Crazy for Democracy and Angry about Demockcrazy

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The recent events   in Tamil Nadu seem to indicate that our democracy has slipped into a kind of craziness.  I am afraid. we have to face the hard fact. Democracy has become demockcrazy.  The invasion of democracy by the egocrats has brought about the death of democracy in its very practice. What T.S Eliot lamented when he said ‘where is the life that is lost in living?’, seems to have come to haunt us. We have lost democracy in its functioning.  It is as if the seeds of the death of democracy are already sprouting while we participate in it re-enactment without suspecting its sad demise right in front of us.  What is even more dangerous is the fact that the death of democracy finds a mask in its re-enactment.  This mask hides its death from us. Indeed, the form of democracy that is masquerading in our country is crazy and is driving us crazy.  This collapse of democracy is an urgent cause of concern to all. Hence, it is important for us to seek and trace the conditions that have brought us to this point of destruction.  The resort politics in Tamil Nadu resorted by the shameless egocrats there, appears to show how there are loopholes within the constitutional democracy and has rendered it vulnerable to be controlled from a jail.   The power drama that has unfolded in Tamil Nadu displays several crazy scenes showing that demockcrazy has come to stay in our country.  

This reflection on the craziness of our democracy can assist us to understand how it has been hollowed or emptied out from our system long ago. The vote bank politics that uses religion and caste as it chief coordinates of division produces fear of ‘the other’ and often provides safe passage for dubious candidates to gain power. Although, the Supreme Court has rendered asking for votes in the name of caste and religion illegal, the political parties in UP even as we discuss this issue, have put candidates to make sure that people do not cast their vote but vote their castes.  This means in the very casting of votes, the power of our vote gets destroyed. Although, this cancelation or balancing of the power of our vote is natural to any democratic election, the fact that often we are duped into voting primarily on the basis of caste and religion shows that we are disenfranchised in the very practice of elections. Hence, it appears that craziness is inscribed in the practice of democracy and has brought us close to its destruction. Besides, caste and religion disenfranchising the voters, money and muscle power goes a long way to neutralise the power of votes.  Hence, a voter gets disenfranchised even before he/she moves to the booth to caste his/her vote.  These disenfranchising forces do not just afflict the voters but they also afflict the candidates.   

The form of leadership that is being thrown up by our democratic systems also has also weakened the basis of our democracy.  We can clearly discern the rise of plebiscitary leader across the globe. We in India are not free from this phenomenon. We seem to have demonstrated in public   our weird dependence on strong leaders who are often portrayed as larger than the political parties that they represent and often these leaders seem to stay beyond democracy. The rise of these tall leaders like Narendra Modi, Jayalalitha, Arvind Kejriwal etc., demonstrate that India is following global trends that manufacture the rise of plebiscitary leader. These global trends seem to indicate how democracy has stepped into a form of craziness. The victory of Donald Trumps in USA shows that the alone super power has also ushered in demockcrazy. Besides, USA , we can trace similar charismatic leaders in Russia, Japan, Israel and Indonesia undermining democracies in those countries.  It is clear across the globe that the rise of a supreme leader has destroyed the basic democratic institutions and even appeared to be above the sacred constitutions of those countries.  Democracy is certainly sinking into a profound crisis and is steadily dying in its very practice. The rise of a supreme plebiscitary leader seems to mostly occur on the wings of an aggressive nationalism. ‘Making America great again’ or ‘the Ache din ’ were the electoral slogans of President Trumps and PM Narendra Modi respectively manifests the same. 

Elections in Goa also demonstrated how we have almost actualised demockcrazy in our society. The sheer number of candidates that were in the fray, the several alliances on the ground while public  pretending of no  alliance, the allegation of setting or alliance between the two grand old national parties, the out pouring of cash and liquor, wild invasion into the homes of the people asking for votes, the talks on alliance only to come to no alliance, the so called friendly fights, the breakaway section in the RSS biting its own child, the BJP seem  to demonstrate that weird  crazy side of democracy is alive and kicking in our very own Goa. The long delay for the declaration of results which almost stretches beyond a month is itself a sign of craziness of our democracy.  Whatever the result may show, our democracy has driven all and sundry crazy.  While we are rightly crazy for democracy, we are challenged with a demockcrazy driving us mad. We need to recover and resuscitate our dying democracy. Unfortunately, there are no good signals across our country. We saw the fight for the symbol of the SP in Uttar Pradesh. The crazy fight was between the father and the son. We see the similar war building up in the AIDMK in the South.  Suddenly, democracy seems to be standing away from the people (demos) and has directed its power (Kartein) against them.  But we still have hope.  We shall exorcise the ghost of demockcrazy and save our democracy. May be the representative mode of democracy will make way for a participative democracy. Death of representative democracy may usher in a participative democracy. It certainly seems that representative democracy has been exhausted beyond recovery and we can clearly see its poisonous fangs. Will this  lead to a revolution of the people to win their power back ?  

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao