In a world of extremes in economy, mere political democracy fades into insignificance.
No Democracy Without Economic Democracy
Economics is the bases of any society and must exist above a mere subsistence level in order to support a group where some are specialists not involved in basic survival modes of production. Without that surplus value that can serve as a commodity, human society would be little different than that of a large herd of caribou, bison, wildebeest, or African buffalo. In that condition, each in the group is involved totally in their own survival and fulfilling the immediate needs of their own offspring. In such conditions, there is no surplus, no freedom because of fulfilling necessity, but there was a primitive type of democracy, at least as far as the equal access to necessities are concerned. All had access to water and food resources that could be found. All were likewise subject to windfall or famine. There was no freedom. One of our basic misconceptions today is the linking of democracy with freedom, when this is conditioned by the availability of a surplus in the total economy of the group. Freedom can only come when necessity is fulfilled as was stated originally by Frederick Hegel. Once that necessity is filled, there is freedom to pursue things like innovation that will allow even more freedom. But this expanding freedom is balanced with the needs of an expanding population and thus ever more innovation is required in order to just maintain freedom. Historically, this duality swings to and fro between necessity and freedom in a complex, combined and unequal manner.
When the human group or incipient society has a surplus of production, several things can occur. The first condition is that the surplus can be used as a commodity for exchange or sale for other items that are not regionally available. Alternately, the surplus can be hoarded against lean times of famine. Those who are experiencing famine and are outside of the group that has a surplus could invade that group and simple take that surplus for their own immediate use. Other than this, the surplus can allow free time to explore new options. Sometimes, deception occurs inside the group and a minority uses the surplus as a basis to enrich themselves and build a power base. When humanity thus splits within itself, the phenomenon of class division emerges. This is the basis of all monarchies, theocracies, dictatorships, oligarchies and militarist societies. In history, all of these things have occurred. Many of these forms still exist in the 21st century world. Thus, when we see power struggles as they have occurred through the extent of history, Marx's statement, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
We have emerged from history into an era of the mega civilization that straddles the globe and the economy is mediated currently by imperialist capitalism. The economic reality is not one of economic democracy where the values of the world, no matter what type, are not shared equally. We have heard of democracy, one person, one vote. In economic democracy, if there were 8 billion people and 8 billion dollars, each and every person would have one dollar. This would be across the board equal representation both in influence and in economic access. Now it just so happens that the world GDP is much more than 8 billion dollars. That accumulated wealth has as its base, every conceivable value and use value ever acquired, produced and that still exists. Yet we see that this real wealth is not equally available to each and every individual on an equal, per need and shared basis. A small group of people control vast amounts of this real wealth manipulated by the abstracted value of money, while most have barely enough to subsist and some are even too poor to survive, all because of undemocratic economic manipulations at the hands of the few, the wealthy and thus powerful.
The emerging desperation of those who don't have equal access to resources or use values can be manipulated by the powerful to divide those under their rule to keep each other in check and to keep the accumulated hoard under strict control of the wealthy and powerful. Sometimes this is also mediated by deception, including the imposing of political democracy on others who are identified as being non-democratic. At the foundation, it always a question of control, whether of territories and/or resources including productive populations.
The evolution of history has given us the era of instant media and unlike any other time in history, we now can see the bald faced truth as well as the various propaganda that parades as truth as it unfolds. This emerging knowledge has created an awakening to the reality that political democracy is meaningless without economic democracy. If whoever you vote for in a one person one vote person has no effect on changing the economic circumstances for the poor, then what purpose does it serve? What you are actually witnessing is a deception, especially if the wealthy co-exist in a world of poverty where many are too poor to survive.
Resource rich and resource poor regions call for international solution, something that does not really exist, especially for those nations that are currently under an embargo. These embargoed nations are what we identify as non-democratic. By embargoing trade and creating an artificial poverty, it is hoped that this will get these regions to accept our form of political democracy even though there is no economic democracy. But what has our political democracy shown us at home? It has demonstrated that no matter who says or promises change, we end up with the same program after the vote, no matter who wins. Barack Obama promised troop withdrawal out of Iraq and instead escalated it. He promised change before the election and then once voted in, stated he would maintain the course of Bush; the renegade of democracy who took away habeus corpus and blocked civil rights. Obama bailed out the banks and corporations but kept “end welfare as we know it” from the Clinton era, choosing instead, corporate welfare for the big banks and corporations who helped to ship jobs and industry off-shore to cut costs. Political democracy was used to subvert and control economic democracy. Without economic democracy where a person who is too poor to even be allowed on the voters list, there isn't even political democracy.
Democracy does not come by force, but from a willing spirit. Just because you force someone into a way of doing thing unfamiliar to them, does not make them a willing participant. Take the democratic push in places like Afghanistan and Columbia. Food is destroyed along with cash crops, because the cash crop is objectionable to what we as outsiders see as right. This places the people who have lost their means of living into dependance on those who impose their will upon them. This is not democracy and further, they never even voted for the invaders. There is no political democracy spoken here and the loss of the economic base reduces what could be an economic democracy to impoverishment that all must share. Even so, there is no economic democracy in these places, but that is no excuse to impose political democracy, especially when we practice neither political nor economic democracy at home in the real sense.
Democracy has in essence, become one of those words that have lost all meaning in the propaganda and lies that continually drown our ears and minds in confused and misnamed gibberish. People, especially the young, invent new words to express old concepts that got corrupted by misinformation parading as “God's own truth”. As it was in the beginning, where the resources needed by life were equally available, so it is now. In order to have political democracy, we must first establish economic democracy, and this can only come when the established paradigm is replaced entirely by a new one. This will have to be done on an international level with the agreement of the real majority and not by the persuasion or money as it has been up to now. Real value comes from nature, even in the era of mega-corporations, vast wealth controlled by the few under threat of torture and death and the masses who are increasingly denied basic needs and rights. It is we who have lost the vision, not that nature has failed to provide.