Most of us know the importance of separating church from state in modern democracies, but there is another fundamental separation necessary that raises important questions on how we select political leaders.
SEPARATING CHURCH FROM STATE is fundamental to modern democracies for obvious reasons: in a pluralistic society, it is just not democratic to subject people to the rules of a religion to which they may not belong. We have seen the dangers of mixing religion with politics in the "bible belt" United States, where the religiously brainwashed masses helped to bring the neocons into power.
But there is another fundamental conflict of interest that is not being addressed, and that involves the relationship between politicians and big business.
All the main problems with modern democracy, as it is currently set up, boil down to "self-interest". And as long as we have a system that tolerates (actually encourages) self-interest, modern democracy will soon be a thing of the past.
Politicians are people, like you and me (well not exactly… it does take a certain type of person to lust after political power). These people have lives and families to support, and their political careers are temporary. After all, even if you become the President of the United States, you are till going to be looking for a job in 4 or 8 years time.
Now it is human nature to look after our own long-term financial security and it is a fact that almost all politicians end up, when they leave politics, working in senior positions for large corporations. After all, this is the only place where big money can be made with relatively little work. As a consequence, politicians spend much of their political careers cosying up to corporations and doing them political favours. And, of course, the corporations are aware of the huge benefit of buying off politicians, and so make large donations to political parties, whetting the financial appetites of politicians.
As a consequence of this conspiracy between the corporate world and politicians, the democratic system is seriously undermined as the interests of big businesses take precedence over the interests of ordinary people. This results in the corporatisation of society, where the gap between the rich and the poor grows unstably wide as we become increasingly controlled consumers — slaves to buying what we don't need and to "health" systems that keep us profitably unhealthy.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that if this subversion perpetrated by politicians and big business continues, democracy as we know it will not last much longer. It has already been severely compromised, maybe even fatally. We will see.
What is the solution?
The solution can only be to actively separate corporations from the political world. Those who chose to become politicians should never be allowed to hold any board or senior position in any corporation for their entire lives. When they leave political office they should be offered employment directly by the state in some capacity. This would ensure that natural self-interest is not skewing the democratic process.
Of course this will never happen, so we will soon witness the final erosion of democracy, where the very concept of democracy is reduced to a marketing term used to sweeten the reality of living in a dictatorship.