HOW MUCH DEMOCRACY IS LEFT?
By Eberhard Hamer
[This article published in: Zeit-Fragen Nr. 25, 6/16/2008 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/index.php?id=2620&type=98. Eberhard Hamer is a professor in Hanover.]
The author belongs to a generation who enthusiastically welcomed the idea of democracy as a new humane freedom system toward the end of the Hitler dictatorship and has been politically engaged for democracy. Still today he is convinced a real democracy would be the most humane form of government. No other political system esteems the individual person so highly, has such great theoretical respect for his freedom and human dignity and consciously intends to realize the will of citizens in government decisions. Sovereignty in democracy is with the many millions of citizens. Citizens only hand over the revocable power of government for a time to representatives who should solve political and social problems in their name.
DO WE STILL HAVE DEMOCRACY TODAY?
• 90% of the German population is against our government supporting the aggressive American wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and perhaps in the future in Iran with our own reinforcements. But the clear will of this majority is obviously unimportant for the ruling politicians and parties.
• More than 70% of the population in Germany and Europe oppose expanding the power of the Brussels' political commission through a new enabling treaty. Nevertheless the German government is involved in the further loss of sovereignty against the will of a majority of the population and without the collaboration of its citizens. Here is a quote from Helmut Kohl (former centrist chancellor): "What would happen if the population decided over such important things?" Is the citizen's right to joint determination still in force?
• More than 80% of the population opposes Turkey's admission in the European Union (EU) because Turkey is not part of Europe and admission would have intolerable repercussions. However our politicians and parties on urging of the US support nearly unanimously Turkey's admission against the will of their voters? The majority oppose NATO's eastern expansion as a deliberate attack on Russia.
Leading politicians in Germany and Europe obviously serve other interests than the interests of their own population. The power of democracy is manifestly not strong enough for politicians to order their mandate according to the voters' will instead of another will.
That the voters do not agree can be read in the declining election participation. The dominant political elite repress this with a trick. Only 10% of the population votes; 6% are an absolute majority. Those in power can continue governing. The majority of the population and the majority of voters do not decide, only the majority of those who still vote. This majority is really a minority. Thus the great German coalition government is only elected by a majority of our population. It does not represent the majority of the total population.
For a long time the government has recognized this deficient democratic legitimation. It has long used the old control mechanism of dictatorships to keep the voters in check: the transparent tax citizen, telephone- and cell phone monitoring, identification numbers in all citizens - which in the future should be implanted as in cattle - and introduction of inquisition paragraph 130 StGB by which the state power sentences and locks up dissidents - now more than 2500.
Fifty years ago we could not imagine the democracy we fought for. We wanted to be free citizens but increasingly became subservient. The principle of democratic self-government and delegation are reversed when the ruling politicians, parties and government system of a people are so obviously removed from the population and no longer execute the will of the voters but operate against their voters. Our system of rule is no longer delegated from bottom to the top but is defined centrally and oriented, ordered and controlled from top to bottom. In the course of the last 30 years, we have slipped imperceptibly into more and more central control. Critical points are not ordered democratically today but centrally against the people. Democracy is only still tolerated in marginal areas.
Again and again we suddenly see that our politicians and parties have two loyalties. The VW-scandal showed that a corporation controlled, corrupted and bribed its environment politically and economically and dominated according to its will. Previously a king ruled in Hanover. Today VW rules there. Other German states are no different. The Wurttemberg realm is run by Daimler-Benz, Bavaria by Siemens, North Rhine-Westphalia by coal, iron and steel companies and so forth. Even a chancellor and her ministers have not been afraid of accepting yearly bribes from a foreign financial power according to a publication of a bankruptcy trustee. According to a study of a Hanover research institute, the majority of our Bundestag delegates and all parties are pulled by the golden rein of mammoth collective organizations of corporations and unions. With a large majority, the parliament in the past prevented all the attempts of citizens and citizen organizations to prohibit through criminal law bribing politicians and parties. Bribery is only punishable with small officials, not with those who set the points for officials and define the great fateful questions of our people.
REASONS FOR DE-DEMOCRATIZATION AND GROWING CENTRAL RULE
The explanation for de-democratized centralization should be sought in a structural change carried out in the last 30 years for the first time in history, not only in political corruption. In the past politics had the highest power function in the state and could control the other areas. This was true for princes, dictators as well as democratic governments but no longer today. In the meantime finance capital and the corporation have gained a "freedom above the clo9uds of all national legislation under the slogan of globalization because they can threaten every government and every country with migrating or marching into other countries (tax havens, low-wage countries) when politics doesn't fulfill their will. The power in the state has been reversed practically. Politics no longer determines the economy; the mammoth economy has long defined politics. The corruption connected with that is only a consequence of this changeover of power.
This is an international problem, not only a national problem. For a long time the US has not been a democracy but is financed, ruled, directed and politically manipulated by the two high finance groups. The US government must wage war where the high finance groups desire oil or other mineral resources (Kosovo) or when they need sales for their arms industry. One can only become a politician in the US when one has the funds and support of one of the two high finance groups.
The US has long been a plutocracy instead of a democracy and has prescribed this system of capital rule for the whole world through the international organizations that it created and controls like the World bank, the WHO and the IMF among others. The EU also did not arise out of the will of the nations but from the pressure of US high finance to govern Europe uniformly and not have to negotiate with 27 separate governments - still intent on their sovereignty.
Capital rule is always central rule. Central rule cannot use democracy. Under the watchword of globalization, international finance capital and international conglomerates undermine democracies everywhere in the world so they are influenced and make decisions against the populations. With Germans, democracy has been changed to plutocracy, to the rule of international capital and international corporations over government, parties, the state and thus over the people. We noticed this de-democratization much too late. No critic of this development is heard today because international capital controls our media and determines what should and may be brought in the media. This proves again that de-democratization is a centrally guided development, not an accident.
Still there is hope. International high finance needs ever greater sums of money to establish its global rule which they gained in the past from the Federal Reserve Bank. In the meantime these sums have reached a volume that doesn't seem controllable any more. In the last 30 years high finance has multiplied the money volume of the western world forty-fold while the supply of goods only increased four-fold. Thus we live in a gigantic unprotected financial bubble that is harder and harder to keep from bursting and will soon burst. When it bursts, the power of plutocracy will be discredited at least temporarily. The population will feel defrauded and will not longer endure the old deceivers. Then a system change back to self-determination will be carried out again. This change has presumably already begun.