Democracy isn’t necessarily the best form of Government, argues Reece Warren
Let’s start with the more well-known argument of John Stuart Mill’s ‘Tyranny of the majority’ – that democracy is merely the oppression by the majority on to the minority. In other words, your viewpoint is only validated if the majority of people believe it.
If we take the issue of ‘incest’ (just as a random example) then it’s clear that the vast majority of people view it abhorrent, distasteful and morally corrupt – but does that mean it is? For me, it simply doesn’t. I’m not for one minute advocating incest, but what I’m saying is that, just because people have an opinion that it’s wrong doesn’t make that fact – yet people believe it does. Democracy is a form of Government which not only oppresses but also alienates individuals from society, because they are either (a) tolerated or (b) shunned from society.
So what if we try a different example? In the 19th century (and before), prior to women having the right to vote, it remained perfectly legal for a husband to rape his wife, and the majority of people felt there was no issue with that. But does that justify rape? No it doesn’t. What I’m trying to illustrate is that, in a democracy, the majority’s viewpoint is the be all and end all of Government – and with the advancement of direct democracy through things such as e-petitions, people are getting stronger.
So that’s the traditional argument out of the way, but let me try this from a slightly different perspective – infallibility. People (on a whole) are particularly ignorant beings – some even argue it’s part of our human nature. We live in a generation where media and technology ultimately dominate our lives, which leaves us open to complete manipulation.
If (in the next few years, for example) the Press were under State regulation, what’s stopping the State choosing what we see and what we don’t see? The media already influences our political viewpoints, so if the State controlled the press, what’s stopping a particular political party running false stories that portray them in a ‘godly’ light? What’s to say they’re not doing this now? All of this comes under Marcuse’s theory of repressive desublimation, one which I feel is undeniable.
So where does this link in with democracy? People are easily manipulated to feeling in a particular way and being ‘fed’ things they want to hear – in other words, the people within society cannot be trusted. This point will be heavily disputed and is often used against me through personal insults, but let me explain – if the media and technology has the ability to control your viewpoints, why are you in a position to cast an informed vote for a political party? You simply aren’t until you think for yourself. Most of you will sit there and believe that you do think for yourself, but do you? How much do you rely on your smart-phones, the internet etc? What if those things didn’t enhance your knowledge (through internet research etc) but actually restricted it? With this in mind, people cannot be trusted to cast a well-informed vote, due to repressive desublimation.
Sophistry has been corrupting minds for thousands of years – acting as a drug to the minds of every-day people. Political parties have always been built upon an exploitative platform which promises the world to every single person in the desperate grasp for power, and today is no different. Democracy is not only an oppressive form of Government but also an exploitative one. People are far too orientated in short-term gains which sophistry plays to – do wild beasts stop to ponder the meat they’re about to feast upon in case it’s bad for their internal organs? Or do they devour the piece of meat because they’re hungry and have been socialised (through imitation) into doing so?
So is there an alternative? Yes. The Platonic solution for me is one of the only solutions that can solve these fundamental issues. What if we had a ruler that knew justice? A ruler that had obtained the ‘form of the good’ which enabled them to see the entirety of other forms (much like the sun’s light allows us to see what’s in front of us). What if we had a ruler that could objectively and justly rule a state that wasn’t susceptible to the average person’s shortcomings? Wouldn’t he be best to rule?
This is an opinion I share – a philosopher-ruler. Rather than political parties making a false claim into what they ‘believe’ is right, the philosopher-ruler would ‘know’ what is right – and that is a huge difference. Whether you admit it or not, political parties and people as a whole are vulnerable to constant fallacies which mean their judgment is constantly clouded – the philosopher-ruler would not be. When we leave a room that’s been pitch-black dark into a bright light, it takes a few moments for our eyes to adjust – after which our eyes remain clear-sighted. The average person is stuck within that dark room with unadjusted eyes and blurred sight, whereas the philosopher-ruler experiences the latter. People will contest this by asking me ‘how do you know if these people know justice?’ and I say to you that you will not know – as you would not understand justice, so cannot be the judge of whether someone has it or not.
So if there is a ruler who knows the true form of justice; who knows how to implement this justice; who knows what’s best for each of his/her citizens within society; then why shouldn’t this person be in charge? They should be – as they are best fitted to rule. Rather than this media hype surrounding party politics in order to corrupt the minds of citizens to vote a certain way – there should be no votes. This viewpoint is particularly similar to countries who have an unelected monarchy where, rather than the ruler being decided on their ‘blood line’, it’s be based on education and the ability to rule itself – also known as techne.
Is this solution perfect? No it isn’t – of course there remain difficulties – but just because something is more difficult to begin with, doesn’t mean that it’s not the solution nonetheless. Please feel free to comment and dispute any of my points and if I’ve missed something out then I’ll do my best to clarify in my responses to your questions. There’s a hell of a lot I’ve missed out, but this is my viewpoint summarised in a brief article.