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The Illusion of Democracy

According to dictionary.com, a democracy is " a government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.''. In popular culture, a democratic government is a goverment from the people, by the people, and for the people.

Based on the above, we see a huge association between the government and the people. This means that the government is directly or indirectly represening the population and its wishes. Performing what this population wants internally and externally.

Jumping to another concept called Responsibilities Versus Rights, this rightly translates to the following conclusion:

"In a democratic country, every citizen is part of the government. He or She has the right to all the services expected from the government, and responsible for its actions" 

In that sense, a citizen is a health minisiter when his chosen government passes a healthcare-related resolution. He is a finance minister, when his government decides the budget. He is an interior minister, when the government passes resolutions with regards to national security, and he is a defence minister or a soldier when his goverment decides to wage wars or sign peace pacts.

However, the matter of the fact is that the population is not held responsible for the actions of their representatives. equally, democratically elected governments rarely implement the population wishes. Should one of the previous statements be false, then the whole balance of rights versus responsibilities is ruined, and the whole process is just a big lie, cover up, and even a complete illusion!

Here is an example of an unbalanced equation!

Rights

A government elected by the people is supposed to work on a healthcare system that provides the best healthcare possible to the citizens of the country. The right of the population is to get what they elected the government to do. If that doesn't happen, the population will be stuck with a government that doesn't perform its duties. Logically, this government is illegal, and should be dismissed immediately.

Responsibilites

A government elected by the people decides to wage war on a soverign nation. The responsibility is immediately cascaded to the population, as their chosen government took the decision to attack another nation. Therefore, everybody in that country is a soldier, and as a result a potential target for the enemy. However, citizens are usually considered as civilians, and as a result attacking them is illegal and is a war crime. This violates the second argument of the equation. In other words, the population is exempted from the responsibility of waging war on another nation even if the government they chose went to war.

A very simple argument really, which reduces the whole process and concept into a politicized version of American Idol. A version in which you vote and acknowledge that a certain contestant has the talent and the ability to be a star singer, but as soon as the voting is finished and the idol is chosen what happens is anybody's guess. He or she might become a drug addict, a murderer, a football player, or simply a couch potato, but naturally you will not be held responsible for his actions, neither you are expecting anything from him.

The conculsion is that as long as the citizens are not achieving their goals behind electing a government, and/ or not held responsible for its policies, especially the foreign ones, the whole concept of democracy is an illusion, and a sedative. It becomes more of a capitulation of rights and responisbilities to a chosen few. This is greatly reflected by the relationship between a sheperd and his sheeps.

21 comments:

Basel said...

Nice argument Ehab. I however want to add that the process is not as simple as demonstrated here.

In democracy, winning is achieving the highest number of votes. If there are 2 options, the winner has to yield at least 51% of the votes. Hence the question is: What happens to the other 49%? Are they still responsible as you explain?

I will simply say: populations are one unit, and when the majority say something, the rest has to follow as one body on the same page, and hope that on next election they can dominate and enforce their view.

Finally, all these are true only when you have a place where laws of democracy implemented.

And last but not least, truly changes come from people and not from government, so kudos to your article.

Thank you Ehab. Keep 'em coming.

programmer craig said...

Hi Ehab,

You are on to something here but your interpretations are a bit off.

A government elected by the people is supposed to work on a healthcare system that provides the best healthcare possible to the citizens of the country. The right of the population is to get what they elected the government to do.

No, we don't have direct democracy in the US or in any other democratic county as far as I know. We don't get to vote on specific issues. We elect representatives to make such decisions on our behalf. If we don't like what our representative has done (for example, broken campaign promises) then we vote for and hopefully elect somebody different in the next election.

And by the way, in most cases people don't vote on single-issues. That's a borderline unqualified voter who does that. A good candidate will have views we approve of on a broad range of issues. Not just one. A lot of really bad politicians get elected by one-issue voters.

A government elected by the people decides to wage war on a soverign nation. The responsibility is immediately cascaded to the population, as their chosen government took the decision to attack another nation.

Yes, broadly speaking I agree with you on that.

Therefore, everybody in that country is a soldier, and as a result a potential target for the enemy.

