July 30, 2015
Crisis: European Democracy, Big Money, Obama vs  Snowden

"They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


The Failure — and Future — of Democracy In Europe
Poll Driven Spin Doctors in the Age of Big Money Elections
Obama Administration Denies Snowden Petition

This is a Nederlog of Thursday July 30, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 3 items with 3 dotted links: In item 1, that is on "democracy in Europe" I calculate for you how "democratic" the US and the EU are; item 2 is about the US elections (and is in fact a piece of propaganda for Bernie Sanders, which I like); and item 3 is about Obama vs Snowden.

I told you there will be more crisis files and this is one of them, though indeed it has not been gathered by my checking out 40 sites first, which saved me - at the very least - 1 1/2 hour. Also, there probably will not be another crisis file tomorrow, though there very well
may be a Nederlog file.

And I am still quite weak, for otherwise I might have done more. (But my health is currently not well.)

The Failure — and Future — of Democracy In Europe

The first article of today is by Vojko Volk on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

There’s at least one reason we should be grateful to the Greek people for exposing the European Union’s democratic dysfunction this summer: Their recent referendum showed that majority rule is impossible in a multinational union.

Creating the illusion of democratic decisions within the EU, even when there is no clear will among the member states, has returned like a boomerang with the recent Greek vote — the Greek people voted overwhelmingly against more austerity, but their European neighbors forced it on them anyway. This is especially relevant for a group of states with a single currency, a single financial pillar that supports not only a vast economic-monetary-regulatory platform, but the destiny of multiple countries and millions of human lives.

Well... Vojko Volk is ambassador of Slovenia to Croatia. I don't think he and I have the same ideas about what "democracy" means but - regardless of what he thinks it means - he is right that there is an enormous problem of scale in the system of government that is sold to the electorate as "democracy".

To illustrate. Holland is a small nation of 17 million people, with a territory and a national language, who have been convinced that "freely electing" a few hundreds of their - mostly - wealthiest liars, deceivers, frauds, conmen and schemers into two parliaments will give the 17 million all the fruits and all the rights and all the freedoms  of "democracy" (also known as "government by the people, for the people").

Well... let's see how that works out, numerically. We have a calculator....
As it happens, 500 : 17,000,000 =
1 : 34,000, which means, if "the elected representative" works 40 hour a week and spends 10% of his or her time "listening to the people" (they all do, if they all speak the truth), he or she will listen 4 hours a week - 240 minutes - to 34,000 persons, spending 0.007 minute per person - which equals one divided by 7 thousand: far less than his minimal attention-span which is around 0.1 - minute per person he or she is said to "represent". [1]

Now let's consider Europe. The European Parliament has currently 751 members, which I will round off to 750, while there are over 500 million inhabitants. This means that 1 "representative" "represents" approximately 666,666 European inhabitants. Working 40 hours a week and spending all of 240 minutes listening to "his or her electorate", means that he or she is "listening to his electorate" at the rate of less than 5 per 10,000,000 (
0.00000048) minutes per person (who speak 1 of 24 languages)...

Clearly - I would say - that is not "a democracy", and in terms of representation ("government for the people; government by the people") it is very much less representative than a feudal system, for "the Lord of the Manor" usually had far less than 34,000 menials, let alone 666 thousand 666 menials (666,666). (And no: I am not saying that there are not a whole lot more rules and regulations plus a strong police force plus large secret services that try to maintain these rules and regulations. [2])

I am "exaggerating"? No, I am not. I am calculating. (And you can check me!) The calculations are both quite ridiculous and quite true. I would say that they show there is no democracy in Europe (nor in the US) and there will not be any democracy in Europe (or the US) until very radical changes of the political and economic systems have taken place.

Also, I am not saying these changes will happen, nor am I saying that the situation that exists may not be much worse than it is. All I am doing is showing a few calculations that show that there is no "government for the people, by the people" in any plausible arithmetical sense, and indeed there never has been.

If you believe, as a European or American, that you live "in a democracy", all this shows is that you have been effectively deluded.

Next, there is this, that I quote mostly because of the Jefferson quote:

Thomas Jefferson was right when he claimed that “banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties then standing armies.” With the Greek government’s reluctant decision to accept a proposed bailout plan in which nobody believes, Greeks are heading toward death by installment.
And here is the end of the article (minus the last paragraph):

The EU is a structure in which a gigantic monetary building stands on a political pillar that is a mere toothpick. Hollande is now proposing to strengthen the toothpick by turning the current consensus decision-making into a government and a parliament of the 18 countries using the euro. (...)

When Cicero was campaigning for senator in the year 64 B.C., his immensely cunning brother Quintus, a precursor of the great Machiavelli, advised him how to win in that decisive year for Rome and ascend to the levels of power: “Promise them anything, look them in the eyes and lie, spread joy and optimism. After the elections you will keep some of the promises, especially the ones which suit you.”

That is also like Obama was elected. And Clinton. And Blair. And as they acted once they were elected.

So no, and once again: As inhabitants of the US or the EU we are not living in democracies, if democracies are understood as "government by the people, for the people". We are governed by extremely small minorities who pretend they are elected in free elections they themselves influence a lot by propaganda.

And while I am quite willing to agree it may be much worse than it is (and indeed it probably will be) all I insist on here is that the systems that rule in the US and the EU simply are not democracies, never have been democracies, and are also growing less and less democratic the bigger they are. (See above.)

