When Democracy becomes an Economic Resource

Image Source: The Economic Times

We have voted and our votes are sealed in the EVMs. We have unmade and made the destiny of several candidates. The deeper question is: has our vote assisted us to unmake the present and future that is forced down our throat by our Government and its cronies? Are we happy to usher in a new government or are we looking to let our Government continue to take us into what may be thought a glorious future by some of us? For now, a rumour that some of the congress candidates are ready to jump ship for pelf and power is stirring up discontent among the voters. The condition of our democracy after voting is complete seems to indicate that once voting is done the voter is dead. It is then for the candidates and their political masters to seek ways of maximizing economic and other benefits for them. This means what I have been saying for some time that after Modi we have entered into corporatization of democracy is a truth glaring in our eyes.

The corporatization of democracy is not just afflicting the candidates, it is also afflicting the voter who also is said to be hankering to draw his/ her pound of flesh from those who sit for election. The sale of the candidates post-election is directly linked to the sale of the votes before the election. Our democracy is on sale. We follow the logic of the market that we have married to the logic of partition/ hate and intolerance and sacrificed the logic of freedom/ peace and harmony across our country. It appears that we are ready to vote for our unfreedom as long as it gives us a kind of short term economic as well as political high. This only manifests that the corporatization of our democracy has come to full circle.

While the economic balloon of several parties did manifest almost a busting inflation, one Party that came at the last minute to try its luck basing itself on its so-called wining bravado and economic power seem to be getting ready to take egg on its face. This showed that all was not lost and all Goans have not sold themselves wholesale to the logic of the market. The logic of the market was omnipresent. The political parties promised several freebies which seemed to tell the voters, you give me your vote and power and we will give you freebies ( free electricity, free water, two gas cylinders free, economic aid to one woman in the house, loans without interest to the youth etc ). Thus, the culture of freebies converted the vote into something similar to a commercial transaction.

We are facing an erosion of our democracy and its logic of freedom. This has transformed our act of voting into an act of unreason (post-reason) and our political parties have shifted to a state that we may describe as a condition of post-ideology. This is why we saw those candidates who did not get tickets from their party immediately plunged into the next party that offered them tickets. The fact these MLA aspirants simply entered the waters of the new parties and their ideologies like ducks into the water without manifesting any ideological alienation or discomfort manifest that we have entered post-ideological politics. The fact that all these candidates simply acclimatized to the ideologies of the parties they joined reveal how they use these parties without any regard to their ideologies to foster their political opportunism. Ideology is therefore dead and is being instrumentalized to serve the opportunism of the politicians.

With the death of ideology, democracy has become a resource that provides cover to the vested interest that is out to transform our natural, cultural, institutional and democratic resources into wealth for itself. In this scenario, the agency of the voter as well as their representative is subverted to let the vested interest reign. Corporatization of politics is using our democracy as an economic resource and politics has become business. The tragedy is that both the MLAs who are bought and those who rule by buying these MLAs are for sale. Those that buy are bought in advance to advance the vested interest of the power elite. This is why the play of democracy that we see in Goa is the display of its corporatization. The power elite seems to have decided that there is nothing for us in our democracy outside our vote and has invested everything to subvert our vote. We can see some of those parties that swear by the nation have made our democracy a hiding place for those who have converted our democracy into an economic resource.

We have the challenge therefore to reclaim our democracy. We seem to have squeezed the demos/ people’s cratos/ power out of democracy. This is why we have the challenge to reclaim the power of the people to reclaim our democracy. It is time to wake up and unite to restore people’s sway over our democracy. Although the damage to our democracy may take the hell out of us in the pursuits of it’s restoration, we cannot take a step back. Our task has become daunting because the congressification of BJP by the merger of ten MLAs is legitimized even by our High Court on the basis of its relevance in time.

Therefore, We have the challenge to resist the divisive propaganda of rulers and not get swayed by it. This resistance has the power to strengthen the power of the people as well as restore the already weakened institutions of democracy like the parliament, the cabinet, the role of opposition and the election commission. A divided people weakens our democracy. Hence, we have no choice but to unite and resist the conversion of democracy into an economic resource. Hence, our responsibility does not cease by voting in elections. We have the challenge to become alert about several forces that assist the power elite to milk our democracy as an economic resource and enable people to organize their resistance to the plunder of their resources under the cover of what passes off as democracy and nationalism.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao