The idea of democracy is glorified as being the equitable way of governance. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as – “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
From our particular philosophy of democracy being synonymous to justice, we have made a largely erroneous assumption that everyone with the right to vote has a sound, unprejudiced judgement. If the majority of a nation holds deep-rooted racism or religious intolerance, more often than not they will vote for a candidate who shares the same beliefs and values as them.
I will refer to India as an example where Muslims are being further marginalised through lynching and discriminatory policies under PM Narendra Modi. Another better known example is Donald Trump still being elected as the head-of-state although the voters were aware of his bigoted beliefs.
In theory, there are many variations of democracy but in reality does it truly exist? Governments exist to safeguard the welfare of their respective citizens. Imagine a scenario where all the citizens of any democratic nation chose to be rid of the government and all related institutions in its entirety.
Having in mind the essence of democracy as explained by A. Lincoln, a truly democratic government would stand down in a peaceful manner. This involves the government and law enforcement officials forfeiting their jobs as well as closing down all related institutions. Would any present democratic government withdraw peacefully? I believe that we can unanimously agree that it will not. This raises the question of whether democracy actually exists in practice.
Ancient Greece is often heralded as the bastion of democracy but an interesting fact is that the most distinguished Greek philosophers, namely Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were strongly opposed to the ideology.
Socrates had explained his distaste towards democracy by saying that the majority is unfit to rule. Given the shallow, superficial and ignorant nature of human beings, vices will manifest themselves as injustice through the election of an individual or a party embodying said vices.
Another interesting fact is that Socrates was sentenced to death for inciting the Athenian youth with his ‘radical’ school of thought.
In a fairly functional democratic nation, 99% of its citizens would pay taxes so that the 1% in power can live in reasonable luxury and prioritize the preservation of the welfare of its taxpayers over their own splendour if the situation arises.
However, the practical situation is that the 99% pay taxes so that the 1% can enjoy far greater luxury than what is required and put individual needs and benefits over the greater prosperity of the nation.
The most dangerous part of the ideology is the very thing that it represents. When a government party has defined the parameters of democracy according to their convenience and establishes that they are the flag-bearer of democracy, it acts as a deterrent for anti-government movements.
Because the government = democracy, any individual or parties opposing the government are directly taking up arms against democracy. If these individuals or parties oppose the government that is acting on its own self-interest, they will be labeled as enemies of the state and prosecuted.
Extra-judicial killings against these so called wrongdoers and enemies of democracy are rampant in many democratic countries while the wheels of propaganda play a crucial part in brainwashing the nation and the cutting and pasting of these labels
When stripped down to it its core, democracy seems to be nothing but an illusion of justice and equality fed to the mass. The ideology is seemingly fine until someone goes against the status quo and the true grace of democracy can be experienced. In practice, Democracy is the more cunning, deceptive cousin of Autocracy- a dictatorship of the majority.