The Blunder of Large Mass Elections and The Power of the Big Organizations

The Blunder of Large Mass Elections

Freedom of participation and expression is a universal value, inherent to human dignity, and any a priori restriction on the possibility of someone, or of any group, participating in the political process will vitiate the choice process. Speaking only in general terms, the guarantee of this freedom of participation, expression, organization, etc., is usually reasonably well served in current Liberal democracies.

But what about the second condition for a fair and competent selection process for the most qualified, which is equal opportunities in the dispute? In this case, the condition of equal opportunities refers to the dispute for positions of political leadership at different levels of the country. Are there equal opportunities in large-scale elections that characterize the processes of choice for the main political posts in today’s Liberal democracies? Evidently not, not at all.

The electoral processes of large masses, which often reach millions of people, are characterized by very expensive campaigns, which involve large resources (human, material, financial, etc.) and necessarily involve access to very expensive instruments of mass communication.

Now, the majority of the population has few resources, which makes it impossible to finance the campaigns, which involve large financial resources. In addition, large mass media are owned by private groups. What happens in the reality of this unfair scenario is that the vast majority are completely excluded from any concrete chance of success in such a flagrantly unequal dispute.

And the result of that is quite evident. The overwhelming majority of those who are elected belong to some very visible categories. Above all, the rich are chosen, or those financed by groups that have large material resources; also chosen are those who appear frequently in the mass media, be they artists, athletes or mass communicators of various types.

It is worth repeating that since the media are private companies, the private interests of these companies exercise a “natural censorship”, not only on what they convey, but especially on those they employ as their communicators of all kinds.

Has anyone ever seen a communicator from a major communication company criticizing economic, or political facts that are against the interests of that company? On the contrary, what is known is communicators, artists, etc., who lose their jobs because they disagree with the ideas and interests of their bosses. It is also well known the immense power of the mass media, be it the television or radio networks, or even the big newspapers and magazines, which together are often called the “fourth power”.

Modern forms of digital communication such as, for example, social networks via the Internet, of which many expect so much are unable to break this rule: that economic and financial power and the various forms of demagogic popularity also play a dominant role in these digital media.

The last category to have a chance of success in this system are demagogues of all kinds. They are those who, consciously or unconsciously, deceive the masses with promises that cannot be kept. Of course, some manage to combine two of these categories, or even all three, and then there are the electoral phenomena, whose current, paradigmatic and globally most significant example, is President Donald Trump of the USA.

In summary, in the processes of choosing the current forms of Liberal democracies (that is, in the electoral processes of large masses), the following three categories largely dominate the results of the elections: 1) the rich and those supported or financed by them; 2) those whose work involves frequent and voluminous exposure in the mass media; and, 3) demagogues of all kinds, whose discourse meets the interests and desires of large population groups, when actually the are unable to serve them.

Many people do not clearly perceive that this unfair scenario (of the mass elections) is even more aggravated when we consider the third of the conditions of a good choice process, that is, the necessary adjustment between the characteristics and requirements of the function, and the understanding of the population in question.

The information in Chapter 3, on the differences in capabilities, showed us the real profile of the levels of breadth the social understanding of the population in general. The degree of innocence of a large part of this population was clearly shown there. Without a clear view of this profile and the enormous differences in the reach of the population’s social understanding, it is not possible to make a serious diagnosis about how unfair and incompetent the rules are for the selection of governors in the electoral processes of current Liberal democracies.

Let us take, by way of illustration, just one concrete example. What is the sense of the population choosing the constituents (1986), through direct, universal and mandatory suffrage, when according to a survey (already mentioned) by IBOPE in Rio Grande do Sul which is one of the states with the best educational indexes in the country 70.5% of the electoral population did not even know what a Constituent Assembly was?

Would it be surprising that in the process of choosing such leaders, the population elects a corrupt president? Or that she elects as a federal deputy, one of the most responsible posts, someone who has the resources to finance an expensive election campaign (own resources or rich supporters), or a drug dealer, or a TV show host, or a comedian, or a demagogue, or someone for being a good athlete, and so on?

Remember that this is not just the case in the Third World. Just look at the recent example of the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., or politicians with so many corruption scandals in the richest countries in the world. There are so many examples, as in Japan, where a prime minister was deposed because they discovered that he had been bribed by large companies, such as Lockheed in the USA. Or the case of Nixon in the USA. Or several deputies and a corrupt prime minister, not to mention a porn actress elected to parliament, in Italy. The examples are so many and so many that they become boring.

The chart below, regarding the credibility of politicians, is very clear about the results of this process of choosing political leaders in the current forms of Liberal democracies. These data are about the credibility deserved by those who should be the best that a nation has, as they occupy the most responsible positions. The survey is by IBOPE and was published in Zero Hora, on 08/09/87. Needless to say, the situation in Brazil 2020 does not look any better, with so many corruption scandals in the highest positions in the nation! The question asked was as follows:

– “Do you agree or disagree with the statements below used to describe the actions of politicians?” The tabulation presents percentages.

