By Larry Romanoff, October 31, 2022
Defining our Terms
We should all feel sorry for democracy, this one word carrying on its back the heavy load of almost the entire Oxford English dictionary. This poor little noun, descriptive of almost nothing in particular, has been saddled with so many unrelated and irrelevant connotations that it should have collapsed from exhaustion or misery centuries ago. The US seems unique in collecting every manner of good things and placing them all in the Democracy bag, to the extent that there appears to be maybe 1,001 things in this bag. The result is that the word means whatever one wants it to mean, and we might have 1,000 people with 1,000 different meanings. One American acquaintance insisted that her pet’s “right to dog food” was a “human right” and therefore included in the meaning of democracy.
American dictionaries don’t seem to be of much help, with vague, unintelligent, and clearly unexamined definitions being all over the map. Some claim it means ‘self-management’, which it does not. Others state it means “the control of a group by the majority of its members”, but democracy is not “control” of anything. Some dictionaries conflate democracy and government or management, and it is not these either. One said it was a system in which everyone shares in making decisions, also not true, and silly. Another claimed it to be “a system in which the people exercise the powers of legislation”, also obviously false. Yet another claimed it to be “a doctrine that the numerical majority can make decisions binding on the entire group”, this one perhaps true but missing the point. If the dictionaries are so confused, it’s not a surprise everyone else is confused too.
But, democracy, in real life, is surprisingly close to being nothing at all. It is simply one method among many of selecting a representative for a group of people, often by a simple majority vote. We needn’t complicate this with politics or political parties. When we choose a student representative in our high school class, we nominate a couple of people, conduct a vote, and we’re done. That’s democracy. We can debate this point but, fundamentally, democracy is a selection process. What the selected do after their selection, is irrelevant to the definition.
Government vs Politics
The more serious issue is that (at least in the US and Canada), ‘government’ is confused and conflated with ‘politics’, and both used as somehow vaguely synonymous with ‘democracy’. This is one of the main sources of confusion. Let’s deal first with the issue of government vs politics. We can argue that these two items are unrelated except in the most peripheral way, at the interface. Whether of a country or a corporation, “Government” is management. “Politics” is a struggle for power.
In a one-party government system, there is no such thing as politics in the sense in which we are dealing with it here. This is also true of all our corporations, institutions, and organisations, where we have only one “party”, one management team, working together for the good of the organisation. Ideologies are put aside and we look for consensus, not a battle and a “victory” for our side. This is proper government and management, entirely free of politics.
It is true these divisions do sometimes occur in corporations, where management members are overcome by ideologies and become “political”, with these instances inevitably to the severe detriment of the organisation because they split the management team into opposing factions, with the overall good of the organisation and its people lost in that struggle for an ideological victory. It cannot be otherwise. These “political battles” are unrelated to the actual management of the institution or organisation; they are simply an internal struggle for power, and this tends almost inevitably to consume the organisation to the point where only the minimum of necessary “management” is actually carried out. Such power struggles are always inflamed emotionally and, if they persist through time without resolution, the organisation itself will collapse. And this is what is occurring in slow motion today in all the world’s democracies: the unrelenting power struggle between two ideologically-opposed factions results in both absent and bad management, the governments inevitably collapsing into some kind of authoritarian fascism.
So, “politics” is not government; politics is a power struggle. “Democracy” is not government either; democracy is merely the selection process for the governors. “Government” is essentially unrelated to either politics or democracy; government is the management of an organisation, whether of a nation or a corporation. Thus, what Americans seem to call “Democracy” is not government. It is religion-based politics, a power struggle between two teams to select which side in that struggle will be victorious and supply the governors of the corporation named the United States of America. When Americans (and others too) speak of democracy, they are referring to the power struggle, the battle between two political parties for supremacy. They are NOT referring to the “government”, to the actual management of the country after the selection process, but to the selection process itself. If you doubt this, then remove the two political parties and the power struggle – the election campaigns, and what you have is no longer a democracy, not by any accepted definition.
It should be obvious that “democracy”, at least by this definition, is totally unrelated to things like human rights, free speech or universal values. How do we proceed from here to a long and complicated set of “democratic values” that Americans use as a combination preaching pulpit and whipping post? With democracy being a simple almost-nonentity, what could possibly constitute democratic values? What kind of hysteria prompts us to attach human values or attribute an immense intrinsic moral worth to a simple selection process? This expression, like “rule of law” and so many others, is a myth and, like all myths “it is designed to serve an emotive rather than cognitive function, not to provide fact based on reason but as propaganda to arouse emotions in support of an idea”. It is nonsense. The whole idea, the very concept, of ‘democratic values’ is absurd. Americans have taken a simple no-account process, injected it with a kind of theological silicone and transformed it into a religion.
