You can’t change anything by voting. Or, as Emma Goldman put it: ‘if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal’. Politicians can rearrange deckchairs but they can’t steer the ship away from the iceberg because they don’t have the power. The two biggest factors in this are:
- governments are national, but capital is international and therefore beyond any government control
- investors are international too, and so any government action that upsets international investors will result in them removing their money from that country with the click of a mouse; the country would be bankrupt and politicians know it
There are other factors of course; for example:
- the huge lobby industry exists for the wealthiest people in the world to pay for access to and influence over our elected representatives (this alone makes democracy impossible)
- no-one can reach the highest political office (US president or congress) without hundreds of millions of dollars from the wealthiest people in the world; if you’re not pro-corporate, you’re not in the race
- the wealthiest people in the world give well-paid, cushy jobs to ministers at the end of their political careers
You can vote every five years, but you can’t vote for where the power is, and so all voting does is legitimise an undemocratic system. Politicians come and go, but real power is corporate and financial, and doesn’t lose elections.
Most people understand this instinctively, but still involve themselves in party politics as if it mattered. (Having said that, people are voting with their feet when it comes to party membership.)
It’s not particularly controversial any more (talk to friends, do they think that power is ultimately political or financial?), so let’s stop calling it democracy. Let’s call it what it is – corporatocracy, or more accurately, plutocracy.
We need systemic change. We need to be discussing ideas. We mustn’t be fooled into believing that there’s no alternative. We’ve been developing an idea that we’ll launch in 2014.
In the meantime, all you can do is stop to think for a second about anything you pay money for. Who gets most of that money? Is it the large banks and corporations? If so, try and think of an alternative source – here are lots of ways we can help you.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's