Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Necessary and Proper

The last word Michael Moore speaks in his film Capitalism, A Love Story is "democracy" which he advocates as a remedy for the "evil" of capitalism. He invites us to join him in a movement that may well be a socialist revolution--he doesn't quite say. The sound track under the end credits is more revealing: The Internationale.

Our financial system is in a mess, but is it irretrievably evil? And will enhancing democractic involvement cleanse it? Can we vote ourselves prosperous?

Alexander Hamilton, while advocating ratification of the Constitution, said: "It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity."

I suggest that our democratic institutions are at the very source of capitalism's miasma. Our weakened regulatory agencies, and the short term horizons of both politicians and business people, have betrayed voters and investors alike.

However, direct democracy, as exemplified by the initiative process in California, has resulted in unfunded mandates and ineffectual government. Democracy, as sensationalized by the media, has marginalized our most vital concerns and trivialized the decision making process. And lest we forget, democracy, as practiced by communist republics, did nothing to protect people from starvation, oppression, and mass murder.

Our political system is in need of rigorous reform. With a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit, this should be obvious to all. But reform should be intricate and arduous rather than sweeping. Partisanship has thus far stalemated the process. But I'm not willing to give up. I just hope we can undertake it without the distractions of ideologues, demagogues, or (sorry Mr. Moore) populists.

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by Daniel Huntington, 1865. Click on the picture for a closer look.


John Mulvay - Living the Life of an Artist said...

It seems to me that the U.S.A is the Roman Empire in decline again.
Imagine a world with no stock market, no corporations, just business' profiting from their success at making goods and services that people found necessary and desirable to buy.
And gamblers went to the race track, where they and their compulsive addiction belong, not in the political/economic arena as now

DUTA said...

1. Democracy seems to do well in countries such as the scandinavian countries, that have a more or less homogenoes population.

In a multi ethnical society such as the american one, Democracy is often a threat to law and order, an open invitation to chaos. America has proven much creativity in 'inventing' financial tools that provided the money with which to keep things under control. Look where these tools have brought her to!

2. Reforms??!! Reforms require Big money. America doesn't have that kind of money; she won't have it in the near or in the distant future.

Besides, reforms take Time, and there's no Time. The world is impatient; wants answers, is considering a new currency to replace the dollar as international reserve currency.

Yes, unfortunately, this is not a Hollywood movie, this is reality.

Paula Slade said...

The "distractions" of the "ideologues, demagogues or populists" that are referred to are voices that are finally speaking out and being heard. These voices belong in the mix if reform is to take place. There is need for balance here - somewhere between "sweeping" and "intricate" fine tuning, which in itself is an "arduous" task.

TallTchr said...

Thanks for your comments. John and Duta, I share your concern that the US is in decline, but I haven't given up hope. The world's investments in the US actually work to keep things stable while we set our fiscal house in order. I know the banking system and capital markets are aggravating, but when capital is not available, as in much of the Muslim world, where banks are deemed counter to Sharia, people stay locked in poverty and feudalism. Paula, I like Michael Moore, and am glad he is raising the ire of so many people, but I really don't favor socialism. His film fails to distinguish between capitalism and plain old corruption, which as we know, socialistic systems are riddled with.