According to the Oxford Dictionary Democracy is defined as:
“1. A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives: a system of parliamentary democracy”
The same source gives the origin of the word as late 16th century, from the French word démocratie, via late Latin from Greek dēmokratia, from dēmos meaning ‘the people’ and kratia meaning ‘power, rule’.” People Power.
In this world of rule by an elite class in powerful political parties and corporations, I wonder how many of us feel that we are actually living in a democracy, and feel that any of the names on the ballot paper actually represent us?
Does the ability to choose between a handful of similar candidates and their manifestos once every five years constitute a democracy? In a world where thousands of people can give their opinions on a subject and how if effects them in seconds, with the answers analysed and returned also in seconds, surely we can do better?
Unfortunately it seems like the current systems, developed with the best of intensions, in many countries are altogether too protectionist of their elite members, the boards of corporations and their shareholders (most notably banks?). Not at all in the best interests of the majority they are supposed to represent.
To change the system in the UK, for example, would require persuading, not the electorate, but the majority party in government, that change is needed (then telling them how to do it). After all, the electorate only get to influence politics, every five years. Given the huge power a majority party in the UK parliament has, if they wanted to, they could enact phenomenal change in the space of 5 years, especially if they stopped caring so much about the next election and spending time covering up their colleagues criminal activities.
You might argue that the only way to persuade the majority party to change the system is to have the electorate demand such changes. For this to happen, then a huge proportion of the electorate would need to realize that they do not have a very democratic government and that it could, and should, be more effective, equitable and just, well, better. Then the electorate would need to demand that majority party in government “make it so”.
Even better if swathes of industry also lobbied for the same changes, but then that might risk their interests? Not necessarily. While at this time it seems like 99% of the money (and power?) is in the hands of 1% of the population (The Few), the same is largely true in big corporations (maybe 2% and 98%). On the plus side, that means that 98% of the employees making up these corporations are just the same as the 99% of the population (The Many) sharing that 1 or 2% of the money and the power created by their own hard work and ingenuity.
So what, it has been and always will be this way? Its human nature? Power and money will always corrupt:?
Despotic rule, can never last forever. Sooner or later, The Many, will realise that they are strong and have all the real skills and knowledge. The Few will realise that actually their wealth and power are not as secure as they thought.
We have come such a long way that technology, our combined intellect and our humanity can give us the means to enact change without needing to resort to physical violence. There are a great number of resources at our finger tips in 2014. How many people have a smartphone? Even more do not have one but still have regular access to social media. How about we used it to make our lives better, instead of to point out a spec of celebrity cellulite? Let’s work together to come up with something that works for all of us real people, because nobody else is going to do it for us.
I am not saying that it is wrong to spend 5 minutes finding out which Game of Thrones Champion you are most like, I love that too, but we could also spend a further 5 minutes responding to a questionnaire about the major impacts on our cost of living, our major future concerns and how we feel education or the NHS could be improved to benefit our own unique situation.
Put these answers all together, have smart people among us analyse it and put together a system which actually works for us? Now THAT would be democracy. Not easy, but certainly not as impossible as The Few seem to think. We have the technical expertise, we have the wisdom, we have the passion, we have the creativity and we have the ingenuity because we are 99% of the population.
First we need to ask for that fairer, smarter world. We must insist on it. We, the 99%, must insist upon it.