It wasn't all that long ago that Communism was the biggest, baddest, boogie man around. And it was in protection from Communism that we celebrated our love of Democracy. Communism lost, but was it Democracy that proved to be the winner? Or was it the supremacy of money and markets?
Now that markets, pan national corporations, and the uninterrupted flow of capital, are the dominate forces (one hesitates to continue referring to this troika as a singular ism anymore; mostly because it has become so mutated beyond the original conception of this form of social organization) on the planet, we in the West wonder at how we will save the principle pivot point that made the West possible in the first place: rule by collective consensus of what is important, what should be law, and how those laws should be created and administered.
In the beginning, scarcity still had to be managed, of course, so, without much technology yet, commercialized specialization, with the abstraction of money working as a specialization translator, we left the rest of the practical necessities of life to be administered by individual enterprise, and competition. And that worked, more or less, within a particular technological context where skill was still quite difficult to duplicate, and moving things around one hell of a lot harder.
Be that as it may, what is especially interesting as I write this is that the answer to the question that the article linked below refers to, is unintentionally presented to us by the very form of the web page image, and the exchange that makes that web page possible in the first place.
Notice that the main fact of this article at the start is that it is brought to us by Morgan Stanley. An especially interesting contrast when one considers the recent checkered past of that particular institution, and abuses of power. Much more important, though, than the mere fact that an article had a sponsor is that information that might be important to us got to our eyes and minds only because profit made having this channel of possible enlightenment possible in the first place. And because of that, as we are now being made only too painfully aware of, the question of who is profiting, why, and how that profit actually manifests itself (I can profit just as much, if not more, if I can change your perceptions, and thus your beliefs, by seemingly giving away carefully designed message, as I can by only getting more money back than spent originally).
Democracy's vulnerability to this sort of thing shouldn't be surprising at all of course. It is automatically implied when one makes a descriptive statement like (from the third paragraph above, from the top): "...rule by collective consensus of what is important, what should be law, and how those laws should be created and administered."
Kinda hard to keep a reliable "collective consensus" when so many competing, and often diametrically opposed, interests keep trying to influence it. And with ever greater sums of abstract counters involved, with continued control of same at stake, it's no wonder that doing that influence has little incentive for restraint.
So here we are. Living the effects of what turning the critical flow of information into an inducement to receive the real intended message: Consume, and or buy into, what interests us. And don't worry. We'll continue to put significant sums into making your little, inducing, tidbit as entertaining, and distracting as modern science can provide, because that is also in our interest.
In my view Democracy has only one chance of surviving as it was meant to survive. And that is to recognize that our current economic operating system is utterly, and unchangeably, toxic to what makes Democracy possible at all: our ability to interact directly not only with each other, but with all of the collected knowledge that society has created so far, and will create. Channels that mediate message of one form or another cannot owe their existence to the interests of a limited few. They must be there precisely at the service of preserving the maintenance of that "collective consensus." Which is simply another reason why the rights of the individual, and the rights of the community as a whole, must be kept in balance. Both are equally important, and so both must be addressed.
It is in the tension between these two that we must set our creative efforts on. That we must keep vigilance to, as well as respect of. It won't be easy to say the least, but it will yield the best results. To do this we must grow up and start engaging each other as adults. Which is just another way of saying that nobody can have everything they want. We can, individually, get a good deal of what we want, and need, if we understand at the outset that compromise is the only way this can work. Which itself is only another, very important, aspect of how Democracy has to operate in order to have any chance of success in the first place.
Think long and hard about this I implore you. Whether you realize it or not this is an absolutely critical pivot point in history. In my view our species won't survive if we get this wrong. And we've hardly begun to imagine the suffering that will ensue along the way in the demise. Talk to your friends. Get them thinking on it too, and involving their friends. If this choice doesn't go viral we are in for serious shit you've only begun to get an inkling of.
The Uncertain Future of Democracy