Sham democracies?

Sham democracies?

Whatever happened to the notion of democracy? It's plain for all to see how dissenters in undemocratic regimes are treated. They are brutally put down. But while such regimes make few claims to being liberal or democratic, democracies find open dissent on the streets much harder to deal with. The strategy has always been to prevent it from happening in the first place.

The US, for instance, has the likes of Fox News to keep people from noticing how their tax dollars are being used on behalf of big oil companies to fund bloody wars for oil, which those companies then sell back to US citizens for a fine profit. The ordinary person is being shafted both ways. Given the state of much of the US media and the mainstream political narrative in the country, it's doubtful that the majority of the public will wake from the great American dream (aka con-trick) any time soon.

But once ideology no longer keeps people in check, then what? Look no further than Greece. The same financial institutions that caused the economic meltdown are attempting to make ordinary folk pay again for the crisis, which they thought they had already paid for and which they had no part in causing. A further process of privatisation and public cutbacks are about to plunge even more people into joblessness and poverty. And elected representatives are powerless (or spineless) to reject the bitter IMF-coated pill.

Resultant anger is fuelling a challenge by ordinary people to the power of finance. They are openly confronting the way the IMF and EU work behind closed doors to force their policies on member countries and ordinary people who end up suffering the consequences.

Many people throughout the world are increasingly realising that their sovereign democratic governments are neither sovereign nor democratic and are in the pocket unaccountable elite financial interests abroad. The economic crisis has clearly exposed exactly whose interests western style liberal democracy serves. It was of course Lenin who said that western liberal democracy was the best shell for capitalism. It's shell is now cracking.

But we don't just have to look at Greece to see this. Take the free trade deal currently being thrashed out by the EU and India. It's hardly been headline news, mainly because the talks are going on behind closed doors.

The deal will represent a huge coup for finance capital, which, in Britain at least, is central to the project of remoulding its economy into a cheap labour platform for financial services. The deal aims to secure big business access to the Indian economy and the employment of India's highly skilled IT, technical and financial personnel at minimum rates of pay and without trade union protection.

Procurement rules

Key EU demands are the liberalisation of the Indian financial services sector and the enforcement of intellectual property rights, in particular in India’s pharmaceutical industry.
The EU also wants to see procurement rules that channel Indian public spending into transnational corporations as well as what is called 'investor protection', which would allow transnationals to sue the Indian government if it makes a decision that is not in their interests.

The Indian government's key demand is Mode 4 access to the EU, which comprises a World Trade Organisation provision that allows transnationals registered within one trading partner to transfer labour at existing rates of pay and terms of employment to work temporarily within the company in the other trading partner.

If the deal is agreed, India's thousands of relatively small state-based banks and jobs will be quickly swallowed by big British and London-based US banks. And British, German and French pharmaceutical monopolies will see their global position secured alongside the big EU-based utility companies gaining access to Indian public expenditure.

While one side of the deal will affect workers in India, Mode 4 will be used by European companies moving into the Indian market to secure temporary transfers of highly skilled Indians to Europe as a low-cost alternative to local workers. Why train young workers in Europe when a reserve army of skilled, low paid graduates that will be bonded to their employer and without enforceable rights is readily available to be in-sourced?

As long as it's all done and dusted beyond the glare of the media and little public scrutiny takes place then who is to know and who is to care? It is not clear whether the various parliaments will even be asked to discuss the issue before it becomes binding.
Regardless, the outcome of the current discussions will effectively become permanent.
In Greece, India or elsewhere, whether its trade agreements or servicing the public debt, binding agreements and policies on behalf rich, unaccountable powerholders are too often being carried out above the heads of the people many of whom will suffer the dire consequences.

But all is not lost. We can always put an X on a ballot paper in the hope it will radically change things, can't we? That’s the problem - it won't.

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