What is Lady Liberty to do? Stuck in the middle of two parties that represent the same corporate interests while giving her platitudes about our rights and our liberties. No wonder she is covering her face.

When Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America in 1835, little did he know how the quintessential concept of American Democracy — with all of the good and all of the bad — would shape the course of global events for the next 175 years. But de Tocqueville did however, predict that Democracy can quite easily turn into despotism under the guise of liberty and freedom.

Alexis de Tocqueville had quite a quaint and romantic notion — though wholly realistic — of the potential of the Democracy he saw in America for the greater good of the human condition, though he framed it within the greater context of historical notions of freedom and liberty, determining that American Democracy does not have a patent on freedom, but rather was one of many systems of rule where freedom prospered.

Freedom has appeared in the world at different times and under various forms; it has not been exclusively bound to any social condition, and it is not confined to democracies. Freedom cannot, therefore, form the distinguishing characteristic of democratic ages. The peculiar and preponderant fact that marks those ages as its own is the equality of condition; the ruling passion of men in those periods is the love of this equality. Do not ask what singular charm the men of democratic ages find in being equal, or what special reasons they may have for clinging so tenaciously to equality rather than to the other advantages that society holds out to them: equality is the distinguishing characteristic of the age they live in; that of itself is enough to explain that they prefer it to all the rest…

Democratic nations are at all times fond of equality, but there are certain epochs at which the passion they entertain for it swells to the height of fury. This occurs at the moment when the old social system, long menaced, is overthrown after a severe internal struggle, and the barriers of rank are at length thrown down. At such times men pounce upon equality as their booty, and they cling to it as to some precious treasure which they fear to lose. [1]

Indeed, in our current political manifestation, we are fond of equality and continue to cling to it as if life depended on it. When we see a threat, real or imagined, to our perceived notion of equality, we manufacture uproar — or let the hyperbolic media do it for us — in able to sustain our inconsistencies and dissonance in the face cold, hard facts and reality. Democracy, in the American form, was never intended to bring equality to the masses, but rather to land owning white males. Women, the poor and any person of color were not included in this conceptualization of Democracy.

Our nation’s philosophical and material history is one of schisms, inconsistencies, contradictions and hypocrisies. The dialectic presented to us, beginning at a very young age, is one that is filled with a magnitude of misinformation and propaganda intentionally devoid of the key components of context and historical truths.

The very concepts and notions of Democracy, liberty and freedom are used as tools to enslave us (quite literally if one is of African heritage in this country) as we fully embrace these notions without giving thought or attention to the material realities taking place around us as we proceed to go about our daily endeavors earning currencies that will be used to consume the goods and materials that perpetuate our own intellectual prisons.

The concept of despotism within the framework of Democracy was eloquently discussed by de Tocqueville and is quite evident in the current context of Corporatism and the stranglehold that powerful business interests have on our ability to elect representatives that serve the greater societal good rather than the perpetual disenfranchisement at the hands of individuals and businesses who see us as nothing more than commodities and consumers.

It would seem that if despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them. I do not question that, in an age of instruction and equality like our own, sovereigns might more easily succeed in collecting all political power into their own hands and might interfere more habitually and decidedly with the circle of private interests than any sovereign of antiquity could ever do. But this same principle of equality which facilitates despotism tempers its rigor. We have seen how the customs of society become more humane and gentle in proportion as men become more equal and alike. When no member of the community has much power or much wealth, tyranny is, as it were, without opportunities and a field of action. As all fortunes are scanty, the passions of men are naturally circumscribed, their imagination limited, their pleasures simple. This universal moderation moderates the sovereign himself and checks within certain limits the inordinate stretch of his desires. [2]

This quagmire presented by de Tocqueville has most assuredly come to pass as corporate despotism is the de facto rule of our representative democracy in America. The clowns and jokers of our two party system have enabled corporate tyranny to dictate all matters of foreign affairs as well as a system of taxes that directly benefits the wealthy while antagonizing the majority. Rather than recognizing the realty that every dime that we earn in our lifetimes will ultimately go back into the very same pot that enables this tyranny to strive, so many are manipulated into a belief that they are supporting the poor, the lazy, the ignorant: nothing could be further from the truth as they are supporting the corporate interests — the modern despots of democracy — to their own detriment.

We are all part of the poor and the underclass yet we are of the belief that we are superior to others because of skin color or intellect or the make and model of the car we drive. This is the brilliance of Democracy: lead the masses to believe they are free while slowly devouring that freedom while simultaneously instigating conflict among a populace that is exploited by the same despotic system, be it under the guise of Democrat or Republican.

Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions only exhibits servitude at certain intervals and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is in vain to summon a people who have been rendered so dependent on the central power to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity. [3]

Democracy in America has proven to be a perfect case study of  the potential dangers and corruption of a system that guarantees us liberty, equality and freedom while simultaneously granting none of those. Such is the case with many systems of thought offering freedom and equality; the USSR is a perfect example of that. I highly doubt Marx or Lenin would be pleased with the inherent totalitarianism of the Soviet’s historical bastardization of Communism. Likewise, Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson would be quite appalled to see the current state of Capitalism and Despotism masquerading as Democracy.

It is true that around every man a fatal circle is traced beyond which he cannot pass; but within the wide verge of that circle he is powerful and free; as it is with man, so with communities. The nations of our time cannot prevent the conditions of men from becoming equal, but it depends upon themselves whether the principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or freedom, to knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or wretchedness. [4]

It is truly up to us if we are to ultimately reap the rewards and rights that the concept of Democracy can potentially afford us. Representative Democracy, in whatever economic schema it exists, is a wonderful and liberating concept if it is used to truly advance the interests of those it claims to represent. As long as we blindly take sides and perpetuate divisiveness with our fellow man, we are destined to be perpetual enablers of Democratic Despotism. To paraphrase de Tocqueville: it is up to us whether we use the principles of Democracy, Liberty and Equality to lead us to freedom rather than servitude.

Image created from: Lady Liberty; Obama Clown; Bush Joker