The contemporary world can safely be called a democratic one. Democracy is the form of governance in most countries. In a democracy, people are supreme and the interests of the people are supreme and it is this the fundamental feature which separates a democracy from a dictatorship, a totalitarian regime, an autocracy or any other form of government. Owing to this trait the world public opinion and the public opinion within the confines of nations have come to play a very important role in the national politics and the foreign policies and the international politics.
Democracy literary originated in the ancient Greek city states and as such is not a modern phenomenon. However, in such states of very small geographic and demographic size, direct democracy was possible. But , in the modern world of nation states of large and unprecedentedly large size direct democracy is not possible and providing democratic rights to the citizens universally is very much difficult.
Nevertheless, some of the countries, through representative democracy, in the world have performed exceedingly well and can be described as mature democracies. The governments in these countries have acted truly as per the democratic rules and the people have reaped the benefits of the democratic form of the government. These countries mainly exist in the west, Europe and North America. People there really have a say in the governance of these countries and the way governance is conducted.
In the other countries the story is mixed, there are some that are successful democracies thus for and there are those where this form of governance has suffered utter failure. In some countries, this form of government has worked worse than dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. In these latter countries the governments in the guise of outward democracies has abandoned all the principles and procedures of democracy and have adopted the ones of the perverted form of the governance.
To differentiate the well performing democracies from those which are underperforming or performing as perverted forms of governance is difficult. When both the forms of these governments boast about their democratic credentials, the less democratic and antidemