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Second Enlightenment – Debunking Democracy

More people (even Professor Francis Fukuyama) seem to be waking up to the fact that populist democracy controlled by money (let’s call it Democracy with a big dee) is a political cul-de-sac. However, just as otherwise enlightened individuals such as Galileo and Newton dare not deny the existence of God, modern-day Democracy skeptics are hesitant to challenge its sanctity. Without God, one’s doomed. Without Democracy, life’s unthinkable. That’s the mantra since childhood. Don’t ask why.

Democracy bears many resemblances to its religious predecessor. It’s also upheld by faith rather than reason, analysis, or benchmarked assessment — virtually a replacement of God in most of ex-Christendom. Consistent definition is not necessary. Politics in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, India, Switzerland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. differ in form, substance, and spirit. Even buddies like the US and UK have markedly different political structures. But as long as they hoist the Democracy banner, all is fine. Like God, Democracy’s good by tautology. Details are unimportant.

The missionary ferocity of Democracy fanatics is reminiscent of their pious forebears. They see nothing wrong with crying havocs and letting loose the dogs of Democracy on undemocratic heathens. All for their own good you see. To the faithfuls, the D-word has absolute moral authority which takes precedence over the innocent lives of heretics.

Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. For most of the past two millennia, what we call Western civilisation now was a theocracy. On the timeline of history, secularism is only a recent evolution. In the social DNA, there seems a strong residual yearning for something divine to believe in, and moralise about.

After the long Dark Ages, the Renaissance awoke Europe to the ecclesiastic chokehold on its intellectual and creative potentials. The result was astounding, revolutionary, and brilliant, but far from complete. The Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries was in essence Phase Two of a movement to depart from theocratic dictatorship. That too was remarkably inspiring, and successful in some areas, for a while, though arguably still work in progress. In God-fearing USA, all presidential candidates (unless a genuine bible-thumper), fake religious piety. In that secular democracy, creation versus evolution is still a “controversial” subject in the 21st century.

I won’t repeat why I think Democracy with a big dee eventually falls into the hands of a few (see Democracy Mission — a Conspiracy Theory). In principle, it’s up to the citizens of Democracies to sort it out, or keep voting. Good luck. None of my business. Unfortunately, we share the same tiny planet, and there are pressing issues which take global efforts to resolve, or contain. First and foremost is climate change.

Climate change is incontrovertible except to delusional politicians who don’t even have Grade-10 Science. Our common survival depends on coordinated, committed and persistent actions being taken now, and sustained over the coming decades and beyond. Like it or not, nature’s time-scale is much longer than election cycles.

There are plenty of wise men and women in democratic countries who understand and care about the long-term. But without multi-billion-dollar sponsors, they seldom get past the municipal level. The rare ones who do are promptly marginalised and submerged. Populism is short-term, fickle, and speculative by nature, willingly swayed by chimeras such as the mythical “self-regulating forces of the market”. The ballot box has an overwhelming preference for charismatic opportunists who promise a square moon with straight camera faces. “Tired of the same round moon? I hear you! As your president, I’ll do everything I can to deliver a bright square one — every night! The people deserve a change, a new way to illuminate the darkness of night! God bless our great nation!”

Hear! Hear! Hallelujah!

Yeah, sure.

Homo sapiens, a young and self-endangered species on an insignificant planet, can no longer afford this entertainment. If our survival and dominance on Earth are to be prolonged, we need to make some difficult choices, unpopular decisions, and inconvenient compromises, very soon. To do that, we need competent leaders, not duplicitous followers.

Democracy might have served some countries well for a while. But human inventions are made obsolete by changes in circumstances, and subject to abuse. Democracy is due for a full checkup. Switching off Democracy’s halo doesn’t mean the automatic rise of oppressive dictatorship. Satan taking over to grill you over a big fire, if you abandon God, is only the phantasmagoria of fanatic lunatics. Quite the opposite, Democracy is sneakily, legally, becoming tyrannical through the incremental endorsement of your elected representatives. Invasion of foreign countries and domestic privacy, subsidising rapacious bankers, Guatanamo Bay, drone assassinations, impossible debts and insane fiscal policies are all done without due process or the consent of “the people of this great nation”.

Democracy secularism will help some countries to think and act pragmatically out of the ballot box again, and rediscover their problem solving talents. Curbing Democracy fanaticism may help to reduce pointless aggressions, and make the world a safer place. True freedom is the ability to think beyond the preordained confines imposed through brainwashing.

To reinvent capitalistic Democracy will be more onerous than the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. But the consequence of doing nothing would be disastrous. For humanity to move forward, the D word should be debunked, just as the G word that went before. The world needs a Second Enlightenment to liberate humanity’s inventive spirit, for self-salvation this time, as a matter of urgency.

