Is representative democracy anything other than a legislative and bureaucratic framework constructed to contain dissent and prevent populations from exercising any form of real control over the corporations that dominate their lives? Not in the view of the authors in this edited collection. Liberal democracy as it is understood in the west, they argue, is there to suppress the threat of a genuine, participatory democracy, not to liberate people from corporate domination and the human and environmental damage that accompanies it.
Combining analysis of techniques used to obtain consent for inequality, unfettered capital accumulation, imperialism and war with studies of how ‘democracy’ is manufactured, both at home and abroad, the various authors graphically illustrate how mainstream media echoes corporate propaganda via newspapers, TV, radio and film.
They show how language is adapted to demonstrate that capitalism and democracy go hand in hand and that those who would challenge what is clearly a dubious proposition are branded as deviant because western institutions are sacrosanct and support for the concept of private property and the rule of law is nothing more than ‘common sense’.
Capitalism has shown itself to be extremely versatile in the co-option of individuals and organisations such as NGOs that potentially threaten the hegemony of its ruling elites and there are several chapters devoted to that process in its various forms. Unfortunately none are devoted to trade unions, which, in many instances, have bought in to what is referred to as ‘low intensity democracy’ and devoted considerable resources to flawed notions of changing society by the ballot box. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the importance of the book, which should be required reading for trade union activists everywhere.
#229 No Return to ‘Normal’ ● Sir David King blasts the government ● State power, policing and civil rights under Covid-19 ● Hope and determination in grassroots resistance ● Black liberation and Palestine ● The future of ‘live’ ● Pubs, patriotism and precarity ● Latest book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Anna Clayton reviews Natalie Olah's book, which explores how upper middle-class pop culture has affected British politics
Suchandrika Chakrabarti reviews Wendy Liu's proposals to reclaim technology's potential for the public good
Connor Beaton reviews Daniel Finn's account of the politics and personalities which drove the IRA
As apocalypse rhetoric spreads during Covid-19, James Hendrix Elsey explores what 'the end of the world' really means under racialised capitalism – and what comes next
The BBC hit drama shows the complexities of class mobility, but can’t avoid class and gender stereotypes, says Frances Hatherley
Mask Off offers a toolbox of explanations and arguments to question and challenge toxic masculinity, writes Huw Lemmey