We always consider democratic societies as a benchmark for freedom of expression and personal choice. It is widely accepted that democracy is the best term to illustrate whether a society can be considered as civilised.
It became a measurement to highlight the level of development that society has achieved. But do we have absolute clarity on this measurement? Is democracy real or does it exist only in our imagination?
I decided to take a closer look on this issue. I intentionally avoided any references to public materials because I did not want to be influenced very solid view on this matter.
As far as I know, the word democracy means the power of people. We understand that democracy means a guaranteed freedom for individuals to express their views and make their own choices. Provided, however, that such choices shall be in line with existing laws.
What does “power of people” mean?
What percentage shall support the statement that “people have spoken”?
Does choice of a simple majority mean democracy?
Definition of democracy silent on what number of people shall express the same opinion when most important decisions are made. Therefore, it is open for interpretations. Thus, in many cases, a simple majority is considered as a democratic choice.
In my opinion, the choice of simple majority may not represent “power of people” because the substantial number of citizens do not agree with that choice. Sometimes it is almost half of population of individuals who have the right to vote. I believe that to declare that democracy works a much bigger number of votes is necessary.
For example, most of the Petroleum Industry’s agreements contain a specific list of the most important issues which require either the unanimous agreement of all parties or much higher number of votes than a simple majority. Usually, it applies only to the most important issues to ensure that most participants are satisfied. It also guarantees that such business partnership will continue to be functional.
If the business adopts this approach it is not clear to me why the same is not implemented for elections or other important events which have a major influence on the life of every citizen? What is clear, continuous implementation of the of the simple majority principle might not be in line with the spirit of democracy.
Why talks about democracy are always about rights and almost never about obligations?
What may happen to a society if its members try to forget that they have obligations?
It is general knowledge that every right does not exist without obligation. But it appears that this knowledge becomes irrelevant when it comes to democracy because we constantly highlight only one side which displays our rights and ignores the side which describes our obligations.
This attitude twists the definition of democracy and shapes public perception, making it one-sided. It removes a very important component and devalues the very purpose of democracy. It creates a society of individuals who are not willing to make a meaningful contribution to the overall process.
When people do not remember, or chose not to recall that they have obligations, they begin to lose the sense of responsibility. The rapidly declining importance of obligations leads to a shrinking participation of people in most important political and social events of the country.
A society with this set of standards is unlikely to have a bright future. In fact, it might not be appropriate to call it “society” anymore because it transforms to a large group of selfish individuals.
Needless to say, that under such circumstances democracy sustains a major change. When it happens, together with the sense of responsibility, democracy itself is being erased.
How to ensure freedom of expression
when it is unclear who defines the limits for laws?
Any society cannot exist without a legal infrastructure which maintains the required social order. But with growing indifference, which becomes a new norm of social mentality, who supposed to monitor that constantly changing legal system continues to protect democratic freedoms?
Since the majority is busy to discuss the issue of rights without obligations, I suspect that the minority does monitoring.
It is known that the minority has an immense conflict of interest for this role. However, because careless attitude becomes increasingly common, people prefer not to question it.
Once the role of monitoring is in hands of the minority, the society starts distancing further apart from principles of democracy. Due to occurring dramatic changes, the country, which used to be called democratic, embarks on a journey towards an autocratic dictatorship.
It appears that possibly, people have never experienced democracy as it’s definition lacks very important elements. Without such elements, it is not clear how “power of people” can be achieved and sustained.
However, even if there was a period in the history when democracy took place, it almost certain that such period has ended a while ago due to the refusal of the majority to remember that every right has its obligation.