Rallying to the call of pre-democracy

Seems like elections is constantly losing ground as the most efficient way to reflect nations’ choice of their executive or legislative bodies. In Kuwait, for instance, we have so many kinds of election “diseases”, beginning with vote-buying and by-elections, and probably unending with the prevalent tribal and sectarian language all throughout election campaigns. But this isn’t the case only in Kuwait. Afghani presidential candidates have been in conflict about the real winner of the August election, even though the official results show approximately a 30 percent gap between the leading two candidates, Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdallah.

The images of Iranian youngsters protesting in the streets of Tehran against the re-election of Ahmadinijad are still fresh in our memories. There, too, the official results showed 11 million-vote gap between Ahmadinijad and Mousavi. Ukraine and Georgia also faced off post election riots that brought the world the term Orange Revolution when the runner up claimed sweeping victory.
Such election contests provoke a geyser of speculations. They also raise a number of questions about maturing of democracy and its evolution especially in the newly established democracies.

Since democracy, the term is defined to mean: The ‘ruling of people.’ It also means allowing people to make decisions about their own future. Then a well-informed, enlightened and responsible society becomes pivotal for the well functioning of any democracy. Give a child the freedom to do whatever suits him, without providing a wise guidance for him and you will probably end up with a disaster. Democracy is a very powerful tool, and societies need to be prepared to use it properly. It is just like people take driving lessons before being allowed to drive a car.

Democracy doesn’t seem to be the best environment to raise awareness of people in order for them to practice democracy responsibly. This could sound a little paradoxical, but just think about it, wherever a good democracy is found in the world, it is almost always ‘gained’ by the people. Societies grow up to democracy, they don’t just shake a magic wand and find it in front of them, nor do they get it as a gift from their rulers.

Even if we are to agree that democracy is the “least of evils” among all other ruling models, we, as humans, will still have to admit that we didn’t pay much attention to the transition phase that every nation must pass. That would be the period of time between being ruled by an authoritarian regime, where the behavior of the public is limited with an outside force, and between becoming a responsible, democratic society, where every individual is behaving according to his own sense of responsibility, and to his own limits.

Take Iraq and Afghanistan for instance. In both examples democratic methodology is imposed upon a nation that is not ready for it, the least we can say about the outcome – in both cases – is that it’s far from working efficiently.

The media’s role

The media is a key component of democracy and is justifiably called the Fourth Estate. Why? Well, in a nutshell, the media creates the avenue where all well-informed knowledge can be deliberated, argued and contradicted. Allowing a complete freedom of expression in a society that is not ‘ready’ to handle it responsibly will cause sectarian division. In the meantime, allowing states to manipulate national media will not guarantee transparency, therefore, knowledge, freedom of expression, and democratic advancement must go hand in hand under the ruling of a purposeful, wise and honest ruling body, because allowing any of these components to be more advance than others will cause a counter effect.

Even if the elections are conducted transparently, the outcome of elections in an unaware society will reflect the choices of misinformed or uneducated citizens. The legislative or executive body formed by such elections will have negative effects on the population itself, which will reflect back into authority. This circle will defect the growth of democracy in that country, and eventually, it will be more difficult for that society to democratize than it was in the beginning, because the perception of democracy will then be ruined.

As much as we have evolved as people, as much as we understand the necessity for democracy, we did not figure out a stage, a ruling model, or a form of authority to prepare societies for democracy, which is, in my point of view, more important than putting military tactics to invade nations in order to “spread” democracy.

But again, we find ourselves facing a dilemma, because even if there will be a wise ruling body that will take responsibility of “teaching” democracy to the ignorant society, what guaranties do we have that this ruling body will not use this power for his own favor? I guess if he is good enough to be trusted to ‘lead’ the nation, then he should know that suppressing his own nation makes it easier for other nations to suppress both – him and his nation.

© Kuwait TImes

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