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Democracy: Faults & Contradictions
The most common criticism of democracy is its inevitable reduction to a popularity contest where knowledge, experience, and antecedence become largely irrelevant.
This is not an attempt to determine a path for anyone. But simply a look at the limitations of the democratic ideal and how Africa has become fixated on it.
Governance and systems are the backbones of human society since the dawn of existence. Whether by a group of fellow travellers, a community/village, or a nation, there are modalities and hierarchies either enforced or informed that govern the interaction between members of such groups.
In the past, any group of people is free to determine how they will govern themselves, but not anymore in the modern world.
In today’s world, how nations are governed has evolved to arrive at the knowledge we have today. From principalities to kingdoms to nations to empires, we chose different words, but all are an attempt to reference a group governed to a large degree under one entity, though the scale differs.
There has been a debate reigning forever regards the best form of government. It is a common saying that democracy is the best form of government. But is this true?
It is common for the opinion of not wanting to suffer through any other system to be expressed with the belief that all else but democracy is oppressive. It is this same belief in the inherently oppressive nature of systems practices by societies in the past that informs our views and opinions today. But is it truly so?
Democracy is a form of government in which the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation, or to choose to govern officials to do so. As a nation cannot implement these tenants and others in its absolute, a measure of how democratic a nation is often employed to determine which nation is lacking. This measure of how democratic a nation is has been used as a strategic tool in the Geopolitical tussles that knows no end.
As the leading force in the world, the West - "The Rule-Based Order" - continues to shape it. As leaders of the democratic world, the west naturally dominates the top of the list as the most democratic nation. As democracies, they are the models to which all aspire. Despite the history of relations between the west and the global south, the most power and wealth in the world is still situated in the west (Europe & North America).
What is it to be Democratic?
If we accept the definition of democracy above, the degree by which those tenets are implemented and freedom allowed can be taken as a measure of how democratic a nation is. These underlying tenets differ in meaning and implementation depending on the society determined to express these principles. These differences abound due to the different cultures, ideology, and world view which each society possess, therefore, no two societies will have the same implementation of democracy, though some similarity will exist.
The basic commonalities of the varying implementation of democracy are candidacy, voting, and freedom. I chose these three because they are essentially the heart of modern democratic nations where it is believed ideally that anyone should be able to contest for any position, the populace should be able to choose who gets into any position and they must be allowed to express themselves in thought, speech, association and more.
To Be Free
In all cultures, the degree to which each of the freedoms above is granted varies. In most societies, systems are put in place to limit candidacy to those individuals with the knowledge and potential to function in a certain role and filter out those classified as not being qualified.
As these positions are critical, prior knowledge and experience have become indispensable to the functionality of these positions, especially in the wider geopolitical landscape. Although there are individuals who, despite lacking knowledge and experience, can function optimally for the positive progress of their societies but these individuals are quite rare.
Therefore, a leadership recruitment system is generally employed not only to acquire those with the required talents for the job but also to allow them the chance to acquire experience while progressing through the system from low-valued roles over time.
As with any other system, Democracy is also not without its faults and limitations. The most common criticism of democracy is its inevitable reduction to a popularity contest where knowledge, experience, and antecedence become largely irrelevant. At this point, the people have become hooked on the democratic drug and continue to reinforce the democratic tradition of voting in messiahs who regrettably turn out to be no better, if not worse, than those before them.
They fail to perform the required critical analysis of the system and its failings. The capacity to observe or consider other systems is largely absent by this point. As in Africa, the faith of such societies is stagnation and eventual irrelevance if they are lucky to avoid internal armed conflict between constituent groups.
Like Abrahamic faiths, Democracies are built with the inherent desire to spread and make others like them. This is partly a result of the reductionist classification of the world. They hold a belief in a divine mission to convert all other countries into democracies because, to them, anyone choosing to live through another path needs to be saved.
Democracy by force
In Africa, the conditions that necessitated the choice of democracies as the only available option for the 54 colonial states at independence were laid in creating those states where borders, relations, and history we simply ignored for the prizes sought after by European states. The internal contradiction of African states has a direct correlation to their status as a series of basket cases in the world.
In Iraq and others, whole cultures are stripped of their capacity to determine for their people how they wish to be governed and democracy is imposed by sheer violence by the West.
The result of this imposition is conflict, stagnation, poverty, subjugation, and erasure of the cultures and their ideals of society.
For all its freedoms and tolerance, Democracy is quite intolerant of other forms of government and nations that don’t align with their democratic ideals.
In a democratic society, any individual who wishes to live through other systems is seen as an outcast. The view of democracy as the only valid and available means of being governed is commonly expressed. This is always a surprise because democracy, for all the freedom it grants, does not allow its masses the freedom from democracy which contradicts its inherent nature for a people to choose how they wish to be governed.
By its nature, democracy can lead to any form of government no matter how autocratic, monarchic, or otherwise, due to its desire to allow its people to choose how they choose to be governed. But this very same freedom is denied once the people show a desire to move away from it.
The fate of a people lies in their hands. They must decide for themselves how they wish to be governed based on what they consider relevant and rooted within their reality and history. Simply copying the system will not work because the internal contradictions of all groups are different, as we all neither occupy the same geography nor experience history from the same vantage point.
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