The idea that democracy has been overridden by the bludgeoning of corporatized capitalism has been playing in my mind for some time now.
Many large, and some global corporations, hold far more sway than almost any government. The colossus of a company like Amazon has a net worth far in excess of many democratic nations. With such enormous wealth comes power. As corporate power grows, it appears to me that governmental power diminishes.
And far too often, governments have sold their power to corporations, thereby indulging in acts of self-reduced power. The selling off of public assets by governments in one-off grabs for cash have changed the nature of the role of our governments. They once trained apprentices, teachers, nurses, pilots to work in public energy, water, railway and airline services. As such, they had a definitive impact upon training, jobs, public housing and the development and maintenance of infrastructure. So much of this power has been sold off to private enterprises who, not surprisingly, are far more interested in making profits than they are in effective democratic government.
Now, political parties are directly influenced by private corporations in their bids to gain and keep government. Subsidies to fossil fuel companies are an obvious case in point at a time in global history when the ramifications of unsustainable energy sources are seriously unfolding.
The issue of donations to political parties is currently very topical. Voters want to know who is pulling the strings of the candidates/parties who are asking for their vote, and rightly so. This is clearly devolution of political power. Corporations don’t donate out of an inherent spirit of altruism; they donate to ensure that their profit operations will not be compromised and, preferably, enhanced.
The election campaign was argued on such issues as jobs, economic development, education and health. These are all areas in which governments used to have far more control than they have now.
In recent times, Federal Governments have attempted to influence by establishing nationwide projects like the insulation scheme and community water grants. Whenever governments take such actions, it spawns new businesses which set themselves up to simply make money off the back of them. I know of one company who wrote very successful community water grant applications and creamed 10% off the total amount of each grant for very minimal effort.
We are where we are and the question persists, what value do we place on the concept of democracy?