|“Democracy is the worst form of government, except...”|
A Eulogy for Democracy(Breaking news: A democracy elects a fascist president…)
A poem by Chengde Chen
Democracy has committed suicide.
Freedom, at the funeral that is almost for itself,
invites Reason to give a eulogy.
Reason says, ‘This, however…
also shows the greatness of Democracy:
Dictatorship may let a madman rule the majority;
Democracy allows the majority to be mad!’
No one knows what is being added up in the ballot box
– wisdom or stupidity?
But the wonder of ‘water kindling fire’
has shown how absurd Democracy can be.
The sacred formula of ‘one man one vote’
casts the power in proportion to the birthrate.
‘Majority rule’ is to bully by numbers
– neither freedom, nor goodness
Democracy doesn’t mean freedom,
but the majority oppressing the minority.
That ‘all men are equal before the law’ is only half true –
the legislative process has favoured those in the majority.
From the point of view of mechanics,
to be oppressed by the many is no less uncomfortable
than to be oppressed by one person.
To avoid the oppression one has to join the majority,
so those in the majority may also be compelled.
Democracy doesn’t mean goodness either.
Don’t be deceived by the look of the ballot box,
which seems big and square, appearing to be fair.
Being big is able to accommodate both good and evil.
Being square is easier to confound right and wrong.
When the majority fancy gambling,
gamblers are regarded as heroes.
When the majority get drunk,
those sober are seen as abnormal.
When the majority decide to wage war,
death is entertained with mothers’ agony!
Granted being somewhat just,
Democracy is destined to be fragile.
Democracies lacking bread are dying of hunger.
Democracies lacking efficiency are dying of exhaustion.
Democracies lacking education
– like crowds of uncultured children –
are directing flattering politics to dodder along,
mistaking funerals for festivals!
Democracy is not a Gospel from heaven,
nor is it a serenade of a dreamland.
It is the tracks of a chaotic herd of sheep.
It is an average probability of molecules colliding.
It is a rough competition of head counting.
It is an institution of coercing respect,
made for beings who don’t respect each other.
This simple game of ‘51 beats 49’
is merely a way out of a no-way-out civilization!
Is this what we fought for with our lives?
Yes, and no
We pursued Democracy because we had never had it,
so we had a wrong dream, which assumed that
with driving dark away, what would be left would be light.
In fact, driving dark away is only driving dark away
– what is left is the problems not seen in the dark!
Democracy is nothing else but these problems –
the problem of freedom,
the problem of law and order,
the problem of the economy,
the problem of education.
The problems are as numerous as the hairs on a dog.
The problems are as chaotic as tangled hemp.
Democracy is the right to contribute problems.
Democracy is a machine to generate problems!
Democracy carries freedom of speech.
There comes the problem of abusing the ‘holy right’ –
the problem of libelling others,
the problem of deceiving the public,
the problem of inciting racial or religious hatred,
the problem of advertising violence or pornography.
Once Democracy tries to exert control,
there comes the problem of gagging opinion,
the problem of media discontent,
the problem of human rights,
the problem of foreign criticism,
the problem of international relations,
et cetera, et cetera.
Democracy establishes freedom of marriage.
There comes the problem of marriage rates falling,
the problem of divorce rates rising,
the problem of single parent families,
the problem of youth crime,
the problem of drugs,
the problem of AIDS,
the problem of the rights of HIV carriers,
et cetera, et cetera.
Problems have the infinite ability to produce problems.
Every solution is a reproduction.
The wisdom of dictatorship is to forbid problems arising,
like a sealed cylinder giving no oxygen for reactions.
Whereas Democracy is an open chemical space,
or a chain of uncontrolled nuclear reactions.
It is its very nature
to generate more problems than it solves!
Democracy expects the law to deal with problems.
This is both underestimating human creativity
and over-estimating what society can endure.
In the modern age, especially with social media,
the amount of human activities increase exponentially,
the number of conflicts resorting to court are exploding.
There have been so many laws that we have to
make indexes for the indexes, find lawyers for the lawyers,
while the legislation machine still runs round the clock.
At such a pace, two hundred years later,
half of the population would have to be lawyers,
and the other half would have to be policemen.
This is not a joke, but the destiny of Democracy!
A system that increases problems infinitely won’t last.
This law of mathematics won’t yield to the majority.
Democracy may be powerful enough to crush its enemies,
but the obese body can’t overcome the weight of itself!
When it is too exhausted to carry its fairytale,
it may have to turn to its enemy for help.
Thanks to the accommodating ballot box,
which is open to anything!
When Democracy votes for Dictatorship,
who dares to say it’s being undemocratic?
Churchill once said, and it’s often quoted,
‘Democracy is the worst form of government
except for all those other forms that have been tried’ –
monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, theocracy, dictatorship,
none of which is ‘of, by, and for the people’
Yet, have we exhausted all the forms possible?
Won’t there be ones with more reason and efficiency?
Civilisation is young, albeit a few-thousand-years-old
When looking back after a few more thousand years
we may find the democracy worship of today laughable –
if not a frog at the bottom of a well looking upward
asserting that the sky is as big as the well…
Wouldn't democracy look crazier than al-Qaeda?
Chengde Chen is the author of Five Themes of Today: philosophical poems. Readers can find out more about Chengde and his poems here