No, that's totally wrong. Somebody is only considered a combatant if they are directly involved with war-fighting. In addition to combatants, there are other categories of people who are valid military targets such as people delivering supplies to military forces, anyone who is providing shelter to military forces, people who are manning or working at strategic locations like factories, and so on.

However, citizens are usually considered as civilians, and as a result attacking them is illegal and is a war crime. This violates the second argument of the equation.

Nope, it doesn't. We only hold people responsible for deeds they personally commit. It's a basic legal principal. If it wasn't, wouldn't you agree that the entire extended family of a known terrorist would be subject to being killed in the field no questions asked? Since they clearly share responsibility for what their family member has done, much the same way a voter shares responsibility for what his/her elected representatives has done, right? In fact, I'd say they are complicit to a much greater extent!

In other words, the population is exempted from the responsibility of waging war on another nation even if the government they chose went to war.

No, they aren't. They are just protected from being treated as enemy combatants. Which is a good thing. Would you really like a return to the old days when entire populations got wiped out with some regularity?

Ehab said...

"No, we don't have direct democracy in the US or in any other democratic county as far as I know. We don't get to vote on specific issues. We elect representatives to make such decisions on our behalf. If we don't like what our representative has done (for example, broken campaign promises) then we vote for and hopefully elect somebody different in the next election.

And by the way, in most cases people don't vote on single-issues. That's a borderline unqualified voter who does that. A good candidate will have views we approve of on a broad range of issues. Not just one. A lot of really bad politicians get elected by one-issue voters"

Quite true! But here is part of the problem. How likely are you going to find someone who represents a majority of the people on a broad spectrum of issues? Another issue is, you put your finger on the sweet spot there, you vote for someone an hope that they do what they say or what you expect them to do. If he didn’t, then you live for a couple of years, four or five depending on the country, under a dictatorship in effect. This means that you have practiced democracy for the duration of the vote, and then you got stuck with someone who does whatever he and his party believe until the next vote. During that period, you have absolutely no control over what he/ she is doing.

" No, that's totally wrong. Somebody is only considered a combatant if they are directly involved with war-fighting. In addition to combatants, there are other categories of people who are valid military targets such as people delivering supplies to military forces, anyone who is providing shelter to military forces, people who are manning or working at strategic locations like factories, and so on."

This is how things are run now, but what about the rights and responsibilities argument? Who is responsible? Who should be held accountable? It is very irresponsible to vote for someone who will run riots in the world! It is a government by the people, and the population on the other side will feel it is the responsibility of the population to pay the price for the pain and suffering inflicted on them by the attacking forces. Especially when this war is unjust, and illegal. Who pays the price? It’s very easy for someone to vote for a candidate, and when that candidate goes crazy and starts waging left right and center, the voter throws up his hands and say I had nothing to do with it! It’s either he acknowledges his responsibility, or this whole business called democracy is actually a dictatorship in disguise!

"Nope, it doesn't. We only hold people responsible for deeds they personally commit. It's a basic legal principal. If it wasn't, wouldn't you agree that the entire extended family of a known terrorist would be subject to being killed in the field no questions asked? Since they clearly share responsibility for what their family member has done, much the same way a voter shares responsibility for what his/her elected leader has done, right? In fact, I'd say they are complicit to a much greater extent!"

I don’t agree with you on this one. Simply because the family is a blood related and connected entity. In other words, a man is not responsible for what his brother does, simply because he didn’t tell him to be a terrorist. He doesn’t represent him. He definitely didn’t give him the power. However, an elected leader is given the power to do what he does by his voters. He is also protected by international law and because he is a diplomat while a terrorist isn’t! Family is not a democracy. You don’t vote to choose your father, mother, brothers or sisters. You are simply born, and there they are, whereas a government is elected and chosen. If you see a similarity between the collective responsibility of a family and that of a government, then democracy is a hoax, and shiled behind which dictatorship hides.

Ehab said...

"No, they aren't. They are just protected from being treated as enemy combatants. Which is a good thing. Would you really like a return to the old days when entire populations got wiped out with some regularity?"

I definitely wouldn’t! See, I’m trying here to keep the argument as far from naming specific countries as possible, but to help you understand my point I’ll give you an example.

