A global network of stakeholder capitalist partners are collaborating to usher in what they claim to be a new model of enhanced democratic accountability that includes “civil society”. However, beneath their deceptive use of the term civil society lies an ideology which offers this network an unprecedented degree of political control that threatens to extinguish representative democracy entirely.
By Iian Davis
Source: Unlimited Hangout
Representative democracy is quietly being phased out to be replaced with a “new normal.” This “new normal” is a nascent form of governance being referred to as “civil society.” It is founded upon the principles of communitarianism and it is being offered to us as an illusory replacement for representative democracy.
The Global Public-Private Partnership (G3P), who set the worldwide policy agenda, have long-seen the manipulation of the concept of civil society as a means to achieve their ambitions. This is at odds with how many emergent “civil society” groups understand their allocated roll.
Set against the background of a corporate, global state, in this article, we will explore the exploitation of communitarian civil society and consider the evidence that, despite possibly good intentions, civil society is very far from the system of increased democratic accountability that communitarians had hoped for. In the hands of the G3P, what they refer to as “civil society” is a tyranny.
Shaping the Global Public-Private Partnership
Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual Davos meeting in 1998, then United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan, described the transformation of the United Nations. He signalled the transition to the G3P model of global governance:
“The United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a ‘quiet revolution’ […] A fundamental shift has occurred. The United Nations once dealt only with governments. By now we know that peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without partnerships involving governments, international organizations, the business community and civil society […] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world.”
The WEF describes itself as the “International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.” It represents the interests of more than 1000 global corporations and, in June 2019, it signed a Strategic Partnership Framework agreement with the United Nations. The WEF and the UN agreed to work together to “accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Agenda 2030 establishes the initial waypoints along the path to completion of the plan for the 21st century, also known as Agenda 21. The policies required to achieve these goals will be developed by the multi-stakeholder partnership. The UN explain how this is envisaged to operate:
“Cross sectorial and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships will play a crucial role for getting us to where we need by the year 2030. Partnerships for sustainable development are multi-stakeholder initiatives voluntarily undertaken by Governments, intergovernmental organizations, major groups and others stakeholders, which efforts are contributing to the implementation of inter-governmentally agreed development goals and commitments, as included in Agenda 21.”
For its part, the UN describes itself as the “place where the world’s nations can gather together, discuss common problems and find shared solutions.” Currently 193 sovereign states are signed up to the UN Charter.
National governments commit to abide by the principles of the Charter and the ruling arbitration of the International Court of Justice. While UN General Assembly recommendations are non-binding on member states, the UN provides a mechanism by which governments can take collective action.
With the Strategic Partnership in place, the WEF and the corporations they represent are now engaged in “effective collaboration” with the 193 national governments represented at the UN. They are directly partnering with government in the development of global policy agendas.
The partnership will guide the formation of policies and regulations related to international finance and the global financial system; the transition to a new, low carbon global economy; international public health policy, disaster preparedness and global health security; the technological development deemed necessary to bring about the Fourth Industrial Revolution; policies on diversity, inclusion and equality; oversight of the global education systems and more.
In an attempt to add a veneer of democratic accountability to this Strategic Partnership Framework, as the world uniformly moves towards Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN strongly advocates collaboration with “civil society.” Indeed, SDG 17 specifically refers to this arrangement: “Goal 17 further seek to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships”
Civil society will be engaged by utilising the WEF concept of the “multistakeholder platform.” This is a core element of the WEF’s definition of stakeholder capitalism.
The communitarian model of civil society is based upon a triumvirate power sharing structure between state (public sector), market (private sector) and community (social or third sector.) However, the WEF’s interpretation of stakeholder capitalism assumes that the public-private partnership stakeholders (state-market) select the civil society communities (social or third sector) they wish to engage with.
Selection bias is a concern, as it obviously excludes the communities the public-private partnership does not wish to engage with. In part, this contradicts the communitarian view of civil society.
