by Jimmie Moglia
Of course they are anything but magnificent. And I wonder how many have concluded that these high-profile meetings among potentates are but occasions for taxpayer-paid and unspeakably luxurious vacations.
Lodgings suitable to gods host opulent guests, while epicurean cooks sharpen with cloyless sauce their appetites, and prepare pantagruelian dinners to solve the problem of poverty. Or rather, multitudes overwhelmed by abject poverty, may observe what is lavished in ostentation, luxury or frolic – for the poor multitudes’ benefit.
After the meetings, the magnificent Gseven may roam the hosting country at large, expanding their expense-paid vacation, travelling with police escort and, at times, with escorts of another kind.
Is this envy? No. The envy of many who repine at the sight of affluence and splendor would be much diminished by a simple consideration. Would we purchase the gifts of fortune by the loss of our personality and the delight of our own ability of reasoning, whatever it may be, resulting from nature or study?
Still, what makes the recent ‘G7’ meeting at Taormina in Sicily notably incongruous is the contrast between the spiritual littleness of the whole thing and the grandeur of the place and its ruins, which afford striking images of ancient and noble life.
G7 meetings are whimsical gatherings of the supreme guardians of inequality and of a capitalist anarchy that creates and fosters the struggle of each against all.
Furthermore, there is no credible attestation that these widely heralded symposia yield any fruits worthy of mention. Consistent historical evidence shows that so-called G7 deliberations are but vacuous documents, worth less than the paper they are printed on.
They are acts produced by string-driven, neo-liberal puppets, who cannot surmount the illiberal desire to deceive the world at large – and perhaps even themselves – after they have exhausted the range of reciprocal flatteries, and the rhetoric emanating from the philosophy of the nil.
All we can conclude from these meetings is the unanimous will of the Gseveners (as representatives of the deep state) of keeping the world together by submitting it to brutal neo-liberal ideology – the official current sponsor and justification of amerocentric-financial rapine. An ideology that frightens, censures, spies and threatens those who do not conform to the recently-tested Greek formula of social destruction, or to the Iraqi, Yemeni or Libyan formula of physical annihilation (“We came, we saw, he died”).
Equally, the ideology spies on everyone and sometimes even on the terrorists, who seem to be remarkably free to bring water to the ambiguous mill of the oligarchies. In the instance, the recent Manchester terrorist belonged to a Libyan family active – and presumably paid by MI6 – to destroy Gadhafi. A case reminiscent of the Boston Marathon terrorists, previously helpful in preparing “orange” revolutions in the Russian Caucasus.
Besides, thanks to increasingly available or leaked information, we begin to have a concrete sense of who the puppet-masters are and of what they want. They simply want more, and – in the words of the immortal George Carlin – “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it.” For there is seemingly no way to check the overflow of their acquisitive passion, or curtail the exuberance of their desires.
Furthermore, while the information-mill found its thrill in trivia about lesser actors and actresses in the Sicilian charade, it remained expectedly silent or quiet about another summit meeting, planned almost at the same time in Beijing, “The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,” at which – hear, hear – even North Korea had been invited.
Is there evidence that the nature of the two summit meetings is different? Nobody can say, but at least on one subject, terrorism, there is less hypocrisy.
For while the Gseveners solemnly agree to fight terrorism, they simultaneously maintain it, considering that the money for ISIS and associates does not grow on trees – and that there are not too many places capable of financing both a fighting army and a state whose Gross Domestic Product is death. Whereas Russia and China have, so far, given concrete evidence of meaning what they say, at least on terrorism.
Nevertheless, all of the above is so much like an old tale that the verity of it is in strong suspicion. Not that it isn’t true. But an unexplainable sensation affects most of us – the sensation of living through an improbable fiction.
Two examples among several – the victims of terrorist attacks are always chosen among those who have no responsibility whatsoever in the birth, formation, support and maintenance of terrorism. While it seems that all Western bigwigs who advocate “fighting” terrorism, have absolutely nothing to fear from it, personally.
Or take the continuing allegations that Russia “influenced” the US presidential elections. As if the American electorate at large had developed a sudden interest in foreign matters – see [ https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/14/upshot/if-americans-can-find-north-korea-on-a-map-theyre-more-likely-to-prefer-diplomacy.html ], a statistical sample of world geographic knowledge among the locals.
