A questionable state of Democracy

Democracy primarily uses mathematics (majority vote) and not necessarily logic. Therefore, it can be seen as intrinsically flawed in so far as the core objectives of the democracy are concerned – i.e. to serve one and all with fairness and without bias or prejudice, which may not practically happen. Perhaps, the use of such a system is a compulsion in the absence of a better alternative system. A much bigger – perhaps existential – flaw in democracy surfaces when the majority vote, to form a governing body, is achieved by creating fear psychosis in people through misleading propaganda, distortion of facts and spreading white lies against one’s opponents.  

Practically, as no two humans are alike in their analytical thinking, there can be many sides to an argument, each side believing it is right. In a democracy, it does not matter which side is correct, what matters is the number of people that support one side of an argument, howsoever silly that side may appear to a wise minority. That is why bills and motions are passed in a parliament on the basis of a majority vote. Multi-judge benches are also appointed in high courts to decide on tricky and potentially controversial cases. Sadly, however, majority may NOT always be right. If it was so, most students in a classroom would secure the first position. In a democracy, therefore, a wining majority may not always be good for the country and a losing minority may not always be a wrong alternative.

Democracy ideally thrives on honest transparency in all three of its arms and essentially the health of its autonomous institutions. A severely flawed democracy, in which the arms of a democracy – the executive, the legislative and the judiciary – are tampered and corrupted by a few, is akin to ‘wolf in lamb’s clothing’. A severely flawed democracy, especially where the autonomy of the institutions is compromised – to any greater and lesser extent – can easily allow irrationality prevail over logic. One does not know what to expect from such a government that thrives in the dark shadow of a severely flawed democracy, as the truth can easily be distorted and become subjective, potentially polarising the community and leading to social discord and strife.

When the word of the executive becomes a divine truth or an unwritten law, and the institutions, which are the pillars of the democracy, lose their autonomy, it does not remain a democracy anymore; it degrades to a state of autocracy and tyranny, which is not much different than a dictatorship. Autocratic governments tend to mislead the world by functioning in the disguise of democracy. When a leader threatens social disorder and reluctance to leave office on being impeached or losing an election, democracy can be considered to be breathing its last and or even called a fake or sham democracy. Leaders who believe in autocracy, but also genuinely care for their people and intend to be sincere to their country, would do a great deal of good to their country by coming out and declaring themselves as autocratic. However, if they claim to be democratic, they must uphold all sacred tenets of democracy.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing are the worst enemies of their people. History is full of tears due to such people.

Vijay Shankar, the noted author, poet and journalist, responds to the above as follows:

Yes, of course, you are right. The basic concept of the system of democracy is the rule of the majority; the ‘majority’ will win. We are seeing that now; this is one of the big failures of democracy. This is seen all over the world. In a paper thin majority, just 51% majority is enough to form a government and the 49% dissenters are forced to lump it. It is becoming clear that, for all its possibilities of social justice, even democracy is no longer the ideal system. Or, perhaps, an ideal system has again been subverted by man.

Bill responds: “Exactly, the human race is not yet emancipated enough to appreciate the values and spirit of democracy, or relish its fruits. Most of us are still struggling to make our both ends meet and survive. And the privileged ones amongst us, comprising a minuscule minority, won’t miss any chance of using, misusing, abusing, exploiting or subjugating an overwhelming majority of unprivileged and underprivileged people amongst us. Most of us humans are not even able to understand the concept of democracy or able to think for ourselves, our thoughts are shaped by propaganda and fear-psychosis.”

Vijay continues:

The story of mankind is written in the greed and arrogance of the ‘few’. The ‘few’ were the rulers and nobility once, mostly due to money and misuse of religion. Both factors led to power. In the new world of democracies, the same continues. Education, perhaps, is the only factor that can make a real difference. The failure of democracies is a big topic. India and America are the two good examples of this failure. Every human system gets compromised. Sad but true. Because humans who understand and wield power always take control. And all power ultimately rests on exploitation – greed, ruthlessness and self-interest.

Bill responds: “Despite reading a lot about WWII and the known factors that led to it, and the related documentaries and movies about Germany and Europe of that period, I have been intrigued by the humans of that time. I have not stopped wondering how could those humans, who were not any different than the humans of the present, create such a polarised and volatile world, led by a number of polarising and fascist leaders of the time who brought nothing but misery and tears for the humanity.”

Vijay adds:

It is an old wisdom. History repeats itself because man repeats his lowest nature. In the human cycle of destiny, the Devil always attracts the frail, plasticine intelligence of men.

I also think that man was cursed with a death-wish at the same time as he was gifted with consciousness of the Divine. It is a death-wish of his great energy, which he cannot guide to real human creative work. It is strange that he cannot live in peace and goodness. Peace and overdose of goodness create Evil in the human mind. The worst part is that when death-wish comes, an insidious evil ghost residing in most ‘normal’ humans takes over and they are not even aware about it. They live inside a collective nightmare and become a part of it.

This thought needs to be reflected upon and expanded. How goodness, far too long, as well as peace, also far too long, destroy themselves? And how, paradoxically, goodness becomes boring to man, when it exists without wisdom, and creates a seedbed for Evil?

Bill concludes: “That is brilliant, Vijay. Thank you. I think this conversation must end here, let the readers reflect upon this subject on their own. May this conversation help the world of humans in achieving some sense and peace!

… Bill Koul (Perth, 8 October 2020)

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