Although Democracies are considered to be just and praised for it’s inclusion of the common public, various ancient philosophers thought otherwise
Plato would ultimately have the last laugh under Donald Trump’s presidency, if he was (un)fortunate enough to live in the current world. As time passes, it’s becoming clearer that Trump knows nothing about policy and became the 45th US president just because of his distinct ability to indoctrinate Americans and attack the media without hurting himself in the eyes of his fans. Trump’s potential presidency years would be resonated in Plato’s argument against the idea of a Democracy thousands of years ago, which revolves around the fact that those who are only experts at winning elections and nothing else will eventually dominate democratic politics, leading to a democracy’s downfall due to the lack of ability to manage the territory and craft appropriate policies. This argument exactly represents the current US presidency; Donald Trump is a man who is only good at winning elections and from recent events, it is safe to conclude that he returns void regarding policies which could ultimately lead to America’s dissolution. With respect to Plato’s argument, it makes us question as global citizens the very credibility of any given democracy.
Plato amplified the thoughts and beliefs of the famous philosopher, Socrates, in his book ‘Republic’ which records the dialogue between Socrates and his friends. Socrates believed that voting is essentially a skill and needed to be taught systematically, he argues that allowing citizens to vote without the required education could lead to political catastrophes and abuse of power. Sadly, he had a first hand experience of his very argument, when he was put on trial for supposedly corrupting the youth of Athens and was declared guilty by a narrow majority vote. He was then executed just because of his amplification for his ideas and opinions. His execution went against an indispensable part of every human in a politically just system: the right to freedom of speech. It is essential that a fair political system protects it’s people’s right to free thinking and speech, such that they can effectively voice out their opinions when their leader or the political system is falling into the Tyranny Trap.
Leaving the violation of freedom of speech aside, it is important to note that Socrates didn’t imply that only a small number should be allowed to vote, rather, he believed that a Democracy should be strongly connected to wisdom. From his perspective, it was unfair that everybody had the ability to vote as a birthright. He believed that it takes deep and rational analysis to choose an appropriate leader, which is mostly improperly performed by the people before the selection process. Legal institutions assume that at the age of 18, a person is able to make rational decisions that makes him/her and the society better off. However, recent events provide plenty of proof that opposes this assumption. It has been mine and the general opinion that Trump’s fans failed to analyze the economic and foreign effects for backing Trump, and were single minded with their hunger for ‘difference’ and their craving to make ‘America First’. The number of people with such a mindset was intriguing. It was hard to digest that such a large number failed to think rationally, which makes us question: Do we deserve a Democracy?
The modern media with their bias viewpoints has incredibly enlarged the information gap for the common public. The people are informed with only a specific stance. Media is one of the pillars modern democracies are built upon, and the breakdown of such a pillar could mean the dysfunctioning of an entire Democracy. The high dependency on the media to make democratic decisions could be looked at as a downside. With the introduction of services like Facebook and Twitter which has led to the spike in the number of fake news, one doesn’t know what is true and what is false. Mainstream media has also been unstable on various accounts. Structuring our beliefs and opinions on such unstable and unaccountable organizations could translate to unsatisfactory political decisions. Again, according to Socrates, one needs to think deeply and rationally to choose a leader and when we don’t have enough data, how can we think from different standpoints?
So do we eventually come to a conclusion that a Democracy is an unfavorable political system in the modern world? Not even close. The alternatives to Democracies, such as Monarchical or Dictatorial rule, are highly unappealing. North Korea, a country which has adopted an absolute Monarchical rule, whose ‘government’ has repeatedly signified through its inhuman acts and violation of basic human rights, that such a Monarchical system will not act with the public’s best interest, making it unsuitable for the modern world. Hence, we need to approach this problem with a different solution. We need to pay attention to these arguments against the idea of a Democracy and rectify it. Since information is key, education institutions need to nurture their disciples to think analytically while making political decisions. In fact, Plato himself started ‘The Academy’ to educate the common people on politics. Media needs to correct itself such that it delivers information with various standpoints and the people can rationally analyze and formulate their opinions accordingly.
Democracy is the only system that revolves around the common public, hence it is obvious and essential that we do not eradicate the entire system, but tackle the very faults.
Featured on Medium