4.c.15 – What kind of democracy we can choose?

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June 9, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

What kind of democracy we can choose?

We examined two models of democracy: the direct democracy that is inspired by the system used in ancient Greece in Athens, where all citizens having the right to vote came together in a parliament with hundreds of members, where everyone was directly representing himself, and the indirect democracy of the parliament where hundreds of people still come together after being elected by a much larger population. Both systems are therefore based on the Athenian model in which slaves, women, artisans, merchants and anyone who wasn’t a land owner was also excluded from voting; people then, were not the all the inhabitants, but a minority slice of population of not exclusively noble origin. According to a modern point of view, it was therefore an extension of the ruling class, very courageous and innovative, but not a true democracy. Beyond this we have seen that the parliament was too large to function effectively, then we can say that the Greek model has never worked from a democratic point of view, although it should be recognized the merit of having tried and of having established the concept of democracy as a right and feasible principle. With regard to indirect democracy, it has tried to solve the problem of the excessive number of people with the election of representatives and the inclusion of the same in a parliament still of Athenian type, but the results are even more disappointing. This was again a very brave attempt and for this reason is admirable, but we must not hide its failure; trying to apply a very flawed system, created to manage a single city of many thousands of inhabitants to nations with many tens of thousands of people was a rash plan; it is true that originally the vote was restricted only to certain categories of citizens (male, white and with a certain degree of wealth) and this significantly reduced the problems, but at the same time excluded a true democracy .
With the introduction of universal suffrage in the second half of the twentieth century, we tried to do the last step towards true democracy by granting the right to vote to all adults, but in fact this has only revealed the weaknesses of the Parliamentary system, magnifying the problems related to the manipulation of common people and benefiting the unscrupulous politicians as never before. Paradoxically, with the introduction of universal suffrage, there was a wave of corruption that has made the system inefficient even from an administrative point of view. This system can not work with dozens or, even worse, with hundreds of millions of voters, a true democracy then has never existed into a large nation.
When the current parliamentary system was born, in the end of the eighteenth century, transport was based on horses and animal-drawn carts, as coaches or caravans in the far west, and lighting relied on candles and oil lamps . Today, these systems have been overtaken by time and replaced with new more efficient technologies: it would  seem absurd to anyone or at least odd to use them now, though undoubtedly such systems always worked. How come it seems normal to everyone to use a political system dating from the same era, but that never worked? This system is also greatly inspired  by the Greek model, much older and tied to a distant world: why then no one is looking for something new? Further to the scholastic education, this state can be attributed to human nature, as we said before, which perceives as religious everything concerning the ordering of society and its values. The current political system was thus accepted by the people in a scarcely critical manner, as a religious truth, and it is defended as such; this is why it has remained unchanged over the centuries and that is why the proposals for change are usually marked as heresies.
But we must also remember that even religions, albeit slowly, evolve; this happens much more quickly when the dissatisfaction of the population is high and therefore their mentality is ready to change. We know that the spread of corruption has led to serious administrative as well as democratic inefficiency; today the average dissatisfaction of citizen is therefore very high and there are good reasons to believe that the time is ripe and that the reformers are seen as saviors rather than as dangerous heretic subversives to be marginalized, then we can hope for a new cultural evolutionary leap.
The only model that is valid today is that of direct democracy, but it is ineffective even when applied to a group of a few tens of people. So if we want to introduce a democratic system in our world, we must create a new model, a model that meets the following characteristics:
– people should actually be the highest authority
– the government must be a form of self-government, then it must follow the will of the population
– speakers skillful but dishonest, should not have advantages over poor speakers, but with good ideas
– if necessary, real representatives must be elected
– there must be an effective control of representatives
– there must be a selection of the best ideas.
Having established clear objectives, we set the precise goals towards which heading on our journey in search of a steady progress; we can then decide the route to follow beginning at last to talk of possible solutions to root problems.






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