Is Democracy Dead?

Analysis and Opinion

By Joe America

Democracy in the American tradition was the genius of a few dozen bright European transplants trying to avoid the arrogance, classism, and taxes of British ways. They developed a set of ideals and laws that worked for a while. But democracy requires two things the common man has not been able to develop or sustain:

  • The ability to put the nation above self-interest, giving of oneself to the common good. Unfortunately, self-interest has more and more trumped national interest. Politics is a poisoned arena, not a collaborative one.
  • Educated voters; schools as essential infrastructure. The internet and social media have twisted knowledge into a rats nest of facts, lies, opinions, and conspiracy theories. This mess is now the framework for decisions, amplified by agenda-driven mass media. Formal education has become a slow, plodding floor to ideas that whiz past at the speed of electricity, many of them wrong, half-baked, or intentionally destructive.

Other nations were struck by America’s success, and with some nudging, developed representative governments. They are having the same problems as America.

  • The glow of nationalism has given way to the glory of personal greed or ambition.
  • Facts have been removed from the dialogue in favor of tabloidian power-mongering and populism.

The Philippines also tried democracy but it never really got off the ground.

Filipinos are not Europeans and value systems are different. Most Filipinos find comfort in a hierarchical ordering of power and authority rather than some esoteric, unrelatable, ideal of equality. People in the Philippines are not equal and never have been. The nation is a system of dynastic political power rings pulsing out from various provincial centers. Even Manila is provincial but the provinces are all squashed together. Every island is a realm and there are 7,000 of them.

Overlaying the political power centers is a layer of financial dynasties run by oligarchs. They fund political campaigns and control or influence government regulatory agencies. They are too big to be regulated. They are the shoguns of monetary might. They keep the economy rolling, but they don’t feed the masses.

Filipinos are not really revolutionary. They can put up with a lot of grief because they always have. There are time-tested solutions: working for peanuts, begging, borrowing, stealing, scrounging, or dying.

There is little possibility this will change. The dynasties control votes. Citizens generally don’t have the knowledge or the nationalistic fervor that would impel them to make choices for intellectual or moral reasons.

Philippine democracy is a game of thrones with the seat in the Palace being the most powerful throne. But not all-powerful.

The erosion of democracy raises two questions: (1) What is to become of the Philippines, and (2) What should we as stakeholders do?

One can only make assumptions, not peg the future perfectly. Here are my assumptions:

  1. Even a stalwart democratic leader will not be able to inject nationalism into the provincial mindset of citizens or provincial thronerooms. Self-dealing, corruption, and incompetence will continue undermine good intent.
  2. Political direction will change every six years. The nation lacks a sense of continuity, direction, and commitment to a particular plan for development. It’s a reactive nation.
  3. China will press forward into the Philippine economy and increasingly influence social norms. She will control more and more power centers – businesses, utilities, politicians, and LGUs – legally picking them off one at a time.
  4. Privacy will erode. Controls over internet, social, and journalistic practices will tighten. Pushback will be negligible, and futile.
  5. The economy will rebound, OFW remittances will continue, and the middle class will grow, fueling satisfaction and complacency with increasing authoritarianism. Businessmen and politicians will make a lot of money. Poverty will be attended to slowly.

What should stakeholders do?

Well, I’m only one and can’t speak for others. But here are some ideas:

  1. Get used to being told what to do. We’ll all have bosses imposing dumb rules and wasteful processes. It’s what authoritarians lacking scientific basis do. Laugh at it and schedule days at the beach or opportunities to get away from the nonsense. Keep it in perspective.
  2. Accept that democracy based on freedom and aspirations for fair play and self-growth is a dead social theory, like communism.
  3. Accept that China is near and the US is far, both in physical distance and inclination to intrude. Society will be segregated as China takes over real estate, businesses, and LGUs. My son is learning Mandarin.
  4. Politics will be framed by power centers pushing self-interest, not voters voting in a classic free-choice democracy. Government will remain tactical and opportunistic, not strategic and principled.
  5. There WILL be opportunities to thrive as the economy grows if one is adaptable. There will be hell to pay for rebels.
  6. Those unable to adapt will migrate or be jailed.

Or I’ll be wrong and the Philippines will discover her own George Washington. Or Georgia. And people will quickly come to recognize that democracy does not just mean freedom. It means responsibility, and giving of self.


Photo of mob take-over of US capitol on January 6, 2021, from Forbes Magazine.

105 Responses to “Is Democracy Dead?”
  1. NHerrera says:

    Adaption to a changed situation is done by all, unfortunately, Filipinos, in general, are addicted to the short term and the ones offering the least resistance. With the rapidly changing world and the PH state of affairs being what it is, it is extremely difficult to get out of the rot except for pockets here and there. [We lost 5 good irretrievable years.]

    Here is an interesting quote:

    “Reasonable men adapt to the world around them; unreasonable men make the world adapt to them. The world is changed by unreasonable men.” ― Edwin Louis Cole

    • Hmmm. I’m not sure I agree with Mr. Cole. Lee kuan Yew was reasonable in his ambition and achievement but unreasonable to people who disagreed with certain of his steps, like family planning. I suppose it depends on which side of the coin one is looking at.

      I think change is brought about by people with vision who are smart enough to execute the steps needed and strong enough to carry through against objection. Democracy is self-defeating when it changes course every 4 or 6 years.

      • NHerrera says:

        Two sides to the coin. I agree reasonable men like LKY and the US founding fathers changed the world. There are however the others who we may view as unreasonable men (they don’t) as changing the other parts of the world.

        Speaking of which, China is very onion-skinned in its reaction to the recently passed US Bipartisan Bill:

        The Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Congress, issued a scathing statement on Wednesday expressing its “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.”

        Isn’t China itself putting massive resources for the same purpose? The opposition must be in the future difficulty to get those new research results and products. The lady doth protest too much, methinks

        • LCPL_X says:

          Just a quick note on that Capitol photo.

          I myself think that’s a healthy event. It means people are participating. So too BLM and Antifa. Cops can back off or engage, as prescribed by the citizenry they work for.

          All that is healthy. We should fear a populace that doesn’t participate in democracy. Participation is the initial lean in. Then you adjust thru propaganda and debate, etc.

          Like pushing media to do more research.

          As you know, LA Sheriff Villanueva doesn’t do Venice, that’s the purview of LAPD Pacific Station, and LAPD in general. But Venice and LA city is within LA county. Overlapping jurisdictions.

          So even amongst law enforcement there’s this push and pull. All good for democracy.

          • Think of it, House members of the United States legislature, the place of Jefferson and Lincoln and Kennedy, hiding in a dark room under tables as a mob of people in the hallway are knocking on the door looking for them. What strange world is this, where such a scene is a healthy event, like kids playing hide and seek? Not in my value system.

            • LCPL_X says:

              I’m comparing it to apathy , Joe. Thus this is better.

              As for the breach, that was a police/security issue. Why I’m for the investigation. The Capitol is an easily defendable structure. So the fact that rioters got in is very suspicious.

              My point though, is between passion and apathy, you can work with passion. Apathy is more problematic.

              • Passion is better than apathy unless it is channeled into destruction, which is like going backward or down. Then apathy is better. Passion attached to mob rule is not constructive passion of the individual. It’s an hysteria of the collective. Weakness. Passion for ideas and values, within the law, is terrific. The Constitution protects it.

              • LCPL_X says:

                Passion = Life

                Apathy = Death

                Thus passion is synonymous with vitality. a nation’s vitality.

                Apathy is never better , Joe.

                You do have an argument as to how to channel it like Gandhi or MLK jr.; American forefathers; or the Suffrage movement or the Civil Rights movement; to the Black Panthers, you can choose peace over violence.

                But never passion vs. apathy.

                Inability to control crowd is a law enforcement problem. That’s why weak crowd control or strong crowd control matters, makes all the difference. If police and the politicians inside were more serious at control the crowd that day, then peace would have reigned,

                But weak crowd control allowed violence to transpire. Lack of foresight to tactics on the ground real time.

                No ones fighting a revolution here, no rebellion, just crowds of people filled with passion.

                It is the role of police to ensure people and property are protected. The flip side to that is if no support from the citizenry, the police will practice apathy (don’t know;don’t care).

                You want all parties involved in the democratic arena with passion, not w/out. Just ensure the police are as passionate about doing their job.

                Capitol police that day seemed not to be with passions; Why is the question. And it all points to the top brass as well as certain GOP reps. Thus an investigation is in order.

              • Well, we see it differently. Blaming the cops for the robbery is peculiar at best. Thugs with radios and flak vests, plastic hand cuffs and clear intent, was not an exercise in good citizenship. But investigations are in order. Yes, although people committing crimes would want them cancelled, yessiree.

              • 17 capitol police are still not back at work due to injuries they sustained. I provided this brief to Chemrock on the other thread. It’s worth putting here, too.


              • NHerrera says:

                @Joe, re-arrests of the US Capitol rioters, I am impressed with the Justice System in the US when it puts its mind and resources to the job — impressed too with the aid provided by citizens volunteering to identify the rioters. This in contrast to the actions of the GOP lawmakers.

              • Yes, it is impressive. The FBI asked citizens to pore over video of the event, crowd-sourcing identities. They were able to trace the movements of key players.

              • The Washington Post video shows the heroics of one guard who lured intruders away from senators, and the moment a woman trying to get through a broken window was shot. The event was not a free-speech ‘protest’ as it had the specific goal of stopping Congress from certifying electoral college results and making Joe Biden president. It was an operation. It was also a clown show, amateurish. Had Trump come in to greet them, they might have succeeded. His security people wouldn’t let him go.

              • NHerrera says:

                Lance, a trivia.

                The link provided by Joe, on the arrested Capitol rioters, has this to say about some of them:

                At least 22 have served in the U.S. Marines, 18 have served in the Army, two served in the Navy and two served in the Air Force.

                Will that surprise you more if you had instead, this reverse statistics:

                At least 22 have served in the U.S. Navy, 18 have served in the Air Force, two served in the Marines and two served in the Army.


              • LCPL_X says:


                It doesn’t surprise me. The Marine Corps lends to passion, but also propaganda. A lot of my buddies that went full on Trump, then full on QAnon, I’m still friends with (they know I’m pro Bernie). But like I’ve told chemp those folks have calmed down though. Moved on. I’d say that since Marines are laden with propaganda from the git go, we’re more discerning.

                Thus the reason for going to the Capitol would be the 20 years of bs wars.

                But that’s my point , I think people went there not expecting they were going to overrun the Capitol so easily. That’s why my blame is on police/security. I remember that summer of protests layers and layers of security were used around the WH, and to what Joe and chemp are talking about on the other thread, so too Federal buildings in Portland, etc.

                Yet they weren’t able to do the same for the US Capitol. The blame I suspect has to be on the brass and how much influence complicit GOP reps have upon the brass on capitol police.

                It was a crowd control issue that could’ve prevented the whole thing from spiralling.

                I think you’ll also find, I dunno this for a fact, that a great percentage of that rank and file in the Capitol police would be Marines. I think Marines as a culture demands participation in all this experiment on democracy, I cant speak for the other services, but there’s heavy emphasis on Once a Marine , Always a Marine … thus participation.

                The Marine Corps is a very culture laden organization.

                Here’s a good book on this, NH:

                “For more than half of its existence, members of the Marine Corps largely self-identified as soldiers. It did not yet mean something distinct to be a Marine, either to themselves or to the public at large. As neither a land-based organization like the Army nor an entirely sea-based one like the Navy, the Corps’ missions overlapped with both institutions.

                This work argues that the Marine Corps could not and would not settle on a mission, and therefore it turned to an image to ensure its institutional survival. The process by which a maligned group of nineteenth-century naval policemen began to consider themselves to be elite warriors benefited from the active engagement of Marine officers with the Corps’ historical record as justification for its very being. Rather than look forward and actively seek out a mission that could secure their existence, late nineteenth-century Marines looked backward and embraced the past. They began to justify their existence by invoking their institutional traditions, their many martial engagements, and their claim to be the nation’s oldest and proudest military institution. This led them to celebrate themselves as superior to soldiers and sailors. Although there are countless works on this hallowed fighting force, How the Few Became the Proud is the first to explore how the Marine Corps crafted such powerful myths.”