As an elected leader, and as a government from the people and by the people, G.W. Bush and his government waged an illegal war against Iraq. I say Illegal, because the international body, which the US is part of and a supporter of, didn’t sanction it. I also say illegal because the justification behind it turned out to be a lie. In an eye of an Iraqi whose family has perished in the war, and his whole world was destroyed, those who chose this government, and as a result authorized it to wage this war is responsible for his misery! It is their support of a criminal that ruined the world as he sees it, and therefore who are we to say that he can’t view them as enemies.

What makes things even worse is that this criminal didn’t pay the price, and actually got elected for a second term. Reflecting the fact that his policies are actually supported and approved by the majority of US citizen!

With that in mind, and with our humanity on the table we still can’t approve of attacks on civilians. It is easy for those who didn’t suffer to carry the banner of humanity, but who relieves the pains of those who suffered and lost loved ones?

It is then logical to conclude that, should the American public be relieved from the responsibility of the war on Iraq, then the American democratic system is a big lie, and a first class face-lift for dictatorship! And as a result, Bush is not any different from Saddam Hussein, because Saddam acted on his own, and without the consent of the people of Iraq! Ironically, it is the Iraqi people who paid the price for what the government of the US saw as mischief carried out by Saddam, and they are still paying for it.


This is just an example, and the article was not directed towards the US. However, I believe that such an example will give you a clearer look at what I consider as the biggest hoax and lie of the twentieth century.

Democracy is nothing more than an illusion. An illusion of power, which people believe they have. Where in fact all it represents is a modern and less confrontational method of dictatorship.

programmer craig said...

Thanks for the thoughtful replies, Ehab :)

How likely are you going to find someone who represents a majority of the people on a broad spectrum of issues?

It's not that unlikely, actually. Don't you think Obama fits that description? Or at least he did, I'm not sure if that is still true. And just so you know, I didn't vote for Obama because he didn't and doesn't represent my views on a broad spectrum of issues. But, he won anyway :)

If he didn’t, then you live for a couple of years, four or five depending on the country, under a dictatorship in effect.

That wouldn't happen in any country I can think of. In the US, we have three branches of government - each designed to be able to act as a check on the other two. So, no one branch of government can exceed their authority without being held to account. In parliamentary systems like the UK, the Prime Minister is actually elected by the other ministers so if he/she gets too far out of line they'll have a no-confidence vote and replace him/her. And so on.

This means that you have practiced democracy for the duration of the vote, and then you got stuck with someone who does whatever he and his party believe until the next vote. During that period, you have absolutely no control over what he/ she is doing.

Yes, unresponsive government is a problem. In my opinion we are seeing that in the US right now with Obama on the healthcare issue. We saw it with Bush on some other issues.

(war) This is how things are run now, but what about the rights and responsibilities argument? Who is responsible? Who should be held accountable?

The country as a whole is held accountable. Did you have some specific case you wanted to discuss? Because it's hard to speak in generalities on this. If I was to do so, I'd use Vietnam for the US and Afghanistan for the USSR as examples of bad wars which cost the US and the USSR quite dearly. An even better example would be World War II, but I suspect that's not the sort of model you had in mind.

It is very irresponsible to vote for someone who will run riots in the world!

To vote for somebody who wants war? Not if you also want war. Don't most Arabs want war with Israel? If they lived in democratic countries, wouldn't most Arabs vote for candidates who promise war with Israel? Why would you call that irresponsible? That's the will of the people.

It is a government by the people, and the population on the other side will feel it is the responsibility of the population to pay the price for the pain and suffering inflicted on them by the attacking forces.

Yes, that's human nature. There's a reason why they say "war is hell". You don't often see people shedding tears for the suffering of their enemies.

I don’t agree with you on this one. Simply because the family is a blood related and connected entity. In other words, a man is not responsible for what his brother does, simply because he didn’t tell him to be a terrorist.

Somebody taught him to be a terrorist. Somebody encouraged that type of thinking in him. Somebody fed him and clothed him, and cared for him - knowing what he was like. If not his family, then who?

I'm really having trouble understanding how you'd give the friends and family of a terrorist a pass, but hold voters responsible for what people in the military do.

I think this may cut off soon, so I'll continue in another comment.

programmer craig said...

He is also protected by international law and because he is a diplomat while a terrorist isn’t!

