Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How Democracy works...NOT

    Democracy, from Greek demokratia "popular government," from demos "common people." is a great idea and a wonderful ideal. Abraham Lincoln best described it as “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

    Unfortunately, for actual democracy to work there must be a “the people,” a homogenous group of common people with common interests. And they must be homogenous in social, political, financial and religious ideals. Democracy worked in ancient Athens because this was true - all voters were white males with common social, political and religious values. The principal problem, as the recent conditions in Egypt clearly illustrate, arises when ”the people” are not a homogenous lot. Under these circumstances a well-organized and cohesive minority can “steal” democracy away from the actual majority. A clear example of this is the AFL-CIO of the 50s in the U.S. By garnering a large majority of labor votes, candidates could be elected despite the fact that the other “common” people voted otherwise with their various ideals. The best example I know of was the U.S. presidential election of 1964. Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater split the white vote roughly 50-50. However, Johnson’s appeal to black and Hispanic voters turned the election into one of the biggest routs in recent history with Johnson receiving approximately 60% of the “popular” vote.

    Political strategists have known this fact for generations and every political campaign, at least since the 50s, has been aimed at getting certain reasobly large minorities to bloc vote - labor, women, African-Americans, Hispanics. Therefore, the ruling “majority” is not an actual majority at all, but rather a collection of special interests of organized minorities.

    Nowhere has this fact been so blatantly clear as in Egypt, where an organized minority of around 24% of the population stole the Revolution and the supposed democratic election. Is it any wonder that the majority were mad at Morsi? There is no way that any country can achieve true democracy when so severely split on religious grounds. Only in countries where there is a fundamentalist Islamist majority can majority rule be achieved. Even so this “majority” must be of one particular sect for the majority to be effective. Failing this religious homogeneity I see very little hope for democracy in any country where radical Islam is a significant force. And it is not Islam that is the problem. It is a minority attempting to impose its will on an unorganized and diverse majority.

    And please remember, this principle applies equally to any culture where there is substantial social, economic, political or religious apartheid.

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