The flip side of the Trump administration’s war on government regulations is the expansion of corporate control, which is especially true for media and the Internet, writes Michael Winship.
By Michael Winship
In just a few short months, the Trump wrecking ball has pounded away at rules and regulations in virtually every government agency. The men and women the president has appointed to the Cabinet and to head those agencies are so far in sycophantic lockstep, engaged in dismantling years of protections in order to make real what White House strategist Steve Bannon infamously described as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”
The Federal Communications Commission is not immune. Its new chair, Republican Ajit Pai, embraces the Trump doctrine of regulatory devastation. “It’s basic economics,” he declared in an April 26 speech at Washington’s Newseum. “The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”
His goal is to stem the tide of media reform that in recent years has made significant progress for American citizens. Even as we rely more than ever on digital media for information, education and entertainment, Pai and his GOP colleagues at the FCC seek to turn back the clock and increase even more the corporate control of cyberspace.
Net neutrality, the guarantee of an internet open to all, rich or poor, without preferential treatment, was codified by the FCC in 2015. Pai — a former lawyer for Verizon — wants net neutrality reversed and has taken the first steps toward its elimination. He has abandoned media ownership rules and attacked such FCC innovations as the Lifeline program that subsidizes broadband access for low income Americans. Among other rollbacks, he also has opposed rules capping the exorbitant cost of prison phone calls (that cap was overturned on June 13 by the US Court of Appeals).
A veteran of the FCC, Michael Copps vehemently opposes Pai’s master plan to strengthen the grip of big business on our media. Copps served two terms as a commissioner, including a brief period as interim chair. He also has taught history, worked as chief of staff to former South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings and was an assistant secretary of commerce.
Today, Copps is special adviser for the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at the nonpartisan grassroots organization Common Cause. He “just may be,” Bill Moyers once said, “the most knowledgeable fellow in Washington on how communications policy affects you and me.”
Recently, I spoke with Copps to get his assessment of how the election of Donald Trump and Ajit Pai’s FCC chairmanship are affecting Americans and the media landscape. “I remain convinced that the last presidential election we had was of, by, and for, big media,” he said. “It made billions of dollars for these big media companies. We’re entering into a period where there likely will be more mergers than we’ve ever had before. The political and marketplace atmosphere that we have in this country right now favors them.”
The transcript that follows has been edited for length and clarity.
Michael Copps: [CBS CEO Les] Moonves said it best: “I don’t know if Donald Trump is good for the country. but he’s damn good for CBS.” The election was just a glorified reality show and I do not think it was an aberration. Until we get that big picture straightened out and we get a civic dialogue that’s worthy of the American people and that actually advances citizens’ ability to practice the art of self-government — that informs citizens so they can cast intelligent votes and we stop making such damn-fool decisions — we’re in serious trouble.
To me, that remains the problem of problems, it remains at the top of the list. Journalism continues to go south, thanks to big media and its strangulation of news, and there’s not much left in the way of community or local media. Add to that an internet that has not even started thinking seriously about how it supports journalism. You have these big companies like Google and Facebook who run the news and sell all the ads next to it, but what do they put back into journalism? It isn’t much.
I don’t think right now that commercial media is going to fix itself or even that we can save it with any policy that’s likely in the near-term, so we have to start looking at other alternatives. We have to talk about public media — public media probably has to get its act together somewhat, too. It’s not everything that Lyndon Johnson had in mind back in 1967 [when the Public Broadcasting Act was signed], but it’s still the jewel of our media ecosystem. So I’m more worried than ever about the state of our media — not just fake news but the lack of real news.
That’s priority No. 1; I don’t think you solve anything until you find some ways to repair our commercial media. That’s not coming from inside the fabled Beltway anytime soon. It’ll require major input from the grass roots. Big media won’t cover its own shortcomings, so we have to have a national conversation and make some democracy-encouraging decisions. We just have to find a way.
Michael Winship: What about “fake news?”
MC: The fake news thing is a challenging phenomenon. No one has a viable solution yet that I know of. Again, don’t look to Washington for much input under the present management. Maybe reinvigorating real news, the fact-based investigative journalism that big media has done so much to eliminate, would be the best solution. True journalism can do more than anything else to push aside fake news.