Statements Agree Disagree Not know/ not answer
Only do politics in self-interest 80% 17% 3%
They care about the interests of the people 30 67 3
Even the most honest ones corrupt themselves 66 26 8
Not deliver what they promise in the campaign 89 9 2
Only defend those who helped them get elected 73 23 4
They enjoy many perks 92 6 2
Only remember the voter at the time of the election 93 6 1

This disheartening picture, in itself, is already a clear statement about the incompetence of this system of choosing political leaders.

The Power of the Big Organizations

However, it is not just in relation to the process of choosing government officials that this model is incompetent. It is also clearly insufficient with regard to the capacity to provide government officials with the necessary force of coercion, above all, as we have seen, to face the enormous power of big organizations.

Why are these big organizations so powerful? Ultimately, because they manage to bring together the efforts of many thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people. Thanks to this gathering of efforts, albeit for reasons of an eminently privatist nature, these organizations appropriate immense amounts of economic resources, finance and bribe political leaders, and so on. And these organizational exploits are possible because their personnel departments, among others, effectively apply reasonable knowledge about differences in capabilities!

Could anyone imagine a big company, with hundreds of thousands of employees, choosing its main executives, its board of directors, in short, its most responsible positions, through a direct election process, with one vote for each employee? Absolutely not! Or an army choosing its generals for direct elections of all components of the force? No way!

The Roman Catholic Church itself, which from a purely organizational point of view is one of the most successful examples in history, and whose bishops and cardinals outside their organization defend Liberal democracy, but do not apply a system in their own home so inefficient. Its faithful do not elect the Pope, not even priests, and not even all bishops elect the Pope. Only the cardinals proceed to choose the greatest head of the Church!

Now, the problems of a great nation are much more complex than the problems of running a large company, an armed force, or a religious organization. But the same business, military, religious leaders, etc., who outside their organizations defend the current political models of Liberal democracies, would never think of applying it to the much simpler realities of their corporations!

This is a good example of the “poorness” of the elites. In other words, the “poorness” (bad quality) of the ideas that dominate at the level of the elites, and that are projected as the great institutions of the countries in most of the world today, whether models of Liberal or Marxist inspiration, or models derived from religious traditions, which are still existing today.

The weakness of the State organized under the current forms of Liberal democracies has been attested, several times, in the recent history of Brazil, and of so many other nations, especially in the Third World, or, in our case, in Latin America. Why were so many coups d’état possible, and why so many more will be possible in the future? Because in addition to choosing leaders very poorly, it is a weak model of State organization, powerless in the face of the strength of the big organizations, of which it is usually nothing more than a “puppet”. And the same factor that explains the strength of these corporations explains the weakness of this model.

We have seen that the strength of these corporations lies in the fact that they are able to gather, or organize, in a cohesive manner tens or hundreds of thousands of people. And in view of the colossal strength of these corporations, only the force generated by a good organization of the entire population of a country could overcome. This is exactly what the current Liberal-democratic models do not do, because in the systems of elections of large masses the political organization is very loose, and the population remains fragmented, or “atomized”, due, among other aspects, to the great distance that separates the representatives of the represented. This is because it is good organization, cohesion, or unity as it is popularly said, that which generates strength – and not fragmentation of an almost amorphous laxity.

When millions of people directly elect a high authority, whether legislative or executive, this same process, in addition to being very incompetent and unfair as a process for choosing the most qualified, creates an abyss between the population and its leaders.

Now, this double characteristic, which is striking in this process of choosing government officials, creates the weakness of this type of state organization, especially in relation to the gigantic corporations, private or public. Because, as we said before, even public organizations develop a spirit of private (particular, privately owned, etc) nature and interests.

This double terrible mistake, of poorly capable main government officials and poor organization of the population, inevitably generates a weak State, where there is no force capable of regulating and harmonizing the interests of the gigantic organizations for the benefit of the entire population.

Needless to say, this weakness is only reinforced by the counterweight order of the three powers, whose separation, since its original conception, aimed at weakening the central power. This weakening, as already explained, in reality is the objective sought, which is derived from the conception of a “minimum state”, in view of the need to protect individuals against the perversity of a leviathanic (leviathan like) State. In these points, in summary, lie the main flaws of the current models of Liberal pseudo-democracies.

As we saw earlier, in a quotation by Philip Converse, it is the great currents of thought, especially those dominant in the most intellectualized strata, that build the life of nations. In the same way, we could add, they heavily influence the lives of individuals. The ideas that dominate the minds of the elite, what leaders and intellectuals preach, what great artists inspire, and so on, will become the life of a nation, since these hegemonic thoughts will inevitably also shape main social institutions and, in this case, the models of social-political organization. (Arnaldo Sisson Filho. What Is Wrong With Politics?Chapter V)