Elected officials are not diplomats. And during a war, political leadership is a valid military target. All organs of the enemy government are valid targets.

Family is not a democracy. You don’t vote to choose your father, mother, brothers or sisters.

You're right. It's much worse than that. You RAISE them, and TEACH them. People are a product of their upbringing.

You are simply born, and there they are...

So, are you claiming that the families of terrorists are not proud of what their terrorist sons/brothers have done? Did not encourage that? Would you like to see some evidence to the contrary? :)

As an elected leader, and as a government from the people and by the people, G.W. Bush and his government waged an illegal war against Iraq.

He was elected in 2000. The 9/11 attacks happened in 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan was also in 2001, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He wasn't up for re-election until 2004. You can't expect voters to be able to predict the future, though you can hold voters responsible for re-electing Bush in 2004.

I say Illegal, because the international body, which the US is part of and a supporter of, didn’t sanction it.

That doesn't make a war illegal. The UN has only sanctioned two wars in its history. There have been hundreds.

I also say illegal because the justification behind it turned out to be a lie.

GW Bush used the wrong justification. The ceasefire violations during the 1990s made the war legal, and that's all Bush had to invoke. But he thought the WMD argument would garner more international support. And he turned out to be wrong about that, too, as most members of the Un including US allies opposed the war anyway.

In an eye of an Iraqi whose family has perished in the war, and his whole world was destroyed, those who chose this government, and as a result authorized it to wage this war is responsible for his misery!

It's perfectly natural for them to feel that way. There's nothing wrong with that.

It is their support of a criminal that ruined the world as he sees it, and therefore who are we to say that he can’t view them as enemies.

He can. Just as an American may view all Muslims as enemies. We don't get to tell people how they should feel. What people don't get to do, is slaughter anyone they view as an enemy, without direct cause.

Reflecting the fact that his policies are actually supported and approved by the majority of US citizen!

And didn't Palestinians elect Hamas? A terror group that has murdered hundreds if not thousands of innocent people? Should all Gazans be treated as if they personally committed the acts Hamas is responsible for?

And speaking of that, isn't it a choice what Mosque people go to? If people attend a mosque which advocates violent jihad and they choose to keep going there instead of finding another mosque, aren't they "voting with their feet" so to speak? Should everyone who attends that mosque be treated as a terrorist?

This is just an example, and the article was not directed towards the US. However, I believe that such an example will give you a clearer look at what I consider as the biggest hoax and lie of the twentieth century.

Which is... democracy? lol. Well, you are free to choose not to support democracy for yourself, of course. But then we should talk about the responsibilities of people who support dictatorships, no?

Democracy is nothing more than an illusion. An illusion of power, which people believe they have. Where in fact all it represents is a modern and less confrontational method of dictatorship.

Maybe so, but most people who have it seem to like it :)

士凱 said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................

Ehab said...

Craig..

1) If a lot of wars took place without the blessing or the support of the UN, this doesn't make it legal. It is illegal, and everyone knows that. The US war on Iraq is illegal. After suffering 1,000,000 casualties through sanctions most of them children, no one can blame iraq to break the ceasefire terms if they actually did.

2) Being specific, who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dead iraqis? The millions of refugees? Bush? I don't see him questioned for the mess he created in Iraq.

3) As you said, voters can be held responsible for re-electing Bush? How are they held responsible? Saddam took the decision to invade Kuwait, and the whole population was held responsible and remain to be punished till today.

4) Hamas is not a terror group. Hamas is a resistance group aimed at driving occupiers from their land. As long as there is occupation, resistance can use whatever means available to them to fight the aggressor. In contrast, Israel is a terror state. This is reflecting by being the only country in the middle east who is illegally occupying others lands. Defying the UN resolutions.

5) Hamas didn't kill hundreds, maybe thousands of people. I think you have your data mixed up. it is Israel who killed more than 1,000 people mostly women and children, and bombed the UN headquarters in Gaza! And this is talking only about the last war. Hamas is fighting with what they have in hand in the face of a nuclear country who is occupying their country and is supported by the biggest superpower in the world!

6) In case you didn't know, or haven't checked the news recently, the palestinians in Gaza ARE being punished for their choice. They have been living under siege for years. NO food, no power, no medicine. Completely isolated by the Israelis in a big concentration camp in a Nazi-like way. Ask your government, they know about it.