MW: So how do you characterize the Trump administration’s attitude toward communications issues?
MC: This is not populism; this is a plutocracy. Trump has surrounded himself with millionaires and billionaires, plus some ideologues who believe in, basically, no government. And the Trump FCC already has been very successful in dismantling lots of things — not just the net neutrality that they’re after now, but privacy, and Lifeline, which is subsidized broadband for those who can’t afford it. And just all sorts of things up and down the line. The whole panoply of regulation and public interest oversight — if they could get rid of it all, they would; if they can, they will.
I think the April 26 speech that Ajit Pai gave at the Newseum, which was partially funded, I think, by conservative activist causes, was probably the worst speech I’ve ever heard a commissioner or a chairman of the FCC give. It was replete with distorted history and a twisted interpretation of judicial decisions. And then, about two-thirds of the way through, it became intensely political and ideological, and he was spouting all this Ronald Reagan nonsense — if the government is big enough to do what you want, it’s big enough to take away everything you have, and all that garbage. It was awful.
It’s maybe the worst FCC I’ve ever seen or read about.
MW: How much of all this do you think is just simply the idea of destroying anything supported by the Obama White House? Is it that simple?
MC: Well, I think that some of it is the ego problem, but I think it goes beyond that. I think there is that right wing, pro-business, invisible hand ideology, and then there’s just the unabashed and unprecedented and disgusting level of money in politics. I don’t blame just the Republicans; the Democrats are just about as beholden to it, too.
MW: You mentioned Pai’s speech at the Newseum; does he have any real philosophy?
MC: Yes, I think he believes this stuff, I think he’s a true believer. He was in the Office of General Counsel when I was in there — very articulate, very bright, very pleasant. He is an attractive personality, but he has this Weltanschauung or whatever you want to call it that is so out of step with modern politics and where we should be in the history of this country that it’s potentially extremely destructive. And Michael O’Rielly, the other Republican commissioner, is about the same. He’s an ideologue, too.
It’s all about the ideology, the world of big money, the access that the big guys have and continue to have. It’s not that the FCC outright refuses to let public interest groups through the door or anything like that; it’s just the lack of resources citizens and public interest groups have compared to what the big guys have. The public interest groups don’t have much of a chance, but I think they’ve done a pretty good job given the lack of resources.
MW: Did you expect Pai to move so fast against net neutrality?
MC: It doesn’t surprise me, but it’s so dangerous. Net neutrality is the sine qua non of an open internet — “You can’t have one without the other,” as the old song goes. We’ll need to hope for a good court outcome if the FCC succeeds in eliminating the rules. But I really don’t see how big telecom or the commission can make a credible case to overturn what the court approved just two years ago, and then go back to what the court overturned before that. It’s downright surreal. But citizens should not limit their pro-net neutrality messages to just the FCC; Congress needs to understand how popular these rules are, so they keep their hands off it, which they may be more inclined to do as the 2018 elections come closer.
MW: There’s so much of an X factor to everything.
MC: There really is. I just hope we can get the media covering it better. I think if we get a couple of really big mergers, and of course we have AT&T and Time Warner out there now, which Trump said he was going to oppose. I don’t think he really will, but that itself should be an issue. And then, if we can join that to the net neutrality issue, then I think we can get some media attention. If we can do that with Time Warner and AT&T or whatever other mergers come along, certainly including Sinclair-Tribune, then we can actually make some progress. I sure hope so.
MW: There still seems to be a lot public support for net neutrality.
MC: No question about it, but there would be an avalanche if more people were informed about the issue by the media. Many Trump voters, I am convinced, are not consumers who support $232 a year for a set-top box or who like constantly rising bills for cable and internet service, or who want a closed internet. That’s not why they voted for him.
MW: Have the net neutrality rules passed in 2015 had a chance to work? Have they had a chance to be effective?
MC: Yes, I think so. Some say they are a solution in search of a problem, but that’s not true. I think the companies have been on their good behavior over the last few years, by and large — but there have been numerous abuses, too. But once you throw out the rules we have now, it’ll be “Katy bar the door,” and by the time we get another administration in, either the FCC or the Congress, it’ll probably be too late to reverse the tide.
MW: What are the implications for free speech?
