The Simulation of Democracy

Share

Hits: 202

One of the most complicated and frustrating aspects of operating a global capitalist empire is maintaining the fiction that it doesn’t exist. Virtually every action you take has to be carefully recontextualized or otherwise spun for public consumption. Every time you want to bomb or invade some country to further your interests, you have to mount a whole PR campaign. You can’t even appoint a sadistic torture freak to run your own coup-fomenting agency, or shoot a few thousand unarmed people you’ve imprisoned in a de facto ghetto, without having to do a big song and dance about “defending democracy” and “democratic values.”

Naked despotism is so much simpler, not to mention more emotionally gratifying. Ruling an empire as a godlike dictator means never having to say you’re sorry. You can torture and kill anyone you want, and conquer and exploit whichever countries you want, without having to explain yourself to anyone. Also, you get to have your humongous likeness muraled onto the walls of buildings, make people swear allegiance to you, and all that other cool dictator stuff.

Global capitalists do not have this luxury. Generating the simulation of democracy that most Western consumers desperately need in order to be able to pretend to believe that they are not just smoothly-functioning cogs in the machinery of a murderous global empire managed by a class of obscenely wealthy and powerful international elites to whom their lives mean exactly nothing, although extremely expensive and time-consuming, is essential to maintaining their monopoly on power. Having conditioned most Westerners into believing they are “free,” and not just glorified peasants with gadgets, the global capitalist ruling classes have no choice but to keep up this fiction. Without it, their empire would fall apart at the seams.

This is the devil’s bargain modern capitalism made back in the 18th Century. In order to wrest power from the feudal aristocracies that had dominated the West throughout the Middle Ages, the bourgeoisie needed to sell the concept of “democracy” to the unwashed masses, who they needed both to staff their factories and, in some cases, to fight revolutionary wars, or depose and publicly guillotine monarchs. All that gobbledegook about taxes, tariffs, and the unwieldy structure of the feudal system was not the easiest sell to the peasantry. “Liberty” and “equality” went over much better. So “democracy” became their rallying cry, and, eventually, the official narrative of capitalism. The global capitalist ruling classes have been stuck with “democracy” ever since, or, more accurately, with the simulation of democracy.

The purpose of this simulation of democracy is not to generate fake democracy and pass it off as real democracy. Its purpose is to generate the concept of democracy, the only form in which democracy exists. It does this by casting a magic spell (which I’ll do my best to demystify in a moment) that deceives us into perceiving the capitalist marketplace we Westerners inhabit, not as a market, but as a society. An essentially democratic society. Not a fully fledged democratic society, but a society progressing toward “democracy” … which it is, and simultaneously isn’t.

Obviously, life under global capitalism is more democratic than under feudal despotism, not to mention more comfortable and entertaining. Capitalism isn’t “evil” or “bad.” It’s a machine. Its fundamental function is to eliminate any and all despotic values and replace them with a single value, i.e., exchange value, determined by the market. This despotic-value-decoding machine is what freed us from the tyranny of kings and priests, which it did by subjecting us to the tyranny of capitalists and the meaningless value of the so-called free market, wherein everything is just another commodity … toothpaste, cell phones, healthcare, food, education, cosmetics, et cetera. Despite that, only an idiot would argue that capitalism is not preferable to despotism, or that it hasn’t increased our measure of freedom. So, yes, we have evolved toward democracy, if we’re comparing modern capitalism to medieval feudalism.

The problem is that capitalism is never going to lead to actual democracy (i.e., government by and for the people). This is never going to happen. In fact, capitalism has already reached the limits of the freedom it can safely offer us. This freedom grants us the ability to make an ever-expanding variety of choices … none of which have much to do with democracy. For example, Western consumers are free to work for whatever corporation they want, and to buy whatever products they want, and to assume as much debt as the market will allow to purchase a home wherever they want, and to worship whichever gods they want (as long as they conform their behavior to the values of capitalism and not their religion), and men can transform themselves into women, and white people can deem themselves African Americans, or Native Americans, or whatever they want, and anyone can mock or insult the President or the Queen of England on Facebook and Twitter, none of which freedoms were even imaginable, much less possible, under feudal despotism.