7) Mosques that advocate what you called violent Jihad don't actually go and kill people. While when Bush and his likes announce that it's a new crusade they actually attack countries and kill people. Mosques might be instigators. But leaders are instigators and executers. Therefore, if we want to call going to those mosques as voting with your feet. You are actually voting for his words. While voting for Bush is voting for his actions.

Ehab said...

8) Just because I criticize this model of democracy doesn't mean that I prefer dictatorship. You hinting at that is misleading and frankly insulting. But it should be expected, as the new fashion seems to be "If you don't agree with me, then you are vile and you are my enemy"!

9) "Most people who have democracy like it".. Illusions always make you feel good :)

10) How do you quote me and put the lines in italic?! I've tried to do the same but it's not working with me :)

Thank you for your comment.

programmer craig said...

Ehab,

1) It is illegal, and everyone knows that.

No, everyone "says" that :)

The US war on Iraq is illegal.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've read enough international law when it comes to warfare that I'm pretty confident that war was legally justified. Morally justified or not, is another matter.

After suffering 1,000,000 casualties through sanctions most of them children, no one can blame iraq to break the ceasefire terms if they actually did.

The sanctions were put in place because of ceasefire violations, and now you are claiming the sanctions justified the ceasefire violations.

In any case, a broken treaty is a broken treaty. International law does not recognize subjective "reasons" for violating a treaty. If it did, then treaties would be worthless because anyone could break one whenever they want and just cite their grievances of the day, whether valid or not.

2) Being specific, who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of dead iraqis? The millions of refugees? Bush? I don't see him questioned for the mess he created in Iraq.

He hasn't been charged with any crime. Why would he be questioned?

3) As you said, voters can be held responsible for re-electing Bush? How are they held responsible?

Well, what do you suggest Ehab? Funding the war in Iraq and all the reconstruction contributed greatly to the worst financial crisis the US has had in almost a century. It's also led to a breakdown in traditional western alliances. You think something more should happen? Like what?

4) Hamas is not a terror group.

That's unworthy of a reply. I'm going to ignore further criticisms of US conduct from you, due to that claim you make there.

5) Hamas didn't kill hundreds, maybe thousands of people.

No? What about all the suicide bombings during the 1990s that hamas proudly claimed credit for? That was some other Hamas?

6) In case you didn't know, or haven't checked the news recently, the palestinians in Gaza ARE being punished for their choice. ...

They aren't being massacred for their choice, which is what you seem to be implying is what others such as Israelis and Americans merit.

continuing...

programmer craig said...

7) Mosques that advocate what you called violent Jihad don't actually go and kill people.

Now we are arguing in circles. You implied earlier that expressing support for a war means that people should be punished for that support. Turns out, you don't see it that way at all when it comes to your side :)

While when Bush and his likes...

I told you, I'm not talking about US misconduct anymore with you, until you decide to get honest about the transgressions of your side.

8) Just because I criticize this model of democracy doesn't mean that I prefer dictatorship.

As far as I know there is only one model of modern democracy. If you oppose it, then what do you support? Some other non-existent type of democracy? One in which people get thrown in prison for holding hand sin public, no doubt :p

You hinting at that is misleading and frankly insulting.

You hinting that democracy is as bad as your meddle-eastern dictatorships is pretty insulting, too. As is the implication that victims of terror attacks deserve what happens to them because they support war (against terrorists!).

I tho9ught I was doing a pretty good job of being civil, under the circumstances. But maybe not :)

But it should be expected, as the new fashion seems to be "If you don't agree with me, then you are vile and you are my enemy"!

If you support terrorism, you are definitely my enemy. That's not a fashion, that's a fact. But that doesn't mean I get to hunt you down and kill you, right? :)

9) "Most people who have democracy like it".. Illusions always make you feel good :)

Again, you seem to be trashing the entire concept of democracy, and yet you got very angry when I interpreted your comments that way. What am I missing?

10) How do you quote me and put the lines in italic?! I've tried to do the same but it's not working with me :)

You have to use HTML tags to do it on blogs. Here's a link on italics:

http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/_I.html

Thank you for your comment.

You're welcome :)

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