THE BLOG
15/09/2011 10:23 BST | Updated 13/11/2011 05:12 GMT

The Corruption of Western Liberal Democracy

The people of the US and Britain have become victims of the corruption of their democratic institutions that are no longer serving the interests of ordinary people. Democracy as a system of government has been subverted to serve multinational corporations, powerful lobbyists and the military-industrial complex. The corporate media, with some notable exceptions, is recruited to keep the truth from the people and to sanitize endless wars led by the US with Britain acting as its outrider. Public discussions, and the questions asked, are manipulated as if by an invisible hand to leave the ordinary person constrained into accepting solutions that entrench the interests of such groups and enhance their profit margins. These powerful entities that perch above politics are in control regardless of which party or president is in power. If this is not an abuse of democracy, I don't know what is.

John Pilger, in the New Statesman, urges the people to develop a healthy cynicism towards the media thus:

"This acute skepticism, this skill of reading between the lines, is urgently needed in supposedly free societies today. Take the reporting of state-sponsored war. The oldest cliché is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries, such as Iraq".

Progressives, and those on the left of politics, need to find the language that resonates with ordinary people, to open their eyes to the corruption that is diminishing their lives and those of future generations. The manipulation of public opinion by the powerful in the U.S. and Britain is corruption. Its aim is to transfer hundreds of billions of tax dollars, from the poor and middle classes, to voracious corporations and the Military-Security-Industrial complex through endless immoral senseless carnage called "the war on terror". "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." warned President Eisenhower in 1961. "We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

Transparency International's "corruption perception index" (CPI) report (2010), defines corruption as:

"the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.... it encompasses corrupt practices in both public and private sectors........Broadly speaking, the surveys and assessments used to compile the index include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurements, embezzlements of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts".

The CPI rates 178 countries on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). Britain comes in at 20th and the US at 22nd with scores of 7.6 and 7.1 respectively. On the face of it these are not bad scores. However, although the index defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain" it does not follow through to include in this definition the abuse of power through lying purposefully to manipulate public opinion to support endless wars, thus enriching powerful corporations and individuals. It includes as corruption the fiddling of expenses by British MPs, for example, but says nothing about the deception used to justify the illegal war against Iraq. Many MPs in Britain have been publically shamed and some have gone to prison, rightly, for fraud. But those who took Britain to war on a pack of lies continue to prosper, treated with respect, by corporate media and powerful corporations. Whose crime was the greatest?

Illegal wars, financial rip-offs, and irresponsible energy policies are all manifestations of corrupt practices. But they are not recognized as such by Transparency International. Why not? Of course bribery, kickbacks etc. are corrupt practices and should be condemned. But let us open our eyes a little wider to see the bigger picture.

Transparency International states:

"Across the globe, transparency and accountability are critical to restoring trust and turning back the tide of corruption. Without them, global policy solutions to many global crises are at risk"

That being the case, Transparency International should have no problem in publically supporting WikiLeaks for bringing transparency into the machinations of governments, exposing their deceit, and their undermining of the democratic process. Will it do that?

US president Abraham Lincoln's famous speech in 1863 gave the world the moral underpinning for democracy: "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." These words could not be more relevant in today's America and Britain than at any time in modern history. It is only through our vigilance, we the people, that these words can again become a reality.