In this age of changes a turbulence, it extremly important to pause an reevaluate our basic assumptions. For many years now, the western wrold has been proud of it democratic structure and the freedom it gives to it citizent. A clear distinction has been drawn in the western education, between democracy and all the rest. It has been clearly explain as an a priori esamption, that all different ruling method that exist and that has been tried in the past are all “tyrannical” method, that bring only suffering, death and misery to its population.
before entering into a deeper conversation about democracy and its legitimacy and power, let search for it definition. Based on wikipedia : Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos ‘people’ and kratos ‘rule’) refers to a form of government in which the people either have the authority to choose their governing legislators, or the authority to decide on legislation. Who is considered part of the people and how authority is shared among or delegated by the people has changed over time and at different speeds in different countries, but more and more of the inhabitants of countries have generally been included. Cornerstones of democracy include freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights.
Prevalent day-to-day decision making of democracies is the majority rule, though other decision making approaches like supermajority and consensus have also been integral to democracies. They serve the crucial purpose of inclusiveness and broader legitimacy on sensitive issues—counterbalancing majoritarianism—and therefore mostly take precedence on a constitutional level. In the common variant of liberal democracy, the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority—usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech or freedom of association.
I would like like to concentrate on two different aspects of this definition – the limitation of power by a general constitution or local alternative and the majority power. Taking the stress test of real life, we can examine the first point quite easily. Constitution exist in part of the western countries, but not in all of them. The alternative for a constitution is normaly a set of basic or fundamental laws that function as a frame of limitations for the local government.
regardless of the different structures it can be seen that the reaction to covid was unified on a global scale. It seems the covid reaction exposed a loophole in the system. By law, western countries governments can ignore (or “temporarily” ignore) their constitution if an emergency case is declared . In theory, it has some logic to it, but practically it is just a paradoxical loophole open for exploitation. Let me explain it.
This state of emergency, that give to our temporary ruler the capacity to bend the fundamental laws, is decided and initiated by the same people that will get the benefits of power for that actual decision. After all, it is the the government that declare a state of emergency and the government that get the power to act. Can you see the potential problem here?
There is no need for deep philosophy in the subject, we all lived it and seen it in the last year and a half. We all lost our freedom and our capacity to work, in a swift moment of emergency. Those decisions has been taken in many cases without any democratic vote or referendum. Our leaders, just declared an emergency state and rip us off our fundamental democratic right.
this argument has nothing to do with the validity of the actual emergency, it has to do with funfamnetal examination of our democratic structure. Practically, the line of defence that need to keep a general boundaries to our temporary leader, is no more than a line in the sand, that can be erase and retraced if the government find it necessary.
If this is the case, the only actual line of defense in our democracy is the requirement of a majority for legislation. It has been shown in this covid era, that while local government can declare a state of emergency and start changing thing around, there is a limitation of capacity and time to it. At a certain point, the elected official will normally have the capacity to block, change and question the changes the government decision.
I will get deeper into the majority power legitimacy and its capacity to defend the freedom of its society in the next post. But until then, here are a few question. If a decision is bipartisan, does it mean that there is no representation of any opposition? What about crowd thinking in moments of terror and confusion? From the moment the a line has been successfully crossed, can we really turn back the clock?
The point I’m trying to make here is, that now that we saw that constitutions and basic laws can be ignored by the government is it has a legitimate excuse. Would it not be a good moment to reevaluate the capacity of our current structure to protect our liberty?
Did you found this post helpful? Please share with me your opinion. Help the people next to you, by sharing this post with them.
Awareness and open conversation are the key for the creation of a better world.