              • NHerrera says:

                His security people wouldn’t let him go.

                If the security guys let him go and the rioters/ Trump succeeded, we will have a different story then. Like in the movies, the US was saved by the skin of one’s teeth. Wow.

              • Here’s a report on the patriots who are helping law enforcement agents hunt down wayward ‘patriots’.

              • LCPL_X says:

                NH, you’re thinking of it as an all or nothing situation. that wasn’t the case here.

                If the Capitol rioters did kill Dems or say held all of congress hostage for a week or so, eventually order would be restored. worst case scenario.

                At no point could the rioters have actually taken over American gov’t, NH.

                Only change from lessons learnt, both scenarios that which happened, and of worst possible outcomes, just more barricades for the Capitol (better use of national guards and other Fed law enforcements).

                Make no mistake America was not in some existential situation re the rioters that day (or if more days were involved).

              • America was at the brink of something awful. Fortunately the clowns running the show did not have full buy-in by the mob to wreak havoc. So there was hesitancy and confusion and enough brave cops to shut down the operation which then became a photoshoot.

            • LCPL_X says:

              “2. I agree with Joe the Capitol event is best left to the courts. But I have questions. There are thousands of hours of CCTV videos which is of great help to law enforcements to track down the 400 or so who got inside. But how is it none of those who broke windows have been caught? The GOP-opening doors theory is of course adds to the ‘insurrection’ claim. But the fact is Capitol doors have certain security features with auto control locking system. If locked, it can only be opened from the inside, not manually but by access to security codes. These are US standards even in their embassies all over the world. Capitol security top honcho is Nancy Pelosi, no GOPs”

              From the other thread. by chempo. This is actually a good point to consider. That’s why I’m for an investigation. And the GOP should be too.

              How the Capitol just fell like a house of cards that day, I myself have taken the tour there, its just not likely that it fell the way we think it did. just some riioters who overran it. Something is amiss.

              • LCPL_X says:


                My point isn’t really the conspiracy theory of all this, who’s ever at fault. This was a site security issue. I know Marines that guard embassies. Not only site security, as in the actual building , but also having to employ non-Marines , locals as part of this layer of security surrounding the building. then all the barricades, more layers.

                Site security is actually something the Federal gov’t does really well.

                All Federal law enforcement, except for investigation positions , actually all go to the same place for training. same-same all of them are trained the same. I’m not talking about law enforcement here, but site security and crowd control the reason for securing a site.

                So at issue here is more akin to what happens when in a concert 100 people die getting trampled by a stampede of people, well the first question is crowd control, was there enough resources in place. etc. etc. People essentially were allowed (whether wrong doing is nefarious or negligence ) to overrun the Capitol, is my point.

              • You agree with Democrats then that capitol police were likely told to stand down by Trump staff, consistent with the suspicion that legislators worked directly with ‘protestors’ to get them into the building to stop confirmation of the Biden presidency. Republicans shut off an independent inquiry, something only the guilty would do. Investigation of police activities is continuing and we can await that report. Your and Chemrock’s position to question the events and subsequent inquiries is consistent with that of Trump’s base. It was a great day for freedom of expression, a lousy day for cops. 🤣🤣😭👊

              • I think the fact that so many ex-military and one or two active duty military people were leading the charge suggests our naive concept of patriotism has switched to authoritarianism in a lot of military people. That makes me think the military all over the world are the same, somewhere on the slippery slope toward Myanmar, away from democracy and its high (unrealistic, for our human weakness) ideals.

              • LCPL_X says:

                chempo is saying Pelosi; I’m not one to blame Pelosi all the time (nor Soros).

                My position is the Capitol fell like a house cards. It’s not designed to do so. there’s been upgrades upon upgrades of that building i’m sure to prevent that.

                Not Pelosi but pro-Trump members of Congress and pro-Trump members of the Capitol police, I think are to blame.

                People knew there was gonna be a crowd gathered that day, all week the media was mentioning it. Why there wasn’t layers of barriers, layers of troops (NG and other Fed personnel), needs to be investigated.

                Someone (or some folks) decided today’s gonna be a light day folks, don’t make sense since since that Summer DC has been on alert from BLM to election day to Jan. 6.

                Thus resources were there I’m sure, thanks to a busy year, so there was a decision early on. I’m not talking about breaking windows here, Joe, I’m talking about early on before Jan. 6.

                As for some military partaking, the US military is straight from its populace, thus will reflect its values.

              • Here’s more elaboration on the Three Percenters Indictment. It gets to the truth of the matter, that was no benign protest. It was a bunch of whack-nuts who believed they knew better than other Americans how the nation should be run, and violence was acceptable to them. Which is why ‘terrorism’ charges may be forthcoming. Huge jail-time.

                No, no. You can’t lay this on the cops.


              • Call it straight. Trump built this up with his big lie about a fraudulent election, fired up the nut-case extremists, called for this riot, and got it. Just say it straight. No warbling and waffling, no excusing or normalizing. Call it straight, eh?

              • LCPL_X says:

                You’re missing my argument, Joe.

                Trump was the reason they gathered, then marched to the Capitol.

                So that’s kind of a given.

                My point is everyone knew that this Trump event was gonna take place, the walk to the Capitol was also forecasted.

                the media even predicted something will happen that day.

                So why didn’t those responsible for the Capitol building act accordingly. Given all the time.

                That’s my issue.

              • I’m missing nothing. That’s being investigated, as my reference sources that I posted indicate. I’m glad we agree that the Trump event was a Trump event. That’s a start. Then we can agree that the leaders of the break-in engaged in criminal acts. Can we agree on that?

              • And taking it one step at a time, can we agree that the presidential election was not fraudulent? That Joe Biden was elected by American voters? That Trump is not President? Can we agree on that point?

              • LCPL_X says:


                I’m not normalizing it, but I am equating it to the police stations and gov’t buildings that were also overrun in Seattle, Minnesota and Fed buildings they attempted to overrun in Portland in 2020.

                But those buildings weren’t in DC, where more resources are staged.

                As to terrorism charges, throw the book at them. But IMHO the Capitol minders should be held accountable too, if they’re complicit in collusion then even better.

