Posts Tagged ‘history’

Day 1 of Democracy

Democracy is a word that’s extremely hard to define. For instance, we say France is a great democracy, yet it’s a centralist state. It has no legislative power at the departmental, town, commune or territorial levels. Furthermore, the great majority of representatives in the unique people’s assembly are elected civil servants who answer naturally to their boss, that is the Head of State, the President. Executive power is wielded by the President and the Prefects, and it flows down to the mayors. If the whole world thinks that France is a great democracy, we can only wonder what democracy is.

Again knowing and understanding isn’t one and the same thing. When we visit France’s fabulous monuments and enjoy its great food, we’re not inclined to question its politics in the same way we don’t question the role of the White House when in Washington. The US Presidency with its hoards of non-elected powerful civil servants who run the army, the federal police and everything else with a daunting iron hand is also very centralist. Thanks in part to his veto power, the President has more power than any Absolute King of Divine Right ever had. The Presidency may change names every four years, but it remains fundamentally dictatorial in nature.

It’s all very confusing, and only if we understand what happened during the Glorious Revolution in England, does it become clear. If the bankers went to all that trouble in 1688, it wasn’t because they wanted to grant real power to the people, but rather to manipulate that power. They were betting on a human foible whereby the people’s representatives would want to do things before the taxes were collected. Of course, they were right on the money. The Bank of England created in 1694 was their bank, and since it was the only game in town, they decided what was to be funded. They thus directly controlled the monetary system and indirectly controlled all important decision-making. Financing political campaigns and getting the right brand of representatives to run the country and collect taxes has always been considered democratic, and it gave us this wonderful world that we fail to understand.

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