Everything about nothing

Modern democracy

Since we mentioned (or rather it annoyed me) monarchies, let’s think a little bit about the future of democracy and where we’re heading with it in the future. There’s no doubt that the times have changed. With Brexit around the corner, Trump possibly elected for the 2nd term a lot of people questions the democracy and whether it works.

Let’s start at the beginning – we chose democracy as the fairest system where everyone (or mostly everyone) has the right to vote for their own country’s future. For the moment let’s leave aside the discussion about international democracies like EU or environmental problems. I’ll come back to them in the future. We decided that giving everyone a voice through the voting system will make everyone responsible for the future of the country. However, here are a few issues about it.

I remember watching a standup comedy where the comedian described the democracy more or less like that “You see a dude in McDonald’s being asked ‘Would you like the large combo?’ and he says ‘Large… Large, as long as I can carry it with my 2 hands then that’s fine’. And this guy can vote for all of us too”. Although it is a satire it is a little bit true. Whether you’re educated or not, white or black, rich or poor, you all vote for everyone, not for yourself only.

For the last a good few years the smartest brains in the world think why we have Brexit or Trump, how did it happen? There is a lot of theories but the most common one is that we just forgot about that “large combo” class. We assumed that we are all the same, shiny happy people. But we’re not, some people are struggling and the inequality rises every day. In a great book “21 lessons for 21st century” Yuval Noah Harari argues that for centuries we always had a choice of the system. We had Nazis, Communists, Royals… but now we’re left with capitalism and democracy only. So those people who were left out of capitalism paradise voted not pro-Trump or pro-Brexit but pro chaos, pro-change because they’ve already seen all those politicians and for them, nothing has changed so far. They just wanted to see something new in a hope of change.

But here comes the worst, for those people still nothing has changed. If, like in Poland, they got extra benefits, they got completely wiped out by price increases because socialism doesn’t work with capitalism and the rules of the economy are purely mathematical not emotional. In Britain, the poorest will surely find out what Brexit really means shortly and it’s not a bright future, oh no. I am not even going to go into discussing the Trump option. The key is that those people are so desperate that, like in Chile, they’re eager to go out on the streets and burn everything even if it doesn’t make sense in protest of status quo. In Chile, they protested public transport price increase so they burned trains and busses. Illogical? Sure, but it’s an act of desperation, what else can we do to get out of poverty and just living by.

So here comes an empty space, the space for someone smart to invent something better than Democracy. Because Democracy has one big flaw – you are voting for people, not for ideas. If I tell you “I will build 10,000 social houses next year” you will love me if you need one and probably will vote for me. Do I have to build those houses? No, I do not, in fact, I don’t have to do anything for the next 3 years because the elections are in 4 years so I just need to put a lot of effort on the year of elections.

Maybe technology will come into space. In most countries, we already do have unique electronic identifiers that allow us to do stuff in public offices online. What if we were able to vote online not only for politicians but for game-changing laws too. This way if the social government is voted in they will be held accountable for implementing their own propositions as the laws will most likely be voted in by the majority of the population – the majority that voted for them. There’s no wiggle room now, like Noah you are now the leaders of the crowd that you took with you for the adventure. It’s easy to convince 60 other parliament members to avoid change but if you promised something, now you have to convince 600,000 people to vote for that and if it’s not what they like, well you’re out.

Either way, I believe we have some big change coming up. I do hope it will be a peaceful change and I do appreciate that there are countries and societies in each country that are really left out and feel abandoned. We, humans, are born with the will and need of being powerful so I don’t think we’ll ever achieve full equality but for now, while we’re relatively peaceful world, how about that 2 % of GDP that a lot of countries spend on arms and army, we spend on education and citizen’s happiness.

Extra: We were actually in Chile on the day one of the protests and this short video shows the protest from the scared tourist’s perspective.

Santiago October 2019

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