The original idea of ruling on behalf of The People and by their will has evolved through time, and piles of values and mechanisms have been stuffed into its edifice.
However, the stuffing has been so intense during the past two centuries that it has hidden the essential values of democracy behind thick layers of complex mechanisms.
Instead of accommodating and continuously reforming the mechanisms to serve better the essence, the opposite has been done. Parties, elections and mountains of laws have become the pillars of the new church. Democracy is not defined by its pure values anymore, but by its sacred stagnating mechanisms. It has become a dogmatic system.
Although disappointing, this turn in democratic evolution is normal and follows a universal pattern. Man’s inherent ability to adopt complexity is very weak. Paradoxically, complexity is needed to organize life and to arbitrate between contradictory wills. The result is that whenever an organizational system is developed, it quickly becomes out of control; the rules become irreversible and the correlation between systems makes any disruptive change destructive. When that stage of de facto inflexibility is reached, we find ourselves inside a tyrannical edifice.
A simple definition of democracy would be as follows: a ruling system where The People choose their governor and define the rules by which they want to be governed.
What do we get in the real world?
Democracy vs Law
In each legislature term, the representatives’ footprint on the legal ecosystem is tiny. People continue to be ruled through volumes of law texts crafted generations ago by the representatives of their grand-fathers, if not ancestors. Only to read the full law code of a country would require a year of dedicated concentration. Studying every bill and comprehending the correlations between each part requires no less than a life time.
The comic side is that there are ridiculous laws that haven’t been modified since centuries and are still perfectly applicable nowadays.
The cumulative legal system can absolutely not represent the willing of the people. Not only because laws get logically depreciated and democratically irrelevant through time, but also because the vast majority of people do not understand it. It is neither ethical nor democratic to judge someone by a law supposed to represent his will (as part of the electorate) while in fact he doesn’t know it; and may even not understand a word of it.
In order to be really democratic, law texts have to be simple to be understandable by the average citizen. The whole law codes have to be revised in each generation and every law piece should have a period of validity, after which it becomes obsolete.
The duty is complex and to some extent Utopian; as all the righteous causes throughout history. We need first to have enough courage to recognize that this de facto system is not democratic; then seek for creative solutions to fix it.
If people don’t really define the rules by which they want to be governed, do they at least choose their governors?
Democracy vs Election
To have a legitimate government, there should first be a legitimate election. I define this latter as follows: a free competition where any independent citizen can present himself, defend a program and get elected if he convinces the majority of the electorate.
The reality is much more complex: to win an election, a citizen must not be independent, must have enough financiers to cover his campaign, must be part of lobbying circles to protect his image, and must have enough media presence to put himself in the sovereign costume. Furthermore, he has to embrace some vague commitments from the right or the left, and shallowly adjust his position based on the opinion polls.
It is all about impression.
Democracy vs Government
Governments serve for about half a decade. In such a short period, they can only act in the short term. Forget about structural reforms, disruptive strategies and experimental progress. Nothing from that can be done in such a short time.
The modern socio-economic ecosystem has become a kind of a complex machine that can only be addressed in a heuristic way. Government tries to control this machine by planting a mechanism in its core. Each time the machine gets uncontrollable, the mechanism is augmented by more wires and chips to control more parts.
This mechanism is becoming bigger than ever. It has even evolved to become a living organism; having its own needs and essence. It is affecting the machine’s automatism and has its own ways to redefine orders.
In the real world we call it the Public Administration; that deep unelected untouchable system that holds the real governing power. Governments serve and leave, but the administration and the legal system are there forever; and let The People be the serfs.
Democracy vs Democracy
Democracy in its current application can barely be called electocracy. People don’t define the rules and don’t choose the ruler. They just validate a picture based on pictures. In return, they get the dear darling status quo.
It’s time for humanity to embrace again the original essences of democracy. Power is from the people and for the people; current people, not their ancestors. If that’s not applied, it’s because we lost the faith in the citizens’ wisdom; that a real liberal dynamic democracy is possible.