Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

DemocracyIn the days post the elections in Pakistan, I wondered (like many) about the whole electoral process. This naturally raised question on the system of democracy itself and the pain one goes through to see it perform even at the present sub-optimal level.  Its not to say that we should get rid of democracy and experiment again; sixty plus years of that is enough. No! At the moment there is nothing which can viably replace a mass selection system – democracy. But, I honestly wish there was something better for mankind, which would take us to a higher level of humanity. Atleast, away from all this killing and infliction of pain on innocents.

So to my gripe. Allow me that indulgence. Below are some of the thoughts which make me wonder. 

 

My first niggle. We can vote for evil people – Hitler!- and it is my right to vote for this type in a democracy..where is the play of conscience? For those not aware, Hitler actually came to rule via the ballot box. There was much evidence that the man was evil or mad, but the Germany of 1933 wanted a strongman and got one. Much to the detriment of themselves and the world. They learnt 65 million deaths later.

 

People who are standing for elections, generally desire to be elected. This has huge psychological implications. Now they have a vested interest and are on the slippery slope of corruption. There is substantial research which backs this theory; desire for power itself is a form of corruption. So at least we should be allowed to view a psychosomatic profile of the candidates.

 

A criminal has the same authority as an upstanding member of society. Where is the justice in that?  So a criminal (convicted) can vote and displace people, as much as you an upstanding person can. It is possible that such a person will vote for one of their own ilk. Our natural sense of right agonizes at such an eventuality.

 

The inefficiency of the system…if I make tall promises and people vote for me, it will take years before I will be called to account. Years of corruption and inefficiency…damage may be huge, voters learning from previous mistakes can take generations. Education, common sense and wisdom become an imperative among voters. Hence education in democracies is so important, which alas we do not have.

 

Elections are an advertising game. As consumer companies use advertising to sell goods we do not need, so the candidate persuades you to vote for him/her, maybe on platforms which do not affect you at all. The science exists. Its all been refined and a good marketeer will get inside your brain and convince you, without you even realizing it.

 

Big money is a necessary game in democracies. Advertising requires lots of money, as does electoral visibility. This includes ground activation to be in touch with your electorate. A huge amount has to be spent on research to understand the electorate itself. And then the logistic costs of moving people on the day of the election is massive. Top it all, to manage all the above, a large organization is required, which requires funds. A good democratic choice cannot be put on the ballot paper, without large funding. Obama spent over $1bn to run his campaign in 2012. So then is this open to all and sundry?!

 

Then the awful nexus with capitalism. Democracy tends to be at its workable best, if it is a capitalistic society. This allows the rich to get richer and its not necessary that the poor prosper – however the middle class tends to improve marginally. In the US the divide has sharply increased and the top 1% wealthy have increased dramatically since 1980, while the poor and homeless numbers have skyrocketed.

 

Lastly close to us, the rigging..but a lot happens in many places. Whether it is by force, threats, systemic or fragmented, it happens. Last elections in Kenya resulted in genocide. In 2000, the US Presidential elections were hijacked. Against the actual voting numbers, which went to Al Gore…the other candidate Bush won. Talk to Karachites, Lahorites, or Abrar in PTI. The evil taste left after these events, makes one wonder. My own sense is that something which is achieved by subterfuge, will not be of benefit to anyone.

 ” Our little systems have their day;

They have their day and cease to be:

They are but broken lights of thee,

And thou, O Lord, art more than they.”

Tennyson 

My fervent wish is that we are able to refine this choice and selection process to the level, where we can say with pleasure, that democracy is really democracy. Inshallah. We need some form of harmony in this country.

* The democracy picture is taken from Wylio.com, a free picture site, and is owned by Dominic Alves.

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About sarfarazar
I have been lucky! A long career with large scale organisations and some acclaim. Also, took time off to write, mentor and do some education and social development projects. I continue to mentor and help younger people in life. Inshallah, hope to write on various subjects in my blog.

34 Responses to Democracy..I do wonder about niggles

  1. Sadia says:

    bingo! you have penned down everything that was running in my head when i updated that facebook status! If you dont judge me i will tell you that i have been watching “Mera Sultan” on Geo. And more than following the story (which is around the Turkish Sultans and their involvement with women etc.) i have been observing how the Kings / Sultans behaved. And i am convinced in my rather naive view that even that is a failed system. Kings are set up for failure. So for now i feel perhaps Khilafat maybe a better system. But i need to read up to develop a thought process on that. What do you think of Khilafat?

  2. sarfarazar says:

    Sadia, in my previous blog named a Quantum Leap of Change, Ali sahib has commented very succunctly on his thoughts on a better system. You might find that a useful comment to read.
    I do not disregard the Khilafat system. Infact there is a Hadith of the Prophet (saw) which says that Muslim downfall will happen on the fall of the Khilafat – loosely 1921. The issue today is how to institute such a system. THis means that a set of good people are nominated and a decision is made and baith is taken. An element of democracy, but based on what are considered to be upstanding people in society – not rich or educated. Problem is who are the good people and how do we decide and who decides. Those are issues I have yet to get my mind around. Personally, I think unity and umma will only now happen with the coming of the Mahdi. There is no one else who can transcend all the fragmentation. And considering the situation on the ground, I dont think that the Mahdi is as far as we think.

  3. yamnahassan says:

    I visited your blog after sometime and thoroughly liked this post. The few flaws of the democratic system that you’ve pointed out here were buzzing in my head since sometime too 🙂
    Sometimes I wonder whether a harsh, aggressive and a highly authoritarian but fair and honest dictatorship is the solution to our problems…

    • Sarfaraz says:

      Thank you for your note. Well you are not alone..a lot of us have wondered. The problem which remains is that even good dictators tend to degenerate…Musharraf, Ayub Khan …how do we remove them in such an eventuality.?

      Therefore, reluctantly, as there are no other answers yet, I have ended up in the democracy quadrant. Its a most wasteful system.

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      I did share it on FB. Part of my routine. But I do not promote it aggressively, by putting it on a Promotion status, as I am writing more for my own pleasure and so if people read it, then its A bonus, but not a necessity; glad you liked the blog. Thanks for your comment.

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      Thank you. Mostly this is a standard template and that was the original design. However I got a friend to add a few plugins and also the bamboo design at the back was found by him, as I wanted something like that in the background.

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  22. Mudassir says:

    Very appropriate and totally relevant to the current political crisis. Just to reinforce your point of view, democracy cannot suit a country with a literacy rate of under 40. Where people are unaware of their basic democratic rights. The election day game is what matters at the end and the political parties who are ruling this country after 1970 have gained enough experience to win it with all their gimmicks. 67% of Pakistani as per my knowledge come from rural areas in with negligible levels of literacy and high poverty who can easily sell their votes for a Qeemay Wala Naan and the likes. May Allah guide us towards the best. Ameen

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