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One of the defects of current capitalism is that it causes the concentration of power in a few actors who, at some point, decide to influence the politics of countries and organizations seeking their own interest.

This influence diverts politicians and organizations from their initial objectives, to the point of perverting their functioning or completely canceling them. For example, the UN was created with the objective of avoiding wars in the world and is currently unable to fulfill its objective. Their resolutions hardly have real consequences, at least when they affect countries that belong to a dominant lobby. Bribes, revolving doors, pressure, are tools that some lobbies use to achieve their goals.

In my opinion, at the base of this problem are anonymous societies, which basically allow people to have their own rights without their own obligations. For example, an anonymous society allows, to a certain extent, people to carry out illicit activities without their property or person suffering from court rulings.

My question is: is there any mechanism that allows, without completely dispensing with capitalism, to completely nullify the power of influence of lobbies (economic or ideological)?

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    Lobbies as groups of individuals wanting to achieve a common goal would exist even in non-capitalist societies. It's the nature of politics to balance the interests of different groups. I think we need a better definition of just what kind of lobbyism you wish to limit.
    – xyldke
    Nov 13, 2023 at 10:29
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    So in your ideal society nobody would petition the government to do anything? The right to lobby government and form associations to do so (e.g. trade unions, NGOs) is generally considered a fundamental human right.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 13, 2023 at 10:55
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    A lot of downvotes. But I read the question asking for input regarding anti-trust laws etc. in a non-neo-capitalist society. Some countries are a lot better at removing money from politics than other countries. Nov 13, 2023 at 12:19
  • If there were one, possibly it might have tried by now. Of course, it depends what you mean by "without completely dispensing with capitalism" (emphasis mine). Nov 13, 2023 at 13:38
  • My question is only for lobbies that are not legitimate and use non-legitimate methods. For example, a citizen is the object or legitimate actor of a democratic election and is expected to cast a vote. A multinational is not, it cannot vote, nor should it use money to alter the will of others, for example, giving money to a candidate so that he has an advantage over the others. Neither are citizens of another country, they should not intervene in elections that are not theirs.
    – Pau
    Nov 14, 2023 at 20:53

2 Answers 2

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It's not possible to completely eliminate the effect of lobbyists, but there is a simple mechanism to reduce its power which is implemented by every working democratic country except one.

Let's start by making sure we understand what is meant by "lobbyist". Most people would agree that telling a politician what they think of their policies is perfectly acceptable, and doing so in a group is absolutely fine. If the leader of the "chicken preservation society" says that the thousands of chicken-lover members will vote against a politician for a chicken-unfriendly policy that's their right to speak their mind.

What makes a "lobbyist" different is that they can influence the electorate in other ways. When the chicken industry sends a lobbyist the (implicit) threat is that they will actively spend money to influence the electorate, placing adds that condemn the chicken-unfriendly politician, or just attacking him in general terms. In fact that's almost always the key with lobbyists - they get their influence by spending money. Lobbyists rarely represent lots of people, but they do have lots of money they can spend to influence other voters. If they do represent lots of people then they are in the first group, which is totally acceptable.

Which brings us to the tried and proven way to restrict the impact of lobbyists - campaign finance limits. Every functioning democracy (except one) places limits on how much a person or group can spend on a given political campaign. This is done so that those with lots of money don't have an undue influence over the electoral process. It works pretty well - the impact of lobbyists is significantly reduced in the places where these limits are in place, and are most egregious in the one place where they are not.

Which country doesn't do this? I'll leave that for the readers to work out.

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  • "the impact of lobbyists is significantly reduced in the places where these limits are in place"[citation needed]. You need to read about lobbyists at the EP a bit more, I think. Nov 14, 2023 at 2:23
  • "It is estimated that there are over 25,000 lobbyists working in the European Quarter, most of them in the service of corporations and their lobby groups. Whenever the European Commission proposes a new regulation or the European Parliament votes on a new law, corporate lobbyists are there, outnumbering and outspending public interest groups. On some issues the imbalance is staggering. In the lobbying concerning EU financial regulation, the banking sector is outspending NGOs, trade unions and other interest groups by 30:1." Nov 14, 2023 at 2:25
  • And yeah, the lobbying version of 'astroturfing' politico.eu/article/… Nov 14, 2023 at 2:34
  • "In Brussels 25,000 lobbyists with a combined annual budget conservatively estimated at more than €3bn ($3.6bn) seek to influence eu policy. Approximately 7,500 of them are accredited with the European Parliament, which means they are regularly able to meet with parliamentarians. Berlin is now reckoned to host up to 7,000 lobbyists with over €1bn to throw around every year." --The Economist Nov 14, 2023 at 2:53
  • Campaign finance limits is possibly a part of the solution, DJClayworth. Thanks for the proposal.
    – Pau
    Nov 14, 2023 at 21:05
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My question is: is there any mechanism that allows, without completely dispensing with capitalism, to completely nullify the power of influence of lobbies (economic or ideological)?

No.

Some of the power of business interests in politics comes from crass means like campaign finance. But a large share of the power of business interests in politics comes from simply communicating facts that politicians would probably pro-actively seek out if lobbyists weren't there to communicate those facts to politicians.

Businesses make decisions autonomously from the government in capitalist economies, and often, either the basic thrust of a law, or some of its particular fine details of a law, will cause business to act and to have impacts that lawmakers do not intend their laws to have.

For example, if a law as proposed will cause businesses, collectively, to lay off 10% of their employees, or will entirely end production of some commonly used commodity that provides value to people and has few substitutes, politicians in capitalist economies are going to take those concerns very seriously and will pass such a law only if the benefits associated with the law are extremely great.

Ultimately, most of the power of businesses in politics comes from the importance of their decisions, as guided by the laws enacted by politicians, and only secondarily from the money paid to lobbyists who serve as the messengers regarding the way businesses are likely to react to policies. On the margins, better messengers makes the message more effective. But since business decisions impact lots of voters, and since politicians try to adopt policies that help their constituents (most of the time), the lobbying process itself is only a modest part of the overall equation of business influence on political decision-making.

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