Democracy is widely held as the best form of government available. Some morons even think it is the best one possible. It might as well be, but the reasons for that are definitely not the ones usually given.
The idea of Democracy is, obviously, that if everyone is involved in the decision process, everyone can fight for her own rights. Therefore, the society would be doing the best thing possible for every one of it’s members. Needless to say, the implementation of this idea always leads to systems where it’s ideals are not met. In other words, it simply doesn’t work.
Even if we go a bit beyond the literal definition of democracy, taking it to mean government for the people (as opposed to government by the people), the idea is still fragile. For example, does govern for everyone mean enhance the total amount of happiness or diminish the amount of misery? This is a very important issue, for there are many occasions where making a few people have a very bad life will make a lot of people have a very, very enhanced happiness level. (Don’t think slaves, think garbage collectors).
The naive idea of using the average of happiness and misery still leads us to straight corners where to assure everyone’s happiness one should kill one person, a compromise that partisans of the maximization of happiness hardly are ready to admit. And this kind of situation is neither rare nor minor — overcrowding of prisons be my witness.
The root of the problem is that decision by majority is not a good thing. Crowds do not make good decisions. Crowds do not understand. And crowds do not, at all, care for ethics and human rights and higher values.
Decision by crowd is the same thing as herd behaviour. Therefore, Democracy by default brings to the surface the worst there is in people.
Those of you who think i am just making hate-speech, without offering any proof, please just remember any situation on your own lives where many people had to find a common ground for any group decision. Most of the time, in this small-group scale, everything but the most obvious no-brainer rises problems. Why should it be any different in a society-wide scale? At first sight, the tendency is for the decision to be harder.
In many occasions, a decision by a crowd equals no decision at all, and this often has disastrous consequences.
Therefore, Democracy neither ensures that humanitarian values will be directly observed and followed in government, nor does it make those values an indirect consequence of a general progress of the society by the taking of the best decisions.
The real strength of democracy as a form of government is that it gives stability to the powerful minority. In other words, it ensures that the elites will remain in power.
This is so because:
- First, the powerful few on a given society will be capable to affect the outcome of elections, almost by definition: to have power means being able to exert control over social acts such as an election. The practical evidence that it is completely impossible to be elected without a huge propaganda corps and various coercion mechanisms should be overwhelming.
- The constant change of the person calling the shots, provided she will never come from anywhere but the elite, is a precaution against personal problems for the authority, like a feeble-minded monarch or a grave disease or even family issues. The cyclic rearrangements force a kind of bureaucratic discipline that makes the overall system more resilient even when it opens itself to occasional criticism — the really important agendas get clouded by a sea of minor issues.
- Providing a clear, open, and “right”™ path for opposing forces to express themselves guarantees that any group with any real chance of making any difference will follow the protocol instead of moving around in unexpected ways. It ensures that all opposition will behave predictably and, therefore, be controllable.
- By making it vital to control the tides of political battles, the democratic system invites larger and larger sums of money and energy to be invested into lobbying and sponsorship of politics. This makes the system itself grow in power, diminishes the effect of anyone without big credit lines. Even more importantly, it feeds the underground bribery system, so that the law can be applied whenever it fits and overlooked when needed.
- By sustaining an ideology of freedom and independence, the system which, for all practical effects, works as any other form of government would, can put itself above all kinds of moral judgement: someone might even question the person in charge, but to question the system itself is impossible, for the system claims to be equal to “everyone”, or “the People”, or some other righter-than-thou instance.
- The usual mechanisms of group adjustment — like gossip, hate-mongering, ostracism, slang, ghettoing — become easy pray for co-opting, as instead of one clear source of power there are many sub-groups and coalitions. Particularly media and newscasting corporations gain huge amounts of influence.
- Finally, i’ve got a vague, broad feeling that the experience of democracy makes human behaviour default to not connect, to not form coalitions and groups. It’s kinda like people feel all the “natural”™ and “needed”™ organizations are already formed. It could be other things, too, this is a very complicated thing to read…
The sweetest example of this is the French Revolution! Before there was a democracy, the “oppressed masses” were able to overcome “the regime”, mainly because of a juvenile and foolish monarch, but the implementation of the “democratic system” did naught but to strengthen the ruling classes, sustain Napoleon’s rise and the subsequent return of the monarchy. (Maybe this example was cheap, but you get the idea…)
Therefore, as a government system, Democracy has some advantages over it’s competitors, but none of those are based on ethical grounds or human values. They are, at best, performance issues. And, at that, performance in a light that doesn’t “feel” right.
Nevertheless, the ideology of Democracy continues. It is even used by so-called socialist parties to question the state of things! As if the state becoming more democratic would make their rise easier!
I am not proposing that we abandon democracy. At least not for now. But i definitely would like to stop hearing people talk about democracy as if it was a good™ thing!