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Democracy is dead, long live democracy!

As we rush into the 21st Century, one thing is becoming more and more apparent and that is that the old ideals that were fundamental to great civilisations, no longer hold currency. Living in freedom doesn’t have the same ring to it, unless it refers to the freedom to shop as an atomised consumer, unencumbered by weighty thoughts like politics. Indeed ‘citizenship’ itself seems redundant, like so many other words that used to hold sway for good or bad. Words like treason, betrayal, nationalism, faith and community – anachronisms all – now replaced by globalisation, consumerism, social media and the Internet. These latter points are what matter today; it is what mobilises the masses; what dulls their senses to what may very well be the inevitable – a world where power politics lacks power. Where the only power worth having is economic power. And in this world, a world of over 7 billion and counting, greed is not only good, it is the preserve of the über rich who are detached from the banalities of ordinary life.  Anecdotal evidence for this may very well be the formulation of new trade treaties such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These trade treaties are not just multilateral experiments in ‘free trade’, they are rapidly becoming a new mode of global governance, where the state, the last vestige of public participation in politics (democratic or autocratic), becomes the servant to the new God of economics, driven not for the good of the people, nor out of a sense of fairness or justice, but for the good of the super wealthy and the market. Indeed, so overt is this, that if we take the TPP as prime example, we see that no government involved in this ‘trade deal’ is challenging the extreme secrecy surrounding its negotiations. What has been leaked to us via Wikileaks is that the TPP will be a monster like no other. It will force us to eat genetically modified food; it will rollback national health laws regarding the use of tobacco and it will increase the cost of medicines because international ‘Big Pharma’ is a conglomerate, acting in unison.  It will in effect curtail national political power through the ability to challenge national laws created to protect the public from harm. This may in effect pose a clear and present danger to the notion of national sovereignty itself.

With the support of modern technologies and the ever-present architecture of the surveillance state penetrating the stratum of society to tempt the unaware, the strong-willed as well as the gullible, the politically engaged, the bystanders and the apathetic, these new trade deals will manipulate our desires, thus keeping us chained to never-ending debt and create a web of dependence that only organised violence can break. And why? Because politicians of all persuasions, have given up on hope. Their incapacity to wield their power for the public good, says something about their ultimate corruptibility as much as their hopelessness. Perhaps the secrecy of the talks on the TPP & TTIP has something to do with the obvious international political malaise and lack of leadership.

By Dr. John Bruni, Director SAGE International

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