[A Chinese version of this post can be found at: http://guo-du.blogspot.hk/2014/12/blog-post.html]

  1. N.M.Cheung
    December 9th, 2014 at 12:01 | #1

    The problem with democracy is in real world it doesn’t exist. It only exist in an ideal, fictional utopian world, where everyone is well educated, versed in all issues, and informed to make best decisions. Even in Athenian democracy, the majority citizens voted to kill Socrates, went to war with Sparta, and brought disaster to Greece. Looking at today with the mantra of one man, one vote, the U.N. is powerless with Security Council wielding vetoes. U.S. will never relinquish power reserved for her as the lone superpower. Looking at inside U.S., we have about 36% voted, so about 20% determine the make up of the House and Senate. We have Obama, with limited experience, yet with charisma, and good timing, became president. Did we voted with even some knowledge, other than a beauty contest, to determine the fate of the country, not to mention the world. we have public opinion polls against guns, favoring minimum wage increases, concerned with climate change, yet both parties are tone deaf and controlled by money. I can understand and even sympathize with those in China whom demand more freedom and rights, grass is always greener in neighbor’s house, yet having live in U.S. for a long time, I can tell you it’s no solution with multiple parties and campaigning and promise rose garden. U.S. is in a long term decline with infrastructure falling down, Republican may yet succeed to starve the beast with tax cuts, except of course the defense or military spending.

  2. December 9th, 2014 at 15:38 | #2

    This is a wonderful post. Incisive and insightful. However if there is one thing I’d like to quibble with, it is this.

    Why choose “climate change” as the issue for citizens of the world to care about the Western religion of “Democracy”?

    There are much more pressing problems with the religion … such as its fervor to convert others, to spread, to be intrinsically manipulative, to be raised as a flag for conquest. How many in the world has died in the fervor to spread freedom and democracy and human rights?

    Why are not the true voices of the peoples of the world heard in the discussion about trade regimes, IP regimes, etc.?

    The problem with the religion is the pain it has inflicted in the world … is continuing to inflict. Democracy matters because it is the ideology of the new modern Crusade. Get rid of it, and we might put a big dent in global violence as we know it.

    Climate change matters … but every time I shirk when we discuss politics around it. I am by no means a climate change denier. But it doesn’t help to make climate science more than it is not. Climate science tells us that there is a high likelihood human industrial activities can wreck havoc to the climate as we know it. But it doesn’t tell us with any precision what the results of our activities – polluting or conserving, as the case may be – will be.

    There are climate denier nuts in the U.S. – I don’t deny that. But there are also climate crusader nuts – in U.S. and Europe – who take the position that developing countries have no right to develop now that we know about climate change. If India, or China, or Africa wants to develop, they better find a non-carbon polluting way of doing it – fair or not – because we as a species must protect the climate at all cost.

    This kind of Democracy isn’t any better.

    It’s a crusade of a different kind… Just as unjust, and just as repulsive.

  3. December 9th, 2014 at 20:54 | #3

    I fully agree with you both.

    Allen, the factors you cited are much more immediate and clear cut in my view. But, you know what, they are of no concern to believers (i.e. Democracy cultists). I picked Climate change firstly because it is a real issue that can only be mitigated through global cooperation in a “sensible and fair” manner, and be related to by the average guy, including Democracy cultists. What’s sensible and fair? I think a real American leader would know that they have caused the current state of the environment, and have a responsibility to help poor countries develop along a cleaner path. But a “popular” president installed by Exxon Mobile et al will think the opposite (keep the poor poor, any excuse!). Then it’s a dead-end.

    I have an analogy for China’s situation. China understands we’re all passengers of the same ship. While the Chinese slept, the West chopped down part of the ship for firewood, grill hotdogs and make money. Now the Chinese has woken. They face the dilemma of doing the same stupid thing and risk sinking the ship, or refrain from damaging the vessel further, stay poor, and get kicked around by the hotdog tycoons. It seems that China has decided to play the chopping game for a while, but may switch to preserving the ship as soon as feasible. Chinese leaders are mostly engineers, and they don’t need votes you see.

    Talking about Climate crusaders, many of them are in fact working for big corporate interests too. The CIA uses all loftily labels to incite troubles. Freedom and Democracy are of course their favourites, but Environmental protection is just as good, when applicable. The movement in Canada against the pipeline going West, for gas export to China, faces environmental protests with American support, so everyone says.

  4. December 15th, 2014 at 20:27 | #4

    I agree with you that China shouldn’t buy in to the ideas of either climate change deniers (many of whom are either religious fundamentalists or monied interest groups) or extremists/opportunists who use climate change to advocate unfair limits on emerging economies. Both sides obviously have their extremists, although one side is clearly closer to scientific reality than the other.

    I think this issue once again illustrates that China needs to think independently about these complex problems and filter out the noise from the West.

    The other point that we should constantly remind ourselves is that we must delineate scientific discovery & scientific application. The former is value-neutral, and necessary for human progress. The latter is case dependent.

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