The WEF’s multistakeholder platform appears to exploit, rather than embrace, communitarian civil society. Understandably, the WEF’s partnership with the UN drew strong criticism from many civil society groups. The Transnational Institute (TNI) encapsulated their concerns as follows:
“This public-private partnership will permanently associate the UN with transnational corporations […] This is a form of corporate capture […] The provisions of the strategic partnership effectively provide that corporate leaders will become ‘whisper advisors’ to the heads of UN system departments, using their private access to advocate market-based profit-making ‘solutions’ to global problems while undermining real solutions […] The UN’s acceptance of this partnership agreement moves the world toward WEF’s aspirations for multistakeholderism becoming the effective replacement of multilateralism […] The goal was to weaken the role of states in global decision-making and to elevate the role of a new set of ‘stakeholders’, turning our multilateral system into a multistakeholder system, in which companies are part of the governing mechanisms. This would bring transnational corporations, selected civil society representatives, states and other non-state actors together to make global decisions, discarding or ignoring critical concerns around conflicts of interest, accountability and democracy.”
Less than six months after the Strategic Partnership Framework was signed the pseudopandemic allegedly began in Wuhan, China. Resulting world events have somewhat obscured the corporate capture of global governance from public attention, but it remains in place.
The Civil Society Tradition
Representative democracies have a long tradition of civil society. Between 1835 and 1840 the French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote and published two volumes of “Democracy in America.” He noted that, for the representative democracy of the “new world,” the voluntary institutions of civil society promoted active engagement in decision making and acted as a bulwark against the excesses of centralised, governmental authority:
“Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds -religious, moral, serious, futile, extensive, or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found establishments for education, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books […] and in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools […] they form a society.”
While he found that American civil society empowered the citizenry, de Tocqueville also identified some of the apparent risks:
“When several members of an aristocracy agree to combine, they easily succeed in doing so; as each of them brings great strength to the partnership, the number of its members may be very limited; and when the members of an association are limited in number, they may easily become mutually acquainted, understand each other, and establish fixed regulations. The same opportunities do not occur amongst democratic nations, where the associated members must always be very numerous for their association to have any power.”
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with concept of civil society, but even in the 19th century the potential for it to be exploited by powerful interest groups was apparent.
Today, civil society is sold to us as a way to fix what many people see as the “democratic deficit”. First coined in the late 70’s by the Congress of Young European Federalists (JEF), the “deficit” was conceived to explain the observed failings in representative democracy.
The JEF held that the ponderous, centralised bureaucracy of national government was unable to adapt to rapidly changing economic and social conditions. Further, that the interdependent, international nature of modern, technologically advanced industrial societies created conditions that no single nation could address in isolation.
This left the electorate unable to affect the policy changes they needed, as government became unresponsive to social and economic realities. Civil society was suggested as a way to bridge the gap between governance, government and community. Unfortunately, the inherent credulity of the communitarian theory driving it rendered civil society vulnerable to manipulation by more Machiavellian global forces.
Communitarian Civil Society Model
In 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels published the first edition of the Communist Manifesto. In it they criticised their intellectual forebears, Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and others, for their utopian naivety. In particular they decried the “utopian socialist” rejection of the class struggle, pointing out that, in their opinion, the proletariat needed an independent political movement in order to overturn the rule of the bourgeoisie.
In 1841, John Goodwyn Barmby coined the term “communitarian.” He was among those who Marx would subsequently label as utopian socialists. Communitarianism elucidated their theory that individual identity was a product of familial, social and community interactions. Communitarianism wasn’t widely referenced until, in 1996, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor highlighted that a new form of political communitarianism was building in the US:
“The term has been taken up by a group under the leadership of Amitai Etzioni in the US. This group has a political agenda. One might say that they are concerned social democrats who are worried about the way that various forms of individualism are undermining the welfare state. They see the need for solidarity, and hence for ‘community’ on a number of levels, from the family to the state.”
Amitai Etzioni, an Israeli-American dual citizen, is the director of the Center for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University. A former advisor to the Carter administration, he formed an association of like minded sociologists and other scholars called the Communitarian Network.
