Democracy in 2012

“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, torment, slavery, brutalization and moral degradation at the other…”

Karl Marx may not have referred to the 1% and the 99% when he wrote of those extremes in the 19th century, but they certainly capture this moment in the 21st. Americans appalled at minority domination of national wealth as they pay for endless wars, increasing inequality and vanishing public services have joined a rising global movement for democracy.

65% of the planet’s 7 billion people are poor, bringing the 21st century still closer to Marx’s words of the 19th. Humanity’s call for another world is growing louder and more insistent. The forces of reaction are working to smother that voice through their private governments and media but also through supposedly public and even progressive political circles.

In a particularly sad irony, a budding form of anarchic democracy in America grows through the “Occupy” movement, while an attempt at such governance in Libya has been crushed, at least temporarily. The NATO attack succeeded in obliterating a governing force that tried representing a majority of the Libyan people. While Gaddafi’s regime made many mistakes after its initial socialist phase, perhaps most seriously in re-aligning with the treacherous west, its Green Book attempt to create real and not simply representative democracy was laughed at by cynics but in line with anarchist dreams of power coming from collective will and not individual leadership. Many in the Occupy movement may not know what really happened in Libya, but under thought control exercised by agents of the 1% relatively few have any idea.

More important, growing numbers of people are learning that minority ruled society is the root cause of most problems facing humanity. That these problems grow more severe each day makes the increased demand for change both timely and ever more necessary. The Climate Change meetings in Durban that found the 1% ruling powers standing in the way of any change threatening their fanatic worship of private investment and belief in the market deity only showed more conclusively that democracy of the 99% must become reality to end the hypocritical sham that has gone by its name far too long.

Occupy Wall Street’s General Assembly urged “the people of the world…create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.”

These solutions are impossible under the domain of private capital’s 1%. The un-regulated markets of obsessive profit seeking are like un-protected sex. Even at their best they can produce unwanted results and at their worst they may produce terminal disease, which is what present global market forces have created. We cannot opt for a temporary remission via private profiteering which carries the disease; the 99% need to consider the abolition of minority dominated market forces and the beginning of democratic control of global resources, in the interest of all the earth’s inhabitants and not just a tiny group of multi billionaires. In an alleged modern, civilized, digitized society, it’s time we end stupid mythology about hard work earning people incredible sums of money that bring them the power of gods.

How do people come by such wealth? How many packages must they deliver, students must they teach, patrons must they serve, miles must they drive, wounds must they bandage, legal briefs must they submit, floors must they sweep, children must they raise, to end up with a billion dollars? Ten billion dollars?

What sense does it make to have one human living on millions of dollars a week while billions of humans live on less than five dollars a day?

The imperial rulers maintain dominance only by virtue of military might. Without massive murder power such as was exercised in Libya and is threatened in Syria and Iran, they would already be gone and as global opposition grows that power will soon not be enough to dominate the planet. Newer threats to powerful nations like China and Russia only show the near dementia of rulers nearing the end of their reign.

But the madness of the diminishing cult, with nuclear weapons at their disposal, threatens our future, just as humanity shows signs of coming together to create a different world of peace, social justice and protection for the environment that sustains all mankind. Leaving control of social wealth in private hands would be suicide for the human race.

Henry Ford once said, “It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” He was correct. We need to understand that system and transform it by creating federal, state and municipal public banks, owned, administered and investing according to the wishes of the people whose funds are held by these institutions. We cannot rely on some wealthy people investing according to moral principles unknown to most of their class. They should be taxed and their money democratically invested in the societies that created this wealth in the first place. We need to create a sensible maximum wage and a higher minimum wage that guarantees survival, with a social safety net that allows no one to go hungry, experience untended illness, or live without shelter.

There is far more than enough wealth to house, feed, clothe and benefit everyone, if we simply stop squandering that wealth on minorities who use it to perpetuate a system that is bringing us closer to social disaster. Capitalism is in a crisis which will get much worse before we make it better. In order to do that we need to end inequality and begin to recognize that the survival of one is dependent on the survival of all.

Happy New Year. 2012 could be a big one.

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in print in the Coastal Post and The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate. Read other articles by Frank.