Democracy is finally experiencing Marx’s warning about capitalism

Democracy just experienced its first serious blow, and it happened in a way that no one even noticed it. It didn’t happen because of some overwhelming force of a dictator forcing the masses to his will (although one sure seems to be trying any way). It didn’t happen because of some oppressive enemy that invaded and destroyed us like Spartans on the fields of Macedonia. And it didn’t involve the proletariat throwing off their chains and destroying the machinery keeping them in slavery (no thanks to businesses like Amazon that pretend to be enlightened as they benefit one man to become the richest man on the planet).

No, the problem started where people tend not to see these sorts of things. And one of its symptoms was seen in all of its glory just yesterday. And it came from as innocuous a place as a computer gaming company, Activision Blizzard.

Now, for most of its history, Activision, specifically the Blizzard portion of it, has been known for such computer gaming delights as World of Warcraft, Warcrart, Starcraft and Hearthstone. There are a few other gaming franchises under their umbrella, but for the most part, they have been known for creating enjoyable games that have produced a really strong reputation in the gaming community.

Well, over the weekend, they ran an international tournament for one of their franchises, Hearthstone. During this tournament, a champion of the game, Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, used his successful platform to declare support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Blizzard immediately declared his victory forfeited and distanced themselves from him.

While it can be argued that Blizzard just doesn’t want any politics melting into its gaming forum, something a bit more sinister is definitely at play here. It is no secret that Activision Blizzard has been trying to break into the China market (and has been for a very long time now). It also wouldn’t be a stretch to understand why Blizzard would disavow any ties to someone who has acted against the very oppressive Chinese regime that is in the process of trying to be quite oppressive to Hong Kong.

This is basically what Karl Marx was talking about in his very long and detailed explanation of how democracy was eventually going to be overshadowed and destroyed by capitalism. Right now, we’re seeing capitalism being made more important because of profit than the ideas of democracy, which was originally thought of something that went hand in hand with capitalism.

But that was always a facade. In reality, capitalism works well with democracy up to a point, and the way it works up to that point is because capitalism needs a way of being untouched by government long enough to grow until it cannot be contained any further. Once it has reached a certain apex, it doesn’t matter how much democracy exists; it’s never going to be able to contain it.

Think of it this way: Democracy means that the people make the rules and control the government. But as capitalism creates entities of fake people (the corporation as a personal interest), what happens is that people are now competing with corporations for identity. Everyone has a voice, but a corporation has both a voice and an economic means to deliver that voice to more and more people. A person can’t do the same. Unless that person is a Kardashian or Taylor Swift. But Taylor Swifts are rare, and Kardashians incorporate themselves to create that corporate entity again. The average person, like you or me, has absolutely no voice whatsoever. And never will.

So, as more and more corporations begin to respond to a slowly disappearing market that is being swallowed up by more and more corporate interests, the desire is to find more overseas markets. Places like China, with its economic power base, are literally gold mines for corporations trying to sell their goods and services. But to do that, they often have to cut back on democratic ideals because countries like China aren’t interested in free speech and individual justice. It’s all about the state.

So, democracy dies a little bit at a time. You know, the whole death by paper cuts.

The problem is that we’re so wrapped up in our media-generated controversies that we don’t even see it happening around us. As our voices get fainter and fainter, we’re slowly heading towards a point of no return. And we don’t even know we’re on the road.

Author of Innocent Until Proven Guilty and 15 other novels. Writer, college professor and computer game designer.

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