I like talking about democracy. I recently read a great article that pretty much sums up how I feel about it (you can find it here). I summarize and add my thoughts (so, no, you don't really have to read it anymore but you should because it's quite good).
As we learn in school, democracy is the only form of government that is acceptable. In history we basically follow its steps from Greece to today with the supposed conclusion of “And now made it!” But did we? Democracy today means choosing between two major parties (in most countries) that in the end often don’t differ very much, being surveyed by the government or by companies, mostly about 50% voter participation and politicians who never seem to care about issues the people care about (will we ever really elect people who think global warming is a big issue?) and politics ruled by capitalism. Everyone’s always talking about how important voting is and how lucky we are to live in a democracy, but if you really get down to it, it’s a pretty devastating picture. I mean, who really thinks our kind of politics works well?
The problem of course is, once you start questioning democracy, people get really upset and will attack you with two main arguments:
- Do you want to live in a dictatorship or communist state?
- It’s not perfect but it’s the best we have.
Those are not good arguments. By suggesting that democracy doesn’t work so well, I wouldn’t suggest that dictatorships or communism work better. And the second argument is depressing. No wonder most people say they voted for the lesser evil in any given election. We treat our democracy like a plane that is moving rapidly towards the ground because the engines aren’t working. Instead of figuring out how to survive, we try to fix the plane and hope for the best (I shamelessly stole that analogy from Daniel Quinn). What I’m suggesting here (and for basically any issue), is that we should question the principles of what we are doing and start thinking of a new way of doing things. We’ve been doing the democracy for a long time now and even we convince more countries to follow us, I have a hard time accepting that our democracies actually work better every year. I don’t think communism is the right answer, but I also don’t think it’s the only possible alternative. And why is that such a terrible thing to hear for many people? Oh right, because the thought of living in a political system that actually doesn’t work so well is scary. Especially if you learned and told all your life that it’s the ONLY RIGHT WAY. Yes, I have to say it now: there is no one right way. For anything.
It has to start somewhere It has to start sometime What better place than here, what better time than now? - Rage Against the Machine, Guerilla Radio (1999)
What you learn in school is that democracies are based on informed voters making rational decisions. All you have to do is take a look at an electoral campaign run by the PR industry and see that the purpose is to create uninformed voters who will make irrational decisions. - Noam Chomsky (2013)