ean_frick (ean_frick) wrote,

Yet Another Essay

(Editors: Frick examines the roots of democracy in the context of the American project.)

The Farce of Democracy
by Ean Frick

The ideology of the current State/system is one that defines itself as a democracy. While there are many different perspectives on what 'true' democracy is, with many anarchists claiming that liberal democracy is false because it isn't 'real' democracy, for the sake of this argument I am taking liberal democracy at face value and going on the assumption that it is what it says it is.

The Rule of the Majority

Democracy is defined as the rule of the majority. This idea is rooted in the thought of the Utilitarian philosophers like Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The creed of the Utilitarians was the greatest good for the greatest number of people. While this pseudo-socialist feel goodism may sound good on paper or to the naive, it is full of holes. For instance, there could be a society supported by a minority of slaves for the benefit of a majority. This society could have 49% of its population the slaves and 51% the free citizens who live of their labor, for under democracy the majority is defined simply by the abstractness of a mathematical equation. So despite the humanism of the Utilitarian philosophers, they are responsible for regulating human social interaction to the cold rationalism of mathematics. The idea that the will of the largest sector is always right is also a pretty major simplification of the complexities of human subjectivities, and by regulating the minority to the realm of illegitimate, this either/or dichotomy is sure to cause future problems in a society when the majority rather than the whole is the only consideration. For when the majority is called upon to decide the future for a minority, the outcome is rarely good. The humanism of the Utilitarians also presupposes that what may be good for the human majority is good for all. This rather anthropocentric viewpoint denies the possibility that what may be beneficial to humans is not necessarily beneficial for the biosphere in the long run and therefore not good for humans in the long run either.

Representative Democracy

While the West defines itself generally as just a democracy, it is specifically a representative democracy, which differentiates it from direct democracy and democratic centralism, which was the system of rule in China, Cuba and the old Soviet bloc countries. Representative democracy is in theory that an elected official carries out the will of the people. This denies a fact that even proponents of capitalism admit, that humans act in their own interests. One can’t act out the interests of another fully, only one can do that themselves. In most places where representative democracy exists, the elected officials are rarely of the same class or cultural background of their constituents. Also electoral campaigns are paid for by wealthy benefactors who expect something in return if their politician gets elected. This leaves very little room for the wishes of the people, which are often a diverse collection of desires, most of which are not even mentioned by the politician in question in their list of what they stand to do if elected. Even on the level of state(i.e. regional) representatives, one person is hardly capable of carrying out the wishes of their constituents in an efficient manner, even if they wanted to. Also, the people are usually only given a sad dualism for choices of representatives, of which there is usually only a shred of difference between the two. In Europe, voters are given more choices for representatives, but what they may gain in numbers they lack in worthwhile platforms that resonate with constituents.
Even if we go on the assumption that under representative democracy the will of the people is carried out accordingly, the very nature of it breeds indolence in its citizenry, a factor which is never beneficial for a healthy, working society. Representative or parliamentary democracy, by its definition conditions individuals to expect that their wishes as to how their society is run will be carried out by others. The only way a society can fully function is if its citizens are directly involved in the decision making process that determined its future. This leads me to my next point.

Direct Democracy

The idea of a society’s members managing it by the most direct methods available can be found all over the political spectrum, from anarchism to left communism to true conservatism(i.e agrarian, populist, federalist). Under direct democracy, the citizenry is involved in the tasks of maintaining the society and deciding its future by a loose association of guilds, councils, and federations. People would be elected to be representing members in these councils and could be instantly recalled if the constituency felt they weren't carrying on appropriately. This method would allow for compromises and would eliminate the conflict that occurs when a politician causes change in a community that he or she doesn’t even live in since those who make the decisions in a community would directly feel its consequences. This also eliminates any bureaucracy and any stagnation of growth that it causes.

The Right Not to Participate

Throughout history there have always been certain individuals who, by the cruel fate of existence, have felt that the society they were born into is reprehensible beyond repair. While others may feel that this warrants a massive uprooting of its institutions and values so as to create a new society, these individuals have opted for a negation of it by dropping out and living a solitary and self-sufficient life. A few examples of these individuals in history are Henry David Thoreau and Theodore Kaczynski. They travel outside not only society, but civilization itself, and return to the state of nature. Here they are unencumbered by any laws or other silly abstractions that seek to limit the inherent freedom that we exert as humans. The only thing that would inhibit their survival would be the very forces of nature they have returned to, of which they are of a consequence beyond notions of right and wrong, and as such they must be taken in the Buddhist sense of pure being. These individuals become fully self-sufficient when they opt out of society, they learn to truly live off the land as they hunt and gather for food as well as utilize the raw materials around them for shelter. They must be versed in self-defense to deal with the dangers any wild animals or wayward humans may provide. Lastly, they must also have a strong psyche as the loneliness the state of nature often causes can bring about the existence of many demons and other spirits that only seek to torment.
These individuals represent the archetypes described by Ernst Junger as the Anarch and the Worker. Primarily they are above all social and moral constructs that would inhibit their will to power by declining from participation in a society and returning to nature. They are also representative of the Worker, as described by Junger, in that they are both warriors as well as workers, they fully live off the land, and so the labor they put in pays off proportionally, but they are also warriors who must defend themselves against whatever odds they come up against.
These individuals have solved the contradictions of democracy by transcending it. They need not worry about the other, or any concepts such as majority and minority, since there is only the individual. The representative, the medium through which will is supposed to be carried in a democratic society is made obsolete. This fully autonomous individual becomes the true practitioner of will. It also solves the problem of coercion, a rather undemocratic notion that would exist even in a directly democratic society, to participate in the maintaining of a community.
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