Opinion | Democracy: A great idea yet to be implemented – TheSpec.com
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Talk of democracy ebbs and flows but is a constant theme in the rhetoric of western political systems. The overriding message is that it is the best form of government and aren’t we great for having it. Well we do not have it, we are far from great and repeating the same message does not make it so.
In a few days, Canadians will be voting in a federal election. It is sufficient reason to revisit this utopian, idealistic notion of democracy, so valued but unattained everywhere. The in your face reality of many global events within our very recent memory is that democracy exists everywhere in name only. Since it does not exist in substance it cannot be attacked, lost, destroyed or compromised. Case in point is the attack on the Washington Capital this past Jan. 6. Contrary to the mostly Democratic pundits democracy in the USA did not almost die. Something that does not exist cannot die. Although, the American form of government certainly almost did. Canada is not all that far behind as evidenced by the throwing of rocks at its current Prime Minister, hurling awful insults at his wife and most recently anti-vaxxers attacking elected officials and health care workers trying to do what is best for all of us.
This premise that democracy does not exist anywhere is first based on differentiating between content and underlying structure. Content is the constant changes we see and structure is what lies barely under the surface. Competing tribes, now known as political parties no longer pursue dominance through costly warfare. Now they do so by means of costly election campaigns and casting primarily vicious aspersions about the other. The victor, “gets to, rule.” In other words, gets to dominate all the other tribes in pursuit of self not the nations interests. Lots of content change but no progress since the underlying structure remains the same.
Second, the notion and tenets of democracy represent a principled cognitive developmental stage perspective. The idea emanates from several sources. Most notable are Plato’s allegory of the Cave, Rousseau’s Social Contract and John Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance. The difficulty in understanding and implementing the democratic idea is not a lack of intellect, commonly referred to as IQ. The difficulty lies in most people’s obstructed cognitive developmental potential. At the tribal stage perspective neither most of the people nor their leaders have the developed ability to understand the concept, let alone act on it in a consistently deliberate manner.
For example, the authors of the American Constitution and fathers of the nation were not creating a democracy. How could they, when they lacked the capacity to understand it. Their cognitive developmental stagnation is clearly revealed in the first words of the Constitution. All men are created equal failing, however to specify as long as one is white and a male. In reality they simply replaced the tribal tenets of a monarchy with the tenets of a tribe without one. Let us also not fool ourselves that casting a ballot has anything to do with democracy. It has been and continues to be just another way of advancing the dominance of one’s tribe over all the others. In a substantive democracy voting would be an altogether different exercise far removed from tribal interests.
Sadly, but as to be expected, currently there is no world leader or Canadian political contender who presents as having achieved the cognitive developmental capacity to understand and implement democracy. The very political ideology of the contenders, their beliefs, values and proposed way of doing things are the tenets of tribalism NOT democracy.
Of course, some tribes are more benevolent than others. However, good deeds will do nothing to unite a tribe fragmented nation. As always, the hand that feeds will eventually be bitten.
Since, as we are told by those developmentally advanced, democracy as a form of government is superior to all others, at least until we actually have one and perhaps find out otherwise, if we act now, even better if we started yesterday, we could have substantive, real democracy in five generations. Hopefully in less.
What is required is the activation of cognitive developmental potential, with which every child is born. So far this activation has not fared well when left to the family. The evidence is all around us. The only viable way of doing it is with our educational institutions. Instead of continuing to leave developmental activation to the family or chance, in our elementary and secondary schools, it can be achieved with informed deliberate actions. For decades we have been doing exactly this in select, advanced schools and on occasion even in prison settings. Through progressive successes each generation can be brought incrementally closer to the stage perspective required to understand what democracy is to the point at which it actually can be implemented. Fortunately, there are empirically valid strategies for doing this and fortunately, there are also enlightened individuals available for doing the task. All they need is the mandate to do so. Unfortunately, the mandate cannot come from grassroots initiatives at which individuals cannot see beyond the high esteem at which they hold their tribe. Because they are tribal they do not even know that they are. It has to come from leaders who are far removed from their adolescent appropriate but adult inappropriate tribal stage perspective and can recognize this need. The challenge has been and continues to be, to find one. Consider these ideas when casting your vote Monday.
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