Our response to: “why don’t you start a political party?”

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Posted Aug 8 2021 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org
“why don’t you start a political party?”

There’s a question we often hear: “why don’t you start a political party?” Sometimes this is genuine, and enthusiastic, but often it’s snarky, as in: “why don’t you stop sniping on the sidelines and put your ideas to the masses, who can vote for you if they like them? Then you can implement your proposals. We live in a democracy, after all.”

I thought I’d write an article in response to this, so that I can point to it, rather than having to answer the same question over and over again.

There are four main ways to look at this (let me know which one you subscribe to, and if you think there are more).

1. ‘We live in a democracy.’

Real power is held by the state, who implement the wishes of the majority of the population. Political parties write their manifestos, that members of the public read (OK, that part is pure fantasy). The public chooses between various manifestos (hmmmm…), and decides which party to vote for. The party that gains the most votes forms the government (if you’re lucky). People died so that you could have the vote, and therefore you’re obliged to use it. If there’s a problem at all with this system, it’s that the ‘first-past-the-post’ candidate wins in each constituency – a problem that can be solved if we introduce proportional representation.

2. ‘We don’t live in a democracy, because ultimate power doesn’t lie with the state.’

The state is a puppet, run by the corporate interests represented at Davos, and especially those behind the Great Reset. Our so-called democracy is utterly corrupt – awash with corporate money, corporate lobbyists and corporate jobs for politicians. How can national governments regulate multinational corporations anyway? The world is run by the people at the top of a global network of banks and corporations that are way beyond the control of governments. Governments can only implement a narrow range of policies – and even then, only policies that don’t challenge corporate profits or power.

3. ‘We don’t live in a democracy, because the state has formed a symbiotic relationship with corporations.’

This is a more subtle version of position two. Rather than states being run by corporations, there’s a symbiotic relationship between governments and the corporate sector. This is what politicians get from corporations:

  • Donations: politics is awash with corporate money, and Super PAC legislation in the US allows unlimited, anonymous donations to political causes, mainly on prime-time TV ads.

  • Cushy positions on corporate boards.

  • Lobbying: corporations hire expensive lobbyists to influence politicians who regulate their sector, asking them for favours, whilst offering them money and jobs.

  • Legislation: the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) designs legislation for US states.

  • Holidays on private yachts, dinner parties, personal friendships.

  • Shares in the corporations they’re supposed to be regulating.

  • Threats to take factories and jobs elsewhere to stop legislation they don’t like.

  • News coverage: most Western media are owned by billionaires, so they support the corporate agenda and can make or break governments.

  • Funding of university departments to tailor research towards corporate profit rather than the public good.

  • Equipment, teaching materials and corporate fizzy-drink machines in schools, to get ’em young; in the US, corporate advertising is shown to children during lessons.

[NB: the only difference between a lot of this behaviour and fraud is the law. if you can influence enough politicians to make sure your activity is legal, then it’s not fraud.]

And this is what corporations get from governments:

  • States allow corporations to avoid tax legally, via tax havens. Small businesses can do the same, but the amounts involved wouldn’t justify the accountants’ fees.

  • States don’t legislate for transparency to end illegal tax evasion, So Starbucks pay virtually nothing while the independent coffee shop across the road pays the full rate.

  • If they fall on hard times, then ‘too-big-to-fail’ corporations – notably banks – are bailed out with our money. Not the case with small businesses.

  • Governments build high-speed rail, motorways and airports that disproportionately benefit national and multinational corporations rather than local businesses.

  • It’s been shown many times that mixed smallholdings are more productive than large-scale monoculture. But large-scale, industrial agriculture gets all the subsidies.

  • There are huge subsidies for oil companies to find more fossil fuels; and no tax on aviation fuel or VAT on flights etc.

  • States always prefer giant corporations when it comes to government contracts.

  • Spending on corporate weaponry hugely exceeds any ‘defence’ requirements.

  • And of course there’s the state monopoly on issuing legal tender granted to the banks.

  • States create barriers to market entry for small businesses, with expensive licensing and regulations that are easily affordable by large corporations.

  • Embassies have secondees from corporations who pay their wages, and diplomats, ex-diplomats and former ambassadors are now expected to open doors for corporations abroad.

  • Corporate representatives are invited into government – unelected ministers or members of government committees are regularly drawn from banks and corporations.

  • Legislation criminalises whistleblowers and journalists who expose corporate wrong-doing – e.g. EU ‘Trade Secrets’ legislation.

[As I write, the UK government is allegedly pushing £100 million of taxpayers’ money towards Nissan – a car manufacturer, in an age when governments are ostensibly prioritising climate change.]

4. ‘It doesn’t matter who forms a government, because the system has its own momentum, that voting won’t change.’

This position is subtler still. No-one is actually in control, because the global economy has its own momentum that individual countries can’t really challenge. The idea of corporate representatives handing over bags of cash to corrupt politicians is too cartoonish to reflect reality. The reality is that if your policies don’t stimulate growth and favour the corporate sector, you’ll cause ‘capital flight’ and your country will fall down the global rankings. Credit rating agencies rate countries based on IMF / World Bank data; if they don’t focus on corporate priorities, they’re downgraded and capital flows out of their country. No-one wants to drop out of the G7 / G20 / GWhatever, in a world where conflict between countries is ultimately resolved with military force.

Even if you win an election with an agenda focusing on challenging corporate power (unlikely in a world where the mainstream media is corporate), your hands will be tied. If your policies don’t stimulate growth and attract international corporate investors, you’ll start to lose in the global competition between countries, jobs will disappear and you’ll be guaranteed to lose the next election.

Politicians, corporate CEOs & majority shareholders and senior civil servants have been exposed to mild cultural propaganda pretty much constantly, through schools and universities to media and career progression, so that the corporate agenda is seen as ‘common sense’ and any alternative views seen as ‘extremist’.

Personally, I’m a number four, with a dash of number three; but it’s only position 1 that I find naïve and unrealistic. And yet it takes so much of the time and energy of good people, who could instead be helping to build a new kind of economy that can’t be controlled from the centre. We’ll continue working to help people re-skill, to build and consume from a new kind of economy, built around a mutual credit core, rather than expecting elections to make anything but a very superficial difference.