The Crisis of Modern Democracy and the Developing Fusion of Private Enterprise and State

Introduction

As we have discussed previously [1], private enterprises like Twitter, Google and Apple are progressively becoming more and more powerful in our society, and I would recommend reading my previous article first before this one. With that being said, it isn’t required reading, and for the sake of brevity, I will quickly sum up the point at the heart of that initial article. 

Private enterprises are progressively becoming more and more powerful, their voices being able to rise far higher than the average citizen and even political and pressure groups. This is a problem that is becoming more and more apparent, especially with the advent of the internet and its increasing popularity and accessibility to the world population. The question is then as follows; how do we solve this problem and is it even possible? This is what I will attempt to answer by the end of this article.

State and Civil Society

In theory, society is made up of two distinct yet inseparable institutions; the private, civil society, and the public state. Within the civil society we see private enterprises, pressure groups, leisure, and fitness clubs, etc. These are separate from the state, yet they are simultaneously at the behest of it. The state is everything else, such as the parliament and government and all of its derivative institutions, such as the judiciary and armed forces. Thus, when we look at private enterprises, they should be at the behest of the state, yet when we take a glance at the current socio-political climate we know that isn’t quite true. 

The power of private enterprises – including banks and prominent, influential celebrities – are completely separate from the state yet hold undeniable influence over it and its goals, aims, beliefs and processes. Increasingly we see those with the largest wallets to have the loudest voices and the loudest impact on wider society and thus, naturally, the state. There wouldn’t be as much of a problem if their influence was largely concentrated on society than the state, but that simply is neither possible nor true. It is the private enterprise and its many tentacles that reach out and grasp the hands of the world tightly, wrestling the culture – and, thus, society – this way and that way. It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the direction they are taking us, it is the fact that they are able to do it in the first place that is the real problem. 

Yet, this is not an entirely original notion, in fact, it had been foretold centuries ago by Hegel; ‘…commerce of this kind (industry)’ he said, ‘is the most potent instrument of culture, and through it trade requires its significance in the history of the world’ [2], and this was in 1821. He continues, speaking of corporations as being ‘restricted and finite’, while public authority – i.e., the state – is the ‘external organization involving a separation and a merely relative identity of controller and controlled.’, and it is here where; ‘the sphere of civil society [The restricted and finite corporation/private enterprise] passes over into the state [Regarding the state’s nature as the external organisation that controls the controlled, i.e., the corporation.]’ [3]. Of course, he was speaking of the institution in its 19th-century form and in the most ideal, arguably incredibly optimistic situation.

It is clear then that the role of private enterprises should be within the symbiotic relationship of civil society and state, a symbiotic relationship where one simply cannot exist without the other (not in modern, western, democratic societies at least). The role should be restricted and finite, it should be at the whim of the state, and throughout the majority of history, it has been. The caveat to this is that throughout the majority of history the state or kingdom or empire has been just as if not more influential and powerful, it’s merely the opposite side of the same coin. Whilst I agree with this argument, it doesn’t magically change the reality that the current situation is something the majority of the population has no real control over, mirroring the aforementioned situation that has persisted throughout human history.

Indeed, it is commonplace to look at history as an eternal battle between these two institutions and their relationship, focusing on how the majority of people faired under this rule of the minority. From men like Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan to the leaders of Germany and Russia during the middle of the twentieth century, all are investigated and interpreted from this perspective, a perspective where it is clear who is in charge and who isn’t. This clear distinction between the governed and the governing is fading away. Our ability to point and say “Those people over there, they run the show” is waning as the lines that were once clearly drawn in the sand are slowly being washed away by the onset of the waves of powerful private enterprises. 

However, instead of private enterprises being either at the whim of the state or having been abolished by it, the opposite is slowly becoming true. They are slowly implicitly integrating themselves in the political process, and regardless of what side of the aisle you fall upon, I believe we can all see this as an incredibly worrying and dangerous predicament for democracy and our society.

As I explained in the first article, an antidote must be found to this problem, one that doesn’t bend to the absolute will of capitalism or socialism, something separate and free from the muddy waters those two have bathed in for the last century. That antidote is what we call Localism. 