              • Yes, if cops were criminal or negligent, hold them to account. Other cases, other riots, are of their own context and have absolutely no bearing on the capitol break-in (fallacy of the exception). Good, we are making progress here.

              • LCPL_X says:

                Agreed on Biden being President. I already made this clear with my county by county, precinct by precinct description on the other thread. I have faith in the American electoral system.

                Thus Trump is no president now, but it seems the Dems are gonna do him dirrrty to ensure he can’t run for 2024. I think he should be able to, with no dirrrty dealings.

                The GOP is better served if it goes along with the Capitol investigation. If they think Pelosi is in on it then even better reason to go with the investigation. I don’t think Pelosi plays a role but that’s how the Dems should play this.

                And the Dems should beat Trump in the prelims deals with other GOP whatevers, but if Biden or Kamala goes toe to toe with Trump. Then this event should be allowed to proceed unhindered come 2024.

              • Don’t distract by saying what dems are going to do. That dirrrrty thing. It’s diversion, opinion, distraction.

                We agree that Joe Biden is President and cops should be held to account. Did rioters or protestors engage in criminal acts, from all that you’ve read and seen? Can we agree that they did?

                I ask these sharp questions because you and Chemrock tend to confirm the point in my article that democracy is failing because of bad knowledge and bad thinking. I’m striving to see if there is any reason for hope by cutting through the crap.

              • Here’s an article about a recent poll that is pretty much in line with what other polls are saying. A whole lot of Republicans believe Joe Biden was not fairly elected in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Pertinent to my article, it will be hard for democracy to survive ‘knowledge’ of this caliber.


              • LCPL_X says:

                I think everyone was there for different reasons. There were elements for sure who were there with a plan, this is consistent with meetings with GOP congressmen.

                So for those who went there with a plan to take over the Capitol that is criminal felony; for those that went there to simply lend support to Trump (who called them) but never thought of overruning the Capitol then those folks you arrest and let go,

                like protesters who were given to the moment. Lots of arrests like this during BLM protesters in the summer, like throwing bottles and what not, actions based on police response, those can be misdemeanors to felony.

                My point, not everyone who showed up that day were terrorist, just part of the crowd. And you Joe as having partook in protests in the 60s , know well that inside a crowd are different types of folks. The criminal charges have to

                reflect that reality.

              • LCPL_X says:

                “the point in my article that democracy is failing because of bad knowledge and bad thinking. “

                Democracy is messy , Joe. Most times it actually gets violent. The only protection before it gets violent is for everyone to keep on talking because violence tends to occur when talking stops,

                why censorship is so bad. You have to get into my thinking process, to understand . and vice versa. And on and on with everyone else. You are allowed to use polemics to get at truth, but you shouldn’t believe

                that you are (and those you agree with) are in lone possession of this truth. I troll chempo and he knows this , to get him to lay out his thinking process. Thus I can either attack it or agree.

              • Kindly refer to the polling article I posted. I have two questions for you:

                1. Did protestors commit crimes? Yes or no.
                2. Is an informed public important to democracy’s success. Not perfect knowledge, but educated and informed? You can elaborate on this one.

              • LCPL_X says:

                Probably easier to differentiate by using protesters and rioters.

                The protesters are the ones that stayed outside the Capitol, or just near the police line. So NO.

                The rioters are the ones that breached the police line and breached the Capitol. So YES.

                — But within the rioters are a spectrum of intentions. From crimes of opportunity to actual planning of terrorist acts. Thus there’s a range of crimes from misdemeanor to felony in that YES, Joe.

                “2. Is an informed public important to democracy’s success. Not perfect knowledge, but educated and informed? You can elaborate on this one.”


                I do think many Republicans (even independents) will say Yes the election was a steal. But if you asked further like what are you gonna do about it. you’ll have less people willing to do anything, thus Moved On as I’ve told chempo.

                As to informed public, not necessary. If there’s apathy then they’ll not even bother voting. If theres duty or passion that gets people into the polling booths, then that’s good enough. But democracy just needs those votes to render it democracy.

                Stones were used by the Greeks, the stones themselves were the great equalizer. So theoretically a retarded person can cast that stone, and his vote would be equal to the most learned person also casting a stone. That’s the basis of democracy.

                Thus information or knowledge, education, is not a prerequisite, just participation is necessary.

                But I do think the folks that run the election have to do a better job explaining how they count votes. School field trips could probably handle this. or Mark Zuckerberg and social media can help. That there’s a reason why theres a registration process, from there a precinct already has an estimate of who’s Republican, Democrat and Independent. from there the actual votes.

                The whole software issue has to be addressed. Blockchain again has a purpose here.

                So my point, educate the voting public about the process.

                But don’t play I’m more informed than you; or I’m more moral than you, game, because in the end a stone should just be a stone. You vote. Then you accept the outcome of that vote. Period. Democracy is that simple.

                It’s the give and take, prior to the voting that’s important.

                Remember , a retarded person should be able to cast a vote. It s up to you and your opponent to convince that retarded person either way. But either way he gets a vote. Thus democracy is not premised on the quality of the voter, just that enough people vote. The more the merrier.

              • Okay, excellent answers. I appreciate the cut on it. Educating citizens on how votes are secured and counted is excellent advice. COMELEC here should do that. I’ll suggest that via twitter.

                Okay, I’m less discouraged now and know what my next blog article will be about.

                Thanks for bearing with me on this.

              • LCPL_X says:

                I know i’ve mentioned a bunch of games on here already.

                But have you ever played Diplomacy, Joe? more importantly has Joe jr.?

                Best website to play this game right now is this one, as you only need a gmail account,

                I personally think more kids should play this game in schools. The give and take is how you win, but just the process of it all is very instructional. Communication is key. So too propaganda.

                Here’s a great video on it.


              • I’ve heard about the game and understand it’s intense. Ruins friendships. Joe Jr says he doesn’t know of the game. He’s mostly on minecraft or shooting games.

  2. Some say the issue of Philippine democracy was its being an “elite democracy”.

    Indeed the 1899 Constitution started with WE, the Representatives of the People.

    Most provinces below Luzon were represented by a Tagalog proxy chosen by Aguinaldo.


