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Jan 25, 2014

Supercitizens Upend an Otherwise Healthy Democracy

"Corporate Harvest", pencil drawing by Tim Holmes
This week there's a stimulating debate at The Economist about the health of democracy around the world. We've been seeing a steady decrease in democracy since 2000, but I think the news in the long run is positive.

What makes this issue particularly difficult to address is the effect of global capitalism on the operations of democracy. Capitalism respects few boundaries and the capitalist elites become "supercitizens" of the nations in which they operate, wielding much more power than they could in a functioning pluralistic democracy. This has the effect of democracies trying to survive despite an unhealthy environment of the heavy influence of the few supercitizens.

I agree that democracy itself is growing ever more popular (there is evidence of a growing "hunger for democracy" around the world), even while the immediate signs reflect the growing power of supercitizens who refuse to share their new globalized power with actual people (individual citizens). Supercitizens enact or bend or subvert laws in their own favor while mere citizens can only respond to those threats in retrospect.

The frustrations of representation would be much easier to address if individuals had a kind of economic citizenship with which they could express their aspirations in the capitalist world in which we are all forced to participate. This would form a new kind of global citizenship that I propose in Democratic Globe.

Yes, the signs are dismal but in the great arc of history, human beings will only survive in cooperation, which bends history in that direction. Democracy will survive– despite its being an easy target for popular frustrations over representation– but will only be truly healthy when it learns to resist and reverse the power of supercitizens, a deep urge we all feel on some level.
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.