What is the future of Democracy?
The earlier days of our society would have been great, the vast treasure of ancient literature pointing to unparalleled intellectual wealth, to note one thing we can deduce from the signs left by bygone eras. It is possible that there was a miniscule group of disgruntled elements who wanted to do something to harm the flourishing society, like we find these days in all our endeavors. It looks like a few of them joined together and formed themselves into a group, calling themselves a ‘party’. This was an ideal concept, and a surprising discovery; useful equally well for those who agree with the concept as well as who oppose vehemently. And since the institution of this, our society has never been the same.
I think, democracy came to be instituted as a formal cover for making permanent room for such ‘parties’ in our midst. We thus came to acquire, ‘party democracy’ with all its incongruities and undesirables. I suppose, the fact that there are many unsuitable elements in it should have been known to mankind. For, improvements are being contemplated for the existing political system of governance in all democratic countries. Otherwise, what is the need to devote a lion’s share of governmental efforts, not towards the activities of governance, but in bettering governance?
But this has been so since the earliest days I can remember. I have attended scores of political meetings, where, allocating a greater amount of resources for improving the existing system governance was cited as the most urgent need facing the nation, to justify additional taxes and other expenses. Nowadays also, this remains as a priority area for all governments. It seems, either we have not been able to improve our system of governance or we failed in identifying the right cause for ‘democracies not being able to deliver the goods’.
I have been thinking about this, and I find that over the years we have come to accept democracy as the ideal form of governance. But we seem to have forgotten the very rationale for democracy, that is, its role as an excuse for ‘parties’. We are therefore not able to see the damage being done by parties or party politics, in destroying the fundamental character of democracy. The basic character of democracy, one that makes it, true self governance, is nothing but the free participation by all. By unceremoniously negating the primary condition which would have ensured rational decision making at all levels, that all who participate will do so according to their free will, the party system has converted democracy to a maker of ‘qualified’ decisions. Not only that, it has reduced the function of parties to one of always opposing the other side, a rather meaningless task. As a result of this, in cases where such decisions do not produce the desired effect or lead to a failure, rather than re-examining the decisions, the ruling party always takes the easier path, blame the ‘opposition’.
I think many in our society will be agreeing with me, we are however continuing with this ‘party system’, as it offers a convenience. The advantage of party politics is that no failure gets attributed to a single party who can gloat in case of success, another party can shoulder all failures with impunity while sharing the glory of success.
I think there is writing on the wall. If we do not liberate democracy from party system, democracy stands to give way to something else.