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17 February 2014, 13:07

“Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding on what’s for dinner.” – Benjamin Franklin

YOUR opinion doesn’t matter. Mine doesn't either. It is easy to pretend that it does, to say we live in a ‘wonderful liberal democracy, where everyone’s opinions matter and where we can all make our voices heard’. How do you make your voice heard? At a polling station? Drawing a X on a little piece of paper that you place in a box once every 5 years? Is that the definition of government by the people for the people? Who represents you? If you have a grievance over the state of affairs in this country, who do you call? Your ward councillor? A member of parliament? (if you can even name one!).

In Switzerland, where they have direct democracy, anyone can start a petition, and if that petition gets more than a certain number of signatures, the WHOLE country has to vote on that particular issue, through a ballot that arrives in the mail.

For a start however, the Swiss system would not work in South Africa, as many people here don’t have mailboxes. And, secondly, I simply would not trust the public to make decisions which may very well have an adverse effect on my personal liberty or economic freedom (I’m not saying I trust the small group in government who are currently making those decisions). Imagine if 51% of people vote for confiscating (nationalising) the land and private property of the other 49%.

That is why democracy can be seen as mob rule in a certain sense. In my opinion, the God-given rights of the individual are of the highest value. The right to live, the right to be free, and the right to private property need to be defended at all costs. 99% of all the people can’t take away the rights of the 1%. You don’t know what is best for me, and I do not know what is best for you. Do not impose your views on me, I will not impose my views on you. Do not use force against me, I will not use force against you. I have a right to live my life as I choose, and as long as I don’t use violence, or inflict harm on others or damage their property, no one can tell me how to live. No government or majority can take away my inalienable rights!

Many people perceive democracy to be the first step in the direction of freedom, when it really isn’t. Upholding the rights of the individual, is the first step into a free society.

The type of democracy we have in South Africa is actually harmful in the sense that people become more collectivist, and see themselves as a member of a group rather than seeing themselves as unique individuals. Many people are subject to political partisanship, they will defend a particular party or person regardless of their policies or behaviour. How hare-brained is that? Surely the person who you are, and the principles you stand for are far more important than petty politics?

If you define your identity based on the groups to which you belong, you will only serve to deepen divides between people, and foster a sense of resentment within yourself and those around you. You are who you are because of WHO YOU ARE. You are not who you are because you define yourself as white, black, rich, poor, Christian, atheist, young, old, gay or straight.

I am not suggesting that an autocracy or technocracy is preferable. I am suggesting that we first learn to respect ourselves, and find dignity within ourselves. Nothing is stronger than the human spirit. Once we realise that we, as individuals, have inherent value based on who WE are, we will stop taking nonsense  from other people who claim to have authority over us, and we will stand up for our rights.

Fun fact: Most people don’t know that Hitler came to power in  Germany in an entirely legal and democratical way.

Follow me on twitter: @cvh23

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I look forward to your comments.

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