Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Democracy as a political system is not perfect

Aberrations in any constitutionally premised parliamentary democracy do happen. Deviations are interpreted to justify actions. The level of politics going around the world including in democratic countries are so frustrating and so people are getting angry the ways with which their countries are governed. A huge constituency of people do want their basic amenities and rights to be translated. They also want their dreams and aspirations are to be fulfilled. Vast sections of people live in poverty and hunger; millions are unemployed and cannot meet both the ends as the prices of essential commodities escalating because of inflation.
A spate of issues that makes many to get angry and thus show their anger by protesting within a democratic framework. Increasingly citizens are getting disappointed as their representatives defecting to other parties for money and other considerations. Further duly elected governments are brought down and new governments with all kinds of combinations installed – ‘all within a constitutional framework’. Citizens gets bewildered the ways with which democracy is abused by the powerful and the dominant to push its presence everywhere in hideous ways.
The happenings around the world especially in the largest democratic countries in the world – India, the world’s largest democracy and the United States second largest democracy makes many to get bewildered with democracy as a political system has ripped open the gaps and holes in the system that could very well be used by those vested with power to manipulate in such ways to their whims and fancies. Though we witness emotional outbursts and anger around the world people are in increasingly becoming disquiet in India and the United as to how democracy is being twisted and turned around to suit those in power.
Those who feel appalled and demoralized about the functioning of democracy in the public domains slip into their private domains as they feel that nothing can be done because the manifestation of democracy is so toxic and violent. Options before them is to either withdraw or leave the country. At the same time there are those who tend to be cynical – could be one form, perhaps be clustered within the gamut of nihilism. At the same time there are some who view the derailments of democracy as the failure of the citizens who failed to act and check those at the helms of power and so start act fixing the gaps within the constitutional means before it is too late. A mix of many things happening amongst the citizens.
The democratic crisis is rooted in de-politicization and lumbarization. There has been a total reversal and U-turn in the political and economic terrains and the narratives in the political economy across the world. Free-market economics and liberal ideas that became the hallmark of globalization are on its retreat. Its vacuum is being filled by right-wing ideology. For the right-wing idealogues and its adherents politics means conflict, decision and power. In order to create conflict, divide the society via race, caste, creed and many others. Polarizing the society pitching the slogan of Majoritarianism as against minorities and migrants based on religion and also on the basis of race – Aryan Versus Dravidian.
Polarizing the society layer by layer and dividing communities is the agenda and strategy of the right-wing activists, ideologues and leaders. Democracy is rule by equals. Politicians talks about one language, one uniform, one culture, one party, one election, one executive and one identity, but don’t utter one value and one vote. They deny our shared lives and rights. Democracy is a commitment to plurality and equality. Democracy is about allowing diverse views and perspectives. Majority in numbers in legislating bodies does not mean not abiding to the rule of law and could also mean tyrannical order by a brute majority.
For example, during Trump’s presidency we witnessed the levels at which the American society was polarized. Post-elections aftermath has totally exposed American democracy especially what happened in Capitol Hill where the Trump supporters besieged and ransacked. Recently, Paul Pelosi, husband of Nancy Pelosi, the American politician who serves as the Speaker of the House of Representatives while in Washinton was attacked with hammer at his residence in San Franscisco. As a result he had to undergo surgery in his skull and treatment for other injuries.
These episodes show that Trump may have left the office, but Trumpism is alive in the United States. Likewise, we come across the exodus of MLAs and MPs; change of governments and how a particular religion is invoked and gets openly mixed and interpreted. Mix of religion with politics is openly done and practiced by the law makers and the governments. Increasingly it is becoming part of the political discourse and way of life. Democracy has hit the lowest in its manifestations and functioning. For instance, in democracy there is no way of permanent majoritarianism because the social conflict and solidarity tends to shift. Since the equations keep shifting.
The task for political parties is to compose majorities into one unit and to get that the political parties can go to any extent. Though one of the values that we cherish in democracy is the moral authority from where it derives the notion of political equality. Nonetheless, the bulk of the section in our society is yet to be recognized as equals. It is believed that people are the pivotal force of democracy, for democracy and to democracy, people seem to have no say in the running of democracy as the politicians have usurped democracy under their control. The right-wing politicians have subverted democracy by changing the narratives and directives. They have started to interpret the democratic principles in such ways to suit their purposes.
Whipping their passions and emotions by stoking the majoritarian politics have yielded good dividends and results for the right-wing political parties. In such a volatile political landscape democracy finds its functioning on a difficult path. However, democracy as a system is not perfect and therefore it is the duty of the citizens to set it right. If the citizens fails to identify the anti-democratic forces and act accordingly, then it will be too late which would pave way for dictators to take over.
Dr. I. John Mohan Razu,
Professor of Social Ethics

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