Century of failed experiments

Analyzing last ~100 years (only to save some time by not digging deeper) it’s hard not to come to conclusion that we can mark that last century as a century of failed experiments. We have seen large scale experiments undertaken and all of them failed. Communism building in ex-USSR and later occupied countries, Fascism, Free Trade economics (with it’s sister Globalization). Not a single large-scale success? Not even a bit?

Looking at the aftermath left by each experiment it’s hard not to think that we’re a screw-up race and deserve to be wiped of the face of the earth as yet-another failed large-scale experiment. Reading Stanislaw Lem’s The Star Diaries and episode where aliens are charging some miscreants for dumping biological mass on Earth and mixing in some bodily substances in it as well started unsanctioned evolution one may get impression that there might be some truth to that – we’re failing big time. Every time we fail it gets bigger and bigger. Every single time we take lives of people, animals, plants, bacteria etc. One must believe in divine law and the right of human to do so to make any sense of it and not to be committed to psychiatric ward.

Long chain of events sparked my interest in Russian revolution, which lead me to some explorations of Fascism and I’ve been tracking Free Economy for some time already. There are more and more dots on my graph and it’s very tempting to draw the lines:

Until 1925, when the liberal economist Alberto de Stefani ended his tenure as Minister of Economics (1922–25), after having re-started the economy and balanced the national budget, the Italian Fascist Government’s economic policies were aligned with classical liberalism principles; inheritance, luxury, and foreign capital taxes were abolished;[28] life insurance (1923),[29] and the state communications monopolies were privatised, et cetera. Yet such pro-business enterprise policies apparently did not contradict the State’s financing of banks and industry.

On a wider scale the Fascist economic policy pushed the country towards the “corporative state”, an effort which lasted well into the war. The idea was to create a national community where the interests of all parts of the economy were integrated into a class-transcending unity. Some see the move to corporatism in two phases. first the workers were brought to heel over 1925-27. Initially the non-fascist trade unions and later (less forcefully) the fascist trade unions were eliminated…

Reading through the history it’s is hard to argue that Mussolini’s values at the time of ascending to power very very much like values of currently governing political elite in most developed countries:

Deputy Mussolini (with military, business, and liberal right-wing support) launched the PNF March on Rome (27–29 October 1922) coup d’État, to oust Prime Minister Facta, and assume the government of Italy, to restore nationalist pride, re-start the economy, increase productivity with labor controls, remove economic business controls, and impose law and order.[17]

As luck would have it I just recently heard of “tough on crime“, removal of economic business controls, and changes in electoral law. Latest piece of evidence: technocratic governments popping all over the place, which, just like in Italy and Germany scenarios bypasses democratic elections, and by coincidence places at helm people largely responsible for the meltdown: supporters of Free Trade school of thought.

It’s not that the current political powers are immediately fascist by nature, but at this stage they mimic fascism impressively well. Even the nationalism – fairly difficult subject at the time of globalization had to be re-invented but serves the same idea – unite country from the inside in a simplistic “us vs them” rhetoric. And that would be the same political force that advocates Globalization. Here’s a visual point of disconnect however under the surface it turns out connection is fairly strong. Current implementation of Globalization works on principle of exploitation of “other” markets. North American market exists due to cheap labour in other places of the world, Free Trade benefits largely North American-based multinationals that immediately dominate opened markets.

Another oddity is that Friedman’s roots are in:

the American economy’s “ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”

yet following some (admittedly not all) of Friedman’s recipes America produces less and less every year. This has been nicely summarized by Jennifer Egan in her novel “Look at me” (spotted in “Adbusters”):

…The narrative of industrial America began with rationalization of objects through standardization, abstraction and mass production, and has concluded with the rationalization of human beings through marketing, public relations, image consulting and spin…

As per Friedman’s advise, America (and the rest of the world) focused all of it’s attention on Monetary research/operations rather than social and technological.

Speaking of which: Technological vs Monetary is something that I really care about. In proprietary branch of IT industry huge amount of effort is spent on preventing others from using software, or limiting it’s uses – amount of effort that could’ve moved us forward significantly if applied in other areas but we keep slowing ourselves down with artificial blocks. Just like Friedman’s Free Economy software deserves to be free and uninhibited to be able to evolve into something new. However there is a clear distinction between Free Economy and Free Software – Free Economy dictates political regime, while Free Software transcends political regimes.Free Software does not impose political nor economic rules. You can still charge for your software, you can still be ruled by a dictator and you can still send people to prison for not agreeing with you.