It is part of the Western bible that the only enlightened way to select a nation’s governors or law-makers is to create an ideological rift that splits the population into two violently-opposed camps, then give them sticks, and let them fight. And this battle is the only real “democratic value” that exists. Adding things like human rights to this definition is childish nonsense. The core, and the only important part, of “democracy” is the battle, the power struggle for victory and the right to appoint governors of one particular ideology to manage the country. That, in essence, is what constitutes a “democracy”, nothing more. There ain’t no religion here, no human rights, no universal values, no dog food.
The inescapable problem is that multiple ideologies and parties inherently serve to create only divisions and conflict, by both definition and by design. The two opposing combatants in this unending struggle for power, do not in any way act as “checks and balances” on each other, nor are they anything that might be termed “healthy competition”. They are in a life-and-death struggle for victory, and inevitably the good of the overall organisation is the victim. If the power struggle ceased after the election, the victim might survive, but in any Western Parliament or the US Congress, that power struggle is never-ending because the two parties share the governing rights and, just as with any corporation where management members are overcome by ideologies and become “political”, this tends almost inevitably to consume the “government” to the point where only the minimum of necessary “management” is actually carried out. And, just as with a corporation, the unrelenting power struggle between two ideologically-opposed factions results in both absent and bad management, and the government inevitably will collapse. There can be no long-term planning in such a context since the longest term is at maximum only a few years and might be as short as weeks or months.
Democracy (Multi-Party Politics) in Real Life
Let’s see. We’re having a birthday party and half of the children want to go to the zoo and half to the park. So, we separate the two groups, give them sticks and let them fight it out. Whichever group wins, can make all the decisions. Would you do that? Well, why not? That’s multi-party democracy. Firmly separate your population on the basis of some ideology and let them fight. In a Multi-Party Democracy, there is no room for cooperation or consensus. We don’t talk; we fight. I win, you lose. That’s the system, inherently based not on harmony and consensus but on conflict. It’s the cornerstone of the democratic system that the ‘winners’ control everything and the ‘losers’ are totally marginalised. In Western political society there is little apparent concern for the losers even though they can form 50% or more of the population. Western multi-party democracy is the only political system in the world designed to disenfranchise, isolate and betray at least half of the population.
If we wanted to separate our population politically into two ideological ‘parties’, the logical division would be a gender separation of men and women. Or maybe a sexual division – the homos and the heteros. That should make an interesting election campaign. Unfortunately for democracy, the deliberate cleavage of our societies for purposes of politics was done according to perhaps the most inflammatory of human characteristics, an irreconcilable simian-theological divide, creating two factions perpetually at each other’s throats.
We have many names for the ideological teams: Liberal-Conservative, Labor-Capitalist, Democrat-Republican. We sometimes refer to them as the Left Wing and Right Wing, or Socialists and Corporatists, but the division is more sinister than these names suggest. The ideological rift that has been created for the sake of politics is really between the ideological left and the religious right – between the pacifists and the war-mongers. ** And it appears that, though I make no claim to sociological credentials, human society, at least Western society, will automatically cleave along these lines if given a fertile chance. When we look at the often-vehement enthusiasm with which many Westerners embrace their political convictions, it is apparent that this separation, this cleavage of people according to their propensity for war-mongering, involves some of the deepest and most primitive instincts and emotions of the human psyche. What sane person would consciously divide a population based on this ideology? And for what purpose?
** In the days before wokeness, it used to be that these groups had very clear identifications, the socialist Liberals and the hard-nosed corporate Conservatives. But today, with every politician seemingly determined to be the gayest transvestite on the block, their positions on the spectrum are becoming blurred. Still, we do have our pacifists and war-mongers intact.
A Substitute for Civil War
The ideological separations serve not to do good, but only to create conflict. And that conflict is not the same as what we might term ‘healthy competition’. Political conflict is exclusive, dishonest, sometimes vicious, very often unethical, forcing people to go against their own consciences and the good of the nation for the sake of the party. The ideological rifts inherent in party politics have been introduced into Western government – by design – precisely because they induce the conflict so necessary to any team sport. How can we have a competition if everyone is on the same team, just trying to get the job done? The inescapable conclusion is that Western democracy – politics, in fact – was deliberately and cleverly designed not to select good government but to delude the peasantry into participation in a primitive, socio-theological rite of competition, conflict and victory. A useful substitute for a civil war.
The combination of the primitive instincts and emotions that drive politics, team sports and religion is not only potentially explosive but essentially mindless; a kind of yearning herd mentality with a propensity for violence. It is clear that politics, in the Western sense, is seldom guided by reason. Reason can accommodate and withstand discourse; ideology on the other hand, cannot. Politics, religion, and team sports have a common root in the Western psyche. None can be discussed intelligently for very long; all raise violent emotions, all suffer from ideology that is blind to fact and reason, all possess the same primitive psychological attractions. People don’t join a political party from a commitment to good government, and they don’t join a Western religion to learn about God. In both cases, they do it to join a winning team.