In 1991, the Network produced its manifesto in the form of the Responsive Communitarian Platform. Etzioni et al. defined civil society as the moral and political space between community and state. They suggested that global problems could only be tackled with the participation of civil society:
“A communitarian perspective must be brought to bear on the great moral, legal and social issues of our time […] Moral voices achieve their effect mainly through education and persuasion, rather than through coercion […] they exhort, admonish, and appeal to what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature […] this important moral realm, which is neither one of random individual choice nor of government control, has been much neglected […] we see an urgent need for a communitarian social movement to accord these voices their essential place […] civil society is a constant, ongoing enterprise.”
Communitarianism is opposed to authoritarian control. It specifies “community” as representative of the people. Accordingly, in order for government to be genuinely responsive to the changing needs of the electorate, it must engage with communities:
“We seek to find ways to accord citizens more information, and more say, more often. We seek to curb the role of private money, special interests, and corruption in government. Similarly, we ask how ‘private governments,’ whether corporations, labor unions, or voluntary associations, can become more responsive to their members and to the needs of the community.”
Etzioni and other communitarians, like the utopian socialists before them, believe that the community represents the individual. Therefore, the community can speak for the individual. Further, they believe that governments and “private governments” can engage with the people via consultation with the communities. In combination, these communities form civil society.
In his 2000 commissioned treatise for the UK-based, privately funded think tank DEMOS, titled The Third Way To A Good Society, Etzioni argued that civil society could remedy public disillusionment in democratic institutions. He noted the dwindling public trust in government and increasing sense of disenfranchisement. The remedy he proposed for this democratic deficit has since proven disastrous:
“We aspire to a society that is not merely civil but is good […] When we bond with family, friends or community members we live up to the basic principle of the good society […] The good society is one that balances three often partially incompatible elements: the state, the market and the community. […] Communities, in my understanding, are based on two foundations […] First, communities provide bonds of affection that turn groups of people into social entities resembling extended families. Second, they transmit a shared moral culture (a set of shared social meanings and values that characterise what the community considers virtuous verses unacceptable behaviour) […] These traits differentiate communities from other social groups […] Contemporary communities evolve among members of one profession working for the same institution […] members of an ethnic or racial group even if dispersed among others; people who share a sexual orientation; or intellectuals of the same political or cultural feather […]Groups that merely share specific interests – to prevent the Internet from being taxed or to reduce the costs of postage – are solely an interest group or lobby. They lack the affective bonds and shared culture that make communities.”
For communitarians shared morality defines the “good society” which manifests in the exercise of power sharing between “the state, the market and the community.” Communities, as defined, stand apart from mere “interest groups” because they have “affective bonds” whereas interest groups don’t, in the communitarian’s view.
Community is, according to the communitarians, held together because people have affection for each other. They suggest that interest groups lack cohesion by comparison.
Community is “good” and therefore the power-sharing triangle is “good” for society. Certainly the vast majority of us want to live in a peaceful society, where families of every shape and size can thrive, where children have the opportunity to reach their full potential and conflict is resolved without resorting to violence. Nonetheless, communitarianism poses some questions.
Absent a shared “specific interest,” it is not easy to define community. Which “communities” will be chosen to form civil society, how is this decision made and who makes it? Who represents the local community? Is it the church, if so which church? Is it a local charity or an environmentalist group? Does the local cyclist community represent the interests of the local road hauliers community? What “good” values do these selected communities promote, who among us agree with them and how many of us share their aims and objectives?
Who is selected from each alleged community to represent the opinions of all of its constituent members? Do the community members share the views of their representatives? Are they happy for these community leaders to speak for them?
In the multistakeholder platform-based model of civil society it appears that these judgments fall to the public-private partnership. How confident can the rest of us be in their rationale? Even the notion of the local community is a nebulous concept. Where are the boundaries of local? Is it our street, our town, city or nation state? Does everyone who lives in whatever is prescribed as the local community agree? Do we all share the same opinions, do we even want to be part of a community?
