Peruse, ponder, connect, act.
Barring the unwritten British Constitution, the preamble to the Constitution of most democracies begin with the three famous words ‘We The People’! Why does the Preamble to the Constitution begin with we the people? Succinctly stated people lend their power to the Constitution in crystallising in the configuration of a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. As the Constitution does not distill assuredly the significance of the word People, I searched for its meaning in the dictionary and found the following:
human beings in general,
the body of the community as contrasted with the elite.
a group of persons who come from the same ancestor.
The Constitution framers while deliberating deeply, explicitly rejected the above last two interpretations for the more implicit and conclusive explanation of ‘human being in general’ and further underpinning the argument that all men are ‘born equal’, therefore indoctrinated equal voting rights after a prescribed age for validating the government of the people, for the people and by the people.
Are people really ‘born equal’? Yes and no, the issue is debatable!
God created all men and women to be equal, and it is a logical that under a deity all creation of the same type would have equal standing. Despite physical differences, all human populations are genetically similar.Populations from different parts of the world share even more genetic similarities than we assume.All humans are 99.9 percent identical and, of that tiny 0.1 percent difference, 94 per cent of the variation is among individuals from the same populations and only six per cent between individuals from different populations (Picked up the unverified statistics from the internet to ‘strengthen the yes’ argument! Readers are welcome to accept or differ!)
The flip side is categoric in believing that Humans are ‘not all equal’ , they differ on an individual level and even among groups on average. The inequalities in terms of intellectual, emotive and physical abilities cannot all be explained away by discrimination. Most people accept the idea of evolution in non-human animals, so the idea that humans living in vastly different conditions could have also developed differing traits is hardly a stretch. If you want to argue on a philosophical level that we are all equal because we are all flesh and blood and whatever other appeals to emotion, then the same can be said about everything. Evolution and Natural Selection would not work if every individual within a species was equal. It goes against science entirely to believe people are equal. There’s a reason why certain people are perceived as beautiful by a majority of people while others are not. This is because we are NOT equal.
To me the arguments that ‘not all human are equal’ are substantive and apparently valid and this is reflected in the voting patterns and the franchise results in most of democracies world over.
Dating back to 2400 years, Plato and the intellectual elites have often criticized the efficiency of democracy, based on the argument that voters are irrational or otherwise highly uninformed about many political issues. Some political theorists argue, for example, that fierce individualism in democratic societies, or the tragedy of the commons concept, prevents societies from making decisions that benefit them as a whole. Voters may not be adequately educated to understand the long-term implications of public policy decisions, and If it be true that all governments rest on opinion, it is no less true that the strength of opinion in each individual, and its practical influence on his conduct, depend much on the number which he supposes to have entertained the same opinion. The reason of man, like man himself, is timid and cautious when left alone, and acquires firmness and confidence in proportion to the number with which it is associated.
Plato compares the state to an elaborate and expensive ship. A ship, to accomplish a safe and successful journey, needs an expert navigator at the helm, a captain who knows the capacities of the vessel, geography, meteorology, water currents, navigational astronomy, supplies management, and other related matters. An ignorant and untrained person at the helm of a ship would endanger vessel, cargo, crew, and passengers alike. Similarly, Plato suggests, the ship of state needs expert governors at the helm, governors who are well informed about such things as law, economics, sociology, military strategy, history, and other relevant subjects. Ignorant and incompetent governors can be and have been disasters for citizens and states.
Democratic self-government does not work, according to Plato, because ordinary people have not learned how to run the ship of state. They are not familiar enough with such things as economics, military strategy, conditions in other countries, or the confusing intricacies of law and ethics. They are also not inclined to acquire such knowledge. The effort and self-discipline required for serious study is not something most people enjoy. In their ignorance they tend to vote for politicians who beguile them with appearances and nebulous talk, false promises, and they inevitably find themselves at the mercy of administrations and conditions over which they have no control because they do not understand what is happening around them.
Sounds familiar to me and we are left at their mercy until the next elections which may prove equally disastrous!
Plato’s guru Socrates was of the opinion that the problem with democracy is that it relies on ordinary people to run the government, people who may not be familiar with the necessary subjects essential to running the state. The masses will vote for politicians who entice them with rhetoric, vague speeches and false promises only to find themselves at the mercy of incompetent administrations. People will be guided by emotions rather than rational analysis and thought. Socrates demonstrates these types of politics:
“Imagine then a ship or a fleet in which there is a captain who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but who is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and whose knowledge of navigation is not much better. The sailors are quarreling with one another about the steering–every one is of the opinion that he has a right to steer, though he has never learned the art of navigation.”
The captain represents the people or demos, while the sailors represent the politicians trying to control the direction of the state.
Again, a topically familiar situation that we have experienced in the past and are facing today! The more knowledgeable amongst us who hold democratic values very seriously do understand the predicament and are prepared to exercise their chosen right properly and judiciously. however, past history does reveal that the ‘people’ who constitute the majority do choose their leader and politicians in the manner as enunciated by Plato and Socrates, thus rendering affliction not only to themselves but to also to the State and its integrity. This phenomenon and practise has an universal coverage and acceptance, unfortunately!
Do we search for an alternative or do we go along with Winston Churchill who said in 1947, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”!
I have made my choice; for your consideration if any!