Category Archives: Democracy

First off Word Press

Welcome to my first Word Press blog entry. There will be many more to come; I have approaching 50 works in progress, from when I hadn’t yet figured out how to get them all into my personal web pages…but which issue I have now resolved. So, you might wonder why I’m writing a separate blog here on Word Press.

Well, my other two blogs, which I publish on my personal website, are about two of the main aspects of my life to date – Science and Dance – which I will continue there. The subjects I cover there are fairly limited in their scope, according to the titles, and I have of late been developing a different set of interests, which can be broadly described as within the spectrum of political activism, stemming from two convictions: that Global Warming is a reality and that the usurpation of personal democracy by large, non-elected self-interested groups or their representatives simply must end.

Many have written about the confluence of these two issues: that Fossil Fuel companies are the biggest and most substantial corrupting influence of Western and possible world democracy and that an impending Climate Catastrophe of which Global Warming is a harbinger will not stop for political or social considerations. As one post on Facebook recently put it: “Evolution is real. Belief is optional. Participation is not.” The denialists vigorously deny its existence, but they will be “roasted, toasted, fried and grilled” along with the rest of us, which larger population – 5770% in the US, depending on the poll – now includes the IMF chief, who gave that quote earlier this year. Scientists, of course, have long since ended their debate and are now only discussing the degree of the coming catastrophe.

My tendency is to reduce whatever it is about which I am thinking to the most fundamental principles I can imagine, then work my way back upwards to an explanation for the observable events or conditions. As a classically trained biologist, I am accustomed to thinking in a reductionist sense, but as one of the first of the network or system biologists, I have also developed a deep understanding of how complex are the ways in which the pieces interact to create the whole, which is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. In true Muskateers’ fashion, gene effects are “All for one and one for all;” the same is true for the myriad ways in which sociological, political, geographical, and economic factors interact in a system that few, if any, understand. Clearly, the leaders of the Federal Reserve have no idea as Paul Krugman at the New York Times, Robert Wenzel at the EPJ and Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post all seem to think.

All the things I have been contemplating in the last 18 months or so boil down to a single, fundamental flaw in our system of governance: that of representation.

As was said a long time ago, by successive authors, and I paraphrase: “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The people in our society who are in a position to be corrupted in such a manner are those who have accumulated great wealth and with it the capacity to buy influence with elected officials of any political persuasion or position. Such wealth is only possible with increasing size of material or financial holdings, generally though pyramidal hierarchies that pass the wealth generated by the actual workers upwards, to increasingly elevated managerial classes. This then allows those few at the top, who were not selected by representational voting by the constituents of their companies, to use their power to set political agendas at their discretion.

In exactly the same manner that private companies create an hierarchical pyramid, so do to political systems, where the elected officials are a long way from the supporter base. Symptoms of this are easy enough to see; wherever rank and file political candidates are drawn from places other than the geographical region that they purport to represent, or evidence clearly shows that a political party has become a promotion mechanism to enable access to some other entity – be it a union, lobby group or an industry – then you have a system run by self-interested apparatchiks.

In both cases, the manner in which representation is ensured could be said to be the problem; I would go further and claim that representation itself is in essence the problem. Once a person gives up their right to choose to another – however that is realised, as either a voter, a shareholder or a stakeholder – then the person acquiring that power is being placed in a corruptible position. Why, then, do we continue to relinquish our personal power to others; what are the alternatives; how may we reach a better way to govern ourselves and our societies?

These are the things I will be exploring in this blog: musings on grassroots activism, libertarianism, the welfare state, a sustainable economy, renewable energy, politics and so on. I hope I can get a nice, rotating word-cloud for my site, too…. 🙂