Democracy in Decline: What Is To Be Done?

The ESGX platform is a new associate of the Caux Round Table.

At noon (CDT) on Tuesday, September 28, it is presenting a discussion about “Democracy in Decline: Impact Investing to Reverse Global Trends” and you are invited to join us.

I will be one of the discussants.

The questions raised by ESGX are:

The success of many developed economies has depended on strong and reliable rule of law – and on the reliability of democracy itself – as both provide critical reassurance to investors.  And yet, around the world, democracy appears to be in decline, threatened both by the rejection of science, logic and reason, as well as by political activists seeking to replace long-trusted power structures with new regimes.

In this special episode, we’ll explore the threats to democracy globally and how we can act to combat them.  We will discuss the following questions:

-Which countries provide the most free and fair labor markets?
-Are companies domiciled in more democratic countries at an advantage and more investible?
-What are the links between culture, values and democracy?
-What positive role can individuals, companies, investors and governments play? 

My perspective is a traditional one: the quality of a democracy is driven by underlying social, cultural and economic conditions.

If those fall short, democracy cannot thrive.

In June 59 BC, in writing to his friend Atticus on the rising threats to Roman constitutionalism from the triumvirate of Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar, Cicero noted that “virtue” had evaporated among many Romans.  His phrase was virtutuem adligatam – “virtue is in chains.”  It was a straight run from there to the collapse of the Roman Republic not too many years later.

Some of you may recall the quip of Benjamin Franklin on walking out of the meeting hall having just signed the proposed constitution for the new independent North American colonies.  He was challenged by a Philadelphia matron of some distinction: “Mr. Franklin, what kind of a government have you given us?”

Franklin replied: “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

Karl Marx famously linked constitutional democracy as a political system to economics – to the rise of a middle class.  The corollary to his syllogism is “Lose your bourgeoisie and you will lose your constitutional democracy.”

We should also note what my professors Samuel Beer and Barrington Moore, a Marxist, taught me that a bourgeoisie is habits of mind and heart, as well as having an economic function to perform for society.

For more information or to register, please click here.

I do hope you can join us.