But this is as far as our “freedom” goes. The global capitalist ruling classes are never going to allow us to govern ourselves, not in any meaningful way. In fact, since the mid-1970s, they’ve been systematically dismantling the framework of social democracy throughout the West, and otherwise relentlessly privatizing everything. They’ve been doing this more slowly in Europe, where social democracy is more entrenched, but, make no mistake, American “society” is the model for our dystopian future. The ruling classes and their debt-enslaved servants, protected from the desperate masses by squads of hyper-militarized police, medicated in their sanitized enclaves, watching Westworld on Amazon Prime as their shares in private prisons rise and the forces of democracy defend their freedom by slaughtering men, women, and children in some faraway country they can’t find on a map, and would never visit on vacation anyway … this is where the USA already is, and where the rest of the West is headed.

Which is why it is absolutely crucial to maintain the simulation of democracy, and the fiction that we’re still living in a world where major geopolitical events are determined by sovereign nations and their leaders, rather than by global corporations and a class of supranational elites whose primary allegiance is to global capitalism, rather than to any specific nation, much less to the actual people who live there. The global capitalist ruling classes need the masses in the West to believe that they live in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and so on, and not in a global marketplace. Because, if it’s all one global marketplace, with one big global labor force (which global corporations can exploit with impunity), and if it’s one big global financial system (where the economies of supposed adversaries like China and the United States, or the European Union and Russia, are almost totally interdependent), then there is no United States of America, no United Kingdom, no France, no Germany … or not as we’re conditioned to perceive them. There is only the global capitalist empire, divided into “national” market territories, each performing slightly different administrative functions within the empire … and those territories that have not yet surrendered their sovereignty and been absorbed into it. I think you know which those territories are.

But getting back to the simulation of democracy (the purpose of which is to prevent us from perceiving the world as I just suggested above), how that works is, we are all conditioned to believe we are living in these imperfect democracies, which are inexorably evolving toward “real” democracy but just haven’t managed to get there quite yet. “Real” being the key word here, because there is no such thing as real democracy. There never has been, except among relatively small and homogenous groups of people. Like Baudrillard’s Disneyland, “Western democracy” is presented to us as “imperfect” or “unfinished” (in other words, as a replica of “real democracy”) in order to convince us that there exists such a thing as “real democracy,” which we will achieve … someday.

This is how simulations work. The replica does not exist to deceive us into believing it is the “real” thing. It exists to convince us that there is a “real” thing. In essence, it invokes the “real” thing by pretending to be a copy of it. Just as the images of God in church invoke the “god” of which they are copies (if only in the minds of the faithful), our imperfect replica of democracy invokes the concept of “real democracy” (which does not exist, and has never existed, beyond the level of tribes and bands).

This is, of course, ceremonial magic … but then so is everything else, really. Take out a twenty dollar bill, or a twenty Euro note, or your driver’s license. They are utterly valueless, except as symbols, but no less powerful for being just symbols. Or look at some supposedly solid object under an electron microscope. Try this with a tablespoon. As that bald kid in The Matrix put it, you will “realize that there is no spoon” … or, rather, that there is only the spoon we’ve created by believing that there is a spoon.

Look, I don’t mean to get all spooky. What that kid (among various others throughout history) was trying to get us to understand is that we create reality, collectively, with symbols … or we allow reality to be created for us. Our collective reality is also our religion, in that we live our lives and raise our children according to its precepts and values, regardless of whatever other rituals we may or may not engage in on the weekend. Western consumers, no matter whether nominally Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, or of any other faith, live their lives and raise their children according to the values and rules of capitalism. Capitalism is our religion. Like every religion, it has a cosmology.

In the cosmology of global capitalism, “democracy” is capitalist heaven. We hear it preached about throughout our lives, we’re surrounded by graven images of it, but we don’t get to see it until we’re dead. Attempting to storm its pearly gates, or to create the Kingdom of Democracy on Earth, is heresy, and is punishable by death. Denying its existence is blasphemy, for which the punishment is excommunication, and consignment to the City of Dis, where the lost souls shout back and forth at each other across the lower depths of the Internet, their infernal voices unheard by the faithful … but, hey, don’t take the word of an apostate like me. Go ahead, try it, and see what happens.


