Disclaimer: 1. I love (true) democracy, 2. Even with its flaws, I do think that the current system is WAY better than absolutism, 3. I wrote this article in a period of my life where I was quite upset with the socio-geo-political situation in the world. Even so, I’m no revolutionary. I’m an evolutionary :). That being said…
How to destroy democracy in 7 simple steps
- Employ representative democracy^. “Nearly all modern Western-style democracies are types of representative democracies”. This removes democracy from the people and hands it to far-from-reach representatives (politicians). These can be bought, manipulated and when they become useless or exposed, can be thrown away. The masses can be angry at a face, but the machinery controlling that face remains hidden.
- Own the democratic menu. Fewer parties at the election mean less options for the voter. The ideal situation is, of course, having just two parties. This creates the illusion of choice while, in fact, the menu has been completely sterilized. Imagine going to a restaurant and being able to choose between just two dishes. And they both contain ingredients you can’t tolerate.
- Control education. Stuff kids’ minds with facts and figures, invest as much time as possible in developing memory and practical skills. This creates good workers. Reduce time invested in developing emotional intelligence, empathy, self-worth and respect. This ensures that there’s enough people with psychological problems later on, enough that end up being criminals and even more that are easy to control. Focus on creating consumers of cheap entertainment and useless products; people who invest most of their time staring at screens, thus increasing the time that they can be programmed through media. Which brings us to…
- Control the media. Newspapers, radio & TV stations, internet publications should be bundled into large conglomerates owned by media moguls who can easily censor any attempt at exposing the decay of democracy. Downplay the advantages of other systems of government. Demonize the other, whatever the other may be. Create enemies out of thin air, distribute fear, desensitize to violence^.
- Suppress dialogue. First, isolate people in online bubbles. Then, gather bubbles in neat little herds that can be targeted with just the right kind of information to gently steer their opinion. Under no circumstances should opinions flow freely from one herd to another: this might lead to civilized dialogue which, every democracy destroyer knows, is the number one enemy of ignorance and manipulation.
- By controlling education & the media, representative democracy should be presented just as “democracy”: this is the real democracy, there is no other. The population must be educated to be proud to live in such a system and under no circumstances should direct democracy^ or any other systems be mentioned in a positive way.
- Continuously spray each crop of politicians and research new spraying methods and compounds. By this, of course, I mean indoctrination. Keep the indoctrination program in good shape. Grow politicians that are easy to corrupt. Well-sprayed politicians are cheap to own and can do miracles for the banks and corporations controlling them.
Democracy in 2019
Oh, democracy, how proud some countries are to have you. But oh, democracy, are you really there? The vast majority of “democratic” countries in the world employ a twisted version of the original concept called “representative democracy^”. That is to say, instead of direct democracy^ – where all citizens can directly express their opinion about each and every single thing happening in their society) – the country is run by a select group of “experts” (politicians) who are supposedly more qualified to decide regarding what’s best for their constituents.
Now-a-days, few people seem to realize that specialized ministries (education, agriculture, development) are in fact drowned by graduates of political schools and other bureaucrats that have almost no clue about the ministry they’re supposed to lead. These people are quickly transformed into puppets of corporations that gladly offer their “advice” regarding how things should be run.
Indeed, since time immemorial, our democratic representatives, like all selfish humans^, have their own interests. In 2019 it’s hard to find politicians who are not in somebody’s pocket. That is not to say that some of those pockets (lobbyists) aren’t well-intended and actually wish to help our civilization overcome this dark age of violence and mistrust. Unfortunately, the same rules apply to everybody: representative democracy opens the door not only to the “good guys” but also to greedy, power-hungry sociopaths.
Even worse is the fact that the glorified democratic pride-fest called “the elections” is, in the vast majority of cases, a battle between a small number of parties which results in very few options for the voter. The democratic menu is controlled by the establishment. It is censored and carefully orchestrated by the mainstream media which is, in turn, owned by people with business interests. These individuals support those parties whose measures would favor their bottom line – and guess who ends up working more and getting fewer benefits.
The main problem with parties is that they force a country to be run by rigid dogmas that conform to the party’s creed. It’s not all that different from other outdated political practices such as running a country according to the views of a monarch or bishop.
Most people like and dislike a number of proposals from almost every party they can vote for. Almost every party has proposals their own voters dislike. Similarly, a party has proposals that voters of other parties do like, but they won’t vote for that party because there are not enough policies they like, or because there’s one single policy they strongly disagree with. So, for that single “flaw” a party has, all its other valuable proposals are lost.
To make matters even worse, parties often organize into coalitions, making it easy to break election promises because “hey, the other members of the coalition didn’t agree to what we originally promised.” Representative democracy has become a way to muddle the democratic landscape in order to escape accountability. Mainstream media gives us televised debates between party leaders, a sort of boxing match made to distract and hide the dirty party machinery.