Communitarians offer few, if any, answers to these questions. It is an implicit assumption of communitarianism that this thing they call community is capable of acting as a voice for the individual. This is not evident.
Communitarian “New Normal” Intolerance
An oft quoted sound-bite during the 2020 iteration of the pseudopandemic was the phrase the “new normal.” Many of us probably believed that the prospect of a new normal referred to little more than the introduction of stringent public health measures following an unprecedented global pandemic. However, this is not what “new normal” means.
While he was far from the first to use it, the “new normal” was a phrase offered by Amitai Etzioni in his 2011 book of the same name. He accompanied his book with an essay, titled The New Normal, also written in 2011. In both the book and the essay, Etzioni explored the communitarian view on the new, post global economic collapse world. The “new normal” was the name Etzioni gave to a society of “diminished economic condition.”
He suggested that people must accept that continual growth was unlikely and should, in any case, eschew consumerism as a measure of success. He welcomed this envisaged change to a society that valued relationships as well as emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth beyond material acquisition. He claimed that a reduction in consumption was required to save the planet. We all needed to reduce our carbon footprints, he asserted.
As people have come to question the often dispiriting pursuit of modern materialism, Etzioni’s perspective was welcome perhaps. However, it is in Etzioni’s exploration of the balance between individual rights and the “common good” where doubts arise. Etzioni, alongside most communitarians, considers that balance to be fluid. Neither individual rights nor the common good take precedent in a sociological concept Etzioni called “libertarian communitarianism.”
As new situations arise and technologies emerge, what is good for the community today may not be good for the community tomorrow. Therefore, the point at which the common good does override individual rights—as it must—is constantly shifting, according to libertarian communitarianism.
However, one value which communitarianism does not espouse is diversity of opinion. In the communitarian model, the power to define the common good is absolute. The traditional democratic values of freedom of speech and expression are distinctly unwelcome in communitarian philosophy. This is not admitted, but it is implicit to their theory. For communitarians, dissent from the community or disagreement with the stated “common good” is not tolerated.
For example, the Responsive Communitarian Platform states:
“We should not hesitate to speak up and express our moral concerns to others when it comes to issues we care about deeply […] Those who neglect these duties, should be explicitly considered poor members of the community […] A good citizen is involved in a community or communities. We know that enduring responsive communities cannot be created through fiat or coercion, but only through genuine public conviction […] Although it may seem utopian, we believe that in the multiplication of strongly democratic communities around the world lies our best hope for the emergence of a global community that can deal concertedly with matters of general concern to our species as a whole.”
Communitarians are ambitious. They see their civil society as a global project where everyone involved has a “genuine public conviction” to communitarian principles. This ambition is shared by the G3P, but for very different reasons.
What if we are not convinced? What if we believe individual sovereignty is sacrosanct and that freedom of speech and expression, of organic public protest and freedom of choice are more important than a commitment to any prescribed community or the community’s authorised version of the common good?
According to communitarians, like Etzioni, this makes us poor members of the community. We are not “good citizens” and they suggest how we should be dealt with:
“Responsibilities are anchored in community […] communities define what is expected of people; they educate their members to accept these values; and they praise them when they do and frown upon them when they do not […] Whenever individuals or members of a group are harassed, many non-legal measures are appropriate to express disapproval of hateful expressions and to promote tolerance among the members of the polity.”
This is community as a control mechanism, not as an extension of any egalitarian meritocracy where individuals can flourish. The community will define our responsibilities and spell out what is expected of us. The community will instill its values and we must agree with them. If we don’t, we will be “educated” to accept them.
If we strongly express disagreement with community values this could constitute “hate” and “harassment” of community members. Those of us outside of the community, for any reason, will be receive its disapproval and efforts will be made to make us more tolerant of the community’s beliefs. Whatever they may be.
