Author Charlie Stross talks of the beige dictatorship much of the developed world seems to be living under.
For a while I’ve had the unwelcome feeling that we’re living under occupation by Martian invaders. (Not just here in the UK, but everyone, everywhere on the planet.) Something has gone wrong with our political processes, on a global scale. But what? It’s obviously subtle — we haven’t been on the receiving end of a bunch of jack-booted fascists or their communist equivalents organizing putsches. But we’ve somehow slid into a developed-world global-scale quasi-police state, with drone strikes and extraordinary rendition and unquestioned but insane austerity policies being rammed down our throats, government services being outsourced, peaceful protesters being pepper-sprayed, tased, or even killed, police spying on political dissidents becoming normal, and so on. What’s happening?
Stross goes on to highlight the way the Equal Marriage bill passed precisely because no powerful vested interests stand to lose from it, and it gives the government a veneer of progressivism. But we’re unlikely to see any movement on the war on drugs, no matter how much human misery it causes, because the vested interests in the status quo are so powerful.
Tony Benn once said that our fate is now in the hands of bankers we did not elect, and cannot remove. Whatever you think of Tony Benn, it is clear that corporate interests, not the people, increasingly set the political agenda. It’s almost impossible to see equivalents of the large-scale social reforms by Liberal and Labour governments in the first half of the 20th century happening under today’s political systems. Indeed, many of those achievements are now being dismantled to the benefit of corporate interests against the wishes of the majority of the electorate. How many people actually voted to break up and privatise the NHS, for example?
When disparities in wealth in the USA have reached the levels of pre-revolutionary France, I can’t see how the situation is remotely sustainable, no matter what amount of bread and circuses. Hopefully the western world can avoid something as traumatic as the French Revolution, but the democracy isn’t performing the self-correcting function it’s supposed to.
I believe voting on it’s own will change nothing, and representative democracy will only start delivering governments that actually reflect the will and interests of the people after the real battle has been won elsewhere.
The internet may turn out to be a major battleground, as it provides a way around the corporate media. This is one reason why power-grabs like SOPA need to be resisted. The stakes are far, far higher than protecting the entertainment industries against “piracy”. If the web devolves into a cross between cable TV and a shopping mall, with other voices silenced or marginalised, that field of battle will be lost.
What do you think?