“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.” – Noam Chomsky
15 September, being the World Democracy day, started being observed way back in 2007, almost 10 years ago. This article is written just to bring to light a few details (about democracy and its constituents) that are left out by every portal where you would get your news from.
The father of the United States’ Constitution, James Madison Jr. was the one who played a pivotal role in the drafting of the U.S. constitution. The main ideas that he stood for? Democracy. By Democracy, he meant, the poor should never have the power, the rich should always be the ones ruling over them, because in actual Democracy, the poor would eventually take away the power from the opulent minority. Hence, started the idea that in a Democracy, the power lays with the 1 percent. He later went on to become the President of the United States of America.
However, one of his valets (read slave) wrote memoirs of the last days of Mr. Madison Jr., he remembers Madison saying that he has had a change of mind. The person who drafted the constitution of America – the greatest superpower, had a change of mind in his last days? The father of the Constitution was not consistent in his views, yet, the constitution remained the same.
This being a relatively recent example, let’s travel to Greece and meet Aristotle, the philosopher had politics in his veins as well. His ideas on Democracy and the role it has in politics is still discussed to this day. In his works, The Politics of Aristotle, he has said numerous times that a Democratic government is the most moderate form of government, Tyranny being the worst, followed by an Oligarchy. Also, he faced the same problem, the pathos of which he overcame in what seems like the most appropriate response, he believed that in a state where Democracy functions, the only way to keep it stable, is for the divide between the rich and the poor to be removed. He, like Madison, knew that there was a gap, and the only way for a democracy to function properly was for the gap to be filled, rather than have the poor rule the rich, it would’ve been Oligarchy, only opposite in it’s essence. He believed that freedom defines a Democracy, in a Democracy people are free to rule and to be ruled, as everyone is equal according to number, not merit, and also, everyone should be free to live as they please.
Now, that we understand all this, I just have one more thing to show you,
“Half of world’s wealth now in hands of 1% of population – report”
This is a headline from the Guardian, published in October of 2015, it throws a light on how the global inequality is growing. It also shows that the top percentile of the wealth holders now own 50.4% of the household income. The article mainly focused towards the U.K. also shows that India almost made it to the top 10 countries, coming in ahead of Australia, Russia, Sweden etc. Democracy cannot function in a world where the rich control everything. Capitalism is the terrorist in the Democratic world. Do you really think a news channel owned by a huge corporation would ever show you a headline without their own political favouritism?
Hence, arises the question, is it really a Democratic world that we live in? According to Henry Giroux, “Policies are no longer being written by politicians accountable to the public. Instead, policies concerning the defense budget, deregulation, health care, public transportation, job training programs, and a host of other crucial areas are now largely written by lobbyists who represent mega corporations.”
This brings me to India, in a speech given by Nehru on 14 August 1947, he said that he saw India as an opportunity to build a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation and to create social, economic, and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman. Which in these times when the minorities are being squashed for living as they like seems to be a far-fetched dream. The middle-class with all its might only wishes that there was some Democratic aspects left in our society when they’re drinking with their buddies. The fact is that whenever the middle-class has come into power i.e., rule a state (in U.P., Bihar, Tamil Nadu etc.) they have always surged up to the higher percentile by squashing the poor. Power, to us, only comes when we’re superior to something, and to be superior, we need to squash some flies.
Coming to the main constituent of Democracy, freedom. Freedom is only reduced to a simple word now, it holds meaning in our daily jobs and our daily, prime-time news shows. Freedom is nothing more than an idea, which if practiced could’ve been the backbone of our country. If the population figures give us an insight into anything worth knowing, it is that we are 1.2 billion people among the 7.4 billion of the world, we contain 18% of the world’s population. Yet, because freedom has diminished over the decades, our fight has convened to be for population control, rather than the control and the fair practicing of freedom.
2016 has been an year where we have seen the most blood-shed. Rather than seeing the bloods of animals that were slaughtered in Dhaka for a religious celebration, we need to turn our head and look at the crown of our country where there have been 4000 civilian casualties. We need to turn our head to see the atrocities that the Dalits are facing, being lynched because according to reports they were seen carrying beef. The horror faced by women, when they do not feel safe because there are monsters roaming about wearing clothes affiliated to some political party. The discouragement faced by the LGBT community after the passing of a law by the High Courts. The murders of people in Bihar who try and expose the ugly face of corruption time and again.
“I believe in an India of pluralism and diversity, not of religious bigotry and caste politics. I believe in an India that is secure in itself and confident of its place in the world, an India that is a proud example of tolerance, freedom and hope for the downtrodden.” – Shashi Tharoor
Democracy is the answer, we just need to ask the right questions.
“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests.’” – Albert Camus