Democracy: Hated in America?
Get into an argument with a right wing nut job, and it’s likely at some point he will mention how he hates democracy. It’s true! I honestly don’t remember how many times a conservative has told me in no uncertain terms that they hate democracy. In fact, I’m about willing to bet that he will say some inane cliche such as “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep, deciding on what to have for dinner.” or something like that. Why do they actually hate democracy, and what is their alternative form of government?
One common conservative habit is to wax poetic about the illustrious history of our great republic. You see, a republic means that umm, we’re the best, because no one else in the world has a republican form of government or something. In fact, special treat for your comedic enjoyment, I will now post actual conservative comments on what it means to be a republic. Here goes:
From media cesspool of stupid PJmedia:
“Yet America is a republic, not a democracy. Our Founding Fathers instituted a form of government guided by the rule of law rather than the desires of a majority of voters. They understood that a democracy is always in flux and given to “mob rule,” while a republic is fixed and stable, resting on “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” Because of the uncertainty of democracy, Benjamin Rush — a signer of the Declaration of Independence — wrote: “A simple democracy is one of the greatest of evils.'”
Or let’s try this one:
“Democracy is like two wolves and a sheep voting on what is for dinner.”
That last one heard just about fucking everywhere. What does that mean though, and what the hell is a republic anyway, and why would it be superior to a democracy?
Let’s first go to a dictionary (something I suspect many conservatives of never having done). Here is the dictionary definition for republic (Merriam-Webster):
re·pub·lic noun \ri-ˈpə-blik\
a (1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
So it’s essentially a form of government that doesn’t have a monarch. It might help to know the etymology (that means history of a word for you conservatives) of the word, from the online etymology dictionary:
c.1600, “state in which supreme power rests in the people,” from Fr. république, from L. respublica (abl. republica), lit. res publica “public interest, the state,” from res “affair, matter, thing” + publica, fem. of publicus “public” (see public).
So it means a state in which the power lies in the people (as opposed to a monarch of some sort). It means a government concerned with the affairs of the people. Let’s go over what it is not.
It is not a government that never changes. It is not a government that never improves. It is not a government that never progresses. It is not necessarily a government that allows unrestricted weapon possession, imperialist war, homophobia, rule of religion or any of the other insane agendas of the radical right wing in the US. Before I tie this all together, let’s look at what the right thinks of as a detrimental, and anti-American form of government.
What is democracy? What does it mean? Why is the right so vehemently against it? Let’s start with the definition of democracy.
de·moc·ra·cy noun \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\
Definition of DEMOCRACY
a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the 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
: a political unit that has a democratic government
capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the United States <from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy — C. M. Roberts>
: the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
: the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges
Democracy is simply a government run of, by and for the people (Where have I heard that before?). From the Greek “demos” meaning people and “kratein” meaning to rule. Rule by the people. The right doesn’t want that. They don’t want a government run of by and for the people. They want to cast democracy as “mob rule”, giving the image of an angry irrational mob carrying pitchforks and torches. They know that’s not what democracy is, and they don’t care as long as they convince people that it’s bad. So without further ado, let’s tie this all together.
Republic, Democracy, Capitalism and Socialism
One point of this blog is to point out the ridiculous arrogance of the conservatives in the US. More importantly than that however, is the fascist lie they are propagating. The lie is the lie that has been spread in many countries is a historical revisionism that makes a fetish out of history. They like to elaborate upon the wishes of the founding fathers, and how those all knowing demigods made a perfect system that could not be improved upon. They claim that the “rule of law” meant the government as it was established in the late 18th century, and that we mere mortals are not to deign to question a government that god himself made out of liberty and democracy. They gloss over history, the reality of what it was, and they put up walls to halt the process of humanity.
Newsflash: It is 2012. It is not 1776. Let’s talk briefly about why that’s important. When this country was founded, something the right loves to pontificate about, the country had slaves. When this country was founded, only white, land owning males could vote. When this country was founded, it only had just over 3 million people, total. That’s less than exist in my metropolitan area today. Now we are one of the most populous countries on earth. In the late 18th century we didn’t have TV, phones, cars or the internet. In short, it was a very different place than the present US in the 21st century. Now the conservatives say we should go back to the foundation the founders set for us. They like to assert that we must govern ourselves according to the rules and philosophies of men who’d never heard of toothpaste, let alone envisioned this world and what it has become. We are bound to the 18th century to them, in our philosophy, our religion, our ideas. To them, that is freedom. To me, this is absurd.
