January 22nd, 2009 17:42 EST
Is Democracy the Last Stop?
It is easy to for an intellectual to talk about democracy, to express his utmost respect for the individual, without breaking the limits of the society or of the medical knowledge or of ethics or religion or of ecology or of national economy. But, what about a society where the individuals are ignorant of sciences or arts or of religions? Would their talk of democracy be just as legitimate as the talk of the intellectuals?
Do we allow our children do what they want or do we guide them into our norms which we believe are good? Is this democratic?
Do we tell the surgeon where to make his incisions or the doctors, which medicines to prescribe?
Do we tell the cook in the restaurant what ingredients to use, or do we simply settle for his choices?
It was one thing for the Greek peasants to gather in the village square, three thousand years ago, and decide democratically where to open the village well or where to place the village fountain and it is another thing to make the millions of decisions in our very complex urban societies where many things have already gone astray.
In the European Union, for instance, some states made a referendum and asked the citizens if they would like to join the EU or accept the Euro, yet in some other states, people were never asked such questions. Democracy was not the basis of EU.
The same thing is observed in many countries of the world. In a few countries, citizens are asked of their opinion before important laws are passed, yet in others the Members of Parliament decide, without asking the people, since they feel they may represent the people`s each and every opinion. Which one is democratic?
Like everything else, democracy is also a relative term. It should be a reflection of choice making based on knowledge, rather than on ignorance. This distinction is the very characteristic of democracy and should be its intrinsic ingredient or discipline without which democracy can not function.
Hence, education is an essential part of democracy. So, democracy is not and can not be the last stop in our social systems, whether it is a national policy or a corporate one or the institution of family or friendship.
To regard democracy as the last stop in our lives and in our societies is a very dangerous dictatorial tendency.