We covered a range of topics at the discussion group on Sunday, including the possibility of a no-fly zone in Libya and its implications, and the likelihood of genuine political reform in the Middle East. This conversation led us to examining democracy as we know it, and reflecting on the rise of corporate lobbying. Vanessa Baird at the New Internationalist highlights the implications of the ever-cosier relationship between big business and politicians, such as McDonalds and PepsiCo now contributing to writing the UK National Health Policy, and the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, founded by David Koch of Koch Energy Industries, training Tea Party activists.
The influence that corporate lobbyists wield in politics, largely as a result of the ‘revolving door’ which enables people to move quickly from roles in government to lobbying positions in corporations, creates compelling reasons for the formal participation of social movements in the political process. It also highlights the need for transparency, such as a mandatory register of all lobbyists that detail who they are lobbying, how much they spend on it, and details of which politicians they meet with and how often. ‘Democracy 4 Sale,’ which was founded by the Greens NSW, provides some details of the Australian situation.