Originally published on 2018-05-23

About the author: C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant. He can reached at cjhopkins.com or  consentfactory.org.

Source: Counter Punch

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
The Origin of Jihadism
The origin of jihadism is prohibited from being reported truthfully — this truth is prohibited by all of the Establishment ‘press,’  including almost all ‘alternative news’ sites — in the West, because it challenges all of the “sensitive” buttons (all of the bigotries, to put the matter in plain terms); and, though this fact (the Establishment’s bigotries, and its hypocrisy to preserve and protect their bigotries even while condemning those of other people) will prevent almost all of the news-media that I send this to from publishing it, nothing prevents me from writing it; so, here it is (in whatever ...
READ MORE
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she ...
READ MORE
Jasenovac? What Jasenovac?
Chris Deliso of Balkanalysis points out the latest travesty of the Western media: 59,000 stories on Auschwitz, three on Jasenovac. As if the third-largest death camp in Nazi-occupied Europe simply never existed. Franjo Tudjman certainly thought so, and it appears the current Croatian leadership shares his "historical" perspective.Contemporary German estimates of Serbs murdered by the Ustasha (in Jasenovac and elsewhere) ranged as high as 750,000. Wiesenthal center uses the number of 600,000. Serbian researchers have spoken of up to 700,000 victims. Modern revisionists, Croat and otherwise, talk of 30-100,000, at most. Among them is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which ...
READ MORE
The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy in Kosovo
Destroyed Serbian Orthodox church in Kosovo by local Muslim Albanians after 1999In 2000, when George W. Bush was elected president in a controversial and hotly disputed election, all the experts and pundits predicted that there would be a philosophical sea change in US foreign policy in the Balkans, and in Kosovo in particular. In my 2000 analysis of the election of Bush and US foreign policy in Kosovo, however, I concluded that the George W. Bush Administration represented the same old same old and business as usual. In my viewpoint, absolutely nothing would change in the US foreign policy stance ...
READ MORE
Cheap Dignity of the Ukrainian Revolution
The interviews with three snipers of Georgian nationality, conducted by the Italian journalist Gian Micalessin and aired last week as a breathtaking documentary on Milan-based Canale 5 (Matrix program), still have not paved its way to the international mainstream media. That is hardly surprising taking into account the bombshell evidence against the real perpetrators and organizers of the 2014 coup d’etat in Kiev, generally known as the “revolution of dignity“.The documentary features Alexander Revazishvili, Koba Nergadze and Zalogi Kvaratskhelia, Georgian military officers  who were recruited to carry out a “special mission” in Kiev by Mamuka Mamulashvili, a close aid of ...
READ MORE
Neoliberalism and The Globalization of War. America’s Hegemonic Project
The world is at a dangerous crossroads.  The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The US-NATO military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.America’s hegemonic project is to destabilize and destroy countries through acts of war, covert operations in support of terrorist organizations, regime change and economic warfare. The latter includes the imposition of deadly macro-economic reforms ...
READ MORE
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review
THE GLOBALIZATION OF NATOAuthor:  Mahdi Darius NazemroayaClarity Press (2012)ISBN:  978-0-9852710-2-2 Pages:  411 with complete indexAvailable to order from Global ResearchThe world is enveloped in a blanket of perpetual conflict. Invasions, occupation, illicit sanctions, and regime change have become currencies and orders of the day. One organization – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – is repeatedly, and very controversially, involved in some form or another in many of these conflicts led by the US and its allies. NATO spawned from the Cold War. Its existence was justified by Washington and Western Bloc politicians as a guarantor against any Soviet and ...
READ MORE
This is the Real, Americanized, Nazi-Dominated Ukraine
Such important reality as is shown in this picture is virtually unpublishable in mainstream US ‘news’media, because US ‘news’media need to deceive their public about the most important international realities — such as that the US imposed upon Ukraine a nazi regime against Russia, and the US now lies to accuse Russia for doing what Russia must do in order to protect itself from the US nazi regime next-door. This picture is among many which were originally published in the excellent 4 July 2018 article by Asa Winstanley at The Electronic Intifada. His article was headlined "Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine”. That article focuses upon Israel’s strong support for ...
