1631. Democracy and elites



Thinking about Wolin and democracy. Like many on the left, “democracy” is held on to as a fundamentalist rock hard value. But democracy as positive comes late in public approval. The question is, what is democracy, once a year voting or conversation among the people? These are two different cultures. Representative democracy with media domination is a disaster.

The dynamic  of historical change is that for some good to happen  there will be leaders, more or less an elite, a mixture of inheritance of influence, inheritance of genes, and local circumstances (roommate in college, etc.)

The elite live away from ordinary people and become out of touch and  self satisfied and the subject of envy, which leads the elites to isolate themselves, cutting  off access to  the facts on the ground, the ground that spawns alternatives. Underlying dynamics are that new tech, shift in generations, media, arts, beliefs are part of what destabilizes the  current elite position, and the elites hold until time turns against them.. Often violent.

The place of democracy was  always seen as a threat by politically inclined commentators. The democracy they oppose is voting or mobs. . The democracy of voting is not the core of democracy.  For the  people to  rule requires the people  be educated and involved. Media plus voting worked against conversation and education.  A better view of democracy is the conversation of the people, not voting every other year. This means sociability, meal time talk, lots of gathering places, more free time (not free from work but from hassles: transportation, shopping, maintenance). This requires a culture shift (or the unemployed gathering)

The economy is a kind of pivot point for change, since it tends to be dynamic and change amplifier but almost always controlled by the elite/expert class. If we are in a time of transition..

In hunter gather societies the social diagram looks like

stoneage society

Industrialization replaced the mingling of everyone with everyone  by a network of tight relations mostly through work that separated most people from complex relationships.Work replaced by dedicated workplace, markets by consumerism. This has been the ground for our current politics and economics.

The internet however starts connecting everyone with everyone and opens up the hierarchy brining us to a more hunter gatherer kind of social reality. This new reality requires a new politics, and awareness of  people with whom we now have more, not fewer, interactions. People replace things as the main point of interest.

This suggests that the task for economics is  to provide the economics for the next elite, not this one, while taking into account the power of this elite to hold on, up to and inlcuding world war. Managing the transition is the goal of the peacemakers. god bless.

Where is probably no way out of this dynamic, just takes continual vigilance.

As I see it, society moves from a relatively positive rise in morale, elites get lazy, the situation ossified and a new leadership emerges. As Unger says, the left today has not found its replacement for roosevelt. Roosevelt was a transition form a down to an up movement. That lasted till about 1960. The new downward cycle, now 40-50 yars old, has no challenger yet with a society wide plan to reconstitute life.

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