Where does it leave us? As a race we have managed to avoid implementing democracies true to definition, we hate our neighbors  for unknown [to us] reasons and we keep on supporting models in which only selected few get to rip benefits while the rest is trying to create some space for themselves and at the time of crisis majority still clings to “ye olde ways”

 

DRM and what does it really mean to you

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/

http://www.groklaw.net/

http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/drm.html

http://www.defectivebydesign.org/

  • taking French course at Athabasca University and having to deal with “online-only” materials, hard-to-rip discs. Now take a look at prices too.
  • reading books on eBook with Adobe digital editions

Descending into medieval times?

So it looks like we’re descending into medieval times:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/rss/int/news/-/news/uk-england-14794472

Group worship in this era?

Looking through book of arts looks like female breasts were a must on majority of the pictures even when they didn’t belong there. Today we’ve got exact same – book won’t sell without them and movie won’t fare well without them (kids/family movies are exception… for now).

 

Porn again

With the onslaught of internet opinions/articles/news sources it gets harder to distinguish those genuine and unbiased or technically accurate from those that are not.

Considering that Internet is nothing else but an enormous international database of naked bottoms. (as per Steve from Coupling) I felt like following Jeff’s from that very same episode:

Jeff: Well, it’s kind of hard to tell isn’t it ‘cos you tend to fast forward if anyone’s dressed. Sometimes I forget and do that with proper films. I can get through a lot of movies in an evening.

So reading articles I find myself skipping right to the comments section.

 

Do no evil, see no evil, hear no evil

There was a lot of co incidents lately: me reading Slavoj Žižek, BBC quoting Marx, Adbusters quoting Marx statistics on crazy people percentile in a capitalist society going up over time and confirmed by WHO.

following Slashdot’s article (http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/09/05/1230224/Googles-Real-Name-Policy-Why-You-Are-the-Product) and reading through FreeSoftwareMagazine (http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/googles_real_name_policy_or_why_you_are_product ) which really comes as no surprise after “Google joins California Do-Not-Track opposition lobby” (http://go.theregister.com/feed/www.theregister.co.uk/2011/05/05/google_backs_do_not_track_opposition/ ) and that is all summed up in Adbusters (more precisely in Jennifer Egan’s novel “Look at me”):

…The narrative of industrial America began with rationalization of objects through standardization, abstraction and mass production, and has concluded with the rationalization of human beings through marketing, public relations, image consulting and spin…

sor while Corporations like google argue for transparency what we have in our back-yard is “New Wikileaks Docs Show Ex-Minister Bernier Offered To Leak Copyright Bill to U.S.” (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5986/135/ ) and “Libyan papers ‘show CIA and MI6 links'” (http://english.aljazeera.net//news/africa/2011/09/20119320053377843.html)

Facebook cleans up compromised accounts = people losing data/money http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/05/facebook_fanpages_are_being_hijacked/

Explore facebook as means of avoiding reality and global issues making “self”/ego the focus of everything.

coincidence? South parks episode about loss of internet.

narcissistic tendency

How to spot a narcisist

Narcissists thrive in big, anonymous cities, entertainment-related fields (think reality TV), and leadership situations where they can dazzle and dominate others without having to cooperate or suffer the consequences of a bad reputation.

Does growth of Narcisism  reflect tendency to outsource? Narcisism is linked to leadership skills – need to dazzle and depend on others for positive feedback, when entire society is geared towards outsourcing, everybody is a “manager of X” – since all day long you try to concentrate attention of others on yourself, wouldn’t you develop Narcisistic traits?

It appears that narcissists seek out people who maintain their high positive self-image, at the same time intentionally avoiding and putting down people who may give them a harsh dose of realism.

and another one:

“In the long run it becomes difficult because others won’t applaud them, so they always have to search for new acquaintances from whom they get the next fix.” This could explain why narcissists so frequently change their social contexts and maintain only weak ties to others.

and another one:

The whiplash combination of parental coldness and excessive parental admiration is more strongly related to maladaptive narcissism than is either attitude alone.

wtf is twittergate???