The founders were the radical leftists of the day, declaring that they did not need a monarch, that a people could be self ruling. The self rule of a people by the way, is called a democracy. A republic is one in which there is no monarch. That is what they established. We should read, learn and understand their times, their ideas and their philosophies, because they did indeed affect the world in monumental ways. In fact, the ideas of the enlightenment would bring on the birth of socialism, and the idea of even greater freedom and democracy in societies. They ignore the radical revolutionary nature of the revolutions that rocked the world at that time, and instead focus on the outdated ideas of the era that we should have long ago discarded. The worst thing, is that they say that we who live in this time, are not intelligent, or discerning enough to create the country we want to live in. We must live under hundreds years old laws that do not fit our time, our people or the world. We as a people are expected to be powerless before the oligarchs who rule over us. One of our founders actually had some very pertinent words regarding this phenomenon, that we should be beholden to the rulers of the past. Thomas Paine state this in his seminal work “The Rights of Man”:
“The method which Mr. Burke takes to prove that the people of England have no such rights, and that such rights do not now exist in the nation, either in whole or in part, or anywhere at all, is of the same marvellous and monstrous kind with what he has already said; for his arguments are that the persons, or the generation of persons, in whom they did exist, are dead, and with them the right is dead also. To prove this, he quotes a declaration made by Parliament about a hundred years ago, to William and Mary, in these words: “The Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do, in the name of the people aforesaid” (meaning the people of England then living) “most humbly and faithfully submit themselves, their heirs and posterities, for EVER.” He quotes a clause of another Act of Parliament made in the same reign, the terms of which he says, “bind us” (meaning the people of their day), “our heirs and our posterity, to them, their heirs and posterity, to the end of time.”
Mr. Burke conceives his point sufficiently established by producing those clauses, which he enforces by saying that they exclude the right of the nation for ever. And not yet content with making such declarations, repeated over and over again, he farther says, “that if the people of England possessed such a right before the Revolution” (which he acknowledges to have been the case, not only in England, but throughout Europe, at an early period), “yet that the English Nation did, at the time of the Revolution, most solemnly renounce and abdicate it, for themselves, and for all their posterity, for ever.”
As Mr. Burke occasionally applies the poison drawn from his horrid principles, not only to the English nation, but to the French Revolution and the National Assembly, and charges that august, illuminated and illuminating body of men with the epithet of usurpers, I shall, sans ceremonie, place another system of principles in opposition to his.
The English Parliament of 1688 did a certain thing, which, for themselves and their constituents, they had a right to do, and which it appeared right should be done. But, in addition to this right, which they possessed by delegation, they set up another right by assumption, that of binding and controlling posterity to the end of time. The case, therefore, divides itself into two parts; the right which they possessed by delegation, and the right which they set up by assumption. The first is admitted; but with respect to the second, I reply —
There never did, there never will, and there never can, exist a Parliament, or any description of men, or any generation of men, in any country, possessed of the right or the power of binding and controlling posterity to the “end of time,” or of commanding for ever how the world shall be governed, or who shall govern it; and therefore all such clauses, acts or declarations by which the makers of them attempt to do what they have neither the right nor the power to do, nor the power to execute, are in themselves null and void. Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow. The Parliament or the people of 1688, or of any other period, had no more right to dispose of the people of the present day, or to bind or to control them in any shape whatever, than the parliament or the people of the present day have to dispose of, bind or control those who are to live a hundred or a thousand years hence. Every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organised, or how administered.”
Did you get that? I hope you did. If you didn’t, try reading it again. We the people, are the ones who decide. We the people are the ones who govern ourselves. We are not beholden to the ideas of the past, we are not beholden to the mores of the past, we are not beholden to the people of the past. We are beholden to each other, to rationality, and to scientific and reasoned progression. We are therefore entitled as the peoples of the world to design our own destiny, and yes, our own posterity. We leave to the future the building block we have laid down, hoping that instead of tearing down our progress, the future generations build upon it to greater heights. We are entitled to a democracy, because no other government is legitimate. The only way we can have real democracy is through economic equality, and that through socialism. Join the fight against the regressive forces of the right. You have the right to have a say in your government. You have the right to democracy and socialism. Don’t let anyone tell you different.