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Daniela Dahn | Democratic Demolition


Democracy means popular sovereignty. It finds its expression in legislation. Politically speaking, all have the same rights of participation, the dignity of each individual should be inalienable. But subjected at the same time to an economics of profit, humankind has become largely a means to an end, a disposable means of production that can be exchanged. Their vulnerability to extortion makes them fearful. They live in existential dependence on holders of property with no democratic legitimization, an undignified state.

The freedom to morally do the right thing is reduced to market freedom. The only sovereign here is the property owner. Political freedom presumes social freedom. Democracy means the limitation of power. The separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judiciary branches is supposed to prevent abuse. But the parliaments have surrendered all power to the executive, the executives have surrendered their power to the EU Commission, and the commission has delegated this power to the World Bank and the World Trade Organization; they have thus surrendered power to an economy of profit. And the voter is supposed to give his vote, and feel like Lucky Hans. He looks up to the sky and asks what choice does he really have if no one limits the concealed domination of capital. Democracy means the preservation of human rights. The first, the right to a dignified life in a healthy environment, is absolutely incompatible with the incessant free market drive toward profit maximization growth.

Wealth generates poverty and growth produces global warming. Melting polar caps are like burning fuses. Democracy means the rule of law. But emancipatory, social, democratic, cultural, and ecological standards are a danger to a country’s reputation as a place for doing business. Since the ever more virulent battle over the world’s goods is a security threat, civil rights are curtailed step by step, When the chancellor now argues that laws, treaties, and guidelines can no longer limit business competitiveness, then the rule of law is condemned to subject itself to profit maximization. Injustice is legalized in favor of special customers with privileged tax gifts or immoral real estate mutual funds. Even the best democracy can clearly be bought out.

But then, “elements of totalitarianism” can reemerge. Democracy means enlightenment. Those who strive for sovereignty must also be informed. Knowledge is power. Arguments are needed to offer an alternative to the neo-liberal mainstream, supposedly without alternative. But the deficit-ridden state, which has long gambled away its financial sovereignty, cuts back the funding of schools and universities, and the mass media, forgetting their commitment to democracy, increasingly subject themselves to the ratings game. Drifting ever deeper in the scale of simplicity, what dominates is a leveling of discourse and depoliticization.

But a high level of public discourse is the foundation of democracy. It requires citizens, while the market requires consumers. In this struggle as well, the economy seems to have won out. If it is not monitored, capitalism will toss out democracy. Its principles and those of profit maximization are mutually exclusive.

(Daniela Dahn  |  Democratic Demolition)

// Octocer 2006
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