Meteorological attack. Second front – Workforce

After dealing with Cloud vs Users case it’s time to take a look behind the scenes and uncover what else is impacted by Clouds and what the impacts are. We have already established that for users move to the cloud means parting with their data, it surely means the same thing to business entities, after all they are too users. Let’s get beyond that. If you’ve ever read “No Logo” by Naomi Klein you are familiar with the chapter “No Jobs” that follows immediately after “No Choice”. It looks like the order of chapters is not coincidental. The process of dissociation of corporation with manufacturing process and workforce is like the mushroom cloud – both stunning and horrifying.

It’s not required to read No Logo to understand simple principles at work. Principles and mechanics employed by corporations in their search of “brand identity” and “brand experience”. As usual it comes with some collateral damage:

No Choice

…Dazzled by the array of consumer choices we may at first fail to notice the tremendous consolidation taking place in the boardrooms of the entertainment, media and retail industries. Advertising floods us with the kaleidoscopic soothing images of United Streets of Diversity and Microsoft’s  wide-open “Where do you want to go today?” enticements. But in the pages of the business section the world goes monochromatic and doors slam shut from all sides: every other story – whether the announcement of a new buyout, an untimely bankruptcy, a collossal merger – points directly to a loss of meaningful choices…

So how does it translate to IT? It’s an attempt to wipe out diversity by “streamlining business practises” and “bringing them closer to the base”. Say, institution has been priding itself in it’s uniqueness in catering to a very specific customer base and generating quite a loyal following. Institution that stood out and can’t be matched by others only because… of it’s unique business practises.  However in the boardrooms this must’ve looked annoying or out of place because the decision has been made to “consolidate”, “streamline” and “merge”. In other words – all the products that are used by competition “as-is” and “out-of-the-box” are to be applied to this institution as well essentially wiping it’s uniqueness. The only logical conclusion would be that institution is being moved in the “branding” direction where product is essentially the same and service about the same as the rest but what is sold is “brand” and “experience”, not the product itself (not surprisingly since it’s the same product):

The difference between products and brands is fundamental. A product is something that is made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by a customer

No Jobs

…corporations should not expend their finite resources on factories that will demand physical upkeep, on machines that will corrode or on employees who will certainly age and die. Instead, they should concentrate those resources in the virtual brick and mortar used to build their brands; that is, on sponsorship, packaging, expansion and advertising…

So after “No choice” invariably comes “No Jobs”. Discussed institution in this case is not exception. There is a clear sense of direction in cleansing institution of any traces of IT department outsourcing most critical applications and systems. Institution doesn’t want to burden itself with infrastructure or workforce, it needs to concentrate on what’s important – building image. Resulting in exploded marketing departments (or just expanded budgets outsourcing that activity someplace else) and reduced funding for manufacturing and R&D.

Above principles no longer apply strictly to corporations and other businesses. Now they are applied to governments and government institutions as well as education.

Some naive people assume that government is there to serve people or that education should be accessible by people and serve people’s needs. Only in case of ongoing “branding” government serves businesses believing in “trickle down effect” that has never been proved to work and education is serving business needs of companies and government. Application of business rules in government and education sectors has devastating effects: hollow and emasculated they can’t serve people anymore and have to abide by business rules serving only what business demands. Which for education means that you can’t produce any more “free thinkers” or offer “non-marketable” programs because there’s no business need for them. So instead of government shaping the economy and busineses we have businesses serving themselves with hollow government watching the carnage from afar unable to do anything.

Current hysteria about financial crisis provides fertile ground for those seeking excuses to enact “touch measures”, “trim the fat” and “streamline operations” at expense of workers, taxpayers and customers. It’s a “disaster capitalism” at work: create or wait for a crisis and then while people are dazed and confused implement everything you’ve dreamed about bypassing all the normal processes excusing yourself by extraordinary situation at hand and repeating “ad nauseum”: “In a critical time like this we have to act fast.”

What is that magic bullet that can kill that undying beast of IT department? It’s all on the frontpages of magazines – “Cloud”. Single word that spells emasculation of IT departments everywhere and narrowing of choices for consumers as well. For a government that seeks to hollow itself out it’s a prime destination.

