3.b.13 – How to recognize the true democracy?

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March 29, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

How to recognize the true democracy?

 The first thing to consider, as we have already noted, is whether the population actually holds the ultimate authority (the sovereignty); this means two things:
– no authority can impose its will to population
– the people authority should be allowed to impose to any other one.
The citizens therefore must have the tools easy to use for collectively refusing any law or government which is not welcomed; at the same time they must also be able to easily express and enforce their will.
In democracy is therefore required not only an individual freedom of expression, but also a collective freedom, such as may be the referendum or the liberal elections, but this freedom, to be effective, must not have major obstacles in practice. The popular will, once expressed, should enjoy such an authority that no other political entity could escape to it, it should in fact take precedence over any other provision or command.
If we consider the case of an absolute monarchy, the highest authority is the King, he can impose his will on anyone in his kingdom and nobody can give him orders; people can make requests, not directly but through the intermediaries, perhaps some aristocratic protectors; a wise king can meet the demands of his people, but in principle is not required to meet them. The only way to guard against a despotic and evil king is the violent insurgency, but it is a desperate choice as the King always has an organized, trained and well armed army while people live always in complete disorganization, having lost since the times of slavery their social structure and organization. The King rightly fears a coup d’etat from rebel aristocrats rather than a spontaneous uprising of the People.
Let’s imagine now a powerful King, a ruler who has obtained from some divinities some magic powers so strong that he does not fear any insurrection or coup, he may remove any whim and no crime is prohibited, however, in exchange for such power a strange ritual was imposed: every two years, the people will freely vote whether to keep the King on its throne or depose him, waiting for the deities to choose another one. This powerful King would even be a real monarch? If the citizenship can legally exile him, it is clear that the highest authority is now people and not the king, so not to risk losing his royal seat he must do his best not to become an enemy of all the inhabitants of his kingdom, trying to pander to each of their requests.
The power of this King would not be absolute, but really limited, common people could still suffer heavy impositions in theory, but only for a maximum period of two years after which, chasing the King, they would be released by it; so even with some difficulty, the class which was dominated would be able to make the other classes respect it, being able to exercise an effective authority superior to all others: what we described, can never be called monarchy, but it would be a real democracy, as strange and unrealistic it could be, and the King should be called President, Governor or something similar.
Let us note that the King is not chosen by the people, but he is only deposed by them if his behavior is unacceptable, his successor is in fact selected, with an unknown criterion, by the gods. The right to depose the highest authority of government is therefore sufficient to ensure genuine democracy? Remaining in the system that we imagined, it can be seen how little is needed to make it unusable: if the gods always choose the new King and only among the nobility, here’s the aristocracy to become a new political class unmovable by the government, there would be no actual political replacement and the popular opinion would be lost. The same would happen if the gods always choose a doctor or a taxi driver because a new ruling class would immediately form; the criterion of choice is therefore very important and cannot privilege a minority without jeopardizing democracy; particularly if there are elections with lists of candidates selected by any entity other than the people, freedom of choice in voting is compromised, in fact people are obliged to vote someone who was chosen by someone else and it’s easy to imagine to whom the commitment and reverence of the elected will address.
In reality, then, the freedom to vote is conditioned in other ways: with the violence, by propaganda, by deception, with appropriate campaigns of misinformation is easy to prevent citizens from voting in order to protect their interests; the freedom to vote is therfore closely linked to freedom of the press and spreading of information, without them, ordinary people can’t give an independent opinion and less than ever can express it in a collective manner.

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