On Politics
Published in

On Politics

On Democracy

From first principles

Equal Power

  • Autocracy, (power in the hands of) one person
  • Meritocracy, people with merit, skill, or academic ability (very similar to Technocracy)
  • Monarchy, a monarch
  • Oligarchy, a small number of people, usually rich
  • Plutocracy, the wealthy
  • Theocracy, religious leaders
  • Representative Democracy, a few representatives chosen by the people
  1. All concentrate power in the hands of a few
  2. They all have some justifiable rationale for this “concentration process” (at least to their supporters). For example, supporters of Meritocracy might say that PhDs in Engineering, Bio-Chemistry, or Economics make better leaders. Supporters of representative democracy often claim that most people don’t know how to govern a country, and hence must leave it to the experts. Supporters of Monarchy claim that the monarch has a divine right to govern (whatever that means).

How to promote democracy in Sri Lanka

  • Equity. Political power goes hand in hand with economic power. Many “democracies” like Sri Lanka are, to a large extent, controlled by small elites of wealthy, influential people. Law and Order, and Institutions are, to a large extent, subservient to these elites. The most effective way to create an equitable society is to make institutions, and law and order, strong, and this elite weak.
  • Enlightenment. Democracy works best when the population is intelecually rich. Sri Lanka, for example, is still somewhat backward in terms of intellectual freedom. Philosophy and thought are still very much grounded in religious texts and feudal or colonial identities. Technology and the internet have mostly made things worse. We need to find ways of turning this around, including finding more enlightening uses of technology.
  • Identity. A lone man on an island has no use for a system of government, or democracy. Conversely, democracy only makes sense, if the people of a country decide that there is some value in prospering as a country. Sri Lanka has no national identity. We have various racial, religious, caste, and class identities, but these always trump the national identity. Hence, everyone is more Sinhala, Buddhist, Govigama, “English-Speaking”, “Royalist” or “Colombo Educated” than they are Sri Lankan. Our country needs a strong identity and, perhaps, some unifying story.
  • Development. Economic, social and political development which promotes Equity, Enlightenment and Identity is a sort of “blanket” strategy that will help many of the components of democracy. While Sri Lanka has achieved significant development in the last couple of decades, the job is by no means complete. We should focus on continued development, particularly in terms of technology, product development and intellectual property.

Concluding Thoughts

Democracy’s de facto status in the world as of 2018, according to Democracy Index by The Economist



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Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.