Therefore, uniformity of opinion within these communities is enforced. Debate will be welcome as long as it doesn’t challenge the community’s precepts. These are off limits. Members will probably have to leave independent thought at the door before entering the community and certainly before being accepted by it.
There is a significant risk that groupthink will develop. The roots of communitarianism are in the utopian socialist view that identity is formed by the community. In turn, this also suggests that community identity becomes individual identity.
An individual suffering from groupthink possesses unquestioned certainty, intolerance for any opposing views and an inability to engage in logical discourse. Their critical thinking skills are impaired, because to question the community is to question their own identity.
Those who do not share the ordained group ethos, or those who question the evidence base underpinning the group’s certainty, are not part of the community. They are “other.”
Etzioni describes anyone who doesn’t embrace vaccine passports as Individual Rights Luddites. Having thought about vaccine passports, he concluded:
“These passports could enable scores of millions of people to leave their depressing quarantines, to go to work, to attend school, and to be socially active again, all of which would help revive the economy and reduce social tensions.”
He accepts that lockdowns and the closure of the global economy was an unavoidable response to a global pandemic and not a policy choice. He believes that school closures make sense and that the economy will be revived once the vaccine passport system is established. He believes that the mRNA and viral vector injections are vaccines and that they work as described by the manufacturers.
In other words Etzioni accepts a whole raft of assumptions. Based upon them, he insists that denying access to society to those who don’t want to be injected is not “discrimination” but rather “differentiation.” Applying his communitarian principles he wrote:
“Differentiation will exert some pressure on those who refuse to be vaccinated, as they will be unable to reap the benefits of the passports unless they reconsider their position.”
Etzioni has defined the common good. Or rather, he accepts the common good as defined for him. Freedom of choice or principles such as bodily autonomy are overridden by the “common good.”
Etzioni disagrees with the philosopher Giorgio Agamben who pointed out the horrific ramifications of a biosecurity state. This is fine, disagreement and debate are welcome in any free society.
Unfortunately, unlike Agamben, Etzioni doesn’t advocate a free society. He suggests a communitarian civil society based upon the consensus view of what does or does not constitute the common good. As did Hitler’s National Socialists in 1930s Germany, a society from which Etzioni fled as a child to what is now the state of Israel.
Communitarians oppose the abuse of power and it is unfair to describe them as fascists. Nonetheless, it is entirely reasonable to point out the parallels. Both political ideologies accept authoritarian diktat. That is what enforcement of the “common good” is.
However, this is not the most worrying aspect of the communitarianism. It is communitarians’ naive grasp of the global realpolitik, which renders communitarian civil society the perfect policy vehicle for the G3P. This is what should concern us most. Unlike communitarians, the G3P definitely wants to enforce dictatorial control.
The Political Class Embraces Communitarian Civil Society
In one sense, the global political class’ apparent enthusiasm for communitarian civil society seems surprising. It is unusual for them to seek ways to increase public scrutiny of state and corporate power or public involvement in their policy development.
While public consultation is nothing new, policy is typically designed via internal party political processes, set at party conferences and so-forth. The parties then produce manifestos that the people are invited to select in elections, once every 4 or 5 years.
Civil society, as envisioned by communitarians, suggests a permanent power sharing structure that affords individual voters “more say, more often” in an effort to “curb the role of private money, special interests, and corruption in government.” It is rare that governments, and the political parties that form them, willingly diminish their own power and authority.
That this seeming diminution of party political power should be embraced both simultaneously and globally is unprecedented. Yet, that is what we have seen, as Western representative democracies have advocated, what appears to be, increasing political power for civil society groups.
The recent COP26 summit, which established the basis for action for the new global economy, invited representatives from “governments, businesses, NGOs, and civil society groups.” The US State Department brought together “leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector” for their Summit For Democracy to deliberate on US foreign policy.
The German government has appointed a National Civil Society Body to monitor the site selection for potential nuclear waste storage facilities. The UK government has created the Office for Civil Society within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. On the surface, it seems democracy is exploding everywhere.
