Skip to main content

Neoliberal fallout? Greed of few billionaires has hijacked our democracy and state

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Democracy is a product of struggles and sacrifices of the working classes. The October revolution, French revolution  and anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Americas shaped democracy. The struggles for freedom, equality and justice, anti-capitalist struggles, and people’s movements against war and terrorism, social and political movements for livelihoods have helped to deepen democratic practices all over the world.
The coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on the rotten and inefficient political, economic, and social systems. The human cost of the crisis makes present look gloomy and future inconceivable. The discontinuity with everyday lives and emergency measures create an illusion that normality will return to its own place and pace.
These illusionary desires help the crisis ridden bourgeois democracy and capitalist state to survive, and continue to create havoc in the lives and livelihoods of the masses. The decades long practice of neoliberal market led democracy eroded both the abilities of the states, governments, and democratic political traditions to deal with different forms of crisis. As a result, the relationship between state and citizens is deteriorating along with the democratic traditions.
The crisis is not only showing the cracks within different democracies but also questions the very foundation of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Any attempt to return to business as usual in a post-pandemic world will reproduce a dead end for the masses under capitalist democracy. It is not the spectre of communism that is haunting the world today.
It is the capitalist democracy that failed people with false promises of freedom, prosperity, empowerment and development. The rising tides of reactionary nationalism, populism of the conservative forces, and neoliberal economic policies are further weakening democracy.
These forces are also depoliticising the democratic processes of development and public policy making. The top down bureaucratic approach of the technocratic policy making is worsening the crisis within democracy.
The propaganda machines of the establishment hide all the failures and inefficiencies of bourgeois democracy and capitalist state. It gives an impression as if democracies and states have failed. So, the establishment today offers us an authoritarian alternative by killing the idea of citizenship, freedom and democracy; the greatest ideals, and achievements of 20th and 21st century.
The propaganda machines help in socialising the masses, and normalise authoritarian neoliberal forces as permanent rulers of the world to manage chaos, in which elites are secured by the state and the masses are left to suffer alone as individuals. The father of propaganda and modern advertisement; Edward Bernays summarised this process in his seminal book called “Propaganda”, which was published in 1928. 
It is not spectre of communism that is haunting the world today. It is capitalist democracy that failed people with false promises
In the first two paragraphs of the chapter one of the “Propaganda”, Edward Bernays wrote:
“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. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
“Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet. They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure.
“Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons – a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million – who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world”.

Indian TUs protest against efforts to "undermine" labour laws
These prophetic words of Edward Bernays resonate with our everyday experiences with bourgeois democracies and responses of the capitalist states to the crisis in the world.  Such a crisis within democracy is a product of neoliberal politics and policies led and determined by the manipulative market forces.
The rise of poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, environmental disasters, and ill health are the products of the failures of bourgeois democracy and capitalist state. These disruptions to democracy can be a catalyst for exposing the limits and illusions of bourgeois democracy under capitalist system.
It is important for the citizens to kill their false hopes on the failed democratic project of capitalism, which reduced democracy to voting and festivals of periodical elections. It is the time for reckoning within the opulence of miseries for the masses and island of prosperity for a small number of elites.
The brazen greed of the few billionaires has hijacked our democracy and state. It destroyed our hopes, fate and futures for the sake of their profit. The ultra-rich are morally bankrupt and politically screwed, they have nothing in common with upholding the interests of the masses. It is time for the majority of people to reclaim the political space, and transform the state that belong to the working class masses.
History tells us that the capitalist classes always relied on crisis to maintain their hegemony over the masses. Crisis produces power for the capitalist classes by reducing the power and autonomy of the working classes.
Therefore, poverty and unemployment are not crisis but opportunity for the ruling and non-ruling capitalist classes. Peace, prosperity, and employment create conditions of empowerment of the masses and threatens the power and positions of elites.
History is the witness to the power of working classes in shaping the democratic state and progressive society. All empires and dictatorships collapsed with the power of working class unity and struggles. Marx and Engels summarised it in “The Communist Manifesto”: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”.
These struggles can only create alternative conditions for real democracy, and shape our futures in which “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. The market forces are not the friends of democracy, freedom, peace, prosperity, happiness, individual liberty and spirituality. The market forces represent the perverted form of these ideals that serves their purpose to domesticate the masses.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that the principles of peace, prosperity, freedom and democracy are four pillars of all our future movements for justice and equality. There is no shortcut to progressive mass movements, which can change the course of history and fortify our democratic future. It can only be achieved through collective struggles based on our collective interests.
---
Coventry University, UK

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

A locked up offer? Govt of India 'not serious' in involving NGOs: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
Was the Government of India serious when it asked 92,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) in early April to “assist” state governments and district administrations in taking care of food, shelter and other needs of migrant workers, known to have been affected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ sudden 21-day lockdown in order to “combat” the spread of Covid-19 virus, announced on March 24?

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”

Sitharaman's offer for rural jobs to 'create' just 3 crore rural jobs. Demand: 12 crore jobs

By Amarjeet Kaur*
The final package, the fifth one in a row, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 17 was a fiasco. Sitharaman during her press conference for two hours and six minutes spent more than an hour detailing the policy actions of her government’s last six years’ rule, repeating the already provided proposals during the two budgets after coming to power for the second time, even as reiterating her briefings on the four earlier packages she had announced over the previous four days.