Nov 172012

We’ve been complaining – those of us who do – about a manifest private corporate takeover of democracy.  One of my consistently most-read posts includes Roosevelt’s definition of fascism, a definition I am happy to repeat here:

[T]he liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.

And those of you who read these pages often will know how unhappy I am about this.  Not primarily because it’s allowing corporate bodies to concentrate wealth to the detriment of a wider society.  No.  That isn’t my primary concern.  My primary concern lies in the dangers for our future intelligence and ingenuity such an inefficient conglomeration of interventions in our democracy will provoke.

That is to say, corporate takeovers of democracy, as per Roosevelt’s definition, are actually more inefficient as far as results and outcomes are concerned.  An example.  I read yesterday in a Spanish online magazine that if the earth’s climate warms by more than four degrees (and to be honest, it really doesn’t matter whether this is Fahrenheit or Centigrade, now does it?), then ninety-five percent of the human species will eventually be wiped out.

Try sorting out that mess of a future with the decision-making processes of a corrupt corporate body, looking only to feather its managerial nests.

We need to be smarter and cleverer in how we organise ourselves, take decisions and operate in the future.  Not less so.  And the fascism which is beginning to reign over us here in Britain, that fascism of Roosevelt, that fascism in both deed and thought, is – above all – a far less efficient way of organising and generating our inspiration than other, rather more inclusive and supportive, systems we could use.

Perhaps, in a sense, it’s not the corporations we need to batter.  Perhaps they do, indeed, do just what we allow them to get away with.  And the truly culpable agents in all of this are those individuals, organisations and institutions which specialise in the dark arts of politicking.  In very few areas of human endeavour are you actually voted for, praised and loved as a result of your innate ability to sell a donkey.  So it is that politicians are as they are – and it seems we need them to continue to be thus – precisely because they lie to us.

It seems to fulfil a deep and profound need.

Thus to the point of today’s post: if we cannot change how politics works, if politics must operate as described above, then maybe we need to reduce politics’ reach.  Maybe we need to begin to identify areas of human organisation and ingenuity which can operate outside government control.

When I say government, I do of course include all those private corporations which use existing and supposedly democratically-elected representatives as mere and pliable extensions of their own marketing and policy-making departments.

Private corporations of which there are now really far too many.

But, as I say, let’s not blame them for doing anything we don’t, through our governments, prevent them from doing.

Let me just ask you this question: in your own role at work, whether the company is large or small, do you you operate under the control of reasonably adequate processes and procedures?  And do people follow in a reasonably faithful way such ways of thinking and doing?  And when such ways of thinking and doing are not followed as they might be, are there issues which colleagues will raise as to why they have not been followed as instructed?

Personally, my experience is that such systems are generally followed and used as a basis for logical organisation and information exchange.  In most areas of human endeavour, we do try and operate as evidence-based professionals.  This doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes or allow our emotions to sometimes take hold.  But it does mean that, generally speaking, such emotions are kept in check by being forced to think rationally and clearly, as well as taking time out to explain our viewpoints sensibly.

Politics, right now, from where I’m sitting, really doesn’t seem at all like that.  Headline politics, I mean.  The stuff right at the top.

The higher up the greasy pole they get, the more illogical they’re forced to become.

So then.  We can’t change politics – it is, in fact, an ancient skillset which no one has managed, or cared, to change through the ages.  But where we can attempt to save the planet from the stupidity of illogical thought is to reduce the impact such red-card activities can have on the organisational and decision-making systems we employ.

We need not just to reduce public-sector government (and by extension its bureaucracy) – we also need to reduce the deadening hand of inefficient exercises of power that private-sector bodies currently demand should be theirs by right.

We need to become more efficient – and we need to become more efficient soon.

That is to say, we cannot deny this need in the face of climate change, population growth and a whole host of other problems out there.

Politics and private-sector bureaucracy have shown us historically how they failed us in the past.  But the 21st century’s challenges are far more serious than those of previous centuries: we know, logically, rationally and scientifically, that something truly unpleasant is on the horizon.  The implications of continued failure are simply too awful to contemplate or condone.

Let us decide, then, as we learn and realise that politicking will never change, to increase the scope of those areas of human endeavour which do think logically, do think in an evidence-based way and do understand the importance of creating systems and environments which allow people of different opinions to share them constructively, hammer out productive agreements and create common foundations for future advances.