Infatuation with Democracy

The situation in HongKong is worsening lately. Coincidentally, it started when the relations between USA and China turned sour due to trade disagreements. The protests not only tarnished the image of HongKong but also resulted in destruction, arson and casualties. The law and order was on its knees.  Even though the bill was withdrawn later, the protests only turned stronger. Perhaps, it had little to do with the extradition treaty.

Criticism and protest against the government is hailed as a hallmark of democracy. The type of governance that is being whitewashed for a century. This blue pill can be touted as one of the most successful advertisement campaign of all times. The idea of democracy paints a white picture of transparency, efficiency, people in control, freedom of speech and expression. The tragic reality is far different.

In India, the largest democracy in the world. The top 10% controls 74% of the total wealth. Moreover, the top 10 billionaires in the country hold more wealth than 700 million belonging to the bottom tier. These people at the bottom of the wealth pyramid do not have means to sustain and are lured to vote for short term benefits (liquor, TV, cash handouts, etc.). Billions are spent on elections that are hundreds in number due to a complex governance model. This money is invested by large corporations and they make a windfall once their candidate comes to power.

The disparity only grows and the system fails. USA is no different. Billions are spent by big corporations and the elected candidates are at times nothing more than caricatures. Desperate people come out on streets once a while and vent their anger torching buses, buildings and destroying government properties. Sooner or later they end up in jails with their families left in ruins.

A few powerful countries also use democracy as a ruse to further their imperialistic vision. This leads to invasion, decimation, mindless killings, civil war, displacement, refugee crisis and persecution. Most of the times in the same order.

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I personally have nothing against democracy but isn’t a panacea either. There are lot of factors that influence governance. There is no model that fits all. Democracy can hamper development especially for poor countries.

China lifted 730 million people out of poverty reducing the current poverty rate to mere 3.1%. This, with democracy would had been a pipe dream.

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Take for example Dubai, it was transformed from a desert to a futuristic city in 20 years under a monarchy.

The main inherent problem with governance is that there is no right or wrong. It is always a balancing act. If you build roads, you will have to cut trees. If you promote manufacturing, there will be pollution. Every progress can have a regress.

Mindless protests are non productive, divisive, destructive, risky and sometimes without an objective! Take the example of relentless protests after George Floyd was brutally murdered by a white cop.
The cop was charged in a matter of days with second degree murder. This however, did not deter or quell the protests. They only became more violent. Now, in just a month, things are back to normal and he is more or less forgotten. Another ghastly incident will happen and the process will repeat without any solution in sight.

Socrates mentioned about the perils of democracy through an interesting example 2000 years ago. He lived in a time when Rome had a democratic government under the Roman Republic that was marred with rampant corruption. Socrates said that if the people are to choose between a doctor and a sweet shop owner, nobody in their right mind will choose a doctor as he shall give bitter pills and not candies like a sweet shop owner. Good governance generally require tough decisions to be taken which may not have any short term returns.

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