A Working Population

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In the West, a prerequisite for democracy has been that people with money who owned raw materials, land, factories and other businesses were dependent on the existence of workers who worked and thereby participated in creating a surplus. To put it crudely: the financial upper class was dependent on the lower classes, because there were goods that needed to be manufactured. Everyone was dependent on farmers to produce enough food for the growing population. The different groups of people were interdependent in their quests for the increased wealth that grew out of industrialization. Therefore, they were also politically interdependent.

When different groups have different interests and yet are interdependent and are also roughly equal in power, they have to find political solutions together.

In a number of countries which are not yet democracies, or where democracy does not prosper, the financial upper class is not dependent on the lower classes. The common explanation is that this is because money is not earned by production and manufacture but by the sale of raw materials. When the people who own the raw materials do not depend on the population, its performance as workforce and its goodwill, it is impossible for the general population to gain political power: People have nothing to offer upon which the rulers depend.

This, among other things, is the case in Russia: a wealthy minority and people at the top of the political system earn great sums of money by selling oil and gas to Europe. They do not need the people in order to make money. The same goes for the sheikhs in the oil producing Arab states. As long as there is oil, the few families who own the oil decide everything. They do not depend on the population to produce items that can be sold.

A similar situation exists in a number of African countries where diamonds and other raw materials keep militias and corrupt politicians and officials in power, while the general population is unnecessary for the economy.

It may thus be argued that democracy in the West depends on the industrialization that already took place a long time ago.


Next chapter: A Middle Class