Democracy and the influence of big bucks

Nishthar Idroos (Daily FT)

“What is true, just and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty” – Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Bill and Hillary Clinton are a talented couple, cerebral and accomplished. Though seemingly removed from active politics, their potential to earn as recognisable public figures and intellectuals is still growing.

During the recently concluded presidential campaign, Goldman Sachs paid a sizeable amount to Hillary Clinton not because she was corrupt or dribbling for dough but that’s how campaigns are financed in the US and to a larger extent in other countries where this typhlotic political system of democracy holds sway.

In the US, direct campaign donors are legally allowed to interact with a candidate but their donations cannot exceed $ 2,700 per presidential candidate. By the way, US federal election law requires all candidates to report each campaign donation to the Federal Election Committee.

In these civilised times, ruled by extremely civilised people, hideous amounts are thrown around by big businesses in a casino type fashion at the favourite candidates during the so-called democratic elections. This is being done in sharp contravention to the fundamental tenets of an actual functioning democracy. Democracy is essentially western; a supposedly guiding western idea, in exponential decay and regression, due to the influence of big money.

Today businesses not only place their bets by mere mutual lubrication with political candidates but drape their wives in plush jewellery, purchase them fancy gifts, sponsor the education of their children overseas, the list goes on. The unwritten principle of tacit reciprocity between big business and political elites is sealed and integral to the enlightened democracy of today. This crass distortion is unfair and unjust. It disunites and dislocates the preponderance in whose name ironically the entire political philosophy hinges.

In the context of the civil war, Lincoln memorialised the sacrifices and ensured the survival of America’s representative democracy. He famously said: “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish.” Maybe Lincoln was not affected much by the political influence of Wall Street.

Distortions only facilitate a futile and meaningless engagement of the people in a democracy, depriving the attendant and intended benefits of a system that once performed true to its revered theory. Today the process is an absolute mockery and travesty. The ordinary Joe is wholly emasculated and rendered unequal due to the powers vested in a few who are able to engineer varied and multicoloured distortions courtesy of big bucks.

Deception and misrepresentation are juxtapositions to a functioning democracy. H.L. Mencken said it best: “I confess I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic and hence incomparably amusing.” Hans-Hermann Hoppe, a German-born American Austrian School economist and libertarian anarcho-capitalist philosopher, was right when he said: “Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty.”

Without big bucks from crude corporate capitalists, actual combustion will cease. The Asian counterparts are always incidentally a step ahead. For sure they’ll need big notes and in huge quantities due to inflation and the devaluation of currency, also armed vehicles and soldiers to transport it and dangle them in front of uncouth politicians willing to attempt the pole vault. They rake and stash in style.

In South Asia in particular it is a refined art worthy of a serious PhD dissertation, executed with skill, subtlety and sophistication. A plethora of front men, fake companies and the much maligned offshore accounts. Even for the untainted, the temptation is too much to resist. Smart and smooth-talking wizards and loyalists with MBAs working in tandem as ideal proxies, adopting a more respectable modus operandi to embezzle and contribute towards mutual growth. This is how the political game is played wherever democracy reigns. This cannot be changed and will not be changed. Democracy Zindabad! Democracy Zindabad!

Communicating with a multicultural audience not necessarily endowed with the same degree of intelligence and insight is certainly not an ordinary task. The process is further compounded when one has to rebut Opposition allegations. All of this involves money and lots of it. Preparing for an election in these civilised times is no mean task.Smart and veteran contenders habitually contrive sensational hype, pregnant with insincerity, mendacity and deceit, energised by high voltage electricity supplied via Madison Avenue only to be devalued as damp squibs once the protagonists enter office, with the non-implementation of election pledges, assurances and commitments. Going against universal principles, attacking minorities, killing with impunity, etc. takes center stage soon after. We will soon hear from Donald J. Trump, not to mention the countless promises given by Sri Lankan politicians that once included nourishment for lactating mothers and unweaned toddlers. These children, if amongst the living, must be just over 10 years today. Step into any night ‘Appa Kade’ and you will hear the common man’s voice. As one put it ‘Unta Kotiprokotiapata Loonuala ha Paanpiti’ – meaning politicians make millions and control the price of red onions, potato and flour to prevent a middle-class uprising.

In the meantime, someone has apparently told Joe that he is the unmistakable king in a democracy. He is in fact enraged and agitated and behaving more like King Kong.

The history of democracy globally is strewn with examples of extremists in every shape or form and demagogues manipulating prejudice, insecurity and fear in a bid for power. In this sense, Trump is not the first and his rhetoric is certainly nothing new.