Communitarian Civil Society Is A G3P Project
The Communitarian Network’s ideas certainly enthralled the western political class. During the 1990s, US president Clinton and then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder leading the mainland European charge, embraced what they called “the Third Way.”
In New Labour’s Third Way: pragmatism and governance, Dr. Michael Temple outlined how this new form of communitarianism was interpreted in the polity of the 1990s:
“Elements of both stakeholding and communitarianism can be found in the Third Way […] communitarian ideas have undoubtedly influenced New Labour [..] Outputs and not ideology are driving the new agenda of governance under New Labour. This is seen to have its roots in the new ways of working the party has embraced in local governance, where public–private partnerships have become the norm and a new ethos of public service has emerged.”
This transformation in governance was not solely a political shift of the “progressive left.” Following the demise of the UK Labour government, the Conservative-led coalition, under David Cameron, advocated the “Big Society.” Today, under another Conservative government, virtually no UK policy initiative or announcement is complete unless it speaks of engagement with “civil society.”
“Public-private partnerships” became prevalent in UK local government decision-making during the 1980s & 90s. This was an aspect of the forerunner of the Third Way, named by the UK Labour party as the “stakeholder society.”
The idea of the stakeholder society owed much to the reforms introduced by former UK Conservative Prime Minster, Margaret Thatcher. Under her leadership in the 1980s the pursuit of “Reagonomics” led the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) for all local authority contracts.
Hitherto, standard local government practice had been to allocate infrastructure projects to private contractors while the regional government provided many local services. With CCT, all contracts were opened up to the private sector. This meant that multinational corporations had access to new taxpayer-funded markets.
Prof. Andrew Gamble and Gavin Kelly, who formed the Resolution Foundation policy think tank, welcomed Tony Blair’s 1996 speech in Singapore. They emphasised the stakeholder society as a crucial element of Blair’s vision of “one nation socialism”:
“The key idea behind one nation socialism is the stakeholder society, a society in which all individuals and interests have a stake through democratic representation, and through the adoption by political parties like the Labour Party of a conception of the public interest.”
However, the stakeholder society redefined who would determine the public interest? Traditionally, this had primarily been an undertaking for elected governments. They could be kicked out of office if the public disagreed with their policies. However, the stakeholder society gave a formal policymaking role to both the third (social) and the private sector. No one voted for them, nor could they be removed through any electoral process.
Nor was the Third Way simply a European project. In the US, the Third Way policy think tank was formed in Washington in 2005. Supposedly a think tank of the “progressive left”, the Third Way was heavily backed by global corporations and lobbied Congress intensively to adopt multinational trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Initially, it seems difficult to understand why global corporations and governments would be eager to promote an idea like the Third Way or civil society. For global corporations, the ability to focus their lobbying efforts on a handful of elected officials would appear preferable, and easier, than trying to influence the communities forming civil society. Centralised authority benefits them, so why would they seek to to dilute it?
The “key idea” of the stakeholder society did not originate in centre-left think tanks like the Resolution Foundation or the Third Way. It sprang from the heart of the global capitalist network forming the Global Public Private Partnership (G3P).
Stakeholder capitalism is supposedly a new model of so-called responsible capitalism which the founder and current executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Klaus Schwab, pioneered in the 1970s. The G3P he represents claims the right to act as trustees of society. In December 2019, Schwab wrote “What Kind of Capitalism Do We Want”, where he outlined the stakeholder capitalism concept:
“Stakeholder capitalism, a model I first proposed a half-century ago, positions private corporations as trustees of society, and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges.”
“Trustee” has a specific legal definition:
“The person appointed, or required by law, to execute a trust; one in whom an estate, interest, or power is vested, under an express or implied agreement to administer or exercise it for the benefit or to the use of another.”
The referenced “other” is us, the population. We all apparently agree that private corporations should be invested with the power to administer the global estate. Or at least that is the assumption at the heart of stakeholder capitalism.
