REALITY OF DEMOCRACY IN WESTERN COUNTRIES

REALITY OF DEMOCRACY IN WESTERN COUNTRIES

How Economics may pervert Democracy

By Didier BERTIN – 4 September 2009   

 

 

I INTRODUCTION 

The fact that we have much better democratic regimes in Europe than in many other countries does not mean that we do not need further improvements in European Union as in the other Western countries. As a reference for the others, European Union should gather perfect democratic countries opened too continuous improvements.

The idea that we do not master anymore our type of Society because of international economic interactions is wrong and even dangerous. Many other countries could be positively influenced in matter of Democracy by European initiatives but follow too often an improper western model in the field of Economic development. As a matter of fact, our planet cannot resist a general application of western model because of the lack of natural resources and because of its adverse effects on human health. We should thus continue to think of Society improvements.

The main factor affecting Democracy is the domination of Economics as a kind of new religion. Western countries are invaded by economic considerations ranking first before democratic values.

Despite European countries are democratic, their citizens spent most of their life in non-democratic entities, which are the Corporations and public Utilities.

European countries should give their citizens a larger access to Democratic life out of the sole electoral events and permit them to apply any substantial changes they might wish as soon as they will have access to a proper system enabling them to conceive such changes.

Political representatives are the only actors on the democracy stage as quasi owners of democratic life. The current social organization and the restricted available time of citizens, due to their compulsory economical enrolment, oblige them to transfer to their representatives most of their rights. It appears economical requirements should be regulated in order not to impair democratic process.

Most of the real daily life of citizens is not spent in a democratic frame but in Corporations and Utilities following for assumed efficiency motivations, a feudal model.

Democracy should be tangible everywhere in democratic countries and especially in the places where the citizens really live.

The weight of economic enrolment of citizens is the main reason of their weak democratic participation and for the heavy role of their representatives.

The place of Economic field should be ruled in order to free sufficiently citizens to permit them to become bigger actors of Democracy. Economics deals with simple production means and cannot be the substance of the Society. Economical process and Democracy should both bring welfare to citizens but Democracy must remain the corner stone of the Society. On top Economical actors tend to often need the support of the State and the latter is only the collective name of the citizens.

II- ECONOMICAL ORGANISATION

Citizens spend the essential part of their life in producing by work. Work aims basically to provide them with what they need and thus serves them. The fact that in reality the contrary happens i.e. citizens serve work is a philosophical perversion.

As a matter of fact economical organisation gave work a transcendental value it does not deserve as a simple mean of production. It gives it a self sufficient value generating in its turn specific moral rules different from Society’s moral rules. As a consequence of such conceptualisation, work escapes to its main generators i.e. the citizens.

Economical domination starts from the roots, which are Education Institutions .As a result Education is now dedicated to the Economic process short term needs and lost its role for global conception and understanding of world. The servitude of Education to Economical process has destroying effects on long term run such as the inadequacy of our models towards planet capacity. We thus tend to act on an empiric basis, which excludes rationality.

The Corporations and Utilities leaders demonstrate too often their substantial weakness in the field of long term management; then it is thus surprising that such leaders may have a substantial influence on National Education, which will thus generate again similar leaders with same weaknesses.

Citizens do not receive the proper Education and Information in order to make the necessary improvements of the Society in sparing painful and repetitive crises.

Life in Corporations and Utilities improved difficultly since the ownership right seems to have priority on democratic rules. This ownership right seems to be extended from simple assets to individuals and permit the existence of Feudal organisation in the frame of Democracy. The main reasons given to justify this paradox are Economic Efficiency, Profit and Power.

Citizens should dedicate most of their time to production. This so strict organisation reduces the human potentiality to think, to learn and to question.

This unnatural dedication requests of course constraining management based on: Disciplinary organization, Hierarchy, Power culture and Seigniorial Pomp.

 

III-DEMOCRATIC LIFE IN DEMOCRACIES

The quality of democratic life depends on the importance of time given to Citizens to participate to it.

Time dedicated to Work: It took time in France to apply the 1936 reforms related to the 40 hour week and the symbolic reduction to 39 hours generated protests. The courageous reform reducing work to 35 hours per week implemented by Martine Aubry (current major leader of French opposition, Head of Socialist French Party and former Work Minister) involved an aversion reaction from Corporation leaders who pretended that it will not be applicable. The reform was more than applicable, since it was ultimately successfully applied.

