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July 11, 2013 / Congau

Chaos of Real Democracy

Democracy means that the people have a choice. Can we agree on that? If so, the more choices they have, the more democratic the country is.

A one party state is usually not considered democratic even if people vote for that one party. A two party state is probably more democratic, but is a three party state even more so? Or a hundred party state? No, it’s not the number of parties that matters, but the number of real choices. If you can choose between a hundred different dishes, but they are all fish dishes, then you don’t have a free choice of diet. In reality you only have one choice. If you can vote for a hundred different parties, but they are all communist parties, you don’t have a real choice. If all the parties you can choose from are clustered together in the middle of the political road occupying a tiny space of the potentially vast ideological spectrum, then you don’t have a real choice. That’s how most Western democracies look today. They don’t give you much choice, so they can’t be considered very democratic.

In some countries, at some points of time, the people do have a real choice. That generally happens in times of great confusion. One system of government has recently fallen and there is uncertainty as to which direction the country is to take. The 1996 election in Russia was such a time. The people had a real choice between a Soviet communist candidate and a Western capitalist one, and no one could predict who would win. Last year’s election in Egypt was another moment when a real choice was laid in the hands of the people: Old regime, Western liberalism or a Muslim society.

Such elections must be considered to be very democratic because they really gave the people a choice. However, such times are not good times for the people, are they? The society is falling apart, there is chaos and insecurity and many people fear the future. It’s the most democratic of times, but it’s not a time when it’s comfortable to live. People don’t want that. People want stability, not real democracy.

Real democracy is not an ideal.

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2 Comments

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  1. frbarg / Jul 11 2013 2:12 pm

    Interesting post. You’re right, societies are falling apart. No, countries are falling apart. Civil war is destroying Syria, or what’s left of it, and Egypt may be plunged into one if it continues on this path. All of this because of what? It’s not because of democracy.

    In Syria, it is the armament of the opposition, the violent government response, sectarianism and neocolonial/geopolitical interests that led to chaos, not democracy. In Egypt, it’s the undemocratization of state institutions, ineffectiveness of the government in the economic, lack of reform and plurality – not to mention the president’s clumsiness – that led to the current crisis. And there are other countries in that region that are affected by this; Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Iraq, a country plunged by chaos since 2003.

    What societies are falling apart in the West? Greek, Spanish, Cypriot, etc. All those societies affected by the Eurozone crisis. This doesn’t mean that it is democracy that led to their demise, it is the economic crisis and in fact the lack of democracy and transparency. The government of Greece, per example, has been implementing unpopular measures mostly dictated by the Germans to deal with the crisis, austerity and such. The other Western societies are not falling apart; the prosperous German society is not, nor is Canada’s.

    One must point out that it is not democracy that’s the key factor of this; it’s rather a contributing one. As history has shown, from the French revolution to the American independence, the cause has always been economical demise and the solution was the transition to democracy. There are many types of democracies; there are the Iranian model, the American model, the confessionalist Lebanese model and many others. What is the most successful and least unstable is pluralist (multiparty), liberal democracy.
    I suspect that people want to abandon democracy; throughout the World democratic movements are rising.

    • Congau / Jul 12 2013 9:45 am

      I didn’t say that democracy was the cause of the conflicts. It couldn’t be, because there was little democracy in the first place.
      More of the same in today’s post.
      Thanks for commenting

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