Monday, November 7, 2011

"What is Democracy?"

I watched the BBC series "How Facebook Changed the World" last night and this question started nagging at me again.

What is Democracy????

Here is what says about Democracy;


1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and
    exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.
5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with
    respect to their political power.
Number one is usually the most popular definition of what a democratic state is.
Recent outcries since march of this year starting from Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria highlight what I have always suspected that democracy is a myth. 

My definition of democracy is "the acquisition of political power and wealth by a few for the oppression of the masses." It is of course not so simplistic. The oppression of the masses is as a result of the greed of this small group and their desperation to hold onto power and wealth.

I thought we had it bad in Africa, at least our leaders do not pretend to be doing anything for the good of the citizenry, neither do they use religion as a shield. Their agenda is clear - loot and continue looting until you strip the State bear of everything!!

Now the Arab states, that is a whole new level of oppression, despotism and authoritarianism. Monarchies and dynasties, the God-given right to rule. Where is the people's voice, where is the power "vested" in the people and exercised "directly" by them?

The economic crises that reached its apex in 2008 and has continued to cause huge tremors around the globe is a clear example of what democracy is not. Every single nation around the world is affected by the shenanigans of their leaders who are supposed to be protecting their interests but have instead formed an "old boys club" via which they divide the spoils. This is what leadership has evolved into in the 21st century.

Unfortunately, governments around the world can no longer hide behind their largely deceptive propagandas of good governance nor can they hide their sins within their own borders. The internet has put paid to that. Any atrocity can be broadcast in real time around the globe instantaneously. And the power is in the hands of young people and they are using this power to register their contempt and dissatisfaction for oppressive governments.
The message is clear, no leader is safe any more behind his/her ivory tower of power, wealth and military might. Qaddafi is an example of a leader who refused to believe that his time was up, the people had spoken but he didn't want to listen to what they had to say. 

We are in a new dispensation. How we navigate this road remains to be seen but it is clear that the youth - indeed every citizen around the world - are no longer content to stand by and let events unfold as they will.

The time is now, we must take our own destiny into our own hands and demand accountability from our leaders. 

Our communal resources should be equitably distributed to the benefit of every citizen.

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