What was previously known as “outsourcing” and became lame and unpopular over time is now called “cloud computing” and is shoved down everybody’s throat using every possible excuse.

Favourite argument of cloud-defenders is that “computing” is “new electricity” and “cloud provider” is new equivalent of “power company” with companies paying for computational power like they do for electricity. However it’s not enough for company to move infrastructure. Once it has made that step – why not make the second step and go to SAAS instead? Running VM’s on the cloud is not sexy, plus it creates tons of problems with security VPNs and it doesn’t resolve the “problem” of having IT staff. Once everything is hosted by SAAS provider you have no worries. The only insulation required is the contract. Cloud computing started as an idea of running VMs on the remote infrastructure yet still managed by a company staff, but with time term got overloaded with much more meaning making it impossible to differentiate one proposition from another and  creating new common ground for understanding. Now cloud computing equals outsourcing.

“Cloud” is what powers the transition from “unique organization” and “self-sufficient organization” to “No Choice” and “No Jobs”. Incantation that has a viral effect essentially wiping off any living cell in it’s path. “Cloud” takes all that annoyance of managing IT and removes it from institution. What’s interesting – it removes it in “unknown” direction. From that point on Institution is free of workforce and infrastructure, while whoever runs the “Cloud” is bound by limited contractual agreements and operating most likely in un-unionized environment and is free to expand and contract at will having only “temp” staff in it’s employment catering to demands of clients. So for a heavily unionized institution it’s a blessing – you move your IT services outside and your “IT Crowd” is no longer a unionized headache but rather “workforce on-demand”. That workforce doesn’t have to reside in the same country either, opening up brand new frontiers of exploration (or exploitation?).

Here’s the thing – one has to answer simple questions to realize the depth of it. “What drives organization?” – “Maximizing profit”. “What drives employees of organization?” – “Making sure organization profit margins are high, so that their jobs are secure”. Now, in the relationship “Could provider” – “Cloud client” both are driven by above principles. However their goals are orthogonal. So what is the difference between organization’s own employee and “cloud” employees? – The motivation that drives them. In case of “own employee” – his interest is for his organization to prosper or at least not to go under. In case of “cloud employee” at best his interest is to serve his employer which is orthogonal to goals of “cloud client” – he needs to maximize profit of “cloud provider” by minimizing impact “cloud client” has on provider’s resources which in turn means – spending less cycles serving the client. This entire equation is then translated into Contracts, SLA’s and Change Requests which all are then monetized at the expense of the client. Will cloud employee be interested to offer money-saving scheme to client organization, if it doesn’t maximize profit of his employer? Will client’s employee be inclined to do the same?

To be fair – it is reasonable to accept Cloud limitations and impact in organizations that didn’t have IT to begin with and are too small to own their own IT shop. However it is very hard to come up with justification for organization to drop it’s IT department and “move to the cloud” remaining at mercy of provider and contract lawyers. So while it is not in organization’s best interest to part with it’s IT for million reasons, it does make sense for the executives to move in that direction, especially if their IT department is unionized. Move to the cloud removes all the barriers and part of their job that has to do with people. It’s hard to tell person “shut up and do it” but it’s much easier with vendor, especially when vendor is de-personified and is located across the ocean…

Cloud is truly unifying and transcending entity. It’s a Borg. “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile”.

P.S.

Quotes above come from “No Logo 10th anniversary edition”.

Meteorological attack. First front – Users

Not f'd. You won't find us on Facebook

What’s on everybody’s mind those days? Clouds. Everybody and their dog is thumping their chests yelling “cloud” from top of their lungs. Funny enough just like word “democracy” that really means nothing of the sort anymore “cloud” seems to suffer from the same problem. Everybody uses the same term – everybody means something different. So depending which side you’re on – consumer/user or IT shop or cloud provider it will also mean different things to you even with the established definition. Lets start with consumers (a.k.a. “users”) I’ll quote RMS here:

One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control… It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.

And it’s hard to disagree here. Maybe I’m not as militant as RMS and I do have yahoo.com account but that is a spam-collecting account I use to not abuse my real personal account. I won’t lose sleep if I lose my yahoo.com account overnight.