But when the truth seems unbelievable, it feels as if the very system that guides our perception of reality has come into question. Is it reality or a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from a heat-oppressed brain? Are electors the periphery of humanity, and elections but rituals akin to Catholic superstitions? Is democracy a joke?
If there is no answer to these question, a substitute, however unsatisfactory, may be an analysis. It will not yield a solution, but a more articulate understanding of our practical helplessness may still be a better options than mood-altering drugs, legal or illegal. Which, if statistics are true, is the option of choice by the many who cannot easily handle reality as they see it.
To start, democracy is both a mimetic and promiscuous word. For Alexis de Toqueville – who toured America in the first part of the 19th century and wrote his famous, “Democracy in America” – democracy is a synonym of equality, of egalitarianism.
But for Herbert Spencer, a 19th century social philosopher who applied Darwinian theories to society at large, democracy is a synonym of difference and of natural selection. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who applied to society the expression “survival of the fittest.”
This double definition of democracy would already lead us to conclude that “democracy” can accommodate everything, from egalitarianism to the oppression of the weaker
by the stronger.
Another familiar character, Russeau, in the 6th chapter of his famous book “Social Contract,” says that democracy is a form of association through which everyone, associating himself with everyone, obeys nevertheless only to himself, and remains free just as free as he was before – before democracy, that is.
Russeau also says that it belongs to democracy the power to choose its representatives, to assign limits to their power, as well as the right to remove them according to non-violent procedures.
All these definitions are short of suggesting full self-government, where citizens have an input on matters that affect them. Which means, in practice, that popular self-government belongs to dreamland.
But, as we know, the words, the substantives and the adjectives of politics are all ambiguous. And since they are the words of power they are also its instruments, used to exert and exercise it.
With “democracy,” this is particularly evident, by considering that, through the simple change of a little preposition, every government on earth, from the most egalitarian to the most autocratic, or even theocratic – every government can be considered “democratic.”
The ambiguity is due to a short preposition, embodied in the difference between a democracy OF the people and a democracy FOR the people. In this sense, the soviet regime was democratic, for its democracy was FOR the interests of the people. Equally democratic is a fascist regime (that is, organized democracy, centralized, authoritarian, FOR the people and the nation).
These examples show that we can essentially call democracy anything we like.
We should also add that democracy, ever since people started studying how to live together, has been associated with negative ideas – the idea of standardization, of mediocrity, of hedonism, of materialism, of caprice, and of the violence of the number without quality – therefore, a constellation of negative values.
Particularly today, when a scientific reflection on democracy leads to skepticism, and to the charge that democracy is a regime of simulation and dissimulation, giving an official sanction of the hypocrisy of power.
Why then, we may ask, all over the world, he who exercises political functions is so eager to qualify himself as “democratic,” overcoming or accepting a violence that is both lexical and ideological?
Why has democracy become a magic word, a passport, without which it is impossible to be admitted to the assembly of peoples, of governments, of civil states? Why is it a title of respectability, which no ruler can give up?
One answer, of course is that the number is greater of those whom custom has enabled to attune to certain words, than of those whom study has prompted to examine things.
Equally, the point is that democracy must reckon with a mutation whose causes are endemic, that is, they reside inside democracy itself. It is a mutation not caused by the enemies of democracy. Rather, it derives from toxins existing inside itself. This mutation, if we can call it this way, is the oligarchic mutation.
A reality, obvious the moment we think about it, that today is denounced both by those who, at one time, were considered leftists, and by the rightists. Meaning that those who proclaim democracy as the government of the people are either naive or impostors.
In the classical theory of forms of government, the oligarchy, as the government imposed on the powerless by the few powerful, lies between the monarchy, the government of one, and democracy, the government of all.
Therefore, in theory, oligarchies lay in the middle. In practice, however, there is only one oligarchy, of various kinds, big or small, more or less structured, centralized and hierarchical, but they are always and only oligarchies.
This is true with regard to the monarchy, however unthinkable monarchy may be today. The monarch or the despot, in reality, is always the expression of an organized group that, in various ways, supports him and at the same time keeps him harnessed.