MC: They are huge. If you have an internet service provider [ISP] that’s capable of slowing down other sites, or putting other sites out of business, or favoring their own friends and affiliates and customers who can pay for fast lanes, that’s a horrible infringement on free speech. It’s censorship by media monopolies.
It’s tragic: here we have a technology, the internet, that’s capable really of being the town square of democracy, paved with broadband bricks, and we are letting it be taken over by a few gatekeepers. This is a first amendment issue; it’s free speech versus corporate censorship.
MW: I want to talk to you about privacy, about protecting consumer information that’s on the net.
MC: If the huge internet service providers are going to glean all manner of personal information about us and share it with others or sell it to others, we ought to have a right to say, “Yes, count me in, I don’t mind that,” or “No, I don’t want any part of that.” And I think the vast majority would say, “No, thank you, I don’t want any part of that.” So privacy is a huge issue. We’ve talked about it some in national security terms, but it’s a much bigger issue in citizen terms and what it does to the average person.
MW: You mentioned Lifeline; I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that…
MC: Lifeline is directed toward those who cannot afford to be connected to broadband. How do they find a job when most corporations don’t accept paper resumes or don’t want to interview you in person? Nowadays you have to email something to potential employers. How do you and your kids educate yourselves? How do kids do their homework when they don’t have broadband, and the kid in the next town or even in the next block has high-speed broadband? How do you care for your health — especially that now we’re getting seriously into tele-health and tele-medicine?
You cannot be a fully functioning 21st-century citizen in this country unless you have access to high-speed broadband. It’s as simple as that. We shouldn’t settle for less. I don’t know that the FCC can do this by itself, and we need a national mission to do this. And we need everybody pushing for it. I hope it’s going to be included in Trump’s infrastructure plan, but I’ll be surprised if it’s in such a meaningful way that it’s going to get coverage for all the people in the inner cities and rural America.
And, you know, we’re way, way down in the rankings in broadband penetration, adoption and affordability. And without competition, even when you have broadband, without competition people are paying through the ceiling for inferior service. They’ve got to feed families and find shelter, but broadband is also essential to them.
MW: I think another issue that a lot of people aren’t aware of is the whole prison telephone problem.
MC: Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has done a fantastic job on that. We have such a high percentage of our population in the United States incarcerated and for their families to communicate with them or vice versa has become just very, very expensive. It’s an industry that has made a lot of money off of other people’s distress, and if you have a son in prison, and you can’t afford to communicate with them, that doesn’t help anybody, including the person who’s in prison.
Commissioner Clyburn made some good progress on interstate calling in this regard, but then you’ve got to go state by state, and now the court has just thrown some obstacles in the way of the intrastate calls. So, there’s work to be done, and we’ll see how far it goes. But we were on the track of making good progress under the previous commission.
MW: Do you think there’s any interest in consumer service remaining among the Republicans on the FCC or in Congress?
MC: It’s mighty hard to find if you look at all the party-line votes and partisanship at work. I think there will be some cooperation for infrastructure if broadband is included. It depends on how much. Some Republicans will vote for that, but you can’t find a Republican for net neutrality, and you can’t find a Republican for doing anything to counteract the outrageous influence of money in the political bloodstreams.
MW: With so many of these American Enterprise Institute types and various other conservative groups and people wielding influence, would they lobby to eliminate the FCC completely?
MC: Oh, yes indeed. There were reports during the transition that some of those people were actually saying, “Do we even need an FCC? Why don’t we just get rid of it?”
MW: So what can we all do at this point?
MC: Figure out how you really make this a grass-roots effort — and not just people writing, in but people doing more than that. In July, we will have a day devoted to internet action, so stay tuned on that. In addition, as Bill Moyers says, “If you can sing, sing. If you can write a poem, write a poem.” Different initiatives attract different audiences, so whatever you can do, do. John Oliver made a huge difference in getting us to net neutrality and now he’s helping again. If you went up to the Hill right after that first John Oliver show on net neutrality [in 2014], you saw immediately that it made a difference with the members and the staff.
There’s no one silver bullet, no “do this” and it suddenly happens. You just have to do whatever you can do to get people excited and organized. It’s as simple as that.
MW: So that’s where the hope is?