Going along those same lines and exploring consumer side even further it’s impossible to omit Facebook. Millions of people submit their lives to that black hole of a service. Facebook is a “dream came true” for the folks running it and rivals LSD and Crystal in addiction levels. People spend time there mindlessly playing “social” games, fighting off people they were trying to avoid in real life; parent watching their children, children blurting out all the intimate details (and pictures) to complete strangers; companies snooping on their employees; students snooping on their teachers, and so on… Worse yet you don’t even post anything about yourself – collected data about your habits and habits of your friends can tell everything about you anyway. And people submit themselves to all of the above and more (trust me, list of links would be probably twice as long as this post if I really spent more than 10 minutes looking them all up).

Facebook is not the only one though. Owners of the Google accounts – they store every damn thing there about themselves, their preferences, their geographical locations, their pictures, browser cache (I have observed our internal traffic being routed out to G proxies from machines with Google toolbar installed, neat eh?) etc. Google is just as adept at extracting “value” out of those now, but if one day it decides to go “premium” on you or better yet discontinue the service – what will happen to your data? Even if it doesn’t – where is your data now? Can you trust it to be the same data you dropped there yesterday? Security and privacy of such services do not allow me to submit my data there willingly.

It is important to understand that while Gmail, Facebook and others do bring some value to our lives (yes, they do) one has to be extremely verse in privacy and technology to be able to navigate around all the traps those services offer. Oversimplified statement would be:

Web 2.0 Rule of Daemon: if you post something to services like GMail, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, etc. make sure you still own the data (have a copy of it) and never ever post something you would not otherwise say in public.

Lets review now: from all of the above – those “cloudy” (or should I say “blurry”?) services do not free you up from the burden of maintaining your own archive nor from backing up your information nor for carefully controlling who sees what. Which kind of defeats the hype and steam surrounding that “cloud” ( “crowd”?) and claims that you do not need personal computer anymore, you don’t need at-home storage anymore and you are free now. Yes you are free – from your own information – it lives it’s own life now on the cloud and it can leave you if it wishes so or it can morf into something you won’t be able to control: couple of years ago I stumbled upon a website (darn, I lost bookmark!) that aggregated all the data about me from various sources and offered: “For a nominal fee claim your account before somebody else does!” (if anybody remembers that site – drop a link please). And it was scary – my own data is now for sale. My personality – my id could be claimed by others. This is what you get for dropping things in hands of “cloud services”. Now you may say – “but you don’t use them and you got caught” and you’d be wrong – the reason I didn’t pay extortion fees is because my account was incomplete – lots of missing data and information which made it so much less attractive.

Now some keep claiming “Privacy is over b@tch!” but you have to remember whose interests are being served and whose are at stake here. I’m all for public disclosure and sharing – I am against it being at discretion of companies and corporations. It is my data, it is my decision and it stays with me. Remember also that most of people who advocate above ideology themselves do not live in a room with other 20 people but rather enjoy very private life in their villas and summer houses.

Democracy is dead. Long live Democracy.

Results are out Canada elected conservative majority after it had been found guilty of contempt and never denied doing so. Democracy is overrated and naivety (stupidity) is endless.

Uneducated masses elected lying, bullying, self-serving and populist government to drive this country further into the ground. History has seen it before.

Everybody is free to make their own conclusions.

After following the results for a while I certainly made mine.

Elect-me-not

All the countries I lived in had something in common: they were all called “… democracy” at some point. Whether it was a “developing democracy” or “developed democracy”. Democracy is the word we use a lot and with the imminent election musings about democracy become inevitable. So inevitable it spills into my conversations all the time. After all we are about to elect “democratic government” through the process of “democratic elections”.  Naturally, I started looking for definitions. There are plenty options (opinions?) to chose from – all have the same theme though. It’s really interesting that the word “democracy” is used so often and it’s standard definition allows for giant loopholes: “rule of the people” (Greek). Of course people are going to be ruling pretty much everywhere except for the 12 colonies where Cylons are taking over…!

