Is it important to live in a democracy? (short answer: a resounding no)

Warning: heavily jaded ramblings to ensue. Proceed at your own risk.

Being the gleefully insufferable pedant i am, it is my business to be pedantic and pedantic i shall be.
Though i admittedly hope to convince you of the necessity of this particular instance of 'pedantism' (yes- how calculatedly ironic a use of the word indeed), feel free to charge me of belligerent contrarianism.
Before my pseudo-scathing ramblings subsume the point however, all aboard!

Were the question asking if it's more important to live in a democracy than say a monarchy, communist state or
*insert choice unsavoury sounding system*, i would unflinchingly choose a democracy every time. But it isn't, so i won't.

A google search, not of the word 'democracy', but of the demonstrably more relevant words: 'policy' and 'mechanism' yielded this:
Policy: a set of ideas
Mechanism: a process, technique, or system for achieving a set of ideas

The systems design principle of the separation of policy and mechanism states-
"mechanisms should not dictate(or overly restrict) the policies. Decoupling the mechanism implementations from the policy specifications makes it possible for different applications to use the same mechanism implementations with different policies. This means that those mechanisms are likely to better meet the needs of a wider range of users, for a longer period of time. Also, hardwiring policy and mechanism together has two bad effects:
1. It makes policy rigid and harder to change in response to user requirements.
2. Trying to change policy has a strong tendency to destabilise the mechanisms. On the other hand, by separating mechanism and policy, it is possible to experiment with new policies without breaking mechanisms. We can also test the mechanism independently and thoroughly."

This paragraph was taken directly from a handbook titled 'the art of unix programming' and is about the architecture of modules in the unix operating system- a seemingly far cry from politics. Unwittingly, the writer of this handbook makes my case much more convincingly (and succinctly to boot) than i ever can. The pertinence of his principle to the scaffold of 'democracy' is undeniable! Quite bluntly, 'democracy' here is just a crude mechanism with all its faults and flourishes, attempting to execute the underpinning idea of equality.

'Equality', 'equity', 'fairness', (please allow this hypocritical pedant to conveniently ignore semantics here or this would be even more a veritable Russian nesting doll of arguments than it already is) whatever you name it, my notions of equality are about as idealistic as you'd expect of me-
an 'equal' system to me means that every individual of it must be an equal vector to drive any change in their reality, with the sole determinant of relative success being effort.

This, however purportedly similar, stands firmly at odds to my conception of 'democracy'-
a democracy in my view, is about the movement of circumstance towards a reflection of the ideological stances of its constituents.

While the idea that discourse around democracy should be limited to it as a concept operating in a vacuum relieved of all applicative baggage has ensconced itself in popular opinion; i see absolutely no reason to afford it any such luxury.
Contrarily, millennia of shielding it from well deservedly critical eyes has sewed ideological stagnation in its practice, leaving us taking it for granted, high on some ethereal pedestal above any damming trifles.

Democracy, remember, is only the mechanism. And the mellifluous and well documented shortcomings of democracy are a faithful yardstick measuring its standard deviation from the equalitarian ideals it was built to achieve.

The fatal frangibility of this rusty mechanism as we know it is twofold and the line of attack here, like most assassinations, is during transport. It is not in the notions itself, but in the collection and implementation of ideological stances that democracy fails.
For successful implementation (the plausibility of which is directly linked to the merit of democracy here), democracy must achieve:
-the extrication of the constituents' stances without any convolution that may distort them
-the refinement of these stances into tangible change of circumstance
-enforce and nourish this stream of feedback

None of this has ever been and is likely to ever be completely within reach.

Wether brought to fruition or not, every poll with a large enough sample size to be perceptive of public opinion results in a convoluted average. Any frustrated statistician could gladly take on my rant from here on the shortcomings of single measure metrics such as the unabashed averages of exit polls, sentiment polls and projected turnout polls alike. Further to this, it is an inherent postulate across all fields of human enquiry from quantum mechanics (Schrödinger's cat purrs here) to psychology to archeology is that to measure something is to change it. Only when a subject is unknowingly observed in context can any insight be gleaned...but that can of worms starts to smell suspiciously undemocratic if left out in the sun. (authoritarian surveillance, anyone? no?)