That is - of course - if by "democracy" you mean something like "government by the people, for the people", which includes a fair chance that you are really being listened to. [3]

You don't govern, and you are not listened to. (Unless you owe at least 10 million dollars worth, which may buy you a little time, once in a rare while.)

Poll Driven Spin Doctors in the Age of Big Money Elections

The next article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

For too long, candidates from both parties have been conducting a cynical game of asking us what we want to hear, then feeding it back to us in carefully managed sound bites, while they dance to the tune of corporations and the uber rich. 

Leadership? At its best, this is like using a hood ornament to navigate.  In practice, it  results in a shameful mix of mush-mouthed lies of omission and outright lies of commission.

But for the first time in ages, we have an alternative.

We are not yet at the alternative. First, there is Hillary Clinton:

Ms Clinton’s campaign has already spent $1 million on polling, focus groups, and assorted other “messaging” strategies.  She’s not doing this so she can tell us the truth – she’s doing it so she can tell us what she thinks we want to hear. 

This leaves her free to raise money from Wall Street, big banks and fat cats, just like her Republican counterparts.

Yes, I think that is correct, and John Atcheson also proceeds to explain it. After that, he proceeds to explain the Republican lies and postures:

Republicans favor free markets and are against Big Government

Ever since Reagan, Republicans have been hawking this BS like carnie barkers on speed – but a quick look at the tax code, or at corporate subsidies – most of which was pushed by Republicans -- shows that all that free market stuff doesn’t apply to fat cats, only consumers, or small businesses like solar and wind energy manufacturers.

And they have no problem inserting Big Brother into your pants, telling you who you may marry, what sexual practices you may or may not use etc etc … or having Big Brother conduct warrantless eavesdropping, extraordinary rendition or any of a host of other assaults on our civil rights.

Or more precisely: The "Freedom! Freedom!" cry was heard only where the "Freedom! Freedom!" criers expected big advancements for themselves (or those they were working for) and was not heard at all where they already had these big advancements for themselves, such as very low taxes for the super rich.

There is more, and here is the end:
What About Bernie?

Want to know how much Bernie Sanders has spent on polling in his bid for the nomination?  Nothing.  Zero. Zip.  When asked about this, his campaign manager said the reason they’re not spending money on polling is because it wouldn’t influence anything Sanders was saying.  That’s because he’s telling you what he believes, not some fractured spin on what he thinks you want to hear, or a bunch of outright lies. 

His manager went on to say they might do some polling later on to help them decide where to run ads, but that’s it.  Bernie’s message is based on looking at the facts and telling us the truth he gleans from them. 

What a concept.

So the article is a blatant piece of propaganda for Bernie Sanders - which I am glad to review, because I like Bernie Sanders: He is honest, he is credible, and most of what he says I agree with. (Not everything, but this is also not a perfect world, as you - possibly - may have noticed.)

None of that will make him win the elections, either for candidate or for presi- dent, but at least he is someone who is honest and credible, which is an enormous difference from all other candidates, the last 40 years or so.

Speaking about dishonest candidates:

3. Obama Administration Denies Snowden Petition

The last article today is by Donald Kaufman on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

On Tuesday, the White House reiterated its stance that Edward Snowden’s revelations were harmful and dangerous to U.S. national security. The former contractor for the National Security Agency faces espionage charges that were issued after journalist Glenn Greenwald published part of Snowden’s trove of classified information in The Guardian in 2013.

Despite the passage in Congress of the USA Freedom Act in June, which curbed the government’s ability to conduct mass bulk collection of American citizens’ phone records, many on Capitol Hill stand by their characterization of Snowden as a traitor.
After which the article quotes the delusions or lies from Obama's lying propagandist Lisa Monaco, as these were rendered on The Guardian:

“Mr Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Lisa Monaco, Obama’s adviser on homeland security and counter-terrorism, said in a statement.

“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and – importantly – accept the consequences of his actions.”

“He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers – not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.

When I said Monaco is a lying propagandist, I meant (among other things):
  • No, he did not disclose the documents: The Guardian and the Washington Post did that - as you no doubt know.
  • And no, he will not "be judged by a jury of his peers" when he is prosecuted under the Espionage law you abuse. 
  • And no, neither does he "hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime" nor is he "running away from the consequences of his actions": He is in Russia because you withdrew his passport; and he is not "running away" but merely avoiding American judicial mistreatment of the kind meeted out against Manning.
But if the speaker for the president of the U.S. relies on this manner of blatant propaganda, you ought to know your are blatantly lied to.

[1] You will probably say something like: "But this is ridiculous! Nobody spends less than 1/7000th part of a minute on anyone!"

I quite agree, but it is not me who says that a few hunderds can "represent" 17 million persons "democratically". The few hundreds say so, and I calculate how much time they have available for each of those in their electorate.

[2] Again I am not saying or recommending anything (and certainly not feudalism): I am merely calculating.

[3] And that is - minimalistically, also - what I want to understand by a term which means "government by the people". If that is what is meant, the whole scale problem I briefly sketched must be radically inverted: Real representatives
can't decently represent more than a thousand persons, at most also.

But yes, real democracy is something there rarely was in Europe or the United States. Simply arithmetically, there may be something like "real democracy" in small cities, of 5.000-50.000 inhabitants maximally, provided there also is a good free press, and very little secrecy, and where most decisions are taken locally.

I think there may still be a few such small cities, but very probably not with a free press, and with considerable secrecy, and where most decisions anyway depend mostly on the state, and not on the small locality...

       home - index - summaries - mail