READ MORE
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying to Start World War III?
Why has Barack Obama airdropped 50 tons of ammunition into areas that “moderate rebels” in Syria supposedly control? This is essentially the equivalent of poking the Russians directly in the eyes. Much of this ammunition will end up in the hands of those that the Russians are attempting to bomb into oblivion, and so to Russia it appears that we are attempting to make their job much harder. And of course the truth is that there aren’t really any “moderate rebels” in Syria at all. Nearly all of the groups that are fighting are made up primarily of radical jihadists ...
READ MORE
Manipulation: The US State Department’s New Program to Take On Hungarian Media
Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign policy. Here's a prime example of the "do as we say, not as we do" that is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week that the the US Justice Department demanded that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary's internal media.So the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what ...
READ MORE
09.03.2001, Berlin, Berlin, Germany - Zoran Djindjic, serbischer Ministerpraesident der Bundesrepublik Jugoslawien. 00M112016CARO.JPG GT, Image: 141207614, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: Profimedia, Alamy
Odd as it may seem, October 5, 2000 was not the first time the Western powers engaged in “regime change” in Serbia. There are many similarities between the October 5 regime change and the Western involvement in putting the government of Josip Broz Tito and the Communist Party in charge of Yugoslavia in 1945. Just as Slobodan Milošević received faint praise from the West as “factor of peace and stability” in the Balkans, General Draža Mihailović was praised by the Western Allies during the war – yet support for both was limited mostly to words and empty propaganda gestures, and only so ...
READ MORE
The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939: Myth and Reality
In a remarkable book, 1939: The Alliance That Never Was and the Coming of World War II, the Canadian historian Michael Jabara Carley describes how, at the end of the 1930s, the Soviet Union repeatedly tried, but finally failed, to conclude a pact of mutual security, in other words a defensive alliance, with Britain and France. This proposed arrangement was intended to counter Nazi Germany, which, under Hitler’s dictatorial leadership, had been behaving more and more aggressively, and it was likely to involve some other countries, including Poland and Czechoslovakia, that had reason to fear German ambitions. The protagonist of this ...
READ MORE
The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake
If the Trump phenomena showed anything, it showed the consensus reality the mainstream media attempted to create concerning Hillary’s certain victory, as well as the consensus reality erected for decades, is not omnipotent.In fact, the earliest days of mass print media were erected on a famous fraud known as the “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 – something researcher Chris Kendall has long called attention to – wherein the “educated,” “elite” widely accepted the mainstream publications’ claim bat people inhabited the lunar surface.In our day, a similar hoax still reigns, as mainstream media is literally as credible as Weekly World News’ Bat Boy ...
READ MORE
Here’s How the US, Israel, al-Qaeda and ISIS Work Together in Syria
The Syrian battlefield is now witnessing an escalation of the war. This is despite the fact that it is supposed to be a time of cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Russia. The Syrian war has two major fronts. The first and most important is in southern Syria, on the borderline with Israel and the occupied territories of the Syrian Golan Heights.  This area is divided into two areas:  the liberated area of Al-Quneitra, and the occupied area of the Golan Heights where Jabhat Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda’s base their fighters. Israel has been attempting to drive the Syrian army out ...
READ MORE
The 1929 Lateran Treaty: B. Mussolini’s Faith-Based Initiative
This Wednesday, February 11 [2009], will mark the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Treaty and related agreements, in which Benito Mussolini’s Italy recognized the Vatican as an independent state and showered it with money and other benefits. Mussolini got what he paid for. For well over a thousand years prior to 1929, Popes exercised absolute civil authority over central Italy, a region known as the “Papal States.” Their power was based on a document called the “Donation of Constantine,” in which the 4th century Roman emperor Constantine was supposed to have granted the successors of St. Peter control ...