Communitarianism and stakeholder capitalism merge to form what is now being referred to as “civil society.” This then is the proposed model of representative democracy that will ostensibly enable us to have a say in the policy formation process. If we examine this claim, however, it is resoundingly hollow.
In the hands of the global stakeholder capitalists, with the connivance of a power hungry “progressive” left, Etzioni’s dream of a communitarian civil society has metastasised into a global control mechanism for the G3P. Civil society, as the term is now being used, is a threat to every democratic principle we value.
The Tyranny of the New Normal Communitarian Civil Society
Etzioni, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor and other proponents of communitarianism, who advocate local and national governance via civil society, offer a model ripe for exploitation. Governments across the world have enthusiastically seized the opportunity presented by this rendering of civil society, typically in the form of people’s or citizen’s assemblies.
Many assemblies have formed their consultative community through the drawing of lots. So-called sortition is a governance model that invites members of the local community to deliberate on important policy issues. For example, the UK Government commissioned the Climate Assembly to look at policy enabling the UK to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.
Selected delegates were able to debate what the net zero policy priorities should be. They considered how fast net zero policies should be implemented and looked at how net zero policies could impact their communities, considering what mitigation measures may be required. What they could not do is question net zero policy nor the underlying assumptions it is based upon.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) succinctly explains how they interpret the communitarian civil society:
“Civil society actors from a wide range of fields come together to collaborate with government and business leaders on finding and advocating solutions to global challenges. They also focus on how to best leverage the transformation brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and partner with industry, philanthropy, government and academia to take action and engage in the development, deployment, use and governance of technology. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labour and religious leaders, faith-based organizations and other civil society stakeholders are key members of the World Economic Forum’s multistakeholder platform.”
There is no questioning of either government or business. No opportunity is provided for the people, the subjects of the policy agenda under debate, to explore alternatives.
The necessity for the WEF model of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is assumed, as is the partnership with industry to achieve it. The problems are predetermined and the “solutions” have already been decided before civil society has the opportunity to “collaborate with government and business.”
The civil society stakeholders are chosen. Representatives from NGOs, religious communities, unions and philanthropic foundations are the selected stakeholders whose only role is to agree with the policies placed on the table by the public-private partnership. Their consent is deemed to be public consent.
As previously stated, the communitarian civil society creates a power sharing structure between state (public sector), market (private sector) and community (social or third sector.) It assumes that all three sectors are independent of each other and therefore governance, the setting of policy agendas, is achieved through equal compromise of all three parties.
This fatal naivety effectively extinguishes, rather than enhances, democratic accountability. In truth, the public and private sector are not independent of each other. They are working as equals in partnership.
Between them, they have all the money, all the legal authority, all the resources. Via the public sector (government), they also possess a monopoly on the use of force to compel communities to comply.
On the other side of the civil society equation sits some abstract form of “community” that is invited by the public-private partnership to collaborate. The public-private partnership selects the community or communities they want to rubber stamp their policies. The community has neither power, nor access to resources. Unlike their civil society “partners”, the community can’t force anyone to do anything.
The parameters of the alleged debate are set before the community joins and it will only be allowed to select from whatever “solutions” are put in front of it. All of this fulfills the immediate objectives of the G3P.
At the same time, this allows the G3P to address an issue that has plagued it for years: the democratic deficit or the public’s loss of trust in the institutions of government.
Within the G3P, governments don’t necessarily devise policy. Instead, their primary role is to market the policy and then enforce it.
Governments also provide the enabling environment for G3P policy agendas. They provide this environment both in terms of investment, via the taxpayer, and perhaps more importantly because the population is more likely to accept the rule of an allegedly democratic government rather than a dictatorship composed of a network of global corporations, NGOs and philanthropic foundations.
Consequently, a democratic deficit that erodes that trust is a problem. If you want to convert your policy agenda into legislation and regulation that impacts people’s lives, then you need to make them believe they still have some way of holding decision makers to account. Otherwise, they might resist your undemocratic rule.
