- From Socrates till now, how the ‘flawed’ idea of Democracy baffles mankind
Democracy, dear reader, has bid us farewell on its way to spend the rest of the eternity in perdition. We have murdered its essence and kept its forlorn form for exhibition. Creation of Greeks nurtured by Brits and spread all over the world as final panacea, democracy had its heyday all over the world after WW-II but is now slowly, but certainly becoming a pariah in many of the kingdoms it once reigned.
Democracy, both as an ideal perfected over millennia in the hearts of philosophers and as a system realized by sacrifices of millions of ordinary, forgettable mortals is imperiled 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.
In these pages I’ve written multiple times that during the last century, the lofty ideals of democracy were under siege by Fascism, Nazisim and Communism all over the world. The democracy backed by capitalist block 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.
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. On a daily basis, we hear, read and see many alterations of the above lines; sometimes they are bold and brash, at others they are subtle and suggestive.
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 a form of government is undergoing its worst existential crisis ever. In the past, it was the singular object of derision of few philosophers and thinkers. Today, the majority of the masses have turned either indifferent or downright contemptuous of it.
‘Tis how the mighty have fallen. ‘Tis How bruised it is.’ Tis its end is nigh.
One needs not to 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 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. Athens of his time is buried under tons of debris. Democracy is all set to go the way of Socrates and Athens. It’ll become an idea, a memory, a word, an artifact; nothing more, maybe less, certainly less. A derided, loathsome creature common people will forget like they have forgotten minor Victorian novelists who only the academics have to read, students have to read to pass the exam, and that is that.
Pakistan’s tale of democracy since independence has been 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 Pakistan’s Independence movement. Courtesy the palace intrigues coupled with undue interference from the civilian bureaucracy and military junta one after the other they bit the dust making way for the first all-powerful uniformed ‘democrat’ i.e. 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. On a daily basis, we hear, read and see many alterations of the 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.
We love the ghost of democracy that casts its pall on our land so much, that even the rotten smell of its corpse is not disturbing us one bit.
On goes our march, on goes our life. On goes dead, dead democracy.
Let us see when the final whistle blows. Let us see when the final curiosity withers. Let us wait and watch and behold the demise of an idea that was beautiful in the beginning and when we realized it, it turned every reality ugly.