    From 1902 local Philippine elections were only for those with property and/or rank.

    Meaning voters had a certain minimum wealth or a political rank in Spanish times.

    From 1935 onwards the requirement was literacy and yes women became voters.

    Let us remember though that mass literacy was achieved only just after WW2.

    From 1973 onwards the literacy barrier was eliminated, 1987 did not change that.


    Up to the 1950s most Filipinos lived in their provinces and spoke little Tagalog / English.

    The national elite were the politicians they voted and had “feudal” relations to locally.

    Urbanization and migration changed things, mass electrification starting 1968 too.

    More contact between different groups as well as movies and TV in Tagalog.

    Then you have the new middle class with its houses that “Saudi” or “Dubai” built.


    Such people know democracy as corrupt local politicians and empty flag ceremonies.

    They know the state as government offices were they usually weren’t treated well.


    Plus they can relate better to the personal than the abstract rules of the institutional.

  3. Joe America says:

    Here’s another opinion-writer who sees that American democracy is on a slippery slope into lunacy.

  4. Micha says:

    From LcplX :

    “Thus democracy is not premised on the quality of the voter, just that enough people vote.”

    This is dangerous hearsay to say the least, owing to why we have such a twisted and perverted kind of democracy. We might functionally call this mess a democracy but it’s mostly superficial icons. A healthy form of democracy requires a well informed and enlightened voter.

    I believe that this numbing and dumbing of voters did not happen by accident, that it was in fact designed by those who rule over us. And the best way to do that is by subjecting citizens to economic oppression.

    Thus our present system cannot really be called democratic – all appearances and iconography are present minus the substance and essence of it.

    • NHerrera says:

      Micha, will you please write about your view on the substance and essence of democracy.

      • Micha says:

        For one, direct democracy, not the present representative form which can be hijacked by the oligarchy.

        Second, democratize wealth, meaning regulate over-accumulation of it in the hands of the very few.

        If you have majority of voters living from hand to mouth and too stressed and too tired to read a book or ponder on the meaning of life and the universe, it’s most likely they will make unsound voting decisions too – decisions which are mostly coming from their gut instead of from the head.

        • NHerrera says:


          Item 1 would be ideal if the citizens are not living in hand-to-mouth existence (Item 2 and last para). Even if they are freed from “gut” issues, Item 1 will be impractical even when all voters are carrying a smartphone with working national internet access — deciding policies need deliberations and time.

          • Not even Switzerland is a pure direct democracy, though they do have something like 2-3 federal referenda every year. Direct democracy works best at local level, especially the famous “town square meetings” in many a Swiss canton or community – these are like meetings of homeowner associations in a way, tackling concerns of the community like roads, cleanliness (there is a joke that you can’t cross bridges in Swiss towns until they have been cleaned) etc etc – in some communities even the decision who may become new citizens is voted upon, a story that a Swiss of Sicilian descent told me, how his father applied for his family to become citizens and the town voted to accept them.

            As for regional and national referenda, most who have that have rules to prevent instability. Bavarian referenda for instance have a result that is binding for 10 years, to prevent some crazy groups from asking the same question again each year until they get the answer they want. Also, only citizens groups may initiate a referendum over here and must get a minimum number of supporting signatures. This is to a) prevent manipulative referenda which the likes of Hitler and Marcos used to confirm their policies and b) to prevent the direct democratic equivalent of “nuisance candidates”.

            What I see here in Germany as a whole is that political parties based on membership, a bit like trade unions, alleviate the tendency towards oligarchy that representative democracy can have. A candidate running with a lot of party money supporting him or her doesn’t have to spend as much as a candidate in the Philippines, for instance. The figure I read somewhere is 15K€ own money for local or regional candidacy and I guess even that is tax-deductible. Many a brand-new middle-class car is more expensive.

            Meanwhile in the Philippines, VP Leni had to borrow some millions from her husband’s relatives to shoulder the fee for the COMELEC result that was due to BBM’s protest. A rich politician can sue a middle-class rival without rich backing into poverty there.

            Whereas in Bonn the district mayor lived in the same 5-story housing block as we did. Didn’t even have any bodyguards. Of course the impunity in the Philippines even at barangay level is simply scary. Back to Switzerland: the ancient rule for town square meetings was nobody was allowed to bear arms. Every able-bodied Swiss man has a military rifle at home to this day and is a military reservist who knows were to go when the call to defend the country comes. But violence is kept out of democratic matters. Make no mistake about Swiss civility – they used to be preferred as mercenaries all over Europe. The last vestige of that are the Papal guards who are all Catholic Swiss men.

            • ..COMELEC recount..

              Also re direct democracy: specific interests are often better pushed by groups than by individuals. Re traffic for instance, the is nothing like the German Automotive Club in the Philippines that could have pushed matters like solving EDSA traffic – and paid for pros to make analyses, made appointments with the DOTr etc etc. Lobbies have a bad name, I know, but sometimes pro groups can get more done. When it comes to consumer rights, product quality etc there are also pro groups over here in Germany that help – in the Philippines you post your Jolibee towel or about bad BDO service on social media.

              Of course advocacy groups are often hijacked in the Philippines. Even migrant Filipino associations end up as purely representing one clique, which is why they fission. Seriously fulfilling a mandate and in good faith, that isn’t the default over there.

            • NHerrera says:

              Thanks for the info, Irineo.

          • Micha says:

            The Swiss system and individual states here in the US both have some degrees (not 100%) of direct democracy. It’s just essentially putting into referendum issues and policies that directly affect all citizens like whether to accept economic agreement with the EU or to legalize recreational marijuana.

            And yes, if citizens are freed from gut issues they will in fact have more time to deliberate on social and economic issues that affect them. I don’t understand why you have to imply impracticality.

            • NHerrera says:

              I don’t understand why you have to imply impracticality.

              One has to consider the demographics of voters — workers etc — and the effective time they would have to deliberate the myriad of issues, compared to elected Reps who are paid for doing that job (considering of course that they are sincere representatives using the sentiments of their constituents — of course there is the circular argument that these Reps cannot be trusted to act as reps, they being beholden to the oligarchs?). How many constituents write or digitally text their Reps these days, I wonder. I do not have data for all these, Micha. Just thinking aloud here.

