Back in the early nineties, Russia’s newly minted parliament started passing an assload of bills. Most of them were about transferring all of the power in the country to the parliament itself. In the end, that parliament was more powerful than most old-time monarchs.
So of course, Yeltsin (it was still Yeltsin back then) got fed up, brought in the troops, and whooped the MPs’ asses. And then invested himself with all the power that the parliament had tried to usurp. Eventually, Putin came and completed the process.
The moral of the story is that democracy is not about voting. Russians got voting up the wazoo. They vote constantly, so what? They still got no democracy.
Democracy is all about procedure, bureaucracy, the rules, checks and balances, if you will. It’s about everything having to go through a slow, frustrating process of being approved by a ton of different entities in a predetermined order. It’s total shit, yet it’s still better than any known alternative. The power of the people is not that everybody can go and vote. It’s that everybody is ruled by the painful and drawn-out procedure.
This is why the “referendum” in Catalonia has fuck all to do with democracy. Anybody can organize a referendum, rile up millions through the social media, and bring them out to vote because they are upset over being oppressed by Lope de Vega whom they haven’t heard about until you denounced him on Facebook yesterday.
There is an inherent conflict between consumer mentality and democracy because there is no instant gratification in the painfully slow bureaucratic quagmire of a truly democratic process. Consumerism won in Catalonia yesterday. There’s nothing to celebrate here unless you are a fanatical adept of neoliberalism.