Home | About | Donate

American Democracy Down for the Count


American Democracy Down for the Count

Ann Jones

Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting true things about America’s disastrous wars and so I left Afghanistan for another remote mountainous country far away. It was the polar opposite of Afghanistan: a peaceful, prosperous land where nearly everybody seemed to enjoy a good life, on the job and in the family.


Excellent article Ms Jones.

Thank you for showing us how things work in real democracies.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Ann Jones, thank you for an inspiring article. I've long admired the Scandinavian way of life, but the specifics about how and why it works get erased from my memory. The insanity of living in pour culture obscures a lot of things.


What a refreshing article. I wish articles like this would find their way into the main stream press, but we all know why that won't happen! I particularly liked the part about the empowerment of women. This is not only vital to a functioning democracy, but it is also vital if we are to keep population growth in check. In countries in which women are marginalized, birth rates are through the roof as the right to say "no" to a pregnancy is unavailable to the majority of women there.
The rate of union membership is also encouraging. High wages, good pensions and a great social safety net are the reasons these countries don't experience ghettoes like in the U.S. However they are always vigilant and very aware that outside, capitalistic forces are working to undermine democracy and inequality at every step along the way. If the U.S. were able to duplicate the Scandinavian model, war, poverty and the national collective stress level would all disappear.
Go Bernie Go!


I am not sure the roots of all this but I do recall the comparison of the Settler experience in Canada as contrasted to the USA. In the USA many struck out for land and wealth as individuals. Part of this it was claimed had to do with a more favorable climate. In Canada because of the cold harsh winters peoples settling the west had to rely on neighbors much more. Neighbours were seen as allies against the forbidding climate rather then competitors for the same space and land.

The same of course applied to the Northern Countries of Europe. The early peoples did not harvest much excess in the way of crops and the like and many relied on hunting to get them through winter months. They tended to share the proceeds of the hunt with the rest of the village and expected the same in return. Communities had a firmer foundation.

As societies evolved (or devolved) into those that could produce a surplus of goods through technologies some saw it as a means to accumulate ever more personal wealth and others exercised far more caution worried about how this would fracture community.

Societies that placed a premium on the individual and the personal over the community and the other saw a breakdown in community. This lead to inequality and ever more social strife. The First nations peoples in their oral histories here in Canada were well aware of how this all played out which is why they had festivals such as the Potlatch ceremonies and formed Gift economies. Those First nations peoples were also aware of the nature of the Commons and were quite taken aback that any society could deem those commons as "private property" and enclose it for their sole use.


Thank you, Ann Jones for this terrific article. As I was reading I kept thinking that the Scandinavian nations don't invest in war or macho shows of collective machismo. And then, to my surprise and appreciation, you added the following... and it truly makes the difference between the sane and just society and the Dominator Society:

"Consider the Norwegian welfare state. It’s universal. In other words, aid to the sick or the elderly is not charity, grudgingly donated by elites to those in need. It is the right of every individual citizen. That includes every woman, whether or not she is somebody’s wife, and every child, no matter its parentage. Treating every person as a citizen affirms the individuality of each and the equality of all. It frees every person from being legally possessed by another -- a husband, for example, or a tyrannical father.

"Which brings us to the heart of Scandinavian democracy: the equality of women and men. In the 1970s, Norwegian feminists marched into politics and picked up the pace of democratic change. Norway needed a larger labor force, and women were the answer. Housewives moved into paid work on an equal footing with men, nearly doubling the tax base. That has, in fact, meant more to Norwegian prosperity than the coincidental discovery of North Atlantic oil reserves. The Ministry of Finance recently calculated that those additional working mothers add to Norway’s net national wealth a value equivalent to the country’s “total petroleum wealth” -- currently held in the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, worth more than $873 billion. By 1981, women were sitting in parliament, in the prime minister’s chair, and in her cabinet.

"American feminists also marched for such goals in the 1970s, but the Big Boys, busy with their own White House intrigues, initiated a war on women that set the country back and still rages today in brutal attacks on women’s basic civil rights, health care, and reproductive freedom. In 1971, thanks to the hard work of organized feminists, Congress passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill to establish a multi-billion dollar national day care system for the children of working parents. In 1972, President Richard Nixon vetoed it, and that was that. In 1972, Congress also passed a bill (first proposed in 1923) to amend the Constitution to grant equal rights of citizenship to women. Ratified by only 35 states, three short of the required 38, that Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, was declared dead in 1982, leaving American women in legal limbo."

FAR too many otherwise intelligent men scoff at this factor and just dismiss it as some pesky Identity Politics problem. They really don't get it: that equal input from both genders in all aspects of societal design and expression is the KEY to a society that is NOT predicated on, for, and about war or war by economic means... as in the most disastrous expressions OF Disaster Capitalism, a/k/a The Shock Doctrine.


Not mentioned by Ann, but significant in the development of the Scandinavian countries is their military neutrality. They make weapons and have military forces for their own defense and to be assigned as peacekeeping forces by UN mandate. In the US the interventionist military is and remains the single biggest item in the federal budget and has remained that way for decades.
Along with the rest of the components of the security state, it goes around the world busying itself to be the muscle for multi-national corporations and cultivating the contempt and rage of the hapless people whose lives and cultures it destroys. Both Sweden and Norway had their marauding and colonialist phase of development.
Unlike most of the rest of the world's nations, those peoples learned the futility of meddling in the business of others for profit and treasure and abandoned such conduct two centuries ago. The result was a place where the energies of the peoples could be focused on building rather than destroying.
Once upon a time (up through 1940 at least) elementary school students in the US were required to study the farewell address of George Washington which counseled against both "standing armies" and "entangling alliances". Go and try to finds a teenager who even has any idea of what that important oration proclaimed, let alone its significance.


