Democracy has become a religion and anyone who criticises it is labelled a heretic.
How many times have you heard the mantra that ‘if you don’t vote, you can’t complain’? Whereas, actually, the opposite is true, ‘if you do vote, you can’t complain.’ It is no coincidence that the emergence of the philosophical concept of the ‘Social Contract’ runs parallel to democratic development in the modern era.
In political philosophy the social contract or political contract is a theory or model, originating during the Age of Enlightenment, that typically addresses the questions of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or magistrate (or to the decision of a majority), in exchange for protection of their remaining rights. The question of the relation between natural and legal rights, therefore, is often an aspect of social contract theory.
Democracy legitimises authority.
Every time you vote you sign the Social Contract.
If you vote and your ‘favoured’ candidate does not win, you have absolutely no right to complain because by voting you have accepted the process and are bound by it’s result. It is not a coincidence either that you are asked to put a cross, also used as a replacement for a signature for a person who is illiterate and thus cannot write their name, next to your choice on the ballot.
The policy differences between different candidates are exagerated. This encourages you to sign the Social Contract by making you believe that you have a real choice. But the choice is an illusion because the true policy differences are slight and 99% of leadership is management, keeping the bureaucratic apparatus of state moving and reacting to events.
For the overwhelming majority it makes little difference which candidate wins any election. Only the wealthy and powerful who can expect some kind of reward, in the form of patronage or largesse, Government contracts etc, for their financial, political, and media support have a dog in the fight.
Your role, by voting, is to legitimise this corruption.
Democracy encourages short-termism. Instead of our leaders planning for a sustainable future they pander to a selfish and fickle electorate who only want jam today and who will punish any politician at the polls who does not give it to them. As a consequence the farsighted, fairminded and responsible leadership that the world needs in the 21st century, is completely absent, made obselete by an evolutionary process which rewards the shortsighted, corrupt, ambitious, greedy, and vain.
This is a genuine story, In 1974 in the UK there were two general election. The first in February was inconclusive and it led to another in October. In the run up to this second election the leaders of all the main political parties made the most extraordinary undeliverable promises to buy the votes of the British electorate.
I was six years old, and attending my local infants school, when the teaching staff there taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. They decided to hold their own school election at a special assembly at which all the parents were invited to attend, though only the children would vote. Before the assembly they took myself and a young girl into separate classrooms, to the young girl they explained the needs of the school and what changes would be beneficial to the pupils education,. To me they just gave one simple instruction “Just get elected.”
The young girl addressed the children, parents, and teachers and made a very sensible address, “more books, longer school hours, and a healthy diet”.
I, on the otherhand, decided to stand on a very simple platform of “Chips (fries) everyday, and longer breaktimes.”
The result will come as no surprise, I won by a landslide. As I grew older and began to reflect more on this the lesson became clearer. The electorate will always vote for what they want, rather than what they need. The electorate are no better than a cohort of infant school children.
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947
Aristotle would have disagreed with Winston Churchill. Aristotle thought that democracy was a perverted form of Government which served the indignant (or capricious) mob at the expense of the broader interests of the state and it’s citizens.