              • Micha says:

                Well, that’s the substance and essence of democracy, it requires work and vigilance from citizens. If you start from the default assumption that citizens are too lazy to participate in the vigil then why bother?

                Maybe a hybrid of both representative and direct democracy will be more appealing. The “wherefores” and the “whereas-es” of a legislation can be crafted by a select representative and then explain in clear brief language its implications to citizens who will then vote on its passage in a referendum.

              • NHerrera says:


              • That kind of approach is called liquid democracy and was pioneered among others by the Pirate Party, a somewhat recent phenomenon that was strong in Scandinavia and I think even won a majority in Iceland.

                Of course these are highly homogeneous societies with a high level of trust and of course one can mostly assume good faith (c) JoeAm.

              • LCPL_X says:

                In California, we always have referendums thus laws and politicians are always getting changed. I don’t agree with this, no continuity, like perpetual musical chairs. Representative democracy works. But the work is before the election, not after.

              • LCPL_X says:

                But I am going to vote for Ms. Jenner, if given the chance. I like fun.

    • LCPL_X says:

      “It’s the give and take, prior to the voting that’s important.

      Remember , a retarded person should be able to cast a vote. It s up to you and your opponent to convince that retarded person either way. But either way he gets a vote. Thus democracy is not premised on the quality of the voter, just that enough people vote. The more the merrier.” <<< you guys are missing the push and pull component of my argument.

      Micha and Ireneo. et al.

      I am not talking about direct democracy here but also American democracy.

      In the USA, only landed White men used to be the only ones able to vote. Then that became literate White men. Then that became all citizens who are White men. Then that became any White man.

      Then it was White women, etc. etc. you guys know the history I'm sure.

      So there's always been attempts to have these barriers of who can vote and who cannot.

      My question to you both, Micha whos in America and Ireneo whos in Germany. What is the lowest threshhold to be a voter in the US? And in Germany?

      In California, there are restrictions if you ‘re a felon and/or found mentally incapable by a court. But all restriction can be granted if argued in court. And a judge agrees.

      I’m arguing for ALL citizens should be able to vote. So I’m actually just arguing for felon and anyone retarded or not, who wishes to vote. But my premise becomes mind blowing if you go back in history of who can and who cannot vote.


      You start the discussion with who CAN’T vote by law, then explain why you’d want more people in that list.

      So Micha and Ireneo, who would you like to include in your lists of those who cannot vote and why? That’s how you proceed here. Not by fluffing smoke up democracies butt.

      • LCPL_X says:

        Get to the essence of democracies, both direct and representatives. Once you can agree that everyone should vote, then you’ll be able to proceed. How to make democracy better, etc. etc. But understanding that everyone should be able to vote is important.

        I’d even go as far as lowering the voting age. Can you imagine a fat oligarch with all his money, at the possibility that K-pop armies will have their say against you? That’s democracy!!!

        • LCPL_X says:

          Take special note of your assumptions here… that democracy is being hijacked by stupid people and only smart people know what’s good for them.

          • And the opposite is to set aside any sense of justice or right and wrong. Certainly the thugs who invaded the capitol held that their ideals were better than those of civil America. You are suggesting no higher ideal exists to hold them in check? It isn’t a matter of being smart. It’s a matter of being principled.

      • Like I mentioned in the Philippines it was property and position from 1899-1935, literacy and women were first included from 1935, anyone from 1973.

        In Switzerland I think it was men with land in the beginning. Federal Switzerland had to force the last holdover cantons to permit women to vote I think in the 1990s. Greece it was merchants and landowners, huge masses of slaves weren’t included.

        Germany today allows permanent residents who are EU citizens to vote locally. Don’t think that excons lose their right to vote, but I can’t imagine people in jail vote either.

        Let us recall that mass education making mass democracy truly possible isn’t that old. Of course modern mass media especially Internet might be destroying mass education.

        And the old summarizers of information for the man on the street such as good papers as well as public affairs broadcasts have been replaced by snippets of information lacking full context. This already started with CNN, social media has made it worse.

        It isn’t stupidity that is the issue for modern democracy, it is the Dunning-Kruger effect. Takes time to gain a proper understanding of ANY topic, the information equivalents of junk food and fast food make us think we know when we don’t. Of course we are very privileged compared to people in olden days. Most didn’t have the resources or live long enough to get a proper view of the world. Most just worked. Let us remember that Greek philosophers had the luxury of time, just like the pensioner crowd well represented here.

        • LCPL_X says:



          Most of what Joe and Micha fear are actually 45 to 75 year olds exposed to viral memes. chempo is in that crowd.

          The obvious counter balance is 15-45 year olds also exposed to viral memes but this time more compassionate kind countenance.

          Thus focus should be in lowering voting age.

          • Youth and responsibility are the issues. At what age is a person generally able to apply cause and effect to others. Which, as I think about it, is a bit of a deficiency across the Philippines.

            More I’m thinking that benign mass re-education is needed so people start rejecting viral memes as knowledge and see it as a virus. But don’t roll up your sleeves on the topic. It’s what my next blog is about. So wait.

            • LCPL_X says:

              “At what age is a person generally able to apply cause and effect to others. “

              What age is too old?

              I’m sure we can agree that both Trump and DU30 got in office not because of the youth vote, but because of the oldies. 45-75 yr old demographics. I’m thinking its cynicism at play and they get to apply cause and effect on to others from retirement homes.

              My point isn’t the memes really its counter balancing the old, who are more organized. While the young are busy enjoying superfluous stuff. Balance the power of old folks with the power of young minds.

              15 yr olds I think know good and bad, thus can base their judgement off that simple standard.

              Shouldn’t matter where you fall in that graph, you get to vote.

              “And the opposite is to set aside any sense of justice or right and wrong. “

              We all have different opinions on these feelings , Joe. Thus the vote , one person one vote , becomes the great equalizer, wisdom of the crowd sorta stuff. I’m simply talking about voting here, no protest no riots. just pushing back on the notion that you have to be

              at some level of cognition to be a voting person. I’m setting the standard real low to a retarded person. Because he’ll balance off that really smart genius also voting.

