We live in a world where democracy is heralded as the righteous social model and any society which lives otherwise, either by choice or dictatorship, are alienated and seen as contradictory to human rights. The word ‘democracy’ itself means ‘rule of the people’, yet in a democratic country many of us find ourselves as stones in a courtyard: unheard, disdained and disregarded.
When I see millions of people gather to protest against a “democratic” decision made by a “democratic” government, I cannot help but ask myself where is the ‘rule of the people’? The prime of all examples is the millions that rallied against the Iraq war, only for the government to make a sterner approach to it. Have the governments been promoting democracy across the world, while their very own people are lacking it? Or has the understanding of democracy been shaped in such a way that it only means “vote for your local MP” and no further? Many people feel that democracy is limited to just voting and the elected are the policymakers, but I believe even that can be challenged. Often people do not agree with or believe in what a party stands for i.e. the policies of the party, yet are inclined to vote for it due to limited options, especially here in the UK and other developed countries. Furthermore, we, as the public, do not even have the ability to vote for the Prime Minister or President; that privilege is reserved to party members only. Surely then the key figure of the country is elected by a selected few and not the majority. A word comes to my mind at this point: ‘oligocracy’!
Politics in this “modern” society is governed by profit margins, reputation and popularity. As a result of which it has become a concern only for the people who are involved in the system, while the vast majority helplessly go on about their daily lives; job, education and family. The governments are terrified of making a bold move, scared that they might be in the spotlight of scrutiny by the international bodies or councils. Among the many criticisms, how is it that a democratic country can choose to abolish something that millions of its citizens believe in? Example for this includes France banning the wearing of religious articles in places of work and education. Is this not a step away from racial and cultural tolerance and understanding that is so celebrated in a democratic society?
The governments have got some of the things right, certainly, but had the public been involved in decision-making we could have seen more efficiency from the government, namely a step towards eradicating poverty and key decisions which have caused public uproars such as the Iraq war.
“If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” Aristotle