Re-branding Dissent

By David Malone and cross-posted from his blog, Golem XIV

I am one of those who thinks that democracy is being destroyed.  I know its fashionable to play cynical one-upmanship and say – ‘we’ve never had democracy’, or, ‘it was destroyed long ago’,  but that game aside, I think its worth actually thinking about how, many forms of democratic expression, effective dissent and peaceful self-determination are being buried.

In “The Next Crisis” I argued that the Global Over-Class have decided that Democracy is a threat to their wealth and power and have more than likely given some thought to how best to neuter it while appearing to do no such thing.  I suggested they would wish to keep the outward form of democracy, so as to keep us reassured and entertained, but remove any substance from it, leaving us with an empty but colourful stage show.

In part two  of the series, I offered a list of the various ways this could be done (a sort of manifesto for the Over Class or, as I have called them elsewhere, The Disloyal and noted how many of those things were clearly already underway.

For example item three of the manifesto said,

3) professionalized Governance. Democracy can be and must be neutered, and an effective way of doing this is to insist that amateur, elected officials MUST take the advice of professional (read corporate) advisors. Expand current law to enforce this.

If this seems monstrous now, their argument, I suspect,  will be that in an increasingly crowded, interconnected and globalised world we can no longer leave critically important decisions in the hands of the uneducated, in-expert and amateur.  We must, of course, still be free to choose but must, from now on, be helped to choose ‘wisely’. And how can we choose wisely if we aren’t given wise choices to choose from?  Oh, the Orwellian beauty of it! No prizes for guessing who will decide what is and what is not wise.

We cannot any longer allow you to choose unwisely! There is so much at stake and so much you and your representatives simply do not fully understand.

You only need think how much legislation is already written by these ‘advisors’ and how many ‘experts’ are routinely seconded from corporations in order to ‘help’ the government departments regulate those same corporations to appreciate how far towards this we have already come. Two examples of ‘expert advice’ spring readily to mind. Back in May 2014  Citi drafted, word for word, many of the ‘amendments’ to the Frank Dodd financial regulation law.  While professional experts from  J PM Morgan did the same for the new derivatives trading law which puts the US tax payer back on the hook for any really serious losses.

Choose wisely

‘Choose wisely’ is a good first step in neutering democracy. It is easy to sell, appears wise, benevolent even, and who could advocate the opposite?  But being admonished to ‘choose wisely’ is quite different to being forced to do so by having ‘experts’ pre-choose your range of choices for you and having your representatives forced to follow the pre-narrowed ‘wise’ choice or choices handed to them by paid-for lobbyists and seconded experts. However I think the Over Class knows ‘Choose wisely’ and Professionalized Governance are not going to be enough on their own – given the scale of unpleasantness which will have to be imposed and maintained on voters if the current structures of power and privilege are to be maintained.

‘Choose wisely’ and Professionalized Governance are an efficient and well camouflaged way to stop radical democratic ideas getting traction in Parliament or Congress or ever making it in to law. But, they leave unaddressed the more urgent task of how to properly neuter the people at source – in their own minds. How much better and stable it would be, for the Over Class, if the people voluntarily shied away from dissenting opinions rather than having  to corral such opinions once they are voiced and people start voting for them.

I began to look at how this second front in the war on democracy might be fought, in part three.  I  suggested that what you and I might call public engagement would be re-branded as ill-informed ‘populism’. And wouldn’t you know it, Prime Minister David Cameron speaking – or should I say condescending – in the House of Commons on 17.11.15 about opposition to the TTIP trade agreement, said,

…when you [Members of Parliament] get that barrage of emails – people sometimes have signed up without fully understanding every part of what they’ve been asked to sign – people want to spread some fear about this thing, and we have a role, I think, of trying to explain properly why these things are good for our country.

Et voila! A wonderful early example. This is the start of the re-branding of political dissent

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