            • LCPL_X says:

              El Salvador has had Bitcoin beach for awhile now, and its been rather successful, so how the whole country decided to do it I’m curious how that decision was made.

              But I think El Salvador (the Marines were here from the git go, re the banana wars) they just got sick and tired, with Central Bank stuff, and probably MMT, and always getting screwed, so they said fuck it let’s go Bitcoin,

              what do we have to lose?

              We’ll see. It is interesting.

              • Another OT. I forwarded your suggestion on educating voters about voting processes to COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, and she has asked staff of COMELEC if they can make a video on the topic.

                Correction. Voter educator/journalist James Jimenez was who she referred it to. Business Mirror.

              • LCPL_X says:

                Nice. Thanks.

            • LCPL_X says:


              If you have Mr. Jiminez’s ear, please also forward the California ballot to push for,_Primary_Voting_for_17-Year-Olds_Amendment_(2020) lowering voting age to 17 yrs old. Which got shot down, but will resurface I’m sure.

              Makes sense start one year back , then if successful, roll back to 15 year olds.

              But the strongest argument for it,

              is you get to teach these young students while theyre still in high school , so you can tack on trip to county election office, study the election process, even mandatory volunteering during elections. Then teach them how to discern propaganda, how to argue, that Dunning-Krueger graph, basically everything will be covered, even Michas hate of oligarchs and bankers (which will get them to fund schools to teach them that Hey they’re not so bad, just benign). So the whole issue with viral memes is perfect here too , Joe… your “benign mass reeducation” can happen in high school.

              I’m sure those that fought this measure, where fat oligarchs , corporations, and the GOP in general. So always look where ones interests align and disalign, that seems a guaranteed way to weigh things out too in making decisions if something favorable or not.

              • I don’t have his ear and would elect not to pursue more than the one initiative lest the door, now open, be closed. I don’t know what the background here is on voting age.

              • LCPL_X says:

                So if you drop that down to 15 years old, then cap it to 75 yrs old. Or enact a law that once 75 yrs of age you must submit some sort of cognitive test. This test can be on propaganda and on fraud/viral memes.

                Since the people who tend to fall for Nigerian prince scams are seniors the assumption here is that they are also falling for China/Russian social media propagandas, thus injecting said stupidity into the election.

                15 year olds will be walked thru the process on how to cast their vote independently and weigh propaganda/fraud , so the quality control will be in school.

                But just as 75 and up folks can keep voting albeit with said cognitive test, younger than 15 yrs (like Greta Thornberg kids) should be able to apply for special consideration.

              • LCPL_X says:

                My point, seniors are costing the rest of the population plenty when talking of elections.

  5. madlanglupa says:

    Not exactly, sir. But the ruling political families have, from principalia beginnings, adapted to the American system and retooled the existing methods to keep them in power, if not to eliminate other contenders.

    Per MLQ3’s observation, there are now more political families than ever before, and thus more competition that would bemuse Machiavelli, himself a witness to autocratic family feuds.

    • I’m thinking the early days of American democracy are gone, replaced by new power structures, the internet, mainly, and a faster pace to things, more anger, less respect. Most people have a lot of dirt-for-knowledge so finding sense is a challenge and consistency of approach past 4 (or 6) years is about impossible.

    • NHerrera says:

      Democracy = free and fair election
      Terrorize election officials = Banana Republic

      And this:

      “Facing a wave of animosity, many Asian Americans remain afraid of public places even as the coronavirus pandemic recedes.”

      • Exactly. Two points that suggest the US is slipping into anarchy or a racist kind of authoritarianism where equality not only does not exist, but some are to be punished for being different. For being out of line.

  6. Sharing this interesting documentation on Germany’s Green Party which WAS ahead of the ruling party in polls some weeks ago – the latest poll taken after the victory of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in Saxony-Anhalt had them leading again, but a share of 20% still makes a party that used to be a minority between 5-10% of Federal votes quite formidable.

    One could add to the docu the roots of the Green Party in three intertwined movements of the 1960s and the 1970s – the “opposition outside Parliament” during the Grand Coalition of the Christian and Social Democrats in the 1960s, the 68ers who were contemporaries of the Paris student revolts as well as the hippie-like anti-war, anti-nukes and environmentalist protesters of the 1970s. The struggles of the party in adjusting to the real choices one has to make when taking responsibility are noteworthy as well.

  7. NHerrera says:


    This may be out of topic, but on topic, since it is about Democracy in the PH.

    The organization 1Sambayan has released its nominees for President and Vice President for the 2022 election. They are (alphabetically by nickname) Chel, Eddie, Grace, Leni, Sonny, and Vilma.

    Since 1S counts among its members’ many critical thinkers, it must have asked what the country needs at this juncture. And so, it seems basic to me, the organizers must have debated and decided on the set of criteria to use. Not lost of course is the important factor of winnability among the criteria they used to filter their nominees. Whatever those criteria were, they came out with those six. [News came out after that announcement that 1S may add to those names.]

    Here is a thought that nags me, something that may be seen as mischievous or unfair to 1S — the six is composed of those who are essentially straw men, not that they are knocked down, but they opted out (“intelligence” sources may have given the strong possibility of their opting out). Leaving Leni and Trillanes standing.

    Whatever. I am not at all averse to them left standing.

    • I saw it differently. I think the other four are lined up well for senate seats, or Poe for VP and Trillanes for a cabinet post. If Poe lost her money backer, she is along for the opportunistic ride and the House reps for a national presence. Isko may run independent of the coalition.

      • NHerrera says:

        Re Trillanes as a Cabinet man seems consistent with his long-standing statement that if Leni accepts nomination for President he will not stand in the way; I agree being a Cabinet Official is probably better for him and his political future than a VP. Isko, I wonder how much of a dent he will make on the Opposition. I like your characterization of Poe.

        • Jeep says:

          1Sambayan may have noble ideals. And I believe with the integrity of the convenors, however the initial list and subsequent quick opt-outs of most of the candidates does not show good optics.

          This early, DDS people are in full troll mode – making memes and tweets on this. Like – Sara being coveted by a lot of candidates, while 1sambayan endorsement is the exact opposite.