As for the refinement of such insights into change, the facts that Romania had to legalise corruption in an effort to staunch it, estimated trillions are tied up in bribes annually and that over 60% of grain meant for the starving in my native India (touted as the world's largest democracy) never reaches them... would be enough to quell any naive hopes to that end. Except the supply of such statistics exceeds the demand anyone can generate without wanting to yell a string of colourful expletives i won't repeat here. It has been poignantly pointed out that mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process. Politicians are what democracy- and by extension we- make of them.The demons are in the mirror, not the window and accordingly we have to wash our faces not close our doors.

Finally with respect to the origination and enforcement of these ideological stances, the formation and sustenance of an ethical meritocracy is only as strong as the underlying exchange of ideas that comprises its foundation- wether that be initially introduced notions through education or reinforcement and shepherding through deliberation on and offline. With phrases like 'echo chambers' and 'gerrymandering' becoming buzzwords, we are left not with any means of informed and vulnerable discussion but only a vague, disembodied set of prejudices we ruthlessly combat with. Any whiff of opposing opinion is deemed abrasive and politics denounced a spectator sport.

The endless drone of the trials and triumphs of democracy, after the evaporation of specific events, leaves a granular filtrate of the same saturated brine every time. In this festering brine of lobbyists and gerrymandering, inequality is preserved pristinely through time- a putrid pickle of compounding advantage best served on a silver platter with a trust fund card as a garnish.

With its donor funded air horns learning out egalitarian susurrations to drown out the crunching of bones as it digs its heal harder on the neck of the 'everyman' it professes so ardently to champion- democracy is a tool, not an end in itself and we have to disentangle its reality from the lofty projections we emboss to cover its stains.

Forgive my sensationalist writing but it cannot be denied in essence that a raging plutocracy marinates languidly, unchallenged under the cracking porcelain mask of a democracy -all dutifully fulled by a demagoguery.

It was still a democracy when having a tad too much melanin meant you couldn't vote.
It was still a democracy when having a vagina meant you couldn't vote.
It was still a democracy when the god you prayed to meant you couldn't vote.
Being the owner of copious amounts of melanin, a vagina and various holy books; i can't say I'm too impressed.

Why are we defending a towering world view balancing precariously on jagged fragments of undeservedly lauded doctrines, instead of gleaning and cementing the functioning parts of a broken clock to build a better one?

At the risk of appearing dogmatic, no.
I do not think it is important to live in a democracy.
That would just be another blatant solidification of the tribalistic, exclusionary ideological warfare our eurocentricity condemns us to. Because apparently, 2000 years ago in Greece was when someone with little melanin, no vagina and the right beliefs declared for the first time all men were equal- as naturally the world before this divine intervention was all but a history of carnage written in bloodshed.
Sarcastic as i intended it to be, most people have learnt just that.

It is important however, to ensure the fair exchange of distinct and colourful theses across the world- as that is the skeleton on which the flamboyant flesh of terms like democracy are grown.

Semantically cohesive or not, this is our modern 'suffrage'. 


Views: 61

Comments are closed for this blog post

Carnegie Council

The Ethics of Trade with China and Authoritarian Upgrading

Increased foreign investment and engagement is producing, not democratization, but "authoritarian upgrading," where selected reforms are designed to legitimize a softer authoritarianism. This presents an ethical dilemma for international trade. What direction will China, Uzbekistan, Russia, and other "upgraded authoritarian" states evolve towards in the coming decade?

The 2020 Election & the View from Overseas, with Nikolas Gvosdev

As the 2020 election begins to come into focus, Senior Fellow Nikolas Gvosdev details the foreign policy cleavages in the Democratic Party. Plus, referencing Nahal Toosi's recent article in "Politico," he discusses the worries that many in Europe have about a Trump reelection or a progressive candidate who also questions the status quo. What's the view from abroad on this turbulent time in American politics?

Ethics & the U.S.-China Trade War, with Nikolas Gvosdev

What role should ethics play in the U.S.-China trade war? Senior Fellow Nikolas Gvosdev looks at these economic tensions in the context of the Uyghur detention and the Hong Kong protests, different theories on integrating China into the world economy, and what it could mean to "lose" in this conflict. Is there a breaking point in terms of China's human rights policies? What's the view in Africa and Europe?





© 2019   Created by Carnegie Council.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

The views and opinions expressed in the media, comments, or publications on this website are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Carnegie Council.