Visions of Democracy
In my mind, democracy has always been a loaded word – a double-edged sword, if you will. Growing up in a country that has tooted the horns of democracy for as long as I can remember, the idea of it, in its current forms, always seemed somewhat hollow. Even as a child I wondered just who this democracy served. Particularly after 9/11, all I was able see of it was the many whom it had failed. Though “democracy” comes from the Greek word “demos,” meaning “people,” I wonder if it is quite the right word to use for a mechanism that seems not to serve them. In my own view – and perhaps this is because the word itself has become so tainted by the lips of politicians that claim it is noble while simultaneously using it as both a weapon and a shield to serve their own purposes – a positive future is not one that I see democracy involved in.
What a truly ideal society would look like to me is one I’m sure many, if not most of us, share. In short, it is one where the needs of everyone, not just a few elite, are genuinely considered and met. It is a system of equity. Though some might say this is too idealistic, I know it is a future we as human beings are far more than capable of achieving. Whether this new future is to be achieved through democracy, or whether the term itself and all its components must be remade is an area where we may disagree. I personally do not see a system that has so long been used to oppress ever becoming the salvation of its oppressed.
So to answer the questions of whether democracy and liberation are synonymous, or whether democracy leads to liberation for all, my answer is a sound no. Despite the meaning of the word, this democratic system is one that, from the very start, was never designed with the interests of the many in mind. Thus, it will never be a system that can offer the liberation its inhabitants are in such desperate need of. As it is a system that has not only been inadequate, but scarring to many, it is one that must be changed in its entirety.
Perhaps the simplest thing we can do from where we sit is to cultivate a mindset different to the individualist, capitalist one that is so common in our society. Perhaps if we think of ways to benefit each other, we will ourselves benefit in the process.