Saving Democracy from Itself

Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that with the rise of democracy we have reached the end of history. He boldly said that political evolution had reached its zenith with the coming of Democracy and there is nothing more to come. Jacques Derrida contested Fukuyama and argued that there is more democracy to come. Staying within this thought, we see that the democracy to come will be shaped by our effort to save democracy from itself. Is less democracy more democratic? Less for whom? Less for the elected politician and more for the electorate. This is so because all undemocratic things happen using the very rules and the play of democracy.

The right wing in our country laments that we have too much democracy. Every time anyone reminds us about the tyranny-like condition haunting us, they retort back saying that the very fact that one has the freedom to speak about such a condition proves that there is no less democracy. But totalitarianism like Nazism flowered as mutated forms of democracy. Hence, we have to agree that non-democracies also mask as democracy. Sometimes democracy fails and sometimes it succeeds and it is not hard to know when it fails or succeeds. In recent days we seem to have seen its failure with rising of right-wing populism growing around the myth of a strong leader across the globe. The fall of Sri Lanka with the collapse of the myth of a strong leader has become a warning signal of delayed Water Loo for the rest of functioning populist fascist democracies.

In our country democracy seems to have made the voter irrelevant. Political leaders who were elected on one party symbol and ideology suddenly change sides and embrace the almost opposite ideology of the ruling party and become ministers in the government. Whether it is the lure of money, power or sheer fear of central institutions like the CBI or the ED what we are seeing is an ebb of democracy in the name of democracy itself. Parliament is silent with very few debates and the opposition is weak and toothless as the Government enjoys a brute majority. In Goa, we also saw the crossing over of MLAs twice. Once during the last Assembly and shamelessly again in this Assembly. Democracy is sabotaged using democracy itself. What is undemocratic is given an appearance of democracy with the support of weak laws. What is legal in this regard is not moral yet our democracy is made to embrace it. We saw a similar modus operandi during the election of the chairman of the Municipal Council in Margao. This is why we seem to have a strange challenge. We have a moral imperative to save democracy from itself. We have to guard it against it being misused and abused. The role of media is left to the invisible hand of the market and politiciking as a result we have media that has become the cheerleaders of the Government.

There are those who think that we move from the present representative democracy to radically decentred participatory democracy. Participatory democracy is direct democracy. They say we will find solutions to all that ills our democracy. Hence, it is thought that the people should have a right to recall a candidate who fails to represent them. Referendum and other such processes of direct participation. But who will grant us participative democracy? Will those that represent us do it? This is why we are challenged to save democracy from itself. This effort is not to dethrone democracy and install something else in its place. Rather, the effort is to let is fullness of democracy arrive. We have this hope of more democracy to come. We wait expectantly for its arrival.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao