Foolosophy

Why democracy is so overrated and philosophers should rule the world

This is probably the most elitist thing that I’ll ever post in my life but I really feel the need to burst the bubble of this overly romanticised picture we have of democracy. It frustrates me to no end when I see people fall back onto ‘democracy’ like it’s some infallible ideal and use it to casually (and superficially) categorise countries into goodies and baddies.  Believe me, a simple combination of studying political philosophy and working with human rights charity Reprieve was enough to make me completely lose trust and hope in the democratic process and these are the reasons why:

1-      Voting and majority rule is all good when you’re living in a civilised society. But what if you’re living in a country of hooligans who all want to vote for some crazy dude? Do we just grin and bear it because nothing is more important than the ‘democratic process?’

2-      The democracy/dictator distinction is not black and white. You can never have a country that is 100 percent democratic or despotic- it’s a scale. Even countries who pretend to be democratic (Ahem …UK and USA) have despotic elements.

3-      There is no such thing as complete freedom of speech or freedom of anything. If you keep your ears and eyes open you’ll notice how conveniently the UK censors anti-Israel sentiments. All countries have censorship to varying degrees.

4-      Power to the people? I think not. If you’ve read my previous post on Foucault, you’ll realise that the amount of change that a person can make to the system is superficial. Changes are only made within the system- this is why sooner or later, we’re always disappointed with every leader who’s voted in.  Remember the hype over Obama? I’m sure you do…

5-      Ok I may be having a neurotic moment here. But what if, the education system and other institutions are put into place just to program us and train us into to thinking in exactly the way our governments want us to think? Just a thought…

6-      We all already know that so called democratic countries are often two-faced, but their brutality and lack of ethics is incredible.  Isn’t it totally frustrating when the US goes on about Iran and North Korea having nuclear weapons when it’s the only country in the world who actually used a nuclear bomb, and on innocent civilians too! So why should I trust anything that America says on the subject? If ‘democracies’ kill in cold blood, what does that say about dictatorships? At least dictators don’t pretend to be ethical.

7-      Picture this: Young hopeful Alwia comes home from some anti-war protest (which happened several times). She sees that the demonstration was a massive success with a huge turnout. It’s all over the news and she feels that this is definitely going to have an impact on UK politicians. Two days later we’re bombing some country. That was the day something died in me.

8-      I don’t want some fancy list of why this or that person is such a competent politician. I want a personality and morality profile before voting for someone- which is impossible.

The Alternative?

9-      If you’ve read Plato, you’ll know that in his ideal republic, philosophers rule. Which makes sense, because who do you think came up with all these political theories in the first place? Philosophers…and other less important intellectuals and theoreticians. According to Plato most people lack the expertise to govern or make political decisions (elitist but true when you think about it). So the masses should not be allowed to be involved in politics and instead a bunch of expert philosophers should rule.

10-  Thomas Hobbes also believed that democracies are inferior to monarchies because all that happens during the political process is that politicians with the best campaigning skills win. Ordinary people are generally apathetic about politics and just get manipulated by politicians who simply want to gain more power. As a result of this, political decisions that are made are often ineffective and not aimed at maintaining the greater good.

I’ve never been a fan of monarchies, but I must say I’ve always found the idea of a republic ruled by philosophers very attractive. Maybe it’s because I’m a snob and think that the king-philosophers might let me join their club if I brush up on my philosophy…Then I realised something, having a perfectly ethical philosopher king is like being ruled by an infallible prophet- so I guess we’ll just have to wait for the Messiah.  Oh well…

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