MC: Well, that’s where my hope is. I don’t see anything else unless we get a change in power in Washington, and not just the name of the party in control but candidates who really are ready for a change and ready to do something to make it more reflective of what, I think, is the popular will.
MW: Which of the Democrats are good on these issues?
MC: There are a lot of them. I hesitate to get into names for fear of missing some. The problem is that Republicans inside the Beltway are joined in lockstep opposition on almost all these issues, and the level of partisanship, lobbying, big money, and ideology have thus far been insurmountable obstacles. But I believe if members of Congress spent more time at home, holding more town hall meetings, they would quickly learn that many, many of their constituents are on the pro-consumer, pro-citizen side of these issues.
It’s just such a formative time, and in many respects the future is now. I don’t know how long you can let this go on. How long can you open the bazaar to all this consolidation, how much can you encourage all this commercialization, how much can you ignore public media until you get to the point of no return where you can’t really fix it anymore? And I also think that the national discourse on the future of the internet has really suffered while we play ping pong with net neutrality; one group comes in, does this, the other group, comes in and reverses it, boom, boom, boom. And net neutrality is not the salvation or the solution to all of the problems of the internet. As you know, it’s kind of the opening thing you have to have, it lays a foundation where we can build a truly open internet.
But net neutrality alone doesn’t solve consolidation, it doesn’t solve commercialization, it doesn’t solve, really, the big questions of the future of the internet. Add to the list issues of artificial intelligence and is AI going to put us out of work? These aren’t strictly communication issues, but they are internet issues. What does AI mean for the future of work in our society? Are we even going to be working? Or, can we say the internet is throwing people out of work without sounding Luddite, because that’s been said throughout history and it’s been proven wrong, but I think now it looks like a lot of people already have been thrown out of work by it.
If Hillary Clinton had been elected, I would have gone down and talked with her and suggested a White House conference on the future of the internet. You can’t answer all these questions that I just posed but you can ask the questions and you can get the best minds in the country talking about them. Give the conference a mandate and get them to come back with a report and some recommendations and at least put people on it with enough visibility that the media has to cover it.
If we could win net neutrality, which is a stretch, there will be a lot of people who say, “Well, that takes care of the internet, everything’s fine and dandy right now.” But that’s not true at all. It’s just not true.
Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWinship. [This article originally appeared at http://billmoyers.com/story/michael-copps-fcc-ajit-pai-worst-ever/]
CYBER WARFARE, MASSIVE TRANSFERS OF WEALTH and, OF KNOWLEDGE and, OF DEATH.
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Thank’s Michael Winship for sharing your interview with the the wonderful activist Michael Copps! A truly inspiring and civic minded man!
I have been trying to prepare a letter to people on my contact list, sharing John Oliver’s direct link to the comment page on net neutrality at the FCC:
and trying to explain Net Neutrality.
I have read Title II. through, just once, so far.
It would by extremely helpful to me if you could ask Michael Copps exactly which section(s) of Title II pertain most closely in his opinion to the protections of peer to peer data transmission free of gatekeeper interference.
Exactly which section/phrasing/definitions of TITLE II of the FCC ACT offer the free and open internet protections that guard against censorship and enable the “unrestrained communication necessary for a functioning democracy”?
I need this understanding in order to properly write my letter to friends to explain why they should consider commenting and contacting their legislators.
Also, would it do any good for someone to start a petition to isp privders like Cable and big telecom that if they keep pushing Pai to give them gatekeeper status we will quit buying their service?
When you say corporate – who do you mean ?
The Guy / Gal with an official title – who is in control.
Corporate – the bunch of maverick wannabes who are still so afraid of their computers that only their PA’s know how to use them.
FAANG shares fell by US$88 BILLION in the short space of 5 hours … sometime last week or so.
where they over priced – or is this the beginning of the fall from Riches to Rags of the corporate world ?
Is this GRAB for control a knee jerk reaction to the fear of bankruptcy ?
The powers that be took the currency’s into infinity – there are not enough assets on planet earth to cover the debt – if we look at the EU – like a stuck vinyl record – the ECB & their banking ghouls are still looting the 28 member nations for all they are worth – a good 10 years after the 2008 GFC – when you are on a good thing – hey.
CORPORATE IS TERRIFIED – they don’t really know what they are doing – it is all just knee jerk – it’s like banging on the wall to get rid of the rat population in residence.
Have a laugh.
Tommy Tirnen – Who Do We Owe Money To ? And Why – Youtube
Wasn’t thinking of Jeffers’ poem, mike, but it is beautiful and poignant. Wishing more humans could have that sensitivity.
Michael Powell served two terms chairing the FCC in the Bush II administration. That “Newseum” should be dubbed “Nauseum”.
Don’t know if you were thinking of Jeffers’ poem with your ‘net’ comment, but it made me remember it.
Zen: Walk on……………..
The truth is never a dead fact, but always an ongoing project……………?
There are depths beyond depths, heights beyond the highest peaks………..
The overall plan has been to tighten the net around the people and they are pulling the net strings tighter and tighter. There is a “new world order” project and it is set up and tweaked as necessary by the plutocracy who control the corporations and governments. The FCC has brought tighter regulations over time which have worked for power and not people, starting if I remember when Colin Powell’s son, Michael, was put in charge, and I don’t remember which administration, will have to look it up. But the NWO is working toward strangulation of the fish in the net, us, and, yeah, we’ll have to fight it but they have a lot of ways to play their nasty power games. I’m not sure that Clinton would have been better than Trump on this, when you look at the record of the Bill Clinton administration (Billary) which certainly did not represent the people, and Hillary knows all the rhetoric games. But thanks for this article, yet another grim reminder of how the people’s rights are being stripped away, and now faster and faster since that treasonous 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, an Orwellian title if ever there was one.
The Purse Seine
by Robinson Jeffers
Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark of the moon;
daylight or moonlight
They could not tell where to spread the net, unable to see the
phosphorescence of the shoals of fish.
They work northward from Monterey, coasting Santa Cruz; off
New Year’s Point or off Pigeon Point
The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-color light on the
sea’s night-purple; he points and the helmsman
Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles the gleaming shoal
and drifts out her seine-net. They close the circle
And purse the bottom of the net, then with great labor haul it in.
I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible, then, when the
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall to the
other of their closing destiny the phosphorescent
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body sheeted
with flame, like a live rocket
A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside the
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up to watch,
sighing in the dark; the vast walls of night
Stand erect to the stars.
Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light: how could
I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how beautiful
the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into interdependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet they
shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children’s, but we and our
Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all powers
-or revolution, and the new government
Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls- or anarchy,
These things are Progress;
Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps
its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria, splin-
tered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are quite wrong.
There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew that
cultures decay, and life’s end is death.
“With a name like the ‘National Democratic Institute’ (NDI) one might expect the US State Department-funded, corporate-financier chaired front to be the premier proponent of freedom and democracy worldwide. And although it poses as such, it does precisely the opposite. It uses principles like free speech, democracy, press freedom, and human rights as a facade behind which it carries out a politically motivated agenda on behalf of the special interests that fund and direct its activities.
“In a recent Tweet, NDI linked to a New York Times article titled, “In Europe’s Election Season, Tech Vies to Fight Fake News.” It claimed in the Tweet that the article featured:
“‘A look at some of the projects aiming to use automated algorithms to identify and combat fake news.’
“The article itself though, reveals nothing short of a global effort by US tech-giants Google and Facebook, in collaboration with the Western media, to censor any and all media that fails to align with Western-dominated narratives. […]
“In other words, ‘fake news’ is determined by comparing it directly to narratives presented by establishment media platforms like the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and others who have notorious track records of serial deception, false reporting, and even war propagandizing.
“Nowhere does the New York Times explain how these ‘verified articles’ have been determined to be factually accurate, and instead, it appears that all these algorithms are doing is ensuring all media falls in line with Western narratives.
“If media in question coincides with Western-dominated media platforms, it is given a pass – if not, it is slated for expunging as described elsewhere in the New York Times’ piece.
“Thus. the National Democratic Institute, who claims on its website to ‘support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government,’ finds itself promoting what is essentially a worldwide agenda of malicious censorship, manipulating the perception of the globe’s citizenry, not supporting or strengthening it’s participation in any sort of honest political process.