The communitarian model of civil society is a gift for the G3P. Not only can they use it to continue maintaining the illusion of democracy, they can exploit claimed engagement with the community and build trust. Building trust is a current, major goal fo the G3P. For example, a “Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust” was the central theme of the 2021 Davos summit, hosted largely virtually by the WEF, and their planned theme for 2022 is “Working Together, Restoring Trust.”
Our continued “trust” in their institutions is vital for the G3P and the stability of their rule. The constant reference to civil society is intended to convince us that we too are stakeholders in the G3P’s multistakeholder platform. In reality, we aren’t. This is a deceit.
Instead, we are the subjects of the predetermined policy agendas that civil society will be invited to approve on our behalf. If we question the selected representative civil society groups, their communitarian beliefs or their assumed right to speak for us, we will be castigated as “bad citizens.”
Being in a community of like-minded souls, with whom we feel a bond, is nice but such a community has no chance against against a committed “interest group.” Such groups have a shared goal and often the will and the resources to attain it. Throughout history, communities have been ruthlessly oppressed by such “interest groups.”
Interest groups’ big advantage is that their members don’t have to feel any affection for each other or even agree on anything other than their objective. Its constituent members simply need to settle their purpose and they do so because each recognises how it benefits them. They are committed to the cause, not to each other.
In the case of the G3P, their cause is the creation and control of new markets and, in doing so, the establishment of a new global economic model. Civil society has helped to set this process in motion.
One of the G3P objectives is the global roll-out of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). This offers the G3P the ability to individually monitor and control every financial transaction on Earth. We have every reason to fiercely oppose its introduction. It represents nothing less than absolute economic enslavement.
Yet, the civil society deception is being used to convince us that we are somehow stakeholders in its development. This will undoubtedly be exploited to persuade us to accept its imminent introduction.
The Bank of England (BoE), who claim they have yet to make a decisions on CBDC, has committed its CBDC Taskforce to “engage widely with stakeholders on the benefits, risks and practicalities.”
To this end, they have set up the CBDC Engagement Forum (EF). The BoE states that the EF will:
“Provide a forum to engage senior stakeholders and gather strategic input on all non-technology aspects of CBDC from a diverse cross-section of expertise and perspectives […] The EF will inform the Bank’s further exploration of the challenges and opportunities of potentially implementing CBDC […] Participation in the EF is at the invitation of the Bank and HMT (Her Majesty’s Treasury.) Members will be drawn from the relevant range of CBDC stakeholders: from financial institutions, to civil society groups, to merchants, business users and consumers.”
Given that the introduction of CBDC will radically transform all our lives, it would be good to know who the civil society groups are that will supposedly be representing the public interest. The BoE explains that representatives will be invited to join, following their application, from any of the following organisations:
“Organisation active in retail or the digital economy, a university, a trade or consumer representative body, a think-tank, a registered charity or non-government organisation.”
It is not clear how any of these hand-picked delegates will actually advocate in the public’s interest. However, the BoE assures us that they will:
“On an individual level, the EF will be representative of the gender and ethnic diversity of the UK population, and seek to incorporate members of different backgrounds to support diversity of thought.”
This is what the BoE call engaging widely with stakeholders. In many respects, it is the epitome of communitarian ideology.
The community (in this case, the British public) will be represented because the EF will reflect the right gender and ethnic balance. This is appropriate, but it is missing one vital aspect of diversity: Class.
Just like the utopian socialists who inspired Etzioni and other communitarian thinkers, the BoE does not think that economic power matters when it comes to defining civil society. As long as they tick the right diversity boxes, class is not an issue. However, when they decide to introduce CBDC, it is the working and middle class who will suffer most as a result.
This may not be the model of civil society that the communitarians intended, but it is the model that the rest of us are going to get. A powerful interest group, the G3P, has seized upon the opportunity of communitarianism to construct a form of fake democratic accountability that consolidates their power and authority.
In one sense, it does fix the democratic deficit. By cutting out the electorate, the “new normal” communitarian civil society effectively ends representative democracy.