I live in Australia, a nation with a democratic government. But do the
ordinary people run the country, or is it run by a privaliged elite?
Howard Zinn, in his People's History of the United States, points out that in that country one percent of the people own one third of the wealth. The figure for Australia would be similar. He points out that the majority are kept disunited, black against white, employed against unemployed, small business owners against workers, native born against foreign born, interlectuals and professionals against uneducated and unskilled.
It is the one percent elite that have all the power, in Australia it is they who pulled Prime Minister Howard's strings; and I don't think the situation with the Rudd Labor is very different, they receive campagn donations from very many of the same big corporations, they would be lobbied by the same representatives of the powerful few.
If we lived in a nation that had a blatantly dictatorial government we would be restive, we would work toward a more representative system. However, we live in a 'functional' democracy, we vote for our governments. We have come to believe that we live under, to modify Voltair's phrase, the best of all possible systems.
The fact is that we are all swindled. So long as the majority of Australians continue to vote for one or other of the major political parties, rather than for people who genuinely will represent our needs and aspirations, our country will continue to be run by the wealthy elite. (See Vote Smart, another page on this site.) Consider the USA 'aliance' and the Iraq war for example. Both major parties seem incapable of doing anything other than following the US lead, both would probably have followed the US into the Iraq war. Why? The Australian people were against it. I am forced to the conclusion that whoever has influence over Howard tells him to do these things.
This is the best of all possible systems for the ruling elite; they run the country while the people kid themselves that they are running the country by voting for their party of choice.