There are many forms of violence: physical, economic, religious, racial, psychological, ecological, moral…etc, etc. What do we call it when there is an illusion of Democracy but the system is firmly in the hands of an economic elite that controls most mechanisms of power, the Media and our image of “reality”? What do we call it when thousands of immigrants escape the wars and disasters created by the West in Africa only to drown within sight of the European coast? The outpouring of morally righteous pontification cannot hide the effect of this mass of people moving north. Fear. Europeans are scared and vote for whoever will make sure they do not enter their country. This is not part of the manifesto of the “moderate” parties, but as the late Tony Benn said many years ago “racism is the id of politics”.

Electoral violence is not new, in fact it is part of the system itself. In the UK the “first past the post” method has ensured for years the monopoly of the main parties and the opposite of proportional representation. But we are reminded of what is happening in the voting process itself when we are living in a purely formal Democracy:

“…The edifice of democracy has fallen into ruin as its foundations—the separation of powers, representative government, and respect for minorities—have been eroded.

The theoretical separation of powers has become nonsense. Even a cursory examination of the practices surrounding the origin and composition of the different powers reveals the intimate relationships that link them to each other. And things could hardly be otherwise, for they all form part of one same system. In nation after nation we see one branch gaining supremacy over the others, functions being usurped, corruption and irregularities surfacing—all corresponding to the changing global economic and political situation of each country.

As for representative government, since the extension of universal suffrage people have believed that only a single act is involved when they elect their representative and their representative carries out the mandate received. But as time has passed, people have come to see clearly that there are in fact two acts: a first in which the many elect the few, and a second in which those few betray the many, representing interests foreign to the mandate they received. And this corruption is fed within the political parties, now reduced to little more than a handful of leaders who are totally out of touch with the needs of the people. Through the party machinery, powerful interests finance candidates and then dictate the policies they must follow. This state of affairs reveals a profound crisis in the contemporary conception and implementation of representative democracy.” (Silo, Letters to my Friends, Sixth Letter).

Words that will be in the lips of this new Government every time they cut a bit more, discriminate a bit more, leave more people in poverty and without access to good quality health, accommodation and education: “mandate”, “legitimacy”, “the will of the people”.

How can we transform a disaster into an opportunity?

1. Resist the mechanical habit of apportioning blame. This only distracts from the structural problems of the system.

2. Continue building the bottom up movements already in existence to develop Real Democracy through the methodology of nonviolence.

3. Connect the need for personal change as a function of social transformation. The politics of fear and manipulation do not work on people who build an internal reference in connection and solidarity with others.

4. Help develop Alternative Media to counteract the effects of the Corporate Media. Join the Pressenza team as a citizen-journalist, training in Nonviolence journalism and contribute to building a truly humanist vision of the world.