"Anyone looking at the current state of the United States and the United
Kingdom – the former bitterly divided with a hooligan running for president
again, the latter both literally and figuratively falling to pieces around our
ears – would be justified in adding some expletives to the question: what has
gone wrong with what were once touted as leading examples of democracies?
It would take an entire book to answer that fully. A short answer is that
neither the US nor the UK is a democracy in much more than name.
In fact, they are oligarchies – the US a timocratic plutocracy, the UK a
civilian version of a stratiocracy.
They sustained themselves as models of democracy so long as the players who
knew what they were doing kept the pretence going, and as long as sufficient
distractions – including a modicum of economic security – stopped everyone else
from noticing. But the disintegration of both countries’ political orders is
now revealing the truth.
Both countries have periodic elections and alternations of political party
majorities in their legislatures. But both countries use the First Past the
Post voting system – intrinsically undemocratic because it narrows choice to
two parties, in the UK perennially producing minority-based governments, in the
US entrenching division in a constitutional order which in all its other
branches (Senate, presidency, Supreme Court) does not even pretend to be
The limitations of these FPTP polities has been cruelly exposed in recent years
– not least among the reasons being the advent of social media.
Their corrosive effects – fostered by cheap far-reaching and dishonest
micro-targeted political advertising and the grip of tendentious viral
messaging – have got into the cracks in the ramshackle structure of both
quasi-democracies and revealed a key point about them: that government has been
diverted from its original purpose of governing
to the purpose of keeping a
cabal in power
To see how, a recap is useful."
Via Mark Lansbury and Diane A.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics