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Friday, April 18, 2014


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Indighost 1
It's not the death of democracy. It's just a brief flash in the pan of some people realizing that the true definitions of power lie in human nature and cannot truly be changed, only temporarily pushed away from their gravitic center.

Power clusters and centralizes over time naturally. Democracy sometimes leads to redistributions which temporarily equalize things, but unlikely to persist forever against such a deep force.
Posted by Indighost on April 18, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Report this
AFinch 2
@1 - I think you are espousing a variation of the "Feudalism is the natural order of societies" thesis.

I haven't read the whole paper, but I'd like to say: we have been here before, and gotten past it and that gives me hope we will get there again. Power which is too tightly "clustered" and "centralized" and therefore rigid, and which therefor does not allow for sufficient mobility and access to resources is not stable either. This is why the Mandarins running China (the oligarchy of the Communist Party) are dancing on a bubble all the time. If things become too rigid for too long, guillotines come out.

We are not the egalitarian democracy we were in 1952 or 1934, but before that we were an Oligarchy in 1899 and looked a lot more like today (an economic aristocracy). The "democracy" of the late 18th century sure looked a lot more like a Koch Brother's wet dream where the only real citizens were the owners of capital (land) and then limited to basically white males. We got past these.
Posted by AFinch on April 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
As if anyone needs a fancy-pants report from an Ivy League school to point out the obvious. The scary part is that 'the oligarchs' include for the most part amoral and sociopathic trans-national corporations. These entities exist for one reason only - to provide legal protection as they maximize financial profit, never mind the consequences. They are focused greed made manifest, with no countervailing morality to temper their actions. Like dragons of myth, they are rapacious, violent and accountable to no one. And they are, make no mistake, destroying our planet.
Posted by screed on April 18, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
the paper proves nothing, and the statistics say so. you can believe what you want, but don't be dragging bad science into your side of the argument.…
Posted by semi-crepuscular on April 18, 2014 at 10:43 AM · Report this
sissoucat 5
Sorry for it to be a discovery for you guys. We've long thought in Europe that the US was the land where the lone Free are indeed the the Rich, who are rightly free to do whatever they want to the poor, however inhuman, and escape all scrutiny while doing it and afterwards, because they're Exceptional.

If that's an alleviation, European democracies are not that democratic either. In France, the media circuses, owned by private interests, make or break the elections, and the actual issues at hand are never discussed in depth, even in a way only understandable to elitists. Putting a lot of money into the media circuses always gets you elected - except when you've been in power already, and you've proven how lame you were.

This remnant of democracy is why Sarkozy, despite his money, only had one term. And why Holland has been elected against Sarkozy, despite having as much charisma as a dead slug ; in truth anybody would have won against Sarkozy. And probably, anybody would win now against Holland, since he turned his back on his left electorate to do a center-right job.

And also, there's a limit to how many hesitant and unfinished sentences one can hear, without hating with a passion a poor orator's guts.
Posted by sissoucat on April 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Oh. For fuck sake, Savage. Lighten up on the weed and hyperbole for Christ sake.
Posted by tkc on April 18, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Report this
merry 7
@ 3 - This is by far the best comment I've read on this, or any, blog in quite some time.....

"..Like dragons of myth, they are rapacious, violent and accountable to no one. And they are, make no mistake, destroying our planet." Abso-frickin-lutely.
Posted by merry on April 18, 2014 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 8
Oligarchy implies that the wealthy have at least some common national interests in governing, even if it's their own. Since the 1% supremacists are gang-banging the national economy and US Treasury solely for the own personal enrichment and self-aggrandizement, then it's a kleptocracy.
Posted by Original Andrew on April 18, 2014 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Might this be the place to point out that the United States has never been a democracy, but rather has always been a representative republic?
Posted by carnivorous chicken on April 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 10
@ 9,

Sure, if you'd like to be the one to launch that non-sequitur for the 10 bazillionth time. Slog really oughtta have a FAQ.

Posted by Original Andrew on April 18, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
treacle 11
I was going to say, you can't really morn the death of something that was never alive. America, at the federal level, has never been a functional democracy --representative or not--, it's *always* been governed by the the white and the wealthy. The only thing that died was your belief in a fabrication.

