“What is true, just, and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy, and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty.”
“But moving on from the ideals to what is actually obtaining in reality, the more concrete question at this point is: Is there really an existing society where the system of governance is truly democratic? Could it be more reasonable and realistic to think on the basis of what is actually happening and hence observed, that there is always a cabal of elite leaders who take up in theirs hands the role of governing people in their respective social locations? Aren’t democratic ideals just as they are, i.e., ideals? In this sense, could we reasonably say that most probably, democracy is just a figment of our imaginations?”
— Ruel F. Pepa, “Is Democracy Obsolete?”
Is there a worthwhile sense in discussing the issue of the perversion of democracy? In the first place, what is true democracy? Only when we have captured in clear and definitive terms the essence of democracy can we truly get to an understanding of how it is perverted. Another crucial question related to this matter is: Is it really possible to maintain the immaculate perfection–if there actually is such a thing–of the democratic principles or such is only a figment of someone’s imagination because in reality, democracy is always bound to be perverted? Does history present us with a solid and realistic instance in the collective life of a particular nation where honest-to-goodness democracy has thrived and evolved toward a certain level of near-perfection where supreme political power authentically resides with the people?
Etymologically, we understand democracy as ‘the rule or the government of the people.’ Ideally, we can imagine a situation where the people of a particular geographical territory have a united political power to be in control of their socio-cultural and economic states of affairs. They live in a society where the voice of the majority is heard and the general will of the people is what dominates the political arena. Their leaders as true public servants are genuinely serving the general interest of the people. The dynamics of their leadership are shown in how they sit down and put their heads together with their constituents as they listen to the latter’s concerns, both long-term and imminent. They do not take the cudgel of decision-making from the people as it is a fundamental presupposition that only the latter are the legitimate performers of such act, both simple and complex, while the leaders simply take the role of facilitators. Moreover, leaders are not only representatives of the people but more significantly their delegates. In this sense, it is the people who are the true wielders of power and their leaders are only the facilitators, consolidators and integrators of the people’s concerns, plans and programs. These leaders are also the spokespersons of the people who have delegated them to echo in a broader context what the people want to accomplish and achieve. Lest we get lost in the embellishment of these ideal descriptions, a return to reality is now imperative for what we have just said is not what we find in so-called democratic nations.
The concept of democracy has gone through the process of equivocation. The powers that be in one nation call their government a democracy while those in another have the same name for the kind of government they have despite its diametrical differences from the mechanics and dynamics of the former. A survey of governments of different countries in the contemporary scene yields us all sorts of democracy in varied colors, shades and hues. At the end of the day, we get to a realization that everything has gone confused and confusing as well. Worse yet, we have witnessed how on the one hand is ‘democracy’ globally bannered by one of the most powerful nations in the world in terms of military firepower being traditionally acknowledged as the vanguard of ‘genuine’ democracy in the modern dispensation while on the other hand is at the same time heavily supporting in terms of finances and armaments fascist and neo-nazi governments in other parts of the world like Ukraine, Israel and Saudi Arabia among others. In this connection, we say that it is not really democracy but the concept of democracy which has evolved. Or perhaps ‘evolve’ is not the most appropriate term but rather ‘devolve’. In other words, ideal democracy has in reality passed through the path of perversion. Democracy, in the context of so many nations who call themselves democratic, has been perverted.
But ideal is ideal and ideal democracy might not even be practicable in real-life politics. If such is the case, there couldn’t have been a perversion of democracy along the way. Democracy could even in itself be a perverted concept. One thing that makes it impracticable is the idea of the majority of the people ruling a country which in literal terms is inconceivable. Take the case of a country with a population of more than a million. How do you imagine such a country being democratically ruled on the basis of our definition of democracy? It is just impossible. So a modification in the concept has been generated and was later given the name, ‘representative democracy’. And there is nothing neat in this newly evolved (or devolved) concept which has further perverted the originally perverted concept of democracy. This is precisely what we mean by devolution which as suggested earlier is more proper than evolution in the case of democracy. Besides, who in the first place were the people who ‘invented’ the notion of ‘representative democracy’ but the very people themselves infused with the ambition of being the powerful representatives of their constituents. And now democracy has absolutely gone down the drain because these so-called representatives of the people are in reality representatives of big-business interests owned by millionaire and multi-millionaire–even billionaire–tycoons whose most nefarious operations are generally geared to impoverish the population by way of large-scale exploitative means. Rightly so because these big businessmen were the ones who poured millions and millions of dollars/euros/pesos to finance the bid of these misnomered ‘representatives of the people’ in a traditionally ‘democratic’ process called elections.
Having all these considerations in mind, do we still think that democracy could have gone the way of its ideal trajectory? Democracy being practicably impossible has no other trail but to go awry. Being itself a perverted concept of government makes it a potent tool for malevolent power-grabbers to get to their most desired sinister ambitions. Instead of facilitating government power to be possessed by the people, these megalomaniacs have contrived all forms and props that would make it appear as if the people are the real ones in power. In reality, what we see are only semblances of democracy in varied superficial formations that do not have the purported essence of its ideals. Democracy has therefore never been perverted. What we witness now in various forms of so-called democratic governments where none of the majority of the people in any society for that matter is the wielder of true power is the fact that democracy naturally defeats its ideals and hence is nothing but a failed system.
(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 18 May 2015