• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Electoral Fetishism

Our word “elect” comes from the latin eligere meaning to pick out or choose. Bourgeois democracy celebrates the etymological sense of this word in elections. However, what, exactly, are we the people actually choosing?

The argument has been made by Marx, Badiou, and Chomsky among others that we do not so much as choose in elections as having parties, platforms, and candidates chosen for us.

Every politician in the Western “democracies” has to go through a complex vetting process which assures those truly in power that they, at best, will become paper tigers that will do their bidding and no more. Those foolish enough not to play by the rules will be eliminated by either defamation, extortion, or even, in the final instance, downright murder(JFK? MLK?).

However, those who now enter Western politics are well aware of the rules as well as the ultimate nature of the game. They knowingly enter the theater that is modern Western politics without any intention to fundamentally challenge either system or elites.

Yet, the electorate must in some sense be satiated. And that is done through a combination of spectacle, marginal issues, or at best policies which can be safely co opted by ruling elites.

Creating an appearance of change, of participation, of self empowerment even of crisis is crucial as long as the actual outcomes are handily managed by those with the most to loose.

Yes, on occasion compromises are made. But these, in the long run, are only undertaken to further enhance the long term power of elites.

Hence, personality and platitude become the very life blood of Western politics. We focus on biography, psychology, and style as if these individual components could ever budge the Sisyphean rock that is our daily political penance.

Issues, policies, and outcomes are all carefully manufactured and managed by a small number of power elites. The media, political parties, security forces (psych-ops), even the mafia and intellectual and artistic elites all work together to shape a political simulacrum within which our limited discourses and actions circulate.

To be sure, just as political actors are co opted into the system so, too, are ideas. The system is amazingly good at acknowledging, absorbing, and, then, transforming even the most radical challenges until they are just so much mush under the weight of the economic and social interests of American/Global oligarchy.

Yes, things change but according to the timetable of the powerful who are skillful in their manipulation of any political impulse that may percolate below. In the end, the people may make waves but, ultimately, the oligarchic elites will shape and ride them to their self-appointed shores.

 

More articles by:

Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
May 24, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire
Melvin Goodman
The Dangerous Demise of Disarmament
Jeffrey St. Clair
“The Army Ain’t No Place for a Black Man:” How the Wolf Got Caged
Richard Moser
War is War on Mother Earth
Andrew Levine
The (Small-d) Democrat’s Dilemma
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Way: Blaming Dead Pilots
Rev. William Alberts
Gaslighters of God
Phyllis Bennis
The Amputation Crisis in Gaza: a US-Funded Atrocity
David Rosen
21st Century Conglomerate Trusts 
Jonathan Latham
As a GMO Stunt, Professor Tasted a Pesticide and Gave It to Students
Binoy Kampmark
The Espionage Act and Julian Assange
Kathy Deacon
Liberals Fall Into Line: a Recurring Phenomenon
Jill Richardson
The Disparity Behind Anti-Abortion Laws
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Chelsea Manning is Showing Us What Real Resistance Looks Like
Zhivko Illeieff
Russiagate and the Dry Rot in American Journalism
Norman Solomon
Will Biden’s Dog Whistles for Racism Catch Up with Him?
Yanis Varoufakis
The Left Refuses to Get Its Act Together in the Face of Neofascism
Lawrence Davidson
Senator Schumer’s Divine Mission
Thomas Knapp
War Crimes Pardons: A Terrible Memorial Day Idea
Renee Parsons
Dump Bolton before He Starts the Next War
Yves Engler
Canada’s Meddling in Venezuela
Katie Singer
Controlling 5G: A Course in Obstacles
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Beauty of Trees
Jesse Jackson
Extremist Laws, Like Alabama’s, Will Hit Poor Women the Hardest
Andrew Bacevich
The “Forever Wars” Enshrined
Ron Jacobs
Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!
Christopher Brauchli
The Offal Office
Daniel Falcone
Where the ‘Democratic Left’ Goes to Die: Staten Island NYC and the Forgotten Primaries   
Julia Paley
Life After Deportation
Sarah Anderson
America Needs a Long-Term Care Program for Seniors
Seiji Yamada – John Witeck
Stop U.S. Funding for Human Rights Abuses in the Philippines
Shane Doyle, A.J. Not Afraid and Adrian Bird, Jr.
The Crazy Mountains Deserve Preservation
Charlie Nash
Will Generation Z Introduce a Wizard Renaissance?
Ron Ridenour
Denmark Peace-Justice Conference Based on Activism in Many Countries
Douglas Bevington
Why California’s Costly (and Destructive) Logging Plan for Wildfires Will Fail
Gary Leupp
“Escalating Tensions” with Iran
Jonathan Power
Making the World More Equal
Cesar Chelala
The Social Burden of Depression in Japan
Stephen Cooper
Imbibe Culture and Consciousness with Cocoa Tea (The Interview)
Stacy Bannerman
End This Hidden Threat to Military Families
Kevin Basl
Time to Rethink That POW/MIA Flag
Nicky Reid
Pledging Allegiance to the Divided States of America
Louis Proyect
A Second Look at Neflix
Martin Billheimer
Closed Shave: T. O. Bobe, the Girl and Curl
David Yearsley
Hard Bop and Bezos’ Balls
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail