Are Capitalism and Democracy Heading for a Divorce?


Since the 1950s the illusion that Democracy and Free Market Capitalism are complimentary and inseparable forces has been carefully constructed and defended by Western governments, private industries, and the media. Throughout the Cold War the market was presented as an essential component of the so-called free world in its ideological struggle against totalitarian régimes, especially that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Now that the Cold War is over the real differences between Democracy, as the democratic will of the people, and International Capitalism, as the despotic will of the oligarchs, are becoming ever more obvious. It would certainly appear to be the case that Democracy needs Capitalism. A well-functioning democratic state requires centres of power outside of government, and Capitalism provides plenty of scope for the creation of economic power bases to balance the influence of government, but there is no evidence that the reverse is true; Capitalism has no need of Democracy. In fact the People’s Republic of China provides ample proof of this thesis. The PR China is the world’s largest manufactured goods producer and the world’s fastest growing Capitalist economy, and the lack of any democratic resistance to wage cuts and human rights violations is quickly proving it to be the world’s most efficient Capitalist economy.


In order to remain competitive in the race to dominate world trade the traditional democratic Capitalist states of the West have been forced to play catch-up in order to stem the growth of the Chinese markets into the Pacific and south-east Asia, and in so doing they have had to borrow China’s less than democratic models of doing business. With popular reaction against the destructive powers of Capitalism wreaking environmental and societal havoc around the globe rising in the West, less than open, transparent, and democratic means have been employed by Western governments to strengthen their brand of Capitalism against the perceived menace of China. To date the finest example of this is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; a series of multilateral negotiations – conducted in secret – which aim to give globalised Western corporations legal powers over their mercantile affairs which will supersede the present legal protections of democratic states. Had it not been for WikiLeaks we would still be in the dark as to the nature of TTIP, and so we are left to imagine that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Left unchecked it is difficult to see how our economic Frankenstein will not eventually turn on and destroy the democracies which have heretofore kept it in line.

Ùr-Fhàsaidh
Jason Michael
Blog Author

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