Democracy: Fighting A Losing Battle On Two Fronts?

When the earth’s dwindling resources are strained by population and an increasingly hostile environment, there are a number of things that result, all of which are related to and intertwined with each other, and all of which are bad. We’re going to look at three of these things, and they are certainly the three biggest. The first of these impacts is a significant spike in inequality, or in other words, a small portion of the population accumulates a very significant amount of the power and wealth in society. This group is sometimes referred to as “The 1%” because they are in the top 1% of the wealthiest people on the planet. Resource constraints create significant opportunities for the accumulation of spectacular wealth, and forces the rest of the population to spend significant resources on things they did not previously spend much on such as, say, water or food. A side effect of an increasingly hostile environment and increasingly hostile nations is that there is a spike in refugees and immigrants, legal and otherwise. These vulnerable people are among those most severely experiencing inequality.

As resources decrease, inequalities increase, mass population movements increase, and relations between nations become more strained, there is an interesting knock-on effect which constitutes the second impact we’ll look at: Democracy comes under severe pressure. More accurately, populations tend to look for more aggressive and authoritarian (not to say fascist) tendencies in their governments. We’re seeing this trend right now in many countries all over the world where democracy is being implicitly or explicitly diminished in favor of more aggressive, authoritarian, and more nationalist governments.

Note that the diminishment of democracy requires that the passions of the 99% be inflamed and that they see in aggressive, authoritarian and nationalist governments is solution or a redress to their concerns. But, interestingly, they are joined in at least some of their actions by the 1% – the moneyed and powerful – who take common cause with them for an entirely different set of reasons. And it is these reasons that take us to our third impact – the rising conflict between capitalism and democracy.

Democracy is probably the best form of government devised by man to date. Actually, let me refine that statement a little: Democracy is the best form of government to date for nations where there are adequate resources, where populations and not too terribly diverse, and where inequality is not severe. We are on the verge of finding out what form of government is best (or at least most desired) by peoples experiencing an earth in rapid and accelerating decline. It isn’t that democracy is so terribly weak, it is rather that the 1% are so very strong, and the capitalist system that has been tilted in their favor is more important to them than the democratic system which has so favored the expansion of capitalism. In other words, we seem to be to the point in this world where it is expedient for capitalism to help in the process of significantly weakening democracy.

It is fascinating to look at the interplay in the institutions of man – democracy, capitalism, and a bell-shaped distribution of equality – and see how society works its problems out. But when those problems get startlingly large and societies with significant inequality begin to turn away from democracy and toward a more authoritarian model, we actually enter into a new world and one where certain prophecies of the Bible are suddenly much more likely to be fulfilled. I speak here in reference to Revelation 13:11-17, where America will become a persecuting power and force people to go against their conscience, and will align itself with apostate religion (the papacy) and force Sunday worship. For a long time it has been very hard to see how the US and other nations could possibly do this. But as the nations of the earth become increasingly angry and competitive, and the earth itself becomes more hostile, and as people become more radicalized, we are coming closer and closer to a point where democracy and civil protections are dramatically weakened and governments, including the US government, can put in place previously unthinkable restrictions and laws.

We live in interesting times.

UPDATE:  A mere day after I wrote the above post, the perfect reference article came out on the subject of inequality and social and economic instability.  The article is a short one and I do recommend it for a fuller understanding of this topic.  You can find the article here.

–Scott Christiansen