The South African Civil Society Information Service (Johannesburg)
by Glenn Ashton
When we vote in South Africa we enter the voting booth burdened by the weight of history and by our responsibility to the future.
We weigh up some increasingly obscure choices and make our mark. But is this then the total sum of our democratic interaction? Are we fulfilling our social obligations by voting? Or is there more to it than this?
The world is not in particularly good shape. There is an economic hurricane building and we don’t yet know how hard the winds will blow. The world population is pushing the limit of our ecological carrying capacity, with water and food supplies on the edge. People are directly and indirectly responsible for a mass extinction unique in that it is caused by living organisms, not a natural occurrence. The gap between rich and poor is not only growing, it is unprecedented.
These issues are intimately connected. Just as the natural world is exquisitely sensitive to disruption, so too do human impacts on life on earth create massive, unpredictable and potentially catastrophic chain reactions on our support mechanisms.
So, to return to the question, when we vote are we actually considering the full importance of what is ostensibly the most significant democratic interaction most of us have with our chosen political and governmental leadership? Are we doing enough?
The problems that assail society and the world are long in the making. The growth in the power of a banking and corporate elite has occurred within a brief historical time span yet it has had phenomenal repercussions. Besides effectively creating what amounts to a modern feudal system, it is important to reflect how the rise of corporate power has seriously impacted personal democratic freedoms.
Democracy is theoretically driven by mortal individuals who are responsible for their actions. Corporations on the other hand are immortal and without morals, ethics or conscience; they exist simply to maximise profit. Read the rest of this entry »