in teh century, of the whole idea of hell - with it's threats of eternal fire - led to the first of the idea that the majority had the right to heaven. That in turn, led to theories of democracy. You will notice throughout this whole process there hasn't been a single mention of the role of economics, let alone the determining role economics. That's because there wasn't any. Any more than there was in teh whole Englightenment movement. In general, democracy and individualism have advanced in spite of and often against economic interest. Both democracy and individualism have been based upon financial sacrifice, not gain. Even in Athens, a large part of the 7,000 citizens who participated regularly in assemblies were farmers who had to give up several days' work to go into town and listen.
If you've finished reading all this, then kudos, I'd like to know you're opinion on this?