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Ideas and Opinions – Democracy’s Achilles Heel

The argument between communism and capitalism was settled by the end of the so-called Cold War, with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Does this prove that Karl Marx was wrong? Marx said, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” What’s wrong with that? That is a socialist principle, but it sounds very much like what Christianity is about. Socialism declares that society should take care of those who can’t take care of themselves. On a personal level, Christianity teaches that you are your brother’s keeper. Is there a difference?

Marx also said that the state should be the owner of the means of production and that the citizen exists to serve the state, represented by those who ascend to positions of leadership through means other than by free and fair elections.

Marx went further and declared that religion was a pie in the sky and an opiate of the people, espoused by clergies whose agenda was to control the minds of the people for their own purposes.

The idea that a system of government which stifles individual creativity and turns men into robotic units could long survive, proved to be misconceived, but socialist principles persist. For example, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are forms of socialism. So is unemployment insurance, and so are all charitable institutions like the St. Vincent de Paul Society. There is decidedly an element of socialism in all democratic countries, but it is not so called. In fact, in America, socialism has become a buzz word for incipient communism, a state to be feared worse than death.

Of the four forms of government known to 21st century man, i.e. monarchical, dictatorial, communistic, and democratic, the last is the worst form of government, except for the first three. So said the great world leader, Sir Winston Churchill. He was being facetious.

So we can start here. Democracy is superior to all other forms of government, because it invests in its citizens the inalienable nights bestowed by our Creator and, also, because of its economic system, called free enterprise capitalism.

These rights, together with certain specific freedoms, are enshrined in the constitutions of democratic states. Because of these rights and freedoms, together with the free enterprise capitalist system, the individual citizen in democratic states is allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labors.

All democracies begin with idealism as their guiding star. The best and the brightest are at the forefront of the revolutionary movement which gives birth to the establishment of democratic government. The United States of America is the best example of how a democracy grows and develops from the idealistic leadership to government by the citizens who control the wealth of the nation.

In America, the oil companies, the manufacturers of armaments, the transnational corporations (which own the natural resources of other continents), the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, and the bankers (or their equivalent in each democratic country), have taken over and, the will of the people is of little consequence. So. Sooner or later, all democracies fall into the hands of the rich and powerful because, the same thing which was responsible for the growth and development is democracy’s Achilles Heel – free enterprise capitalism. What is to be done? There must be controls.

What makes democracy strong is that every citizen shares equally in the choice of the persons who are entrusted with the responsibility to make decisions on matters of public policy and the power to act on their behalf, in the public interest and for the common good. They do this by casting their vote for a candidate, in general and municipal elections. It is important that the elector should exercise the franchise, free from any obligation or duress.

The system works best when the elector can know the truth about the candidate for election, the philosophy of the party he represents and, what the party is committed to do in the new term, if it becomes the majority in government.

All would be well and, the results of elections would reflect the collective will of the people if there were a level playing field. With a level playing field, conditions would favor the elector determining the true merits of candidates and their parties. Except that, the playing field is becoming more and more un-level, because of another factor.

To begin with, political electioneering has become a science. Therefore, the candidate or party that can attract or employ the services of the best professionals in the field will, in general, be more successful in elections.

Democracies usually have two major political parties, with comparable numbers of members and supporters. These numbers vary according to the circumstances of the times, reflecting changes in the popularity of parties, which is cyclical. If numbers alone determined the outcome of elections, the playing field would always be level, but, there is a financial component: the party or candidate with more resources will be able to organize the better campaign. Still, the candidate or party with inferior financial resources may prevail, if their merits, philosophy, and objectives have more appeal for the electorate.

Even with a disparity in financial resources favoring one party over the other, the history of democracies has shown that, over a long period of time, the parties with less resources have had their fair share of success. Perhaps, their political philosophy and quality of leadership make up for this disadvantage.

All would be well, if the wealth of a country does not become concentrated in the hands of a few individuals and corporations and, if they don’t find a common cause to come together to exercise an undesirable influence over the electorate; thus, serving their sectarian influence to the detriment of the common good. The result of such an alliance would subvert the will of the people, as experience has shown that overwhelming power usually succeeds. Napoleon was right when he said that, in war, fate favored the army with the heavier artillery. It applies, also, to elections.

In a certain First World country, it appears that the wealthy segment of the population has found its common cause, which is the same as their counterparts in all developed countries. Wealthy people are averse to paying taxes. In that country, they have decided “to make things nearer to their hearts’ desire.”

What is happening with elections in that First World country will affect the health of their democracy. To save itself, democracy in that country may have to take steps to stop capitalism from “going completely mad.”

There are other forces in large First World countries to counterbalance the power of wealthy individuals and corporations but, the position of a small Third World country is not so secure. What can that country do against the power of one or two such like-minded individuals or corporations? How can that democracy save itself if these should decide to subvert the government? There should be a way, because the government represents the sovereign will of the people in a nation-state. The government should be able to do whatever is necessary to save the state.

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