“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” – Churchill
Democracy is a political system that aims at providing a government in which supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation, usually involving periodically held free elections. Democracy was a good idea, however it is a good idea which is failing. To say that all democracies are failures would be naïve, more specifically what I mean to say is democracy has failed for the west as a global model and as an individual model in western nations. Let us examine what ground I have to classify democracy as a failed model, let us examine why democracy has failed, let us examine the alternatives.
The 20th century and the early 21st century was a period of time where the west aimed to emplace democracy on previously authoritarian nations. This can be seen in the example of Cambodia, the UN US-dominated intervention in 1992 – 1993 was done according to the UN to “produce a just and durable settlement to the Cambodian conflict in 18 months with free elections”. The UN and the West naively attempted to solve the complex internal issues of Cambodia through what have been called ‘rigged elections’. A week after the enforced UN elections, 7 provinces seceded from Cambodia, highlighting how the emplacement of democracy destroyed what was Cambodia. The west assumed that by giving people democracy they would reunite Cambodia, they were wrong. A political system cannot be emplaced on a nation, in order for it to be successful the system must evolve from the bottom up in that nation. Take China, a socialist system that was built from the ground up in the last century, and according to various independent surveys its political system has a 92% satisfaction rate across Chinese citizens – a phenomenal result.
That’s simply one example of democracy failing, the example of India is another. India as a nation has huge potential yet it’s burdened by democracy – the red tape of India’s political system prevents it from moving forward economically and politically as fast as it could. The democratic system is a “fake” democracy as corruption is rife, bribes determine every action and so consequently India is stagnating. This issue is not easily fixed as those in high positions profit from it and thus have no incentive nor desire to reform the system.
Dissatisfaction is rife within the west, the historic stronghold of democracy. The USA’s democratic virtues were initially showing promise, a relatively new nation moving forward at exponential rates. Originally the Republicans and Democrats had dialogue and would work together to solve issues. Now as happens with democracy there is a divide within the parties and the system has become a vote dominated shambles. Each year a party promises more and more just to get votes, they promise things that will win votes, not what’s right for the country. This is mirrored in the UK – however the situation there is worse. All dialogue has ceased and the system has failed, it’s a system that has lost all sight of what is good and what is right, a system that repels me. In times of economic deprivation when the traditional moderate parties fail to fix an economy we see the rise of the far right and left. The rise of UKIP in the UK, the ever growing presence of German nationalism, and the rise of the right in Poland illustrates this. The rise of extremist parties who aim to create a more authoritarian system and thus erode democracy proves my point that there is a growing universal dissatisfaction with democracy.
There is more than one way to govern a nation, democracy is one way and not necessarily the best way. The alternatives that exist are shunned by many, but why? They are shunned because the media of most democratic nations makes such systems out to be un-humanitarian and violent. The alternatives to democracy are simply more authoritarian systems, and as long as such systems have mechanisms in place to ensure that the best possible leader is the one who reaches the top, then I see no reason why these systems would not be more effective. Authoritarian systems are present and do work on this planet. When there is less bureaucracy decisions that move the country forward faster can be made instantly. I shan’t play the socialism card however I would like to. In my eyes Marxism never failed, it was simply never implemented right.
The example Singapore offers to the world shows that democracy does work and can allow a country to develop very quickly. Lee Kuan Yew built an incredibly efficient form of government in Singapore, however Singapore is a relatively new nation. As with most other nations as it ages and develops will democracy cease to function? I hope not. However I predict as Singapore’s growth slows and shows little sign of increasing, dissatisfaction will increase. I have pursued a rather anti-democracy line in this article, this is because I’m aiming to make people aware that democracy is not a universal system. In order for a system to work it must evolve from the nation, it cannot be emplaced. I hope to see countries changing their forms of government in the realisation that what they have does not work for the country and its people. Such a view is however unrealistic, revolutions and possibly civil war would be needed to abolish a democratic system.
One of Mao Zedong’s principles for running China was ‘Continuous Revolution’. He believed in order for a country to move forward and to keep people satisfied with the government continuous changes to the structure of government were needed. This is a principle I think nations should consider if they are dissatisfied with their government, for ultimately the citizens of a nation are the only ones with the power to change the way there nation is run.