          Which leads me to important facet of Filipino psyche as what Ireneo has mentioned a lot of times before on “llamado”,”dehado”. Fence sitters or largely neutral/undecided people – not necessarily DDS or benefiting from the murderous regime, might just go with “llamado” Sara which is why surveys can really be important.

          They need to seek advise from Ireneo and Lcpx :), who I think has two of the most brilliant and strategic minds here in terms of getting the psyche and pulse of people on the ground 🙂

  8. Micha says:

    Peru just held its election and the apparent winner, left winger Pedro Castillo, a former school teacher and union organizer, holds a 63,000 vote lead over his rightist opponent Keiko Fujimori who refuse, like Trump, to concede.

  9. Micha says:

    “There is no way to be a billionaire in America without taking advantage of a system predicated on cruelty, a system whose tax code and labor laws and regulatory apparatus prioritize your needs above most people’s. Even noted Good Billionaire Mr. Buffett has profited from Coca-Cola’s sugary drinks, Amazon’s union busting, Chevron’s oil drilling, Clayton Homes’s predatory loans and, as the country learned recently, the failure to tax billionaires on their wealth.

    The Good Billionaire myth took a hard blow in recent days when Mr. Buffett won a dubious distinction. A staggering exposé published by ProPublica revealed just how little the biggest plutocrats pay in taxes, despite mounting piles of wealth. And at the very top of that list of plutocrats — many of them with troubled reputations — was the cleanest, grandfatherliest plutocrat of them all: Mr. Buffett.”

    • LCPL_X says:

      I’m thinking if a country switches to Bitcoin or goes CBDC, this problem of taxes will be better addressed.

      With Bitcoin the issue of taxes will be re-thought.

      With CBDC, you’ll not have tax evasion/tax avoidance issues.

      If I had tax lawyers at my disposal too , Micha, I think i’d do the exact same think. So too everyone. If given the chance. Not really about Good or Bad. just opportunity. I can’t imagine anyone say NO , I want to pay more taxes; especially if politicians will just hand it out to undeserving people and causes.

      • Micha says:

        It’s the system of capitalism as currently structured that makes possible this grotesque mal-distribution of wealth. Thus it is only through government action where it is possible to restore the well-being of a democratic society because, left to their own, these plutocrats will continue to rig the system in their favor and it will only be a matter of time before another demagogue will come along and stage a nastier version of the January 6 riot.

      • Micha says:

        “Imagine if Mr. Buffett had to pay the same fraction of the growth of his net worth that regular people do. Taxing that money could have helped pay for bridge repairs, mammograms, and free day care. More important — and this isn’t said enough — there is intrinsic value in shrinking gargantuan fortunes. The sway plutocrats have over public life is inconsistent with a one person, one vote democracy.

        The important point here is that Mr. Buffett’s tax payments as detailed by ProPublica are fully legal. Though Mr. Buffett has called for changing the tax system, while we have the one we have, he will continue to benefit from the madness of taxing billionaires for their income, rather than their wealth, when their income is pretty much just a number they can construct.

        I asked Mr. Buffett last week, via his longtime secretary, Debbie Bosanek, if he could think of even one tax or accounting practice that he has come to regret. Sure, he may have followed the letter of the law. But was there any aspect of his patriotism or humanity that left him feeling guilty for hoarding so much untaxed when regular people pay so much in taxes? Though Ms. Bosanek responded to an initial inquiry, she declined to offer any such examples.

        In a long statement last week, Mr. Buffett defended himself by pointing to his long advocacy for a fairer taxation system, and then he immediately told on himself by undermining the very idea of taxes in the same letter. “I believe the money will be of more use to society if disbursed philanthropically than if it is used to slightly reduce an ever-increasing U.S. debt.”

        In other words: I believe in higher income taxes on people like me, but I’m highly organized to avoid having income to report, and I don’t really believe in taxes because I think I should decide how these surplus resources are spent.

        And this points to another way in which the Good Billionaire is hard to deal with. The crooks and the scoundrels and the people manifestly looking for quick P.R. highs come to philanthropy for the marketing payoff. When Goldman Sachs announces a new initiative on fighting the racial wealth gap despite having done little to repair the damage it did to Black homeowners in contributing to the 2008 financial meltdown, some may be fooled, but, more and more, many are not.

        upposed Good Billionaires like Mr. Buffett and his friend Bill Gates are more complicated because they give real money. They may benefit from marketing but also seem to many people to be motivated by more than that, and they apply their smarts to the work.

        Yet because of this, it is often the Good Billionaires who end up with the most illegitimate influence over public life. No one is asking members of the Sackler family for public health advice. But Mr. Gates has become a major policy voice on vaccines despite holding no elected position. Mr. Buffett, for his part, has shied away from that kind of lane hopping and richsplaining, but in donating his fortune to Mr. Gates’s foundation he has pumped up that undemocratic influence.

        Mr. Buffett is almost the perfectly made billionaire for this moment in which, at last, many Americans are beginning to question not only corruptions of the system but the matter of whether billionaires should exist at all. He doesn’t do the things the worst of them do. He isn’t in it for what they’re in it for. He clearly must care about money, but he also kind of doesn’t care about money. Even in his generosity, he has avoided the imperial lording over that others cannot resist.

        And this is what makes him so troubling, because through him we are tempted into believing that a system can be defended that allows a man to accumulate more than $100 billion while people are sleeping, in hock to him, in his mobile homes, shortening their lives with the beverages he’s invested in, scampering around the warehouses whose nonunion status has redounded to his money pile.

        It can’t. And who keeps us from seeing that simple, stark truth more effectively, more perniciously, than the Good Billionaire?”

        • The distinction is moral. Some billionaires have a conscience and others don’t. The inequity is in how elections are funded, not the evilness of fat-cats. Same in the Philippines only the big problem is captured regulators.

          Any moron can see the gross inequity of mansions in Aspen and Venice Beach homeless camps.

          • Micha says:

            Anand is making the larger point that it is not the subjective billionaire, it’s the capitalist system itself that devours democratic societies by producing such gross inequities.

            As presently structured, there is no such thing as a good billionaire – every billionaire in the capitalist system accumulates his wealth by subjecting others, perhaps unwittingly, into privation and poverty. The billions that the Walton children accumulate, for example, were made on the backs of low wage, exploitative labor.

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