As societies become wealthier and more sophisticated and have to concentrate less on preventing starvation and basic survival, so they become more interested in democracy and freedom. This is a generalisation and like all generalisations there are important exceptions; in some oppressed poor societies people may feel that they have nothing to lose but to try to agitate for freedom in the hope that freedom and democracy will provide less starvation and more wealth, but it is hard to fight for freedom on an empty stomach and harder to fight for freedom on a stomach that is extended with too much food.
In the past ten years Turkey has seen a phenomenal growth in wealth. Its gross domestic product has increased threefold. This is not surprising as the Turks are an enterprising people who have worked for their prosperity and worked hard. Now many Turks are agitating for democracy. Elections are held in Turkey and there is an election due within ten months but those who agitate for democracy in Turkey complain that elections in themselves are not proper democracy and a nation that imprisons more journalists than any other does not have a democratic culture. So today there is agitation in Turkey for freedom and democracy; you cannot have democracy without freedom.
There is now another phenomenon that exists alongside the relationship between prosperity and democracy. Although generally wealth creates conditions where people want democracy and look to democracy as the way in which to enjoy their wealth, the creation of wealth inevitably brings with it the creation of monopolies, large trusts and the multinational global corporations.
Global corporations exist across many societies. They are in theory bound by the laws and customs of the societies in which they exist but in practice their wealth and power transcends the power of the societies in which they operate and from which they draw wealth. This acts as a counter to democracy, as those who rage against Wall Street and the multinationals instinctively know.
Societies have formed themselves into states protect those members who live in those societies and those states try to organise themselves democratically. Multinationals operate across those states and with their power can organise their operations to act contrary to the interests of those states and usually do. This is apparent in the way in which those multinationals avoid tax, often through very artificial tricks and devices. It is also apparent in the way in which multinationals profit form their ability to export pollution from rich countries where the laws are enforced to poor countries where the choice is to feed the starving rather than enforce the pollution laws or even the building regulations.
Any democratic government trying to ensure that multinationals and large corporations adhere to the laws and the spirit of the laws that bind citizens finds it hard, sometimes impossible to succeed. The rule of law becomes subservient to the interests of the multinationals. The process is not globalisation, but a process that creates a parallel globe of parasites feeding on those of the globe upon which most of us live.
Ultimately the way to protect freedom and democracy from the threat of multinationals and large corporations lies in the hands and the pockets of ordinary citizens who can wherever possible boycott the goods and services provided by multinationals, even though it may cost more so to do.
Freedom and democracy run counter to the best interests of the multinationals and global corporations. We must recognise that we are more likely to lose our freedom and democracy by the operation of the multinational global enterprises than we are by political oppression. If we value prosperity more than freedom and democracy, it matters not.
Filed under: climate change | Tagged: democracy, export of pollution, freedom, global corporations, globalisation, multination corporations, occupy wall street, pollution, proper democracy, rule of law, tax avoidance, Turkey |