Rule of the Demos
by Lila Rajiva
"Most people today are quite sure of one thing.
A democratic state is always and everywhere good.
If we didn’t have the tyranny of the majority, they argue, wouldn’t we end up with the tyranny of the minority? If we reject democracy, won't we end up with plutocracy?
Without government to protect us, we are sure to have corporations to plunder us.
Money and business, they point out, can be just as coercive as states and armies. Aren’t armies often for hire by the money men? Didn't Carnegie send in state troops to break up his unions and fire on his workers? Doesn't Microsoft bribe governments in Asia, and didn't United Fruit topple governments in Latin America?
There’s no doubt that this argument has some merit to it. You can be quite sure that businessmen, like any other group of people, will get away with whatever they can get away with.... whenever they can. But, without being able to jiggle the levers of power on their behalf, few businesses would ever get to the size needed to do damage. Few would be able to inflict mayhem on the scale that even a government of middling incompetence can.
And besides, while many businesses do use fraud – and force – to swallow up their competition, a commercial transaction, in essence, remains a voluntary exchange between individuals.
If you choose to buy neither Pepsi nor Coke, it is unlikely that either company will force you to drink their product. But refraining from pulling the lever for either Bush or Kerry does not rid you of the guaranteed presence of one of the two in your life for at least the next four years.
What's more, drinking Coke does not entail any other obligation on your part. You are not now compelled to eat at Burger King, wear Reebok shoes, or shop at K-Mart. It is an isolated act..."
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