“To answer the question as to what the NDI is referring to when it claims other nations are ‘censoring’ free speech and press freedoms, it involves defending local fronts funded by the NDI and its parent organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) who merely repeat Western propaganda in local languages and with local spins. When foreign nations attempt to deal with these instances of ‘fake news,’ US fronts like NDI and NED depict it as censorship.
“While the West poses as the premier champion of free speech, citizen participation, openness, and accountability, the New York Times article reveals an unfolding plan to utterly crush any narrative that deviates from Western media talking points, thus controlling citizen perception, not encouraging ‘participation,’ and ensuring that the West alone determines what is ‘opened’ and held ‘accountable.’
“No worse scenario can be referenced in human history or even among human fiction than plans to determine for the world through automatic algorithms and artificial intelligence almost in real time what is heard and read and what isn’t. It is even beyond the scope and scale of George Orwell’s cautionary dystopian ‘1984’ novel.”
The West’s War on Free Speech
By Tony Cartalucci
The old problem of who will watch the watchers? Who will regulate the regulators? Who will rule the rulers? Where is ultimate authority to be found? What is truth? These are not meaningless conundrums but spurs to think deeply about. But always, those who pretend to authority need to be questioned. Perhaps as in real science, the truth always should be followed by a question mark?
On second thought, this algorithm plan sounds a lot like The Matrix, where people’s minds and perceptions of reality are controlled by machines which provide a simulacrum of reality that is their own artificial creation.
“The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”
Yeah, like voting.
It’s been my observation that the “mike’s ” of this world are very numerous, but I will always sign my posts mike k in order to distinguish myself from other posters.
Restoration of democracy requires amendments to protect elections and mass media debate from economic power, but we cannot do that while those tools of democracy are controlled by oligarchy. We cannot stop the wars, establish a humanitarian democracy, nor achieve benefits for the people, until the oligarchy is deposed; this is the greatest problem of civilization.
Selfish opportunists like Ajit Pai pretend to “believe” right wing propaganda lines like “deregulation leads to efficiency” completely ignoring the facts, the values of democracy, and the obvious fact that profit for a few does not serve the people. They know full well that they are traitors against the United States. Nearly all lawyers and judges are exactly the same, as are oligarchy politicians. They will use their every breath to steal from the people until they are afraid for their very lives, and will not “reconsider” a moment sooner. We cannot expect a judicial solution except where rich judges see a personal gain.
Deposing economic oligarchy is the only way to restore democracy in the US. They don’t change their minds or respond to any moral argument. They can always hire the poor to defend them and buy the rights they deny to the poor. In history, force alone has deposed them.
Sad but true Sam. But as I am sure you know, violent revolution has only been a very temporary solution to our real underlying problems. It always has turned out that the idealistic revolutionaries still brought with them the deep defects of character they demonized in their adversaries. We need an inner revolution to cleanse us of those fatal tragic flaws. That’s the real deep problem our fate depends on our solving.
Yes, cultural improvement and moral education are essential, even to maintain civilization. Indeed one can find the motives of all human faults in any character, but those who found democracies are generally strong in public morality, in contrast to those who later corrupt them.
Corruption of democracy is caused by unprincipled bullies who rise to the top by unethical competition, perhaps fewer in some cultures, but only a few are required to establish a tyranny. They are the worst of the great diversity of characters produced by the diverse personal circumstances in most cultures, and even within families. So one would have to produce very uniformly successful moral development to prevent corruption, a very worthy goal but unlikely to be perfectly successful. Democracy needs practical mechanisms to prevent the corrupt few from seizing power.
I have not yet found a culture that has established or restored democracy without violence against any opposing tyranny, although the world’s largest democracies (India and the US) were fortunate in being formed by throwing off a small and distant colonial power. While the USSR dissolved without great violence, that appears to have been a change between institutions considered more or less democratic.
This is not specific to this article, but I need to share it, as it does have relevance to the whole raison d’etre of this investigative blog. There has not been a lot of discussion of the climate change dimension of our problems here, and yet this is probably the number one crisis facing us all, with nuclear war running a close second.
It is not generally understood just how serious and how soon the devastating impacts of global warming will dwarf all our other concerns. What is the significance of tinkering with the political, economic, and military problems we are facing if we are all going to become extinct in the relatively near future due to human caused climate disruption? I am not going to make this case at length here, but highly recommend Chris Hedges’ article below: