September 15 is the International Day of Democracy, the theme for this year being Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a fifteen-year roadmap towards ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, creating a global world where inclusion and understanding take pride of place over marginalization, hatred and extremism.
The new framework of sustainable development places the role of Parliaments very much at its center, and for "Parliaments", read also "Congress", "Representatives" or "Senate". UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praised the contribution of Parliaments to the 2030 agenda (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) at the Inter-Parliamentary Union's Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, stating that "People will look to you to hold your governments accountable for achieving the goals, and to write the laws and invest in the programmes that will make them a reality".
SDG1: No poverty; SDG2: Zero hunger; SDG3: Good health and well-being; SDG4: Quality education; SDG5: Gender equality; SDG6: Clean water and sanitation; SDG7: Affordable and clean energy; SDG8: Decent work and economic growth; SDG9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure; SDG10: Reduced inequalities; SDG11: sustainable cities and communities; SDG12: Responsible consumption and production; SDG13: Climate action; SDG14: Life below water; SDG 15: Life on land; SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions; SDG 17: Partnership for the goals.
Sustainable Development Goal 16, "Peace, justice and strong institutions" aims to "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels."
Let us look further into the political system which predominates across most of the globe and see how democratic, accountable and transparent the Parliamentary system has become. Demokratia (Democracy, rule by commoners) appeared as the antithesis to Aristokratia (Aristocracy, rule by an elite) or Oligarkhia (Oligarchy, rule by a few). Even in Ancient Greece, early Democracy excluded women, considered unable to form a political opinion because they were too hysterical (again, from the Greek hystera, meaning "womb" or "uterus", the underlying message being women needed a good **** before they cooked and cleaned.
Several thousand years later, how near is a "commoner" to the strings of power, and how many systems governed by Parliaments and Parliamentarians are not in fact "Aristokratia" or "Oligarkhia"? How many people know who their elected representative is, how many people know how they vote and what they will vote for, how many people have bothered to read the political manifestos of the parties presenting themselves for election?
How many of the few that do bother to read them actually understand the issues, and how easy is it to get any explanation of public finances and how public finances work, through the Internet? How many people know the workings of the taxation system and where each and every penny of their hard-earned cash goes and for what?
Or being honest, how many people vote for candidate A or B depending on who looks best on TV, who is more maternal or avuncular at a given time, who is the right shape on the screen, who has a better speaking voice, who has been chosen by the invisible powers behind the scenes to have her or his image manipulated into pole position?
And speaking about the powers behind the scenes, do people really know what goes on in Parliament, or behind the scenes in Parliament? Behind the elected members, either before or after they are elected, are the Sinister Six Sisters, the unelected BARFFS, lobbies which in fact control our domestic and external policies (Banking, Arms, eneRgy, Finance, Food, pharmaceuticalS). And how many people know how they position themselves in place?
The way it works is like this. Let us say a new Minister or Director-General of for example Defense (in fact, war) is to be appointed. First and foremost, the BARFFS swing into action, in this case the chief lobbyist of all, NATO, spear-headed by the FUKUS Axis (France-UK-US) and backed by the ASS (Anglo-Saxonic Syndicate), NATO being the cutting edge of all the lobbies as it formulates external policy (against the Constitutions of its member states) and opens the door for the other BARFFS to follow suit after a country has been destroyed and its society rendered helpless and hopeless, through deploying military hardware against civilian structures.
Most people think Dr. X was appointed because (s)he was the best (wo)man for the job and that her/his curriculum vitae was the closest to the job description. In fact, the opposite is the case - the job description was written with the particular CV of the winning candidate beside it. "The candidate must be a woman aged 45 to 47, from the private sector with experience in the military industrial complex but with at least 9 years of experience in the public sector, having worked in foreign affairs and defense". Lo and behold, a 46-year-old woman is appointed and of course only she fits the bill.
She will then manipulate policymaking to include those who are pulling her strings. And how many of the electorate have any idea what is going on? This, ladies and gentlemen, is not Democracy, it is Hypokrisis (Hypocrisy, play-acting).
What, then, is the difference between one person deciding on which policies to adopt, favoring a particular ethnic or family group numbering hundreds or thousands, and twenty people deciding which policies to adopt, favoring one of the six lobbies? In fact, the Parliamentary Demokratia is more elitist than the system of Aristokratia and more restrictive than the system of Oligarkhia.
This is why the current political system does not deliver a satisfactory model of socio-economic governance, because any system which practises social terrorism is antagonistic to the needs and aspirations of humankind. With "Democracy" comes that other buzz-word, "freedom". And what is that supposed to mean, or taken together, what do "freedom and democracy" mean? How "free" is a society in which people have to pay to get a decent education or to have any leverage on the job market because public education is producing generations of simpletons unable to read, write or count? Or think? How "free" is a society in which there are fewer and fewer jobs to go round and never enough jobs for all? How "free" is a society in which one's home can be invaded by a drug addict, in which one can be attacked in the street by marauding gangs of thugs or stabbed by a mental patient who has been released from hospital due to under-funding and decides to have an "episode" on a Metro station, an "episode" which destroys a family or more for generations to come? How "free" is a society in which job security does not exist, and therefore the notion of owning a home is not a given factor? How "free" is a society in which it is more dangerous to go into a hospital and die from infection rather than taking a risk and staying away?
If this is the wonderful model which "Demokratia" has brought us, then it is not good enough, is it? The way forward is not to shrug and say "It's the best of a lot of bad systems" or "a lesser evil". The way forward is to get involved, and become politically active. This comes through literacy and education, two areas where the Socialist model excelled and where the capitalist-monetarist-lobbyist-market-oriented-casino-economy model has failed miserably. And this comes with setting up Civic Platforms through social media - which is free - to monitor and hold accountable those who have been elected to do the job.
It is easy to network, it is easy to form groups of people who understand the issues, know how to see who has voted for what in Parliament and how to deselect those who are pandering to the whims of the lobbies which pull their strings instead of serving the people who elected them.
*Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey has worked as a correspondent, journalist, deputy editor, editor, chief editor, director, project manager, executive director, partner and owner of printed and online daily, weekly, monthly and yearly publications, TV stations and media groups printed, aired and distributed in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Portugal, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe Isles; the Russian Foreign Ministry publication Dialog and the Cuban Foreign Ministry Official Publications. He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.
In a weary world of endless US military interventions, sanctions, trade tariffs and chaos, let’s pause and take stock of the shining house on the hill