But the same thing applies to the opposite of despotism, that is to democracy. History shows that democracy, in the form defined by Russeau – does not exist and never have existed.
Except during the ephemeral moments of glory, as expressed by Joseph DeMaistre, the great reactionary critic of the French Revolution. They occur at the beginning of a revolution, when the establishment of people’s power breaks down the hierarchical structures of the past. They are indeed moments of glory, but fleeting and destructive.
Critics of democracy warn that, in general, every revolution-induced democratic government is but a fleeting meteor whose brilliance excludes duration. The same critics add that this fleeting moment of democratic exhilaration generates destruction, and the risk of having to be paid-for dearly in the long run.
Even Russeau ends up referring to a democratic illusion as the effect of a practical impossibility. An impossibility admitting no exception, called “the iron law of oligarchies,” a definition we owe to Robert Michaels, a sociologist who lived and wrote at the beginning of the XXth century.
That is, when the people, the large numbers, have conquered equality, that’s when the people need the small numbers, the restricted oligarchies.
But this is not enough.
Since oligarchies are a clear contradiction of the principles of democracy, it is necessary that they be concealed, and that they conceal their concealment. They do this by maximizing the public display of pretending that they, the oligarchs, are the very expression of democracy. In this sense G7-type meetings are examples of the contradiction and ensuing pretense.
The conclusion, unfortunately, is that democracy is the regime of illusion. With the regrettable corollary that the most benign of political regimes in appearance, is actually the most evil in reality.
Said in another way, the majority principle, which is the essence of democracy turns itself around and becomes the minority principle, which is the essence of autocracy.
It is an autocracy that relies on large numbers, but it is still an autocracy. And for this reason it constitutes a power more, not less dangerous than power in the hands of few people who rely only on themselves.
This was the argument of the critics of the 1789 French Revolution, especially the already mentioned Joseph DeMaistre,
There have been even more fierce critics of democracy, Plato and Herodotus, for example, for whom democracy was the oppression of the virtuous few, forced to submit to the vices of the many.
For critics of the French Revolution, democracy is always the rule of the few over the many, or more precisely, it is democracy in a degenerate sense – a power not of the majority of the people but of a minority through the majority – a majority used as a tool by others.
But let’s return for a little longer to the ambiguity of democracy, which is an illusion, and to today’s oligarchies, which are a reality. How do oligarchies come about?
Political researchers have studied the birth of oligarchies and of their conflicts. A more familiar term than oligarchy, and a term that brings it nearer to perception, is that of ‘caste’ or ‘clique.’ Caste suggests an analogy with the caste system of India, which is essentially horizontal with no communication or interference between the social strata.
With us, instead, oligarchies change, they adapt to the prevailing or perceived social conditions, they adopt symbols and methods conforming to the spiritual conditions of our time, and produce a kind of legitimizing culture that responds to the changing expectations of the masses.
Of course, the corporate media and Hollywood pretend to peddle as public taste what is actually a top-down ideology imposed on people at large, but let that go.
Today’s oligarchies develop in societies of individuals free to do what they want, and free to bind with those they want to bind with. Oligarchies grow and are free to modify and destroy themselves in circular motions, ascending and descending, where everything is confused.
It is the idea of a circle, something that moves from the bottom to the top, a cog-wheel, that grabs what is at the bottom, and tends to bring it up, in its movement.
If we could use a new definition, it is the democracy of the circular entourage.
To understand the difference between caste and circular entourage, we must shed some light on a latent division, on which the media is completely silent, because to expose it would go against the interest of the very circular entourage, which itself constitutes the media.
The division is, in effect, a conflict between those who belong and those who do not belong to any circular entourage, to any clique, to any circle of power.
Clique is exactly what we mean when we meet, see or hear of people completely unknown, of dubious skills, of uncertain merits and of certain demerits, who occupy places and positions hardly conceivable, based on what they are or appear to be.
Who has never asked himself, how in heaven, or in hell, could this person come into such position of power, what clique does he/she belong to? Think of Hillary, or of her husband for that matter, or of one of her admirers – the New York congressman, who almost became the mayor of New York, before he was found sending porno-photos of himself to underage girls on the web.
Indeed, one of the great divisions of our society is precisely between those who belong and those who do not belong to a clique, to a circular entourage.
It is a profound division, made up of careers, status, envy, and resentments. It is a division that poisons relationships and corrupts social ties. But until it lasts, it represents a true constitutional and material structure.
Members of a clique trade protection and favors for loyalty and services. The trade needs a medium of exchange, for example easy money or remunerative employment – or careers and promotions.
The other side, the receiver of favors, must give something in exchange. It could be block of votes block of votes controlled through unions, or plain crime. Or, in exchange for the rewards given for belonging to the clique, he return favors, directly or through interposed persons, for example in case of sex.
This apparently aseptic clique or circular entourage is, in reality a sewer that infects at large everything it touches.
But what is the force that keeps the wheel of the clique turning? It is the protection and the favors bestowed from the top of the wheel, interrelated with the allegiance and services returned in exchange by those at the bottom of the wheel.
At first impression, distributing favors may seem like a beneficial system for those who belong to it, a form of democracy, an example of people power, for those at the bottom of the wheel.
But it is not so. Each sees in the other only resources to exploit. Each clique, each cog-wheel of power is a crucible of competition, often ferocious. To climb higher, competitors pound on each other.
On the highest steps we find only arrogance, on the lowest only servility – arrogance at the top, servility at the bottom. On the intermediate steps, members of the clique are arrogant with those below and servile towards those above.
Going up and down the wheel, the relationship between arrogance and servility changes. Masters and servants, at all levels of the wheel, are bound by unwritten agreements, but they are agreements and pacts between accomplices. Fidelity to the covenant is nourished and guaranteed by favors and threats, blandishment, intimidation and blackmail.
And what is the force that keeps the wheel of the circular entourage, the wheel of the clique turning?
It’s a force that feeds on inequality and illegality.
The cliques spread in proportion to social inequalities and in proportion to how less the same laws are applied equally to all.
The more insecurity and social injustice, the more the need for protection – that is, the need of patronage. The more the patronage, the more frequent the violations of the law, which, in the abstract, should be the same for all.
Democracy, in the absence of equality and legality, becomes then a concealment of systems of powers, which are hierarchical and are based on the unequal exchange of favors between the powerful and the powerless, and on the generalized illegality favoring those who belong to the oligarchy.
Today this structure of power is extended as never before, it is capillary, pervasive. If only for a moment we could lift the veil and have a vision of the whole, we would probably be stunned at the face of reality, hidden behind the fake representation of democracy. This is fake democracy indeed.
Vertical chains of power, almost always invisible, and often secret, link the men of politics, of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, the professions, even the ecclesiastical hierarchies, the economy, finance, universities, culture, entertainment.
These links involve the countless number of agencies, councils, centers, foundations, etc. that, according to their principles, should be mutually independent. Instead, they are attracted into the same eddies of power, of corrupting roles, skills and responsibilities.
The iron law of the oligarchies leads us to conclude that such oligarchical mutation is the inevitable transformation of democracy, towards which we should perhaps assume a realistic, rather than a moralistic attitude.
For in the end then, democracy is like those visions that court the gazer at a distance, but disgust him at his approach.
It is meager consolation to say that communication technology has opened our eyes to what we cannot avoid seeing – to depravities before hidden, and now exposed. Who knows, exposure and visibility may, in time, reduce the crimes committed by the cliques of the untouchables. Though, personally, I am not hopeful.
To end with an equally meager lexical consolation, oligarchy derives from the Greek ‘oligos,’ meaning few and ‘archia’ meaning supremacy. Though the oligarchs want us to believe that being few they are also the best.
However, etymologically speaking, ‘oligos’ traces back to a Sanskrit root, meaning mutilation. ‘Archia’ refers to power and preeminence, but also to antiquity (think of the term ‘archaic’). Therefore, adjusting the etymology, oligarchy means, more properly, the mutilation of democracy carried out by a few representatives of archaic powers.
I suspect that only a miracle may make the oligarchs repent and mend their ways. Considering that they themselves are at the antipodes of those chosen from above, by inspiration of celestial grace, to work exceeding miracles on earth.