Name: Maria Jabeen Awwal
School: National Defence University, Islamabad
Level: Senior Year Undergraduate
Twelve feet tall wall, barbed wired, a security camera, with a gigantic steel gate to guard: this is description of a normal house in Pakistan. Description of a prison in any country is the outlook of a house in Pakistan. The reason that every citizen experiences prisoner’s syndrome is the absence of virtuous self-governance in people and governance erosion in the state.
Democracy is a political system formed when individuals collectively sign social contract to form a state where they bargain their unlimited freedom for the security promised by the state. It is a governance system operated by popular opinion and consent of individuals. Democracy is an offshoot of liberalism and complimentary to consumerism and capitalism. It’s a societal structure where people stand alone, with strong opinion, and power of choice.
Democracy is the name of a polity created through volunteerism coming from rational self-interest. Where the citizens volunteer to sacrifice their natural rights in order to seek protection and security from a sovereign state. The legitimacy of this sovereign state comes from the consent of individuals. The order is maintained in a democratic state when the external actions of individuals are legally restricted. Hence the success of the society isn’t liable on the form of electoral or political system but it is solely dependent on the presence of rule of law.
Democratic society produces limitless individuals but requires positive law enforcement for smooth state operation. When democracy enters a developing country i.e. a society with weak writ of state, the strong virtuous self-governance comes from religion of the society. However democracy comes as a package deal with liberalism, free markets, individualism, and capitalism, which actually tends to remove the concept of virtuous self-governance by separating religion from the state. This then lures the citizens with the concept of ‘even sky is not your limit’. It’s convenient to remove self-governance through soft power but it’s difficult to establish rule of law and writ of state in a society alien to freedom of choice.
I am a citizen of Pakistan: a religion dominated society. It’s a society where gender, dressing, name, origin, language, beliefs, God, and practices are pre-assigned to each individual at the time of birth. It’s a society where everyone follows the norms decided by religion without knowing the right of choice and freedom of speech. Such society is regulated by self-governance, developed over time in an individual through visualizing the ideals of a religion. It becomes a society which doesn’t require the enforcement of law by the state or accountability by an external actor. However when democracy enters such society, it tends to give freedom of choice to each individual and allows them to choose their representative through popular opinion. The catch 22 situation forms when individuals living their lives without the concept of choice are given the freedom of choice to choose their representative.
Elections are meant to achieve legitimacy for a democratic government but it becomes a lethal tool in hands of corrupt elite when the voting population is illiterate and media houses are channeled to direct the public opinion in their favor. Hence elections become a passage for the feudal lords, corrupt minded, and crook people to expand their locus of control from a village or town to a whole district, province, or state. Democracy becomes a toy in hands of infidels.
Thus, democracy can never be successful in a society alien to the concept of consent and choice. Instead it weakens the indigenous governance system without forecasting the outrage resulting in the absence of any governance system. Democracy should never be imposed or introduced in any polity by an external force instead the society should be given ample time to evolve over the time. The example of evolution can be taken from the city states of Italy. The city states adopted the concept of council from the Roman Empire but failed miserably but then the city state of Siena evolved its governance system and came up with the concept of Nove: nine men selected from the merchant class, elected every two months. The governance system might not be successful in any other polity but it lead Siena to success. It was successful in Siena because it was indigenous and not imposed or borrowed from an external authority.
We, the millennials are born at times when freedom is the dream of everyone, where relations are considered as burden, where unstable emotions and excited feelings are taken as utmost authority, and democracy is considered as the best political system. Alas! All these assumptions are wrong. The downfall is that the West has believed in these ideals for the past two hundred years and now its reverting to its opposite but the third world, the developing world, and the left out ones’ are mimicking the democratic model when the West has already failed it. The dilemma is that democracy is thought to be the solution of every economic, social, and political failure in the developing countries.
Hollywood and Netflix has developed the impression of democracy as the only passage of success. It exhibits the economic success and promises lifetime happiness. The catch is that Hollywood can film the pomp and show of the western society but isn’t able to show the mental illnesses of individuals, the loneliness in everyone, and the depression of the society. Attracted by the economic success the people of third world get ready to break the barriers coming from virtuous self-governance but aren’t ready to sacrifice the leverages coming from this society as well. For example, they want to retain the happy evenings with the family but sacrifice the idea of collective decision making by the family for every individual.
When democracy comes in such society, it subtracts the virtuous self-governance but forgets to add positive law enforcement to give limits to these unlimited individuals. In such situation every individual is none less than an animal running astray in the society without considering the existence of anyone else. Hence, democracy becomes the reason of every home having the outlook of a prison because every individual knows how to guard themselves and how to ruin others. There is no rule of law and virtuous self-governance was taken away decades ago.