Democracy: Celebrating Ignorance
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” -Isaac Asimov
Democracy is probably the most common system of government all over the world and I can understand why. It derives from a Greek word, “δημοκρατία” (dēmokratía), which is found from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (krátos) “power” or “rule”
Its premise is very alluring: The rule of the people. Most precisely, the rule of the majority.
As good as it sounds on the theory, in practice it poses a problem. What happens when the majority is ignorant or dumb. More important, who listens to the minorities?
Let’s show theoretical example: The majority of a country votes according to their personal beliefs/interests and not from the perspective of being part of a society. Let’s imagine that according to said personal beliefs/interests, that person thinks that, for example, homosexuality is wrong and they vote for a party that is in opposition of gay marriage. Then the homosexual minority are not allowed to get married (even if, objectively, homosexuality is not at all wrong but natural.)
With this example I also want to show how stupid it is to complain about a president or leader, and to blame him or her for how he or she is leading the country. The people that are to blame are the individuals who voted for that person. To provide another example of what I see on a daily basis, the Spanish president is not very bright. And as sad as that is, he is not the one to blame for all of the stupid things that his government is doing. See, I tend to view any president of a country as a direct reflection of that nation’s majority. If the president is a fascist, it’s because there is a fascist majority. If the president is an homophobe, it’s because there is a homophobic majority. So again, my question is: is democracy truly the best system of government?
Answer is: it’s not, and will never be, unless the majority of people reach a certain level of intelligence or moral education. Democracy fails when you assume that every person’s morality is as good as the other’s.
Education here plays a very important role. Not basic education, but proper education. In that sense, there’s a lack of moral education in most countries. That is partially because there is not a reliable source of morality readily available. (All that I can think of is the universal declaration of human rights.)
Another problem you see in politics nowadays, that is not exclusive to democratic governments, is the lack of aptitudes required to become the president of a nation. There is a lack of preparation and studies required to fill the position.
Take Donald Trump for example. The fact that someone like him can have a chance to run for president on a developed country is something I find tremendously worrying. The fact that those who make laws care more about money than they care about the truth or human rights should be a problem, too. The fact that someone who denies climate change has a chance to run for president every four years, and be elected senator, should worry you.
Even more important than that, the fact that there are people allowed to vote who deny climate change, who constantly ignore human rights, and deny the rights of the minorities, should worry you beyond belief.