READ MORE
Eight Reasons Why Ukraine is New Yugoslavia
When the civil war in Ukraine started, the question that arised is whether there are similarities between Ukrainian and Yugoslavian civil wars. So let’s compare these two countries, one that is falling apart – Ukraine and the other one that doesn’t exist anymore – Yugoslavia.Multinational countryYugoslavia was a multinational country with different national and ethnic groups coexisting together and two dominant nations Serbs and Croats. Ukraine is also quite a diverse country with Ukrainians, Russians (around 20% of Ukrainian population) and few minorities (Rusyns, Romanians, Hungarians) living together. Once the Yugoslavia collapsed, in a newly created ex-Yugoslav republic Croatia and ...
READ MORE
The Useful Idiocy of Donald Trump
The problem with Donald Trump is not that he is imbecilic and inept—it is that he has surrendered total power to the oligarchic and military elites. They get what they want. They do what they want. Although the president is a one-man wrecking crew aimed at democratic norms and institutions, although he has turned the United States into a laughingstock around the globe, our national crisis is embodied not in Trump but the corporate state’s now unfettered pillage.Trump, who has no inclination or ability to govern, has handed the machinery of government over to the bankers, corporate executives, right-wing think ...
READ MORE
German Interests in the War Against Yugoslavia
Churchill once said that in war the truth is so precious it has to be surrounded with a bodyguard of lies. In Germany over the last two months one clearly saw the fabrication of such a bodyguard. Even as air attacks proceeded against civilian targets—destroying factories, electricity works, refineries, bridges, streets, railway lines and apartment blocks— German government representatives spoke of a ” humanitarian action ” . Despite the fact that the NATO attacks unleashed the massive wave of refugees and reduced towns and villages in Kosovo to ruins , it has been maintained to the very end that the aim ...
READ MORE
Two War Photographs: Bosnia vs. Vietnam
Bijeljina, Bosnia in 1992: Serb Volunteer Guard (Arkan's Tigers) led by Željko Ražnjatović Arkan after the action of "cleaning the town from the Muslim jihadists" (official Arkan's explanation). The victims are local Muslim family members. The guard was composed by volunteers of all moral kinds being independent on the front line and in fact waging its own private war. Bosnia is a neighbouring republic to Serbia with 1/3 of Serbian population. Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and (Roman Catholic) Croats committed terrible crimes of genocide against the local (Orthodox) Serb population during the WWII (the so called Magnum Crimen) while during the ...
READ MORE
Afghanistan: The Forgotten Proxy War
July 3, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of when the United States’ first military assault against Afghanistan with the CIA-backed Mujahideen began. It would be a mistake to treat the present-day conflict as being separate from the U.S. intervention that began in 1979 against the then-government of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was not always known as the chaotic, ‘failed state’ overrun by warlords as it is now; this phenomenon is a product of that U.S.-led regime change operation. The article below, originally published on March 30, 2019, summarizes and analyzes the events that transpired during and after the Cold War ...
READ MORE
The Origin of Jihadism
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
Jasenovac? What Jasenovac?
The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy in Kosovo
Cheap Dignity of the Ukrainian Revolution
Neoliberalism and The Globalization of War. America’s Hegemonic Project
NATO: Proudly Delivering Death Since 1949 – A Book Review
This is the Real, Americanized, Nazi-Dominated Ukraine
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying to Start World War III?
Manipulation: The US State Department’s New Program to Take On Hungarian Media
“Regime Change” in Serbia, 1945 and 2000
The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 23, 1939: Myth and Reality
The Entire Mainstream Warmongering Media is Fake
Here’s How the US, Israel, al-Qaeda and ISIS Work Together in Syria
The 1929 Lateran Treaty: B. Mussolini’s Faith-Based Initiative
Eight Reasons Why Ukraine is New Yugoslavia
The Useful Idiocy of Donald Trump
German Interests in the War Against Yugoslavia
Two War Photographs: Bosnia vs. Vietnam
Afghanistan: The Forgotten Proxy War
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share