Part 1- Democracy: The Mindset
The Voting Game
According to Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements.
(a) A political system for choosing and replacing government through free and fair elections;
(b) Active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life;
(c) Protection of the human rights of all citizens,
(d) A rule of law, in which laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
Reflecting on democracies in the light of these elements, the discrepancy between what is declared as democracy and the reality is striking. The voting system itself, a keystone of democracy, contributes to this discrepancy.
The tyranny of the majority
Voting works according to the principle of majority rule. “Equality” in the right to vote is immediately counteracted by the inequality embedded in the outcome of a vote. This means the very voting system created to promote equality actually entrenches a system of inequality where the majority voice is privileged over the minority one.
This dynamic is often referred to as the tyranny of the majority. It is based on the myopic premise that it is the size of the vote that will indicate what is better for the whole or what is fair. Instead of caring for the entire system, the win-lose approach splits the people and neglects essential perspectives held by the minority on behalf of the whole. The majority rule concept is based on the mindset of domination, separateness and superiority and denies the interdependence of all parts of the system.
In an interconnected system privileging one part over another is about as ludicrous as privileging one part of the body over another part. It is akin to believing that the biggest part of the human body is the part that should be most carefully tended, while the smaller parts can be safely ignored.
We have witnessed a range of atrocities that majority votes can endorse. Humanity does not have a very successful record regarding "majority knowing best". The pressure to get a majority vote in elections and to pass laws in parliament in order to get ones way, contributes to a manipulative and often ruthless culture of corruption. Not only will such a system generate constant discontent and conflict, the neglect and oppression of minorities will ultimately bring about disease in the entire system.
The oppression of the minority vote is often echoed in countries where two primary parties dominate elections and the smaller parties are side-lined through sophisticated power play. This creates polarity rather than multiplicity of voices. It flattens diversity, dumbs down debate into artificial binary choices and effectively silences minority voices and activists working with different frameworks outside of the mainstream status quo. Not only does the process entrench inequality, it rigidifies the system that becomes immune to fresh evolving resources cultivated on the fringes of society.
The Election Drama
The election system is sold to citizens as the ultimate way to enable them to influence politics, however the opposite is true. It is skilfully designed to maximize citizen dependence and impotence while giving free reign to those in power. The election hoax has created the mind-boggling belief that a single vote once every few years can actually offer citizens real representation or influence in government.
The vote, effectively silences the very voice it claims to give, by pacifying people with the hyped up meaningless but brilliantly advertised ritual of putting a piece of paper in a box once every few years. In reality it limits active citizen involvement in processes that affect daily lives.
The entire election campaign industry is a well-oiled machine through which individuals and corporations buy candidates, and candidates buy citizen votes. A huge amount of taxpayer and corporate money is funnelled into glitzy campaigns. This is nothing short of bribery. It is criminal, especially when we think of how this money could otherwise be used for the real benefit of citizens. Politicians with vested interests often run on ridiculously narrow platforms. Generally, they have limited knowledge on the vast range of issues they deal with, and little accountability to truth and to the course of their future actions.
Election campaigns are designed to reduce complex matters into emotionally laden, fear and hope based catch-phrases, and to trigger simplistic liberal vs. conservative allegiances. Issues are reduced to slogans. Candidates often offer sweeping promises of redemption while devaluing and demonizing their opponents. This culture of violence activates and fuels parallel violence among supporters.
The intense hype of election campaigns and their contrived public debates offer a powerful illusion of citizen political involvement. After election results some celebrate, others mourn, but we are all sold the noble idea that “the people have spoken” and that we must now live with the “democratically decided” results, relinquish further involvement and let the politicians do their job until the next election. The entire system is designed to keep the average person lazy, oblivious and complacent. In this way the financial elite have hijacked governments and have succeeded in taking away most freedoms while voters were sleeping between elections. Rather than the voting system generating a culture of active citizens involved in ongoing decision making and constructive activism, it instead cultivates a culture of extreme dependence.
In what often appears like a mass media driven hypnotic process, citizens voluntarily relinquish authority on almost every aspect of their lives to decision makers with vested interests and little if any competence in the issues they lead.
The outcome is almost inevitable. The financial elite win, the weakest suffer most and entire countries are diseased by false promises, corruption, divisiveness and imbalances. This abuse of democracy has created a culture of winners and losers in a manipulative theatrical game and this dynamic fragments the moral, emotional, intellectual and physical fabric of society as a whole.