Most Westerners will tell us that the multi-party electoral system is about freedom and choice and is “real democracy”. But the multi-party system is not about freedom and choice, and it is not about either democracy or government. It’s about a fabricated game of social conflict and competition, about playing in a team sport. In a multi-party democracy, the “game” is not good government but the election process itself. After my team wins the election, the game is over and we all go home. In the Western world, it is ‘politics’ that is the attraction, not ‘government’. I sincerely doubt that many people who are active in the political process give even a single thought to the quality of government that will emerge. Their only focus is winning the game for their team. The process has become so corrupted that Western democracy doesn’t even pretend to refer to the quality of government that might ensue as the end result after an election. And this is because the end result is the process itself – the competition, winning the election, nothing more.
In the individualistic, black and white Western societies, the multi-party democratic process is in no way intended as a method of problem resolution. It is instead consciously contrived precisely because it creates the problem, engaging an ignorant public in the debate of irrelevant issues while setting the stage for open conflict and a ‘law of the jungle’ political battle. The conflict resolution portion of this masquerade is the forced voting, which appeals to the Western Right-Wing mentality because it is the only system short of physical battle that can resolve the issue on an all-or-nothing basis, creating the winners and losers these societies need.
One of the more distressing congenital deformities of nations with multi-party politics is that by the time all the special-interest groups – the lobbyists, senators, financiers, bankers and flakes have grabbed their share, nothing useful is likely to remain for the common good. The outcomes are preordained because elected US officials are too busy looking after the interests of AIPAC, Israel, the Jewish lobby, the CIA, the US military, the defense contractors, the international bankers and the big multi-nationals, to worry about the people and the nation. The welfare of the voters is increasingly irrelevant, which is why the US government spent $7.7 trillion bailing out the banks instead of the people. US-style Multi-Party Democracy is a formula for waste, inefficiency and corruption. It is the one form of government that will guarantee decisions will be made to benefit private interest groups instead of the country as a whole.
How did the supposedly-great concept of participatory democracy descend to such a pathetic level? The fundamental issue is that Western democracy has never had as its objective the selection of competent leaders or good government, but was instead created as a way of sidelining ‘the people’, dividing them by ideology and engaging their attention in a game – in a team-sport competition. That is entirely the fault of the deliberate and cleverly planned creation of multi-party politics, and it is too late to reverse course, too late to eliminate dysfunctional ideologies and the curse of politics from government. The hole is too deep; we cannot return to the beginning and start again. To do so would require a social upheaval equivalent to a popular revolution, and any Western government would viciously put down any such attempt. In spite of all the propaganda to the contrary, no Western “democracy” would permit ‘the people’ to actually gain control of their government.
The situation is much exacerbated by the obvious fact that all these so-called “democracies” are controlled from behind the scenes by those who encourage the rift because they so hugely profit from it – to the extreme detriment of the entire nation and its people. It is largely due to that heavy external manipulation and even heavier external financing that the process continues unabated. It is vitally necessary for all democracies to ban those parasitic aliens from any and every part of government, but their control is virtually total and this is no longer an option. And even then, the political parties would still exist, so the problems would moderate only slightly. The only permanent solution would be to eliminate the political parties themselves, and thus to have the US Congress all being one team working together for the good of the nation, but it is too late and this will remain a dream.
I will repeat here a brief paragraph from above:
It’s the cornerstone of the democratic system that the ‘winners’ control everything and the ‘losers’ are totally marginalised. In Western political society there is little apparent concern for the losers even though they can form 50% or more of the population. Western multi-party democracy is the only political system in the world designed to disenfranchise, isolate and betray at least half of the population.
It is of much importance to ask: How do you feel about that?
An American friend told me that she burst into tears when George Bush Jr. won his second term. She was distraught, but also angry and bitter and felt betrayed. Her conviction was that her country would suffer terribly under this regime, as it did. We all know the feeling when our party loses an election or a favorite team loses an important game; the loss is personal to us, and it not only disappoints but it hurts. But in national elections, a full 50% of the population are in this condition, sometimes more, depending on the country. Have you ever thought about that, or do you simply take satisfaction in the fact that “you” won? Do you ever consider, as one result of your treasured “democracy”, the one that reflects “the yearnings of all mankind”, that fully half of your population is totally disenfranchised, disappointed, angry, resentful, even bitter? Why is that okay with you?
Do you ever think that one of the most critical events in your nation – the selection of your government – was deliberately constructed in such a way as to alienate half of your own population? Why do you think that’s good? Is this bitterness at disenfranchisement one of your “universal values”? Is this alienation one of “the yearnings of all mankind” that you want to force upon me and my country? How can you possibly claim that this “democracy” of yours, is the best of all possible systems for appointing government leaders and lawmakers? Can you not see how much better life would be with only one political party where everyone was on the same team and there were no perpetual struggles for power? Why do you so fervently believe that the selection of your government should be a team sport engaged in by 200 million incompetent players? This might be understandable if a few 8-year-old children were planning a birthday party, but when 200 million adults use this method to select the one thing most critical to their well-being – their government, this is not democracy; it is pathology.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).
His full archive can be seen at:
He can be contacted at: