Make 2017 the year of real democracy
By the Real Democracy Movement editorial collective
This will undoubtedly be a decisive year in the struggle for real democracy. The crisis of the system – political and economical – leaves us no choice but to act in an organised, collaborative way to create a different, truly democratic future.
In case there is any doubt about how serious things are, then the fact that climate change has passed a tipping point and has met with inaction on the part of world governments is proof enough that we are in a dangerous political void.
The break-down of the old order – the neo-liberal form of limited democracy – became apparent in 2016. Trump’s victory followed the shock and awe of Brexit. Voters in Britain and the US voiced the upset felt by tens of millions hit hard by years of corporate globalisation and frustrated by the lies and broken promises of the political elites.
This is especially true in the US, where the failure of the Democratic Party under Obama and Clinton has handed the presidency to a dictator in the making. Trump, the man some dismissed as a clown with an orange squirrel on his head, will bring big business directly into the White House and use the power of the state to persecute minorities and remove democratic freedoms.
In the UK, the post-Brexit crisis facing the ruling classes is leading the May government swiftly down an authoritarian road. The imposition of fracking upon local communities, sweeping new powers of surveillance and clampdown on media freedom, the planned restrictions on voting and increased powers to ministers to control public appointments are just the tip of the iceberg.
It is clear that the existing democracies of the US and the UK cannot actually protect democracy itself. In fact, their institutions and their parties are facilitating the rise of dictatorship, of one-party states and nationalist demagogues who speak and act for big business and finance. Whilst mouthing phrases about freedom and democracy, governments in the US and UK co-exist with dictators like Assad, Erdogan and the Saudi monarchy. They have given free rein to Putin’s murderous operations in Syria.
As Trump prepares to take power, the resonance between him and the Italian fascist dictator Mussolini is striking. Mussolini set out to merge the corporations and the state, stating: “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”.
Trump is elevating representatives of corporate interests to all the key posts in government, and this is a new moment in the crisis of capitalism. If this is not an attempt to create a corporate state, then what would be?
As the global economy lurches into trade war and slump, governments will ruthlessly impose super-austerity on workers and destroy public services. Yet the anger felt by multitudes across Europe, the United States, Asia and Europe can be made into a positive force for a change that transforms the world we live in.
The election of Trump, the rejection of the corporate EU by the majority of UK voters, Spain’s inability to form a government, the political coup d’etat in Ireland and the collapse of support for the French Socialist Party reveals the depth of their alienation.
A growing resistance to the employers and the government in the UK through a wave of strikes indicates that resistance is not futile. Support is growing for people to be involved in writing a new constitution, a democratic structure that turns the power structures of the UK upside down.
In the different countries within the UK, and within the regions of England, there is a thirst for a true democracy in which people are in control and in charge. That is what we must build on in 2017 to help us launch the Real Democracy Movement as an organisation in the spring of this year.
There are, of course, obstacles in our way, placed there by the state, the media and the establishment in general. Troll factories, fuelled by PR gurus for nationalist, racist, anti-gay, anti-woman leaders, seek to swamp social media with lies about climate change, GM food, fracking, sugar, etc., and discredit scientists, teachers and investigative journalists. They hope to manipulate mass consciousness and terrorise any form of opposition with false stories and conspiracy theories, the more bizarre, the better.
The rise of “post-truth” is not due to social media or the Internet, but rather the need to drown and squash independent investigation and nip dissent in the bud. Conspiracy theories are generated by Trump’s advisers who say there is no such thing as a fact any longer and no truth about anything. (Not to mention Putin’s troll factories, which are of course a law unto themselves). This is the language of fascism, where enemies are conjured up, peace is war and lies become the reality. Orwellian indeed.
The past year has shown that the empty democracies of the UK, the US, Europe, India and elsewhere have led directly to the dangerous destabilisation that now prevails. The clock of history cannot be turned back, no matter how many politicians surf the waves of such fantasies.
Relying on the electoral system to rescue the US and the world from Trump is pie in the sky. If the electoral system could do that, we would not have Trump as president-elect. Or indeed May, because the former Cameron government was elected with a similar percentage vote from the electorate as Trump.
What is needed instead is a bold and revolutionary transition out of the tattered rags of today’s hollowed-out democracy and market state, to a real democracy where the interests of capitalist oligarchies cannot impose themselves and their rule on the majority.
New forms of consciousness are needed. We must create a new vision of society, in which we collaborate, in which the exploitation of people and resources is put aside in favour of co-operation and working with and not against nature.
To achieve this we need to get organised and work collectively on strategies to replace the present capitalist system of exploitation of people and planet before it can do any further harm to humanity.
Yes, time is short but the power of the people is stronger than the people in power. Let’s move from the slogan and shape real democracy in actual deeds.
1 January 2017