( Four minute read)
It is well known that the word ‘democracy’ originates from Ancient Greece and means ‘power of the people.
In its literal sense, democracy as an idea encompassing economic, political, the vote and not a flag however if democratic governments do not assume more power in technology governance as authoritarian governments grow more powerful, the digital world—which is a part of our everyday lives—will not be democratic.
Because capitalism, on the one hand, and genuine democracy, on the other, are completely incompatible with one another social democracy does not exist anywhere in the world.
The reason for this is that under capitalism, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very small minority of the population.
A recent study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the United Nations University reports that the richest 1 percent of adults owned 40 percent of global assets in the year 2000, and that the richest 10 percent of adults accounted for 85 percent of the world’s assets. In contrast to this, the bottom half of the world adult population owned barely 1 percent of global wealth.
This is the basic reason why the working class majority feel powerless and not really ‘free.
Because they do not own any significant amount of the means for producing and distributing wealth, which people need in order to live. It means that the vast majority of us are forced by circumstances, to become economic slaves to the rich minority that are now with technology domineering the free market in all its forms.
So Democracy is not a society where everyone can have an equal say in the issues that concern them.
Capitalism’s leaders having little or no interest in public involvement in politics, outside of election time. This meant that the capitalists had no economic interest in maintaining those, who worked for them. After all, these workers could always be replaced by others in the queue, looking for work.
This was the thinking of the employers in the earlier period of capitalism and, still is today in the less developed parts of the planet. Such is the sophistication of modern wage slavery.
The key element has been private ownership of resources, by a small minority, right from slave owning societies through to feudalism and then, to capitalism.
Even now, many people realise that there is something seriously wrong with the present system (wars, poverty, pollution, inequality, covid-19 etc.).
However, it is the awareness of an alternative to this which is missing.
It is quite obvious now that we are rapidly become indifferent to democracy because of social media populisms, artificial machine learning, all reducing our world organisations and governing parliaments into talking shop.
With AI knowledge becoming the driving power that is going to shape the future any new systems will require free education, and a universal basic wage in order to share wealth we need in order to live.
It is time to imagine what real democracy would look like and to create institutions and mechanisms that could be the building blocks of genuinely democratic societies.
What is lacking is a more radical agenda, an international grassroots-based network promoting and struggling for participatory democracy as an alternative and ultimately a replacement to the existing system.
Through such a network, social movements, activists and ordinary citizens across the world could exchange ideas and experiences, learn from each other, and develop common campaigns and struggles.
Citizens acting collectively to express their demands and the political system has begun to adjust according.
In short, all protests reflect precisely the way democracy should work:
One could ask how has capitalism got such a grip on Democracy.
The prime reason is the planet’s resources. They do not belong to the people as a whole. Instead, they are in the hands of a small, privileged, rich minority. As a result capitalism’s ideology and indoctrination dominate the thinking of the vast majority of participants.
Up to now those who administer capitalism want the electorate to vote for the main parties but power within Democratic society is now shifting with Technology companies taking many aspects of tech governance from democratically elected leaders.
Increasingly, companies are taking over state roles or develop products that affect fundamental rights.
Systematically scoop up private data, often without consent.
Since technologies evolve faster than laws, discrepancies between private agency and public oversight are growing and this disparity between the public and private sectors is spiralling out of control.
There’s an information gap, a talent gap, and a compute gap. Together, these add up to a power and accountability gap. An entire layer of control of our daily lives thus exists without democratic legitimacy and with little oversight.
Because decisions that companies make about digital systems may not adhere to essential democratic principles such as freedom of choice, fair competition, nondiscrimination, justice, and accountability. Unintended consequences of technological processes, wrong decisions, or business-driven designs could create serious risks for public safety and national security. And power that is not subject to systematic checks and balances is at odds with the founding principles of most democracies.
With Artificial Intelligence the outcome of elections are not going to make any real difference to their way of doing business or our way of life.
Employment is accurately described as being exploitation since the value of what the workers produce in the form of goods and services is much greater than the value of the wages/salaries which they receive. The surplus value is pocketed by the capitalist class and is a very important source of the wealth of the ruling class.
Without a system of clear legitimacy for those who govern—without checks, balances, and mechanisms for independent oversight—it’s impossible to hold technology companies accountable.
Only by building a global coalition for technology governance can democratic governments once again put democracy first.
Right now, though, there are no international criteria that define when a cyberattack counts as an act of war.
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