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What is the future of democracy?

Updated on April 5, 2017
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Great men of the past and present who found interest in the esoteric questions the day were off the mark. He is trying to fill that gap

How did democracy enter our lives?

Democracy seems to me, an antithesis of history. For, neither there is a species without an identifiable social hierarchy, nor the human species has a period in its early origins without some form of hereditary leadership. Also, of all the forms of governance including anarchy, democracy is the one where the citizens are required to labor the most to have them governed. Still, it is the most preferred form of government. Therefore, how democracy happened to become a part of human society, in fact is the first question that comes to me. Why did people willingly choose this form of governance? How did it begin?

'People’ of same feather flock together

The earlier days of our society would have been great, the vast treasure of ancient literature pointing to unparalleled intellectual wealth, to note one thing we can deduce from the signs left by bygone eras. Humans would have been living a life in a manner best suited for their survival, which, unlike all other forms of life, is one of independent existence. (Look at the survival techniques of well trained forces, almost all of them pivot around self-contained, individual moves.) It is possible that a few disgruntled elements joined together and formed a miniscule group. As it happens when humans group, then also, random ideas would have been evolving. And some of those ideas would have been to do something to harm the flourishing society. (Just like we find these days in all our endeavors) It looks like a few of them joined together and gave that idea a rather formal look, calling it a ‘party’. This surprising discovery turned out to be an ideal concept; useful equally well for those who agree with the concept as well as who oppose vehemently. And since the institution of this, our society has never been the same.

'Party – the rationale for democracy

I think, democracy then came to be instituted as a formal cover for making permanent rooms for such ‘parties’ in our midst. We thus came to acquire, ‘party democracy’ with all its incongruities and undesirables. I suppose, the fact that there are many unsuitable elements in it has always been known to mankind. For, improvements are being contemplated for the existing political system of governance in all democratic countries. Otherwise, what is the need to devote a lion’s share of governmental efforts, not towards the activities of governance, but in trying to better governance?

The Present Path?

But this has been so since the earliest days I can remember. I have attended scores of political meetings, where, allocating a greater amount of resources for improving the existing system governance was cited as the most urgent need facing the nation, to justify additional taxes and other ways of collecting resources. Nowadays also, this remains as a priority area for all governments. It seems, either we have not been able to improve our system of governance or we failed in identifying the right cause for ‘democracies not being able to deliver the goods’.

I have been thinking about this, and I find that over the years we have come to adopt democracy as the most acceptable form of governance. But we seem to have forgotten the very rationale for democracy, that is, its role as an excuse for ‘parties’. (This is quite surprising, when, even for a much insignificant idea, we do not feel comfortable unless its origins can be found out! At least as a topic of academic research, such a thing would have been in probe) We are therefore not able to see the damage being done by parties or party politics, in destroying the pristine character of democracy that we are interested in. The basic character of democracy, one that makes it, true self governance, is nothing but the free participation by all. By unceremoniously negating the primary condition which would have ensured rational decision making at all levels, that all who participate will do so according to ones own free will, the party system has converted democracy to a maker of ‘qualified’ decisions. Not only that, it has reduced the function of parties, to one of always opposing the other side, a rather meaningless task. As a result of this, in cases where a decision do not produce the desired effect or lead to a failure, rather than re-examining the soundness of ones choice (a tough task), the ruling party feels the urge to take a readily available path, blame the ‘opposition’ (easy alternative).

The Path Ahead?

I think many in our society will be agreeing with me, in spite of all this, we are continuing with the system of multi party democracy, as it offers a convenience. The advantage of party politics is that governmental failures can be easily deflected away from the ruling party who can gloat in case of success, and the opposing party can very well share the glory of success while causing obstructions with impunity. Perhaps this advantage is what is preventing the populace from learning the undesirability of the ‘party’.

I think there is writing on the wall. We can liberate democracy from party system, or we can let democracy give way to something else. Historically, unlike all other beings that happen to have some kind of leadership regulating all affairs of life, humans did pass through many mechanisms of organizing their society. Anarchy, oligarchy, and many other social experiments have preceded the present confusion, which, I think is a transition period. We can make democracy free of party system by exploiting the capabilities of IT, to have an abstract ruler listening to the views of each and every citizen. Such a system can work, till a new development in science or elsewhere render the technology redundant.

Do you Agree

Democracy has outlived its life

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      Setank Setunk 11 months ago

      One of the tenants of Greek Democracy was Ostracism. Great leaders like Miltiades (General at Battle of Marathon), Themistocles(Savior of Greece from the Persians), and many others were exiled from Greece. It was argued that their skills made them too influential.

      I could see this working to great effect today. However in this age of information we could ostracize the bad and keep the good. But then the people would need complete and honest information.

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      ROY T JAMES 11 months ago from chennai, india

      We need such a fairly complex structure for implementation of democracy, only because the task of collating opinions of all citizens and dovetailing them with the country's vision, is intimidating, to say the least. But, if we are ready to use the unlimited computing power of modern technology, the direct democracy as envisaged by its proponents(Greece), can make matters really simple.

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      Setank Setunk 11 months ago

      You can see the origins of a stratagem by our leaders very early on. There were concerns over the viability of direct representation even as the first Continental Congress convened. The election of our 1st Congress confirmed their concerns that the people would not elect "appropriate" Representatives.

      Jefferson, Madison and others wrote on these concerns. It is a form of arrogance in government officials that compels them towards efforts in limiting or controlling the options or choices that voters have. The Electoral College, Political Parties, Carpet Bagging, and now social division are some of the tools used. There are other problems as well. The biggest being the concept of a single vote in selecting officials and the 2 party bureaucratic system that filters out most "good" candidates and leaves voters with choices deemed fit for government service by the system itself.

      The root of this problem goes much deeper however. Authority vs. Leadership and the rule of law vs. common law. We can see the progression of this struggle in the Frankish Kingdoms and their eventual formation into a single State under an authoritarian Monarchy.

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      ROY T JAMES 11 months ago from chennai, india

      I agree. I was trying to make out how we happened to take the unnatural step of choosing such a 'terrible' thing, and how we can react, to what is bound to follow.

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      Setank Setunk 11 months ago

      Democracy is a terrible form of Government, and is the last thing our founding fathers would want. It first appeared in American Politics as an insult to anti-Federalists who were dubbed Democratic-Republicans. The Idea that a real majority of free people will agree on everything is idealistic fantasy. Ignoring the flawed concept of majority rule, the idea of democracy proscribes the inherent requirement that people in a society must sacrifice and compromise to maintain that society. You can have Democracy were 51 people tell the other 49 what to do, but getting a 60-40 split is nearly impossible. 3/4 majority,,,,,forget about it. How can anyone who believes in simple majority rule believe in Liberty or legitimate representation.

      Our 2 party bureaucracy evolved as a tool to try and restrict voters to one of two choices. This is the only way democracy can manufacture a simple majority election.