What muscular Christianity in cahoots with Mars rules REALLY thinks and feels about children and so-called "Family Values":

"For all these reasons and more, the international organization Save the Children cites Norway as the best country on Earth in which to raise kids, while the U.S. finishes far down the list in 33rd place."

So this "We're #1" is mostly about weapons--Mars rules' most cherished THING.


I assume you meant poor culture. The term pour is used in recipes... for instance, you pour milk into the cookie batter.


I will with great gladness add my thanks to Ann Jones for a glorious vision of how life on Earth could and should be!

We in America have been used and abused for so long many have forgotten what we once fought for; for the joys offered by life if there is an egalitarian, just society and government that serves the people. We have been slowly undermined, changed from a society to a mass of wage and interest slaves, serfs serving the 1% and their obscene lifestyles and greed-driven egos.

One point by Ann (among all the many) that caught my eye was "what America’s wars have done to America". We have truly imported much of the madness of our wars.

The domination of money and the accumulation of vast wealth in few hands/families/corporations and the subversion of government of, by, and for the people, to government that serves wealth and influence and the war machine regardless the consequences to people or environment or humanity is a madness we must expunge. Electing Bernie Sanders and working toward his issues of real change and fairness would be a good start.

The Scandinavian model shown in this wonderful piece echoes what "we" used to say: Live simply so that others may simply live"


While trying to make a case for cooperation over hardy individualism (and the competition it suggests), you leave out the most important feature of this article: That in Scandinavia, women are considered of equal value to their society and paid accordingly.

Yet beyond the financial evaluation are the moral, spiritual, social, and cultural ones... much more difficult to quantify.

Children can be placed in social school settings at a young age because in societies where both genders are valued, there's a real sense that all persons CARE.

What is missing in any patriarchal society since they are always based on top-down authoritarian rules, an ensuing social & economic hierarchy, and the DEVALUATION of women (at essence, and in terms of their work value and perceived intellectual contribution to their societies) is genuine equality and genuine cohesion.

You're one of so few who usually shows sensitivity towards women's rights and gender equality. I find it sad that you sought to develop a parallel thesis to what this article so plainly points out.


I do THAT on a daily basis. But some minds are too closed to receive it... in this thread, for instance, the majority work to make the gender component of this excellent article (key to its thesis) invisible and/or irrelevant.

It's that form of passive misogyny that is so sickening on the Left.


Well, this is all well and good but.... it could lead to class warfare.:wink: And, then we'd have to raise the DoD budget, increase funding for Homeland Security and tighten up the loose ends in the Nat'l Security and Police State. And, don't even think about more funding, until after the election at least, for the Prison Industrial Complex: can't do it, it wouldn't be prudent. We'll just have to settle for a " realistic American approach " and try to get to the top 25 by 2050, or so. Hey, there aren't any real apples in this foreign pie in the sky approach, anyway. " A trillion here, a trillion there and pretty soon they're talking about real money. " Sen. Everett Dirksen's smarter, younger brother.


We lost. The years of this administration marked the final split of the proverbial "masses" and of the Dem voter base -- middle class vs. the poor, workers vs. jobless, as the US maintains its downhill slide. The divide and conquer strategy has been brought to fruition. Instead of pretending otherwise, I would urge those who aren't on the right wing to start figuring out what, if anything, we can do about it.

Want to consider the broader issues -- America's place in the world? Then pick up a history book. The US has been engaged in wars more often than not, usually by choice, for a full century now. War is what we do, and we can no longer afford to do much else. There is good reason that much of the international community regards the US as the greatest potential threat to all life on Earth. Along with its thirst for war, America has used its power to create tremendous economic hardships both here and around the world. We put ourselves in a tremendously dangerous position.


Actually, the rich already won the class war by so successfully pitting the middle class against the poor. Divide and conquer.


What is the comparison of Sweden's arms exports, to the US?


You repeat this tired line as much as John Ellis does his "top half of society" diatribes. One thing you both have in common is an inability to take truth into your accounts or update on the basis of new data and serious, accurate information. Naturally, that serious empirical weakness exposes posts (of this nature) for the ignorance they reflect.


NOTHING compares with the U.S. arms exports. The U.S. spends more than the next 7 nations combined.

The really telling thing in this thread is that apart from Space Cadet, not one person dares to discuss the serious implications--in the way of societal improvement on all levels--when both genders are considered inherently valuable and given parity.

I can't believe how many posters refuse to take this into account. It is a form of closet misogyny and I am writing about it.

It is disconcerting (in the extreme) that so many who try to pass themselves off as Progressive Leftists and/or serious thinkers cannot even take into their analyses what the absence of gender parity means now and has meant for the formation and endurance of patriarchal societies.

While Anita Sarkeesian received death threats for speaking up about the use of violence against women in teenage video games; and Gabrielle Giffords got shot in the face for daring to talk about gun violence in this nation; it's the SILENCE that is so stunning, glaring, ignorant, and pathetic.

This nation worships the phallus and that's what the guns-missiles-torpedoes-bombs ARE.

I am hardly the only one (Feminist, or otherwise) who sees this.

And the roots of this uber-emphasis on masculine forms of DESTRUCTION, assuming the persona of the god of death ("I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" Oppenheimer said upon witnessing the detonation of the A-bomb) is a direct compensation for not being the God of life, as are women, endowed with ultimate Creator Power.

THAT is the great wound that keeps on wounding and the boys just want to talk about capitalism.

How fucking quaint!


Try to find an affordable place to live in Toronto. And yes, you do see homeless people panhandling there too. And in spite of a pretty good public transit system, too many people using cars many of them big SUV's - just like the US.