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Democracy Has Failed in the Modern World

21 March 2013, 08:47

Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Plato’s The Republic, and Cicero’s De Re Publica, were all books from antiquity which have had a major influence on the modern world. They talk of the benefits of a republic, a democratic government elected by the people, idealising equality, the pursuit of happiness, and virtue– supposedly the grass roots of modern democratic beliefs.

Aristotle’s Ethics is a study of how people should best live while aiming to have virtue. The definition of virtue is as follows: (1) Behaviour showing high moral standards, (2) a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.

Now let us look at the definition of moral: the principles of right and wrong behaviour and the goodness or badness of human character.

Western philosophies, both personal and political, have been heavily influenced by these men. They are the subject of numerous discussion and research in universities around the western world, and our constitutions have a root in their teachings. Aristotle himself defines virtue as: what we would consciously choose between perceived pleasant and painful options. According to Aristotle, people become virtuous by performing virtuous actions which they might not have chosen themselves when young – irresponsible. People must develop proper habits during childhood and this requires help from teachers, parents, and law-makers. A good community is required for the healthy development of good people.

Virtue in the highest sense in an adult who has been brought up well will not just involve good personal habits such as temperance (moderation) but also unity, justice, responsibility, and intellect – faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively. What does it mean to think objectively? Objective thought is a process of thought which is not influenced by personal feelings, or interpretations. Objective thought is the complete opposite of subjective thought. All these qualities are in themselves noble virtues which we greatly lack today, if not utterly forsaken.

The Problem                                                                          

Democracy in itself is a grand ideal of government by the people for the people. Values such as freedom of expression and speech, unalienable human rights, limited government power, and a free-market economy are generally the norm to be expected within a democratic nation. What we experience today is not democracy in its purest form, but a mutated virus/corruption labelled democracy by those in government and academia which are actually practicing populism. What is populism? Populism is an appeal to the emotions of the masses rather than their intellect. It is often characteristic of anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements that offer unorthodox solutions or policies, and appeal to the common person. A populist for instance, would be someone running for office that has no set morals or principles, someone who changes their beliefs to suit whoever they are attempting to garner favour, or votes from. This is the true root of modern democracy. Whatever the majority believes is right regardless of reason. This is an inherently dangerous and destructive belief that has led to the corruption of traditional values, morals, and principles that have in the past made nations and peoples great. If one looks throughout history, you will find that populism, vice, and corruption goes hand in hand.

Since people are inherently selfish and emotional animals, expecting them to think objectively is virtually impossible today. With every generation that comes and goes, human beings who live in a populist society become more and more corrupted. They become more selfish, irresponsible, rude, and develop an ever-increasing insatiable lust for things that “feel good” regardless of the harm it may cause on themselves or the fabric of society. We live in an age of quick fixes: choosing to do what is easy, rather than what is right. There is no appreciation for morality. Good has become bad, and bad has become good. Those who follow rules are considered “squares” while the rebels are held in high esteem for “sticking it to the man.”

What you must ask yourself is when does it stop? Populism tries to garner favour from everyone, evolving into whatever is wanted at that particular time. There is no moderation, or balance. We accept and tolerate things that aren’t to be tolerated in an objective and moral society. We create laws that try and suit everyone that in effect end up discriminating against a large portion of society. Legalise marijuana and other narcotics, get rid of the death penalty, implement affirmative action, allow waves of immigration into our countries, grant clemency to the illegal immigrants already inside our country – it is what the people want! Let us forget that narcotics are dangerous to your health and mental wellbeing. Let us forget that a recently paroled rapist has raped a defenceless 15 year old girl, or a psychotic killer who past a test is walking amongst us eager to prey on the innocent. Let us forget that education is the key to equality and affirmative action is at its core discrimination. Let us forget that immigrants historically displace the native population, and makes it even harder to find employment as everyone is after the same job. We’ll have the vote, which is all that matters.

Britain cannot deport a fundamentalist Islamic cleric with known ties to terrorism; their laws prevent them from protecting their own citizens. They are facing a triple-dip recession, who cares about that? How dare some politicians even breathe the words “a welfare state is unsustainable in the long-term.” America inches further towards the legalisation of marijuana which will dumb down their society even further – the ones who dictate how the rest of the world should be (perish the thought).

The Solution

Perhaps it is time to limit democracy, or make a conscious effort to eradicate populism once and for all. Especially considering each nation is filled with masses who do not understand, nor care to understand politics, economics, history, or foreign policy – yet they feel themselves entitled to say how things should be.

Maybe it’s time to offer quality universal education, and force our youth to attend. Maybe it’s time to take away universal suffrage, and make our citizens take a test before being granted the right to vote, and set requirements to be met before they can take the test. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of ourselves, and start thinking of our communities. Maybe it’s time to start getting tough on crime, limit immigration, and punish illegal immigration. Maybe it’s time to establish a new society based on temperance, unity, justice, responsibility, and intellect.

Or maybe we should continue to sit back and watch the world consume itself in moral decadence, and chaos.

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