Thursday, September 21, 2006

Democracy and the colonial mind

The current election campaign in the US, Hawaii and especially Hale Manoa make me wonder about the spirit and purpose and the process of achieving democracy. The biggest problem with this form of government is that it takes all votes equal, regardless of the capacity of making the right decision, assuming that everyone is equally capable and predisposed to choosing a leader and understanding what is leadership. I wonder, how in a diverse culture such as ours, where many students are 'used' to authoritarian regimes and/or dynanistic/farce democracies can make rational choice about a leader. It seems that most of us are still in the process of evolving into democratic beings.. Historically, we have had too long a history of living in totalitarian regimes. Now, we think of a leader, someone who can lead us, even if that means on the leash, rather than someone who we identify with, someone who we can relate to us, someone who is more akin to us, someone who can easily empathise with us. But, somehow, we think that we need someone who is 'different', 'better' who can control, someone more 'aggressive'. This is obviously a manifestation of a mind which evolved in a colonial culture, which has drilled in our mind that the leaders are inherently different than the followers. We get upset when a washerman gets elected as a Nazim in Pakistan, because he will now have more power over some technocrat. But, hey, he is chosen by the people, he is a better representative (as per the doctrine of democracy)... But, no people would rather go for the remains of some erstwhile ruler (ie Benazir, Sonia, Khalida, Hasina etc.), rathar than even trying some 'commioner'. That is not possible to change, even in theory, that let's stop and question the basis of a 'state' and who should govern us. Pakistan has been palying hide and seek with sham democracy since its creation, and in the 60 years of its life, 5 decades were passed in military rule, but people are somehow complacent. Barely managing to survive (one third of the country lives in chronic poverty), they have other worries, like what will they eat next day, than who is the head of state, when Musharraf will take of his uniform, what is deccetralization, trickle down effect of high GDP growth rate. They would be dead anyway, when the benefits of 8% growth rate makes even the first dent in their lives.

The point of this is to think the usefulness of democracy, a government of the people by the people for the people, without educating the 'people' the principles and purpose of this type of government.

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