One definition caught my eye as it was the most concise and obvious yet had enough details to be able to analyze it:

We can think of democracy as a system of government with four key elements:

  1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
  2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
  3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
  4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

“Free and fair election” is a very good starting point for a philosophical debate. What exactly Free means here? More importantly what is Fair? Canadian election show all the signs of unfairness. Government of the country currently is elected by a mere majority of 22% (58% turnout with only 38% of those voting for governing party) of voting populace which has translated into 46% seats. How is it fair to the 78% of voting populace that did not vote for them? How about the rest of population that is non-voting? In other words we should either accept this new norm that “22%” means – “majority” or redefine Fair or better yet – stop calling countries like Canada “Democracy”. We are far from democracy, real far. How is electoral process Fair to small communities like ours when we are “bundled” in the same riding with “monster” communities with 10 times the population. In other words – there is no way in hell our views will be represented on the highest level even if the entire community voted for the same candidate!

Which brings me to the second point – “active participation of people”. Now here’s a twist and a wrinkle – remember those 78% that aren’t really represented? Are they actively participating? So can we still call ourselves “Democracy”? How about candidates? Assume some of those 78% residing in the riding of an MP they didn’t vote for still want some representation and ask candidate to represent their views? Is he obligated to respond to their requests? No. Will he respond to their requests – typically no. Why? They are not voting for him so he doesn’t really need them until the next election. So how are we encouraging people to “actively participate” under those conditions?

Which was a nice preamble for the next point “protection of human rights of all citizens”. Well if you re-read previous paragraph you’ll realize that that is simply not the case if we carefully examine definition of Human Rights employed by UN. Article 1 anyone? You must have some mean brother that wouldn’t listen or reply to you. Well that is your MP that you did not elect. Maybe some Article 12 on the side? Interference with my privacy is happening all the time from all private entities that government does not protect me from: telemarketers, banks, random companies, recording industry – you name it. Article 16 for gay people maybe? Article 17 is something you should think about next time you buy music at iTunes or over some other DRM-riddled channel. Oh, you thought that when you purchased music you own it? Wrong! Ask Orwell fans who bought his books through Amazon for their Kindles, or people who bought music from Wal*Mart. So how does my government ensures my freedoms? By signing treaties that undermine it, and pushing through Bills that annihilate my rights. For a parent combination of Article 22 and 26 is another source of frustration – schools are half-run by corporations trying to “hook” kids on their products from “get-go” (Microsoft, Kraft, Pepsico, etc.) and government does everything to promote it by decreasing school’s budget and forcing schools to look for external sources of funding. I feel like my human rights were violated (as well as my family’s) do you?

So after showing how corporations enjoy better freedoms than people of the country lets take a look at the heads of those corporations. Have we ever heard of a case convicting corporate head vs “less wealthy opponent” ? In “democratic” societies it’s quite clear that the quality of democracy is proportional to your income. I enjoy fairly good pay myself so I know my freedoms extend way further than person’s next door with income half of mine, does that seem right? Does that sound democratic?

All of that brings up a dilemma: should I vote or should I not? If I do should I vote “for” or “against”? Every single party in my riding is “tainted” for me so I have no desire to vote for any single one of them. However Not voting gives more power to the minority that already elected the government I hate. If I vote – I just fed another monster that will do essentially the same just under a different guise. So to defeat present monster I should vote against but by doing so I get nothing in return except for delayed replay of the same tragic scenario. I do not see how my views and opinions will be represented in the newly elected government no matter how I vote. On top of that, as I mentioned before my community is dwarfed by another community in our riding that will essentially make my vote void because I’m pretty sure of the way they’ll vote. I’ll take my chances and vote my preference (out of all evils chose the smallest) knowing full well that it’s all futile, but there’s that off-chance that maybe my vote is the one that’ll count and other people like me will come out and vote and express their opinions in a slightly blurred fashion.

Electorate reform may be able to fix it but none of the existing parties brought up this issue an certainly none of them made it their priority. Until then our only screwed up way of voting is to vote “against” in most cases.

One may say – “Well, other definitions of democracy can not be as easily dismantled” and would be plain wrong – all definitions I looked at have the same problem – they are inapplicable in so-called “democratic countries”. Take the “ultimate authority” on everything – Wikipedia:

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. The term comes from the Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”,[1] which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC

Does it make much difference? Not so much. Rinse-and-repeat.