Understanding democracy

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Zafar Bangash

Jumada' al-Akhirah 09, 1433 2012-05-01

Opinion

by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 3, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1433)

Democracy is a much used and abused term. It is essentially a tool in the hands of the rich and powerful to legitimize their ill-gotten gains.

In the West, democracy is used as a tool to create the illusion that the masses have a say in who should govern them to administer their affairs. A further illusion is that people are “free” to choose their leaders — when the options offered have already been pre-determined. The masses are essentially treated no better than mice and told they can choose between a black or white cat to “protect” them.

Despite its monarchical system, Britain considers itself the “oldest” democracy while America dons the mantle of the “strongest” democracy in the world, eagerly delivering democracy to others using cruise missiles and B-1 bombers. India claims to be the “largest” democracy but practices a rigid caste system, best described as religiously sanctioned apartheid. And the apartheid regime of Zionist Israel lays claim to being the “only” democracy in the Middle East while it makes sure, together with its patron saint, the US that no representative government emerges in the region. Thus, democracy is a tool for the rich and powerful to use it as they please.

In the West, democracy is used as a tool to create the illusion that the masses have a say in who should govern them to administer their affairs. A further illusion is that people are “free” to choose their leaders — when the options offered have already been pre-determined.

The American political scientist, Harold Lasswell, defined the nature of politics as being related to the distribution of power in society. But the masses have no role in this; he contemptuously dismissed them as an ignorant mob, not having the capacity to know what was best for them. That, according to Lasswell, was the job of the enlightened elite. That is how democracies function in the West. The US offers a good example. It is a game for the rich and powerful — the oligarchs — that determine the rules and who can play.

The forthcoming presidential elections offer a glimpse into how politics are played in the US. Even if there are more than two candidates, the American people will only hear about the Democratic and Republican nominees, the two parties dubbed the “War Party” in the celebrated words of Cindy Sheehan. In the 2008 presidential race, for instance, there were four candidates but the Americans heard only two names: Barack Obama and John McCain. The corporate owned and controlled media made sure no other names came to public attention. For the record, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader were the other contenders but they were never allowed any media time nor were their names ever mentioned. What kind of democracy would refuse to mention even the names of other candidates?

In the US, as indeed in other so-called democracies, it is all a money game. Abraham Lincoln’s claim that democracy “is a government of the people, by the people, for the people” is a fancy slogan with little relation to reality. It is essentially a government of the oligarchs, by the oligarchs, and for the oligarchs. Decisions about candidates are made in corporate boardrooms away from the noisy rallies that are little more than street theatre. Big money is involved; both the Republican and Democratic parties’ candidates are beholden to Wall Street barons and must do what they are told. Is it any wonder that in the 2008 financial meltdown, the US government moved quickly to bail out the banks to the tune of $750 billion from the future earnings of subsistence-level taxpayers, thereby abandoning the very people in whose name it was governing? Greedy executives had gambled with people’s savings through derivatives and other Ponzi schemes causing the financial tsunami. No banking executive has been imprisoned for financial fraud; instead, they were all rewarded. Millions of ordinary people lost their jobs and homes. US unemployment remains high even while banks and corporations sit on $853 billion in bailout money that they should have used to create jobs.

Western democracy is a farce and used as a slogan to advance the objectives of war and plunder to further enrich the oligarchs.

It is money that enables the oligarchs to promote only their narrative in political discourse. The media, owned by them, play their game. The same oligarchs launch wars to grab the resources of people in far off lands. The media act as cheerleaders whipping up jingoism to proclaim America’s manifest destiny to deliver “civilization” to others. Targeted people and societies are demonized. The Austrian corporal, Adolf Hitler, who rose to power in Germany is a handy tool. Leaders that stand up to US/Western aggression and bullying are immediately branded as “worse than Hitler” to justify their removal from power. All this is done in the name of democracy, human rights and the protection of women: fancy concepts that are non-existent even in their own societies. Consider the US: each year, more than 232,960 women are assaulted and raped in the US. Would it not be more helpful to save these women from predators in the US before saving foreign women in distant lands?

Western democracy is a farce and used as a slogan to advance the objectives of war and plunder to further enrich the oligarchs.

Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought

Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use
Copyrights © 1436 AH
Sign In
 
Forgot Password?
 
Not a Member? Subscribe

Loading...