We should always keep in mind that time dedicated to work is bigger that the time at work. Real estate prices and unemployment have pushed the population far from their work places increasing thus transportation time. Taking into account the biological needs of human beings, the net balance of time available for civic life is negligible.

Retirement: Last opportunity of free time before death: Citizens are assumed to work as long as they are healthy and are retired from the economical process thereafter. 

Many democratic countries following economic moral principles instead of Society’s moral rules, would like to extend working period since people do not die as fast as before.

VI-SUGGESTIONS

1- General Considerations

The mechanisation and productivity increase have not immediate effects on free time extension of citizens, which must be always specifically demanded.

The splitting between National and Corporate Economics makes profit assessment inaccurate.  For example the increase of profit due to laying off is artificial since it is thus built on a expenses transfer to the State, which must in its turn finance unemployment (especially in continental European Union). Profit should reflect a real global increase of richness.

Liberalism is opposed to State intervention but needs its continuing support to survive. Such a support is multiform and includes for example expenses transfer, tax reductions, subsidies; flexible accounting rules regarding bank assets, favourable intervention of Central Banks to maintain Banking system alive.

Free economy needs State support and rejects its control and this is not acceptable for Ethical reasons since and again the State is the collective name of Citizens.

2-Need to determine real economical welfare in order to give economical agents a restricted mission

For sake of good order it is imperative that economics agents do not give citizens a mission, which would be opposite to rationalism and thus State should take initiative to give economical agents a mission.

3- Housing

This should be a basic right of individuals, affordable to all of them and should not be a source of speculation. This policy will permit to reduce dependence of individuals on economical process.

4-Consumerism and Environment

Artificial needs, short life products involve a waste of time in production for citizens and have strong adverse effect on Environment.

5-Public Transports

Improvement of public transport permits people to save time and reduce pollution but should not be a mean to rebalance an improper housing policy.

6-Energy 

A better assessment of real human needs should permit to limit production and thus energy consumption. Energy policy should be independent of economical considerations enabling oil lobbies to act adversely against policy for alternative energies for example in decreasing oil prices when they want for strategic reasons.

7- Fighting Conformism and raising Education

Systems should be continuously reviewed with innovative approaches. A conformist teaching as it is too often the case prevents the birth of such approaches. Empiric approach as often applied now is financially and socially expensive.

As in philosophy, a continuous deconstructionist approach is very demanding but necessary to adapt in advance and spare crises cost.

8-Strengthening Ethic and Good Citizenship at the Management level of Corporations and Utilities

Corporate management should accept State control in matter of Ethic including respect of citizens, employment, long term views and real richness creation.

9-Better Management of Corporations and Utilities

More attention should be given to Research and Development and constitution of sufficient reserves to maintain an efficient production tool should be accumulated, instead of distributing the future existence of the company to shareholders.

New accounting system to give a real value of the corporations and their abilities to resist future adverse situations should be built.

New auditing system in order that the controllers should not be the clients of the companies they control and which is totally unwise, should be organized


V-CONCLUSION

Economics evolution has involved a divorce with Democracy instead of establishing a harmonisation. A rebalance involves a strict priority ranking of Democratic values.

Economical process must serve the Citizens and not the contrary and by the same token Democracy should protect the Education of Citizens against a too big influence of economical criteria.

Democracy should enable citizens to express their specificity of human beings such as conscience, ethics, thought, and creativity.

The coordinated and organised human expression of individuals and its translation into acts is Democracy.

Education should help citizens in the determination or their ultimate aspiration as individuals and then plays an essential part in Democracy. Representatives should have a lesser role and citizens a bigger one to feel really involved the democratic life.

The dysfunction of current process is clearly illustrated by the huge number of abstentions at all elections. The abstention is the expression of an important trouble and the absence of necessary steps may impair the Democracy itself.

Production is the dark side of Economy and is necessary to offer the citizens what they need. The big question is to determine these needs. Since Economics became a self sufficient concept, needs have been artificially created to maintain the level of production out of considerations of real need of citizens.  This situation should be corrected for the benefit of Citizens life, Democracy, Environment and globally for the protection of the planet.