How can individuals and societies protect themselves against the encroachment and abuse of government power in the modern age?
By Andrew Mckenzie
The laws of parliament are complicated for the same reason the National Bank makes currency difficult to print. So, people can’t figure out how to do it. The liberation of humanity is achieved only through the liberation of the individual. We need to build tools, pirate the parliaments, unleash the political conscious, and build a new democratic basis for a better future.
What does the Internet mean for politics in the West? In the Middle East, WikiLeaks, Al Jazeera, and social networking sites have been credited with putting social and democratic movements on steroids, having played a large role in bringing millions of determined revolutionaries into the streets. Closer to home, Anonymous and Lulzsec have thrived, prying at the secret corporate and military supra-structures of Western societies.
The Internet is a place for the freedom of ideas, actions, and information. We have seen the Internet profoundly improve social contact, business efficiency, and information accessibility. The Internet is unique because of its ease, structure, and familiarity. We are now beginning to see the political consequences of this revolutionary technology.
The Internet is not merely an archive of accessible information. It represents quite powerfully a representation of human reality. This reality is home to humanity's ideas, culture, knowledge, transactions, and social communication. In this essay, I argue that the Internet is evolving into a tool to liberate the individual from the alienation of our modern political systems.
Access to information and the possibility of direct political engagement into the decision making processes of Western states set the stage for a new age of human development, where the ancient triangle of hierarchy can be replaced with the circle of democracy.
The collection of more and more information on the Internet will have a profound impact on how we understand our own realities. One example of how the Internet is already changing our present reality is SWIFT data, which is a record of all the financial transaction carried out over the Internet inside Europe and elsewhere.
In our capitalist world, where everything is monetized, viewing the record of all financial transactions is like seeing a near perfect image of the power and mechanisms of modern capitalist economies. This implies that economics could quite possibly be removed from the realm of theory, because today we have to tools to see exactly what the economy is and what it does.
In a similar vein, our own digital footprint, appears to be an immortal and intimate mark of the individual’s existence, scratched into cyberspace for eternity. We cannot be sure how future generations will judge us, but they'll certainly know everything about us. They may even go so far to say we created our own virtual resting place.
In addition to the reflective possibilities, the Internet also has made the communication of ideas, even radical ones, easier than ever before. The ease and access of communication has opened new avenues for political action and organization.
The Internet makes open and democratic societies possible and implies a fundamental change to the current political hierarchy. We are at present merely observers to politics. We should demand what has been denied, namely a voice in decisions that affect our lives.
We have an informed public, unpopular government(s), and a new means of communication. If banking can be done online, so can democracy. Democracy should be more than incompetent men in suits, special voting days, and outdated and unimaginative political parties.
Canada, for example, boasts almost 17 million Facebook users. That figure represents more than the total number of voters in the past federal election. It also represents how socially connected people can be, yet how politically disconnected they actually are.
Canada is a country of 34 million, who will be governed for the next 5 years by right-wing Conservatives who only received 5.8 million votes in the last election in 2011.
Instead of calling for democratic ‘reforms’ to fix undemocratic regimes, people should initiate these reforms themselves. Mass demonstrations evidence ineffective democracies.
The inherent good of more democratic politics derives its legitimacy from the direct engagement and participation of all the people. In Canada, 5.8 million is not a legitimate benchmark, especially because a majority of Canadians oppose the government on key issues, such as war, the environment, and social justice. In Canada particularly, and in the West more generally, low voter turnout is symptomatic of the ineffectiveness of parliament and representative democracies in their current forms. Large groups of people have either given up on the process, or are shut out by ignorance.
An interesting addition to these trends is how governments are increasingly susceptible to leaks, gaffes, and criminal prosecution. We watch in surprise as an army of perverts and criminals creep out of the woodwork of authority.
The representative democracies of the West and the various international military, corporate and financial decision making bodies have shown themselves to be remarkably stable at adapting to dealing with conflict. Elections and party politics have played an important part in the struggle for democracy. However, by themselves, they do little to protect populations from the impact of capitalism on the lives of individuals or the environment.
Representative elections have improved accountability and have played a central role in progressive politics and reform over the past century. However, the more powerful Western states have been always been ruled by pro-war pro-business parties and has little success in solving poverty, achieving stability, or even peace.
We live in a time where economic crisis, war, and environmental destruction seem inevitable and unsolvable by the current order. The sustainability of these systems is also questionable. In Europe and North America, people have been abandoned and remain unrepresented by the political systems which govern them. Organizing voters is what a politician does best, not making decisions.
Every measure against the people is declared as "necessary": the transfer of billions out of the public coffers into those of the banks; the multiple fronts in NATO's imperialist wars; and unemployment and pollution are pervasive.
Our entire economic and political discourse is encapsulated in the German political term alternativlos. Without a real revolution and a profound break with the past, the current political order and its leaders will carry us down the dead end path of austerity, imperialist war, and an atomic nightmare. Elite interests, not democratic or human ones determine the key political decision making of our time. And, the class of political, military, and business elites, who hold power today, are full of criminals and criminal behavior of all types.
Is the end of Western representative democracy forthcoming? Can the Internet provide the nails? There has never existed a time when people have been so free and interconnected. As Facebook, and other sites have shown, people are not difficult to organize. The obvious step is to organize our politics in a more democratic manner, and discuss issues with purpose rather than ‘hot air’. There is no reason why we cannot build our own parliaments at a fraction of the cost.
Today, there is a striking incompatibility with the decision making structures of representative democracy and representing the wishes of the majority. What the public wants is not even considered. Important decisions are made secretly in IMF boardrooms and NATO war-rooms. This dynamic has always existed in western democracies, but now people are more aware of the gulf between themselves and their governments, and the economic system these appointed leaders seem so desperate to save.
The Western peoples should take note: Tools already exist to move the Triangle to the Circle, if we want. The only way to reach a peaceful co-existence and a more human oriented society is with democracy. The new revolutionary generation, and the inter-connectivity of their material environment should mean an end to political hierarchy. This generation will be the monkeys who learn democracy plus the Internet can bring peace and a brighter future to the world. We must each other, and no one else, in the active governance of our nations, because the present alternative is terrifying.
I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.