Saturday, February 2, 2013

Corporate-Driven Democracy

The documentary 'Elemental--Three Stories' captures Mr. Rajendra Singh's 40-day pilgrimage down the Ganges river in India. Mr. Singh, a water conservationist from Rajasthan is on a mission to bring back to life the polluted and near-dead Ganges river. At one point in the documentary, Mr. Singh says that India is a "corporate-driven democracy".
In my opinion, for meaningful and productive political discourse, people need to know what they are talking about.  

Here is my informal take on the concept, corporate-driven democracy: 

Corporate-driven democracy may be equated with special interest-driven democracy. In a corporate-driven democracy, corporations guide and direct government and society for their own gain.

Special interests are individuals, corporations, or groups with wants and needs particular to them as opposed to all people of a society.

Corporations are public or private organized economic services or productions, in order to maximize efficiency, output, and ultimately profit for shareholders (rather than the overall public good) or non-shareholders.     

Is corporate-driven democracy a contradiction in terms?

A corporate-driven democracy is about the voice of the corporations. An ideal democracy is about the voice of the people (in all electoral districts) as a whole.

The Foundation for Democratic Advancement measured the U.S. federal electoral system, for instance, as a system driven by special interests. Viz., the loopholes in the system favor political influence by special interests over influence by the people as a whole. For examples, the lack of regulation of private media during election periods favors individuals and groups who are able to influence the political content of media. The lack of campaign expenditure limits on privately funded presidential candidates, congressional candidates, and non-connected political committees favors candidates and committees with connection to individuals and groups which are willing to contribute and have the finances to do so.

In an ideal democracy, government functions for the overall public good or acts in the interests of the people as a whole. In a corporate-driven democracy, government functions for the interests of corporations or acts in the interests of corporations, while convincing itself or pretending that the interests of the corporations are necessarily the overall public good. For example, in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, Mitt Romney said "corporations are people."

What kind of political system is a corporate-driven democracy?

It is not a democracy by the mere fact that the overall public good is not the focal point of the system.

It could be called an oligarchy, but that implies only a few players with control.

In my opinion, corporate-driven democracy or special interest-driven democracy is a plutocracy within a shell of democracy.

Plutocracy refers to the rule of the rich (in terms of financial wealth and media access), and I assume that the rich have reason to influence government policy and the financial resources to do so through lobbyists.

The shell of democracy refers to electoral and governmental systems which contain various loopholes which favor special interests.

I did a brief search of the Internet to see what related concepts are part of the online political discourse. This is what I came up with:

Elite-driven democracy (I assume this concept means that democracy is guided and directed by so-called elites in terms of social status, financial wealth, educational background etc.,)

Market-driven democracy (This concept is an extension of neoliberalism and associated with special interest-driven democracy through the major players in the global marketplace guiding and directing government and society for their own gain.)

People-driven democracy (I associate this concept with ideal democracy in which the people as a whole guide and direct government and society for the overall public good.)

As you likely can tell, the political discourse is a key component of any meaningful change, because ideas are the seeds of reform, change, and progress. If the political discourse is narrow and restricted, then reform, change, and progress will be impeded. I encourage people to share your ideas, because in my view the health of the political discourse is directly linked to the health of the society.

Related links:

Romney's Corporations are People

Ideas on Neoliberalism

 Mr. Stephen Garvey, Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Executive Director


  1. two complete different takes:

    draw your own conclusions

  2. More like, high level academic analysis vs. pseudo something. Which one is which?

    1. This information may help you with your determination:

      Here is the FDA's 2012 Reports on the U.S. federal electoral system, and the FDA's Media Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election:

      Please note when analyzing research reports, it always a good idea to find out who funded the research.

      The FDA reports are strictly independent; the FDA does not conduct privately paid research.

      If you are paid troll or pr person, move on.


Thank you for sharing your perspective.