I'm glad this report is getting some exposure. Hopefully it will lead to a more open discussion of what is important, and what it takes to actually obtain it.
(Although the report will probably get buried and become a wistful footnote in history as the oligarchs keep their boots to our heads.)
Posted by treacle on April 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM · Report this
@10 You would think the eggheads at Princeton would have gotten that one right. Not really a non-sequitur, however; I thought the point was in defining democracy. You can't argue that we had democracy and now we don't if we never really had democracy in the first place. In a democracy, every single (eligible) person would vote on every single issue.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on April 18, 2014 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Sean Kinney 13
Always has been an oligarchy. From the git-go. Duh.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on April 18, 2014 at 1:15 PM · Report this
Fortunate 14
20 years ago an acquaintance pointed all this out to me. She made the comment that voting didn't matter, because if it did those in power would have already made it illegal.

At the time I thought she was just being hyperbolic, but as time has gone on I realize she is right. We are just starting to realize what has been going on for decades.

I don't think it is just a flash in the pan. At least I don't think the world is ever going back even if the oligarchy in the US gets overthrown. Simply because they have already done so much damage to the planet I doubt it will ever recover.

I am thinking global warming has already reached a tipping point. In a few decades we are going to have mass starvation and a drastic drop in the world population. One projection I saw predicted an 80% drop in world population in 40 years.

The game is going to change and I don't believe there is thing one we can do about it now. Our only hope is to reconfigure to a new system that will maximize the number of survivors, mostly by focusing on new and more efficient forms of food production at local levels. The map is going to change and it ain't going back, at least for many generations.
Posted by Fortunate on April 18, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
I agree that there has always been swings into oligarchy and back out it. But, a lot of things have changed to give the 1% more of an edge to hang on this time. Corporations are now people per the SCOTUS. Money is now officially and legally speech now. Voting rights are again up to the States now that the VRA has been gutted. The CRA is now in the sights of a regressive and corporate centered SCOTUS. Things are stacking up more and more for the oligarchs to hang on to control of government right down to the local level. When the 1% finds the guy they really want to be president, we will see another election like in 2000 when the SCOTUS cast aside the election and decreed Bush to be the winner. And Gore sat back and just took it. That was the watershed moment. If I were a young man today, I'd go to Canada or Australia. There's no future here unless you have wealth.
Posted by kwodell on April 18, 2014 at 2:02 PM · Report this
Ms Sissou - What's the USian for French "centre-right"?

(shades of the Red Queen asking Alice, "What's the French for fiddle-dee-dee?" which was actually the only sensible question in the Queen's Examination in which Alice performed so poorly)
Posted by vennominon on April 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM · Report this
treacle 17
@14 - No time like the present to start working on stuff like that, AND learning and practicing robust forms of self-governance, and non-greed-based economic exchange.
It's do-able. And necessary.
Posted by treacle on April 18, 2014 at 3:18 PM · Report this
@12 they did get it right. They're using democracy as it is actually used in the modern world. All modern countries were citizens have a meaningful ability to participate in governing are liberal democracies. This includes republics, countries that are technically theocratic constitutional monarchies, and just about everything other than actual, Athenian style democracy. Demanding that people not use democracy to describe forms outside the ancient Athenian model doesn't make you sound educated. It's pedantic and ignorant.
Posted by Impulse on April 18, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
I'm curious which countries would pass the test of true democracy, as measured by Princeton. I'm not disputing their claim (because it's mostly true), but I'd like to know where the true democracies are.
Posted by alguna_rubia on April 18, 2014 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Tim Horton 20
@3, @ 14, you doomsdayers are fucking depressing. I am going back to the WSJ pages where the world seems to be doing just fine. Even if you are right about the planet exploding or whatever, I can't do anything about it, so I might as well ignore it.
Posted by Tim Horton on April 18, 2014 at 6:50 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 21
@19: Occupy's General Assembly was a true democracy. And it sucked, sources say.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on April 18, 2014 at 6:53 PM · Report this
We never were supposed to be a democracy. We were a constitutional REPUBLIC! or more specifically a representative democracy. Democracy functions as mob rule. The question is which mob rules.
Posted by DavidNoSpam on April 18, 2014 at 7:14 PM · Report this
Fortunate 23
@20, if it's any consolation my plan is to die about the time the water is up to my knees.
Posted by Fortunate on April 18, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Report this
@15 (kwodell): Both Canada and Australia are currently run by politicians who are at least as accommodating to plutocratic, hoi-polloi-despising, planet-destroying oligarchs as US Republicans and Democrats are.
Posted by PCM on April 19, 2014 at 1:54 PM · Report this

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