About democracy

Governing the earth in a peaceful way is one of the big challenges of humanity. Humans felt it already thousands of years ago when they wrote texts like “and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen 1:28).

While most humans agree more or less with the idea that it is our vocation and duty to rule the world, the question on how to do it has caused quite some discussion since then.

Obviously the best method

Our western civilization is based on the assumption that governments should be democratic. History has told us that monarchies, aristocracies and dictatures fail to bring peace and welfare in the long run.

Not everybody agrees to this assumption. Every year brings at least one sad example of a dictature which tries to gain power over their neighbours. My only explanation why people sometimes tend to reach back to obsolete government methods is that they have not been informed correctly about why they are obsolete.

Democratic organizations are not free of problems. The current implementations of democracy have their weaknesses.

Using nowaday’s technologies, even a sandwich bar is difficult to govern in a democratic way. Not to speak about a village, a country or a planet. From a sociological point of view we are still in the stone age of democracy.

“Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race has ever tried.” 1

We are eager to see lots of bugs and issues in your local town administration, our national government, the European Union and finally the United Nations. But note that in most countries we are allowed write about these problems and publish our writings. Isn’t this alone a reason to hope? Let’s be grateful for having democracy. Let’s believe in democracy.

Who holds the power?

We must worry whether our democratic structures actually do govern the world. Recent years reveal a shift of power from national states to transnational corporations 2. This is a serious danger. See also The greedy giants.

Who holds the power? Who is representative for the “people”?

“[O]ne of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The classical democracy model separates the power into three branches: legislative, executive and judiciary.

Democracy is not good for everything

There are human activities that should be governed by democratic power and other activities that shouldn’t. Art, Science, Culture, Education, Medicine should remain independent of national power.

Footnotes

1

Robert A. Heinlein

2

Ethics in Internet (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican City, February 22, 2002.