The Art Blog by Wovensouls

Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

The Poverty of Democracy

WARNING – This note has nothing do with art and culture – am just rambling about other stuff.

[Found this in my unpublished drafts written a few years ago]

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SO the first question is – HOW are you poor?

I am poor in too many areas.

The top 3 areas that I can think of at this moment are Knowledge, Survival and Fitness, but the list could go on endlessly.

Fine tuning this further, most of us are not-poor in at least one sub-area of Knowledge and we trade that single area for economic sustenance. And the financially wealthy are those who possess that sub-area of knowledge for which the market dynamics are favorable.

[Whether that sub-area of knowledge was acquired by serendipity, circumstance or personal effort is besides the point – but it is that which determines the circumstance of the next generation but that too is besides the original point.]

A man who is a specialist in neurologist would therefore be given a good amount of my financial wealth to investigate the problems with my brain but naturally there would be no sense in paying him to do any rice farming since he probably knows nothing about that.

Leave the rice farming to the farmer and the brain investigations to the neurologist.

For even a neurologist is equivalent to a Grade 4 child in the field of farming. He possesses the potential to become a good farmer but has a lot of work to do before possessing the ability to be one.

And yet we take random individuals –  who have no previous education / training in the area of governance,  that includes development planning, management of public finances, international geopolitics and many more equally heavy subjects that even a Masters degree in each individual subject will not equip you adequately enough to make you effective upon graduation – and put them in charge of everyone and everything!

How?

How is this newly elected person meant to know enough about defence or budgets or administration to captain that ship?

Yet that is what democracy does. It just allows those who want to be led to appoint someone to lead them.

Of course democracy was adopted in the wake of other forms of governance that were worse still in many respects – aristocracy, feudal systems, imperialism and so on in which the divide between the ruler and the ruled was a permanent chasm created at birth. Whereas in a democracy every single citizen has the right to be elected a ruler. Wealth, family or even education do not matter. If one can charm the people they will vote for you and you will be a voted-in leader.

If the country is fortunate, there will be a clean leader with good intentions, a good brain and a good basic logic software in his head to make things happen as per his promised ideology. But this depends on serendipity – that such good men of honor will stand for elections.

But voting them in, depends on the voters.

What if 80% of the people are like children – innocent – so caught up in their struggle for candy that they have no idea what it is that you are asking them to do when you tell them to mark a particular sign on a particular paper. A 3-year old will do what she is told – just to win the approval of the mother. What then? Is democracy the sensible solution answer in that scenario?

Yes, the idea of democracy is just and fair and offers every individual a say in the matter of WHO will govern him.

But does my 3-year old have a clue of what considerations matter when signing on that ballot? Or is it a farcical excercise that pretends to empower the 3-year old when actually such an empowerment is not possible at this early stage and instead leads to exploitation and abuse by others that are more clued on.

[on one of my journeys I met a local ‘don’ in a remote area who ‘helped’ with the elections. The method of voting there has nothing to do with the concept of democracy as it was conceived. But yes – every man gets to put a stamp on the paper – of his own free will. And yes the means to influence the ‘free will’ are many 🙂 … but this is not a story to be told on the internet. More when we meet!]

And so in India – in the largest democracy of the world, given the diversity of knowledge levels today is it sensible to give everyone a say in how the country is ruled?  The wife of the man who works for me (let’s call him ‘Friday’) is a sweet lady who makes very tasty food – bless her  – but does not read or write or know how to find her way alone from her home to mine – just a few kilometers away.

Now if I were to go for an angioplasty would I ask  this sweet wife of Friday to select my surgeon?

Sounds ridiculous?

Yet when selecting the governers of the land she has as much of a say as the women CEOs who run the top banks of India today.

And now we have gone one step further than asking them to appoint the surgeon.

We have asked them to be the surgeons!

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***

This has been my argument for years and a friend who has heard this argument many times sent me this note today from Plato.

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Did Plato just plagiarize my thoughts! Am bewildered! Mind Invasion I can handle. Time Travel I can handle. But both simultaneously? That is a bit strong Mr. Plato!!

jm

Nov 2015

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