DEMOCRACY HAS BEEN GAMED

Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution. When democracy was born around 5th century BC on Greece it was to make the commoners free from the tyranny of the ruling elite.

This was the bedrock principle of democracy and always gave the commoners a sense of power. They are so drunk on wearing this invisible cloak that the sheer deceit of the men of power is invisible.

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: (a) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections; (b) The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life; (c )Protection of the human rights of all citizens, and (d) A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

The ones who want to take advantage of a system are always a step ahead of the others. The gamification of democracy is a evolving art in which the process continuously study the masses and devise their communication. So they get statistics of caste, class, religion, region and do some permutation combination to arrive at a formula which will get them power. The genius of the trick is that it remains in the ambit of constitution and yet cheats all. Its not a one way cheating but the masses have also understood (however childishly) how to get the maximum out of the guy out to dupe them. So now its market place bargaining with voters demanding and candidates providing their demand but slyly taking away something more substantial. And like all con tricks the victim is oblivious.

To understand the phenomena lets look at a hypothetical scenario. What if we allow college students to elect their principal and teachers? What would the elections look like? Will the teachers to be appointed pander more to the demands of the students rather than stick to the goodness of educating them efficiently? There will be good teachers extolling the virtues of education and there will be teachers who will study the mind of the students and create a sketch of their weaknesses. They may promise lesser teaching hours, beer on campus, lower the attendance requirements. The conniving students will express their grievances about grading system and restrictive rules of dormitory etc. One party of teachers will out do the other by adding elements that will make the students excited. But why would the students and teachers do that? The reason is that whenever the people are given the option to choose, their biases come to the fore rather than the good of the lot. This human instinct has been gamed by marketeers, advertising industry and politicians. Bring the voting system to educational instituitions and see the democracy at work.

Similarly, can a corporate organisation work democratically? What if the board of directors or the top management is to be chosen by ballot? We do have the representatives of the employees union sitting with the management but only to discuss welfare not business decsions or management startegy. Most corporates function efficiently and create value for the employees too because its not a democracy but autocracy. Even if its a public limited company, therefore decisions validated by shareholders, all management decisions are taken by a board.

So what is the solution to the mess that is democracy. Integrity of voters in selection of candidates is prime. Voters need to select people who can provide solutions which are good for all rather than just themselves. But what is good for one may not be good for the other? Yes, so since we all are unique and therefore diverse how can we agree on one? Communists tried to run the country like a corporate. People loved the idea of equal distribution of wealth. What they did not factor for was that the guys at the top of power will have human follies of corruption and dictatorship. Almost everywhere the system has failed.

No matter which system you look at, the only thing that will work is individual integrity. Collective wisdom needs to be aligned. This will have to be done by thought leaders. They will have to be more vocal and omnipresent to make the masses aware. The initiation may begin at a very low rate but it has the potential of growing exponentially if we persist. It’s worth a try and nothing to lose. The rewards of succeeding is huge and everlasting and surpasses any other achievement of humanity.

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” ~ Isaac Asimov