The decay and demise of democracy | Pakistan Today

The decay and demise of democracy

  • Are we prepared for the aftermath?

Democracy, dear reader, is all set to bid us farewell for it is well on its way to spend the rest of eternity in perdition. We have murdered its essence and kept its forlorn form for exhibition. Creation of the Greeks, nurtured by the Brits and spread all over the world as the final panacea, democracy had its heyday all over the world after WWII is now becoming a pariah in many of the kingdoms it once reigned in.

Democracy, both as an ideal perfected over millennia in the hearts of philosophers and as a system realised by sacrifices of millions of ordinary, forgettable mortals, is imperilled in our age. A bad press coupled with mass disenchantment among folks who thought of it as a tool of economic prosperity that failed to deliver rather than a mode to politically govern their lot, has relegated its splendid past track record to the ash heap of history.

I’ve written repeatedly that during the last century, the lofty ideals of democracy were under siege by Fascism, Nazisim and Communism all over the world. Democracy, backed by the capitalist bloc, prevailed while the Fascists and Nazis crashed and burned during the Second World War. USSR, the birthplace of communism in practice, too went the way of dinosaurs half a century later. The democracy that fought and prevailed over behemoths and giants, has surrendered when it was confronted by internal seams, frustrated masses and populist politicians.

Our world, as it reels on the cusp of dissatisfaction and misery, is once again looking for a deliverer who can usher in freedom, wealth and prosperity for the downtrodden and the precarious lot of the world. And unfortunately, the whole edifice of democracy with all its bells and minarets, its glory and grandeur, stands crippled beyond repair or redemption. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that democracy as the form of government is undergoing its worst existential crisis ever. In the past, it was the singular object of derision of a few philosophers and thinkers. Today, a majority of the masses have turned either indifferent or downright contemptuous of it.

‘Tis how the mighty have fallen, dear reader.

The Strong, Strong Case Against Democracy

One needs not look further than Socrates to prepare a case against democracy. Socrates, one of the most revered of philosophers, attacked democracy in its heyday in Athens. His argument was simple and gripping. Socrates asked how can a government by majority be just and virtuous, when in any society those having knowledge and intelligence are always a minority. Socrates is long dead. The Athens of his time is buried under tons of debris. Democracy seems to go the way of Socrates and Athens. It’ll become an idea, a memory, a word, an artefact. Nothing more, maybe less.

There is this immense hatred between people and the masses. A former Prime Minister, now jailed, believes that people are with him, for him and mad about him. A CJ aims to alleviate the suffering and misery of his country’s poor ‘masses’ and wants to make dams and pay loans. A Saviour is counting seconds till he grabs what is destined for him

Our tale since independence is a saga of hope, betrayal and disillusionment. During the first ten years, we had had seven prime ministers. Almost all of them were at the forefront of the Pakistan Movement. Courtesy the palace intrigues coupled with undue interference from the civilian bureaucracy and military junta, one after the other they bit dust making way for the first all-powerful uniformed ‘democrat’, Ayub Khan.

The original sin that refuses to go away in our land is mistaking our adversaries for enemies, enemies for well-wishers, and allies for opponents. It is the staple plot of the sob story called ‘Democracy in Pakistan’. Them camouflage-donning folks (you know who we are referring to) have it slightly easier. They come, they stay till they no longer can and they either die or live a retired life playing golf, dancing at weddings, giving lectures, grabbing consultancies, chairing think tanks or braving an obscure life till they kick the bucket.

People vs Masses vs Democracy

While the sick and tired men and women of Pakistan are divided along the lines of People vs Masses. Where people are with Nawaz Sharif and masses are with Imran Khan. People want to get rid of sham democracy. Masses want democracy to go from strength to strength. People are doomed because they are repeatedly hoodwinked. Masses know that the People’s Party’s revenge is the best revenge. People know the past of Big Marble Palace. Masses seek salvation through his Lordship’s suo motu notices. People will triumph. Masses will succeed.

On daily basis, we hear, read and see many alterations of above lines; sometimes they are bold and brash, at others they are subtle and suggestive. There are droves of lads chatting away the ills and dilemmas facing ‘people’ of Pakistan at dhaba and political pundits sell their souls on countless talk shows in their bid to awaken the ‘masses’ from their slumber.

There is this immense hatred between people and the masses. A former Prime Minister, now jailed, believes that people are with him, for him and mad about him. A CJ aims to alleviate the suffering and misery of his country’s poor ‘masses’ and wants to make dams and pay loans. A Saviour is counting seconds till he grabs what is destined for him.

The rest of us are hoping for days ahead to be different from the days we spent.



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