Throughout the time I have been writing this blog I have pressed the idea that America is not so much a “proper” democracy, but is rather an Oligarchical democracy where the ruling noble houses act as a brake on the full expression of the democratic will of the people, whilst simultaneously siphoning off the wealth of the workers to fund their political take-over, and all to the detriment of the average man and woman and the growth of the country.
This has met with some scepticism on the part of some readers and critics. After all, America is a modern powerful country with, they state, a clear open democracy.
America of course, as Britain or Europe, does not have a pure market economy. That became all too clear in the scandal of the latest financial crash where financial institutions who grew fat in the good years and whose enormous profits were kept strictly private and payable only to the investors, rushed to have their equally enormous debts paid for by the taxpayer. Paid off by the very same politicians who benefit from the system.
Her democracy is not pure either, and I identify the oligarchical nature of her politics in the blog.
But can we see similar structures elsewhere? Well, Patrick French in his new book, India : A Portrait, believes he can. And for me the comparisons are uncanny.
Thorough research and skilled argument throughout, also mark the section of the book where he deals with family and politics.
Every (yes, he means every single one) MP in the Lok Sabha the lower house of the Indian Parliament under the age of 30 had inherited the seat. That bit about “under 30” only points up that in India this is an accelerating phenomenon.
More than two thirds of the 66 MPs aged 40 and over are hereditary MPs.
Every Congress MP under 35 was a hereditary MP.
Nearly 40% of the 66 ministers who are members of the lower house were hereditary members.
And nearly 70% of the women MPs have family connections.
For those aged over 50 the proportion with a father or relative in politics was a more modest 17.9% which gets close to the 14% we saw in the US Congress of 2000.
Three members of one family – Nehru-Gandhi – have been prime minister, which might appear extraordinary until you take a close look at American Presidential history where 27 of the 43 Presidents are related by blood, marriage or adoption. Think Bush. And remember Jeb when his time comes.
If we see this as a problem in India, why is it not seen as a problem in America?
And in case you think only I see the problems here, I will leave you with a quote below. Before checking the source guess which country it refers to.
“An oligarchic capitalism then, with aspects of market economy and political democracy falling short of a true democratic market system. A small group of people who, having amassed great wealth then move to hold power over the country’s political society.”
“A drag on long term growth, a source of distortion in policy design”
India 2034, published by Asian Development Bank
Copyright David Macadam 2011