I was thinking about the process of selection of Secretary General of UN, and why America, Russia, China, France and UK hold the power to veto any selection? I was thinking about the process through which the Pope, who holds the post important position in the Christian world, gets elected? I was also thinking about the process of selecting judges for top positions in judiciary? Also about the process followed to select a Head of Department or CEO in the corporate world? About the selection of leading positions in executive bodies, or Military around the world … etc
One thing was disturbingly common in all! … The individuals which are expected to hold key positions, liable to make decisions effecting a group of people ranging from a few hundred to many millions, are not elected by a process of voting. Instead of electing the figure most popular, democratically, the most qualified and talented individual, having relevant and required experience, with proven track record of performance and character is considered most suitable for the position purely on merit basis. Same is the case with process of making critical decisions, they are made by heavy weights in any department, organizational or state, not by the masses voting to select from a set of decisions.
Now the million dollar question … If selection of key positions in every state department or in organization of international importance like UN or IMF, doesn’t imply a democratic process then why the top hotshot of a country is selected through it?
For the sake of argument let’s take the democratic process for granted, and look it from another angle: As per a rough estimate, at max 50% of the population qualify as voters, among them 50 to 60% show up at the polling station for voting. Assuming, if there are three candidates, among them the winner gets 40% votes, the 1st runner-up gets 35% and the 2nd runner-up gets 25%. This makes around 50% x 60% x 40% = 12% (0.5 x 0.6 x 0.4 = 0.12 x 100 = 12%) of the population decides for the rest of 88% population. This 12% might either be too innocent to be influenced by the demagogy or threatened by the candidate, if not then this 12% might be from the illiterate or least literate population, if not then they might have received some special favors from the winner but remaining 88% might think otherwise, or the candidate might be rich enough to have huge marketing budgets or might have sponsors from top business tycoons, why not? What if the majority is illiterate, or too poor to be manipulated, or too diverse to be satisfied by a handful of options?
Furthermore I am not sure whether it’s logical to allow each person to have one vote, or assign equal weight to the vote of each individual, despite the fact that some are illiterate and some are highly educated, some are stupid despite being educated and others are wiser than average despite being less educated. We judge people on the basis of their track record; their performance and their character, hence value their advice and viewpoint accordingly. Before taking important decisions we all listen to our mentors, advisors, look at our role models (alive) for inspiration or direction, why? Before deciding for a heart surgery would you like to listen to suggestions from 100 laymen who unanimously suggests something which might contradicts with the recommendation of the top notch Pediatric Heart Surgeon? You decide.
The word Democracy is derived from the Greek “dēmokratia“, “popular government”, which was coined from “demos, “people” and “kratos”, “rule, strength” in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC. Aristotle and Socrates were against the concept of democracy. Plato also agreed with me when in The Republic he presented a critical view of democracy through the narration of Socrates: “Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike.” In his work, Plato lists 5 forms of government from best to worst. Assuming that the Republic was intended to be a serious critique of the political thought in Athens, Plato argues that only Kallipolis, an aristocracy lead by the unwilling philosopher-kings (the wisest men) is a just form of government. The other forms of government place too much focus on lesser virtues, and degenerate into each other from best to worst, starting with Timocracy, which overvalues honor. Then comes Oligarchy, overvaluing wealth, which is followed by Democracy. In Democracy, the oligarchs, or merchant, are unable to wield their power effectively and the people take over, electing someone who plays on their wishes, by throwing lavish festivals etc. However, the government grants the people too much freedom, and the state degenerates into the fourth form, Tyranny/Mob Rile.(Check Democracy at Wikipedia)
I thought that there might be any correlation between economic growth and Democracy which Plato and his mentors might have missed, but the statistical data proved me wrong, bluntly! Just look at what happened to Pakistan after the restoration of so called Democracy as compare to Peoples Republic of China whose economy is expected to grow at around 7% in 2009 where as the world cumulative economic growth is less than 1% in the same year. On the other hand economy of USA, worlds strongest advocate of democracy, declined at around -5% in first quarter of 2009. In India, worlds largest so called democractic country, economic growth is around 6.5% and Europe is expected to grow at 0.2% in the same period. Alan Greenspan (Former FED chairman, in his book “The Age of Turbulance”) rather states that economic growth is greatly related with enforcement of individual property rights. David Landes (A Harward University Economic historian), in his book “Wealth and Poverty of Nations” confirms the view of Alan Greenspan by giving it another dimension; he states that a culture condusive for individuals to take private initiative encourages economic growth, and typical Feudals do just the opposite. If we look around we will find countries where Individuals property rights or (and) individual initiative has nothing to do with a country being democratic or not. Look at some communist countries like Cuba and China for instance. In Cuba, literacy rate is 99.8%, population is below poverty line is no more than 1%, unemployment rate is less than 2%, per capita GDP is $9,500 which is 10 times greater than that of Democratic Pakistan. China after 50s started to encourage individuals initiative and enforced individuals property rights, and today we can see where it is standing. Please don’t assume that I am advocating communism here. (All the stated numbers are easily available on internet, mostly fromWikipedia).
Something is fishy, despite more convenient, effective, efficient and widely practiced alternates available, such as the process of election of Pope, and others which I highlighted, why we still prefer a process at the collective level for the selection of most important position of the country; a process which we will avoid while making important decisions about ourselves or family, instead? For the same purpose why not prefer the process used in the selection of other critical positions in the country like in Military or Judiciary, selection of pope (which is somewhat similar to the process of selection of Ameer in Islamic system of governance) or United Nations Secretary-General?
I don’t know, but I feel that the contemporary idea behind democracy is to make people believe that what is happening is happening according to the will of the masses, i.e. it’s an excuse, a facade, created by so called democratic leaders (feudal) to hide their sinister agendas. This might be an interesting conspiracy theory; a hypothesis because the democracy has been made a sacred cow for no good reason, in my view point. But I am all ears, if some body can give me some logical arguments against my views.
And by the way “La” means “The” in French and “No” or “Denial of …” in Arabic, so you decide what the title of this article be.
Written by, Omar Javaid, Sr. Editor, Critic Magazine. Email: [email protected]