The Localist Vanguard 

The first point of contention whenever there are any transgressions politically, culturally, or socially is the judiciary, the legislature and the political system in its entire totality; surely they will save us? Surely they can turn the tide and weave together the fabric of the human experiment that is civilization into something approximating a greater, more optimal existence for us all? Excessive and bombastic exposition aside, we know that this is rarely the case, not just because many politicians are blind to the problem of the developing fusion of private enterprises and the state, but because this very fabric that holds it all together is itself deeply problematic. 

When officials are elected through the first past the post system – usually due to party affiliation, not the platform unique to each candidate themselves – our elected government is at the whim of the majority party or coalition in parliament, a majority party or coalition of parties that so far simply do not care for this issue. Our elected representatives are either set against the majority or are part of the majority, and in either scenario is situated on their knees at the feet of the party whips and their higher-ups; the handlers of the handlers. 

So, I ask you to look around, do you see any major political party in the United Kingdom that is not only aware of this fusion, but cares enough to do anything about it? Additionally, why is there currently little care for this in the United Kingdom? We can look across the ocean and see our Atlantic cousins in the republican party awaking to this issue – your Ted Cruz’s and Donald Trump Jr’s, spearheading the rebirth of American conservatism – where is the vanguard on our great Isle? Is it the party’s fault, or is it the public’s fault? After all, these parties want to get votes, so they will bend to public opinion where necessary. It would be incredibly naïve and irresponsible to delineate absolute fault to those in politics.

The answer to these questions is as follows; No, there is no major political party that currently cares enough about this problem. Your UKIP’s and Reform party’s very well may do, or are at least heading that way, but the two parties who hold the majority of the votes every single election for the past hundred years do not. This is currently due to the lack of public outcry over the issue, but also the fault of the parties for being so blind as to not see the affront to basic morals and civil liberties that is currently going on. 

Once upon a time, our politicians entered the political sphere to be the change they wanted to see in the world. However, nowadays those very people are scared off from politics, exactly because it has become about a career, not about a moral duty to one’s nation, one’s people and one’s rights and responsibilities as a democratic society. 

Thus, the answer to the problem presented in this article is not what you initially would think. It is not policy X, law Y or path Z, it is simply what you and I are doing right now, at this moment. You, the reader, and I, the writer, are part of a crucial symbiotic relationship that is currently partaking in the answer; the unrestrained, unrestricted free spreading of speech and thought.

We must – as localists who believe in our local communities, regions, and people – spread the message of opposition, be that on moral, ethical, or legal grounds. 

We must – as English men and women – uphold the continual pioneering of freedom of expression, of political thought and of the genuine democratic process.

We must – as human beings – push back against this fusion because this is not isolated to England or even the United Kingdom. It is a multi-appendage beast that seeks to place itself neither below nor even beside the state, but above it. 

We must do whatever we can, whether that is getting involved with Local Matters directly or simply sharing ideas like this one. In the metapolitical sphere, popular opinion is absolutely everything, and it is this popular opinion we must harness if we are to prevent the further degradation of thought. If this were to be achieved, if the leviathan of private enterprise were to be rightfully restrained, we would see the flourishing of thought, a  more equitable and democratic workplaces and greater communitarian self-sufficiency – the ascension of the local. 

This is the crisis of modern democracy in our midst. It is the demiurge in waiting that must be made to wait before it is put down for good, and this is the continuation of that eternal fight.

The worrying fusion of private enterprise and state is a threat tied to an arrow that is seeking the heart of all democratic societies the world over, and it is only through articles and discourse like this that we can begin to fight back against an increasingly powerful, unelected, unethical foe that wishes nothing more than to steer the ship of society towards a new oblivion. 

Include some sort of call to action beyond reading – ‘get involved with LM’ etc. Talk about importance of spreading ideas – maybe how that popular opinion changing against the merging of private + public can translate into real change in a sentence or two (communities being self sufficient, democratised workplaces etc etc) 

References: 

[1] https://thelocalists.org/are-private-enterprises-becoming-too-powerful/

[2] Hegel, Georg (1821) Philosophy of Right Oxford, Oxford University Press, T.M. Know 1952 Edition, pp.151[3] Hegel, Georg (1821) Philosophy of Right Oxford, Oxford University Press, T.M. Know 1952 Edition, pp.154

The Crisis of Modern Democracy and the Developing Fusion of Private Enterprise and State
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