Compare this to direct democracy^ where not only parties but also citizens can put proposals forward and subject them to a vote. This form of government is used in some cantons in Switzerland and other isolated social pockets around the world. See the linked Wikipedia entry for more details.
This isn’t democracy. This is a theater play where most of the population is hypnotized and made to believe that they have a choice. The only real choice is what sort of country to be a slave in: authoritarian or “democratic”.
Back in 2015 I wrote that “social unrest^ around the world is rising to dangerous heights^, creeping its way from one country to the next^. Civilization is literally boiling: pockets of revolt show up and then miserably subdue – as a result of careful manipulation, merciless intervention or lack of immediate success.”
Now, four years later, things have gotten much, much worse, with the volcanic rise to power of far-right candidates and authoritarian leaders across the world. I consider that the success of the far-right is, really, the success of the machinery controlling our fake democracy. The apparatus has succeeded in creating a political current that absorbs frustration and hatred and promises various kinds of radical changes for enough desperate people to believe in. Instead of fixing our civilization, we risk sinking into a dark, dark age.
The far-right isn’t even the problem. In a legitimate democracy, they have their place and right to be there. They even bring some valid points, such as a strong cultural immune response against the destruction of local cultures. But it’s all wrapped in hate, and as the saying goes, you reap what you sow.
Protests are bound to become more explosive. First reason: political polarization. The success of the far-right will amplify the revolt of those who fought for decades to build a better world. Second reason: the Internet. The free flow of information is now augmented by various technologies that can connect people even when extreme censorship is applied.
Several governments have abused their powers in various ways while trying to compromise or squarely shut down our means of unhindered communication. Countries such as China^, Iran^, Turkey^, Egypt^, Syria^ and Russia^ but also such bastions of “democracy” like the United Kingdom^ or United States^ have all prepared censorship mechanisms. I expect that list to grow exponentially in the coming years as more and more governments and their power-hungry manipulators become aware of the explosive power that the Internet can give to any enlightening political movement.
Frankly, the Internet has seen much better times. There is a noticeable decay in the free flow of information even when compared to last year. People have been caught in the net of giant corporations that specialize in isolating them in neat little bubbles from where they can’t discuss with people of other ideologies.
Dialogue, civilized and uncivilized is essential for democracy. Dialogue is suppressed by first removing the need for people to communicate face-to-face (thanks to the oh-so-convenient device screen). Then comes the decisive blow of keeping voters in nice little flocks that are easy to control. Tell each flock what they want to hear. Some flocks may not be within reach, and some may be too smart to control. But remember, it’s enough to control the majority.
Unfortunately, in the age of corporationism, politicians and business interests go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible for a politician to succeed without the financial clout of some lobbyist (the best example of this “pact with the devil” can be seen at work in the United States’ PAC system^). But really, almost all democracies are infested with various strains of the lobbying virus.
Most people are either unaware or they don’t dare to think that this broken system can be repaired. Even so, most voters have begun to associate wealth and excess with the ruling class (an association that is often encouraged by reported facts – for example how could one of Ukraine’s former presidents afford this?^).
Despite massive advances in technology, a family can hardly afford to own a house in a situation where a single adult is working, as was the case not long ago. Two adults working full time can barely pay off a mortgage in 30 years. This forces families to commit their children at an early age to the industrialized education system where they can be indoctrinated at a stage where their minds lack vital intellectual and cultural defenses.
But all is not lost. We are going through a period when we, “the represented”, are reminded of the power we inherently wield. Our leaders would not be in their seats without somebody to represent. And while in decades past we have often ignored their abuse of power, even when we saw it happening right under our noses, now, disturbing statistics^ about income inequality spread like wildfire and bury themselves deep within the collective subconscious. The result is not pleasant and it’s probably going to get worse^ before it gets better.
Even in the most liberal countries, there are very few ways through which we can vent the frustration on our leaders. Most people with a bit of political acumen have by now understood that the voting process has become almost completely irrelevant: in most countries (yes, even in the holier-than-thou Western democracies) political parties are nothing more than pawns in the hands of business interests. The democratic exercise has become a mockery of its base principles; therefore, the voting booth is no longer a valuable tool. Whatever independent media still exists (not much), has little power.
We’re left with the third option: going out in the streets where, lately, more often than not, the protest becomes destructive. Considering all this, it’s not surprising that the younger generations have lost interest in the current organization of society.
It is also the reason why extremist parties gain in polls. It’s not because they’re any good, it’s because they specialize in selling escape, and many are just desperate enough to buy it.
Great efforts will be needed to restore democracy and our faith in it. Most probably, what we need is, simply put, in software terms: Government 2.0, a topic I wrote about recently^. Indeed, we now have the technology to make direct democracy a viable system of government.
This piece was originally titled “Democracy Dies in Darkness” and it’s inspired by the Washington Post’s tagline, which caused quite a stir^ when it was adopted back in 2017.