Friday, July 06, 2007

Israel's Dangerous Plutocracy

In April of 1906, Roosevelt said, "Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship of the day."

My critics have often chided me on my "paranoia". For years I have described Israel's political process as "the illusion of democracy". Israel's parliamentarians are not elected by the people, but at best by the few thousand members of each party's secretariat. These individuals represent the special interest groups that control who will be in each party's "list of candidates" and their position on that list. At best the electorate can vote for a party, but whether a specific individual will actually sit in our parliament or note, has no connection with the individual's ballot.

In a country where, according to Dunn & Bradstreet and the former General Manager of the National Insurance, somewhere between fifteen to eighteen families control over 75% of Israel's capital, it is a very short path to believing that these families will ensure the election of individuals that will be "easy to work with". In other words, exploiting the back room mechanisms of the Israel equivalent to gerrymandering, Israel's politicians are far more accountable to their patrons than to the people who ostensibly elect them.

What a surprise to discover Teddy Roosevelt himself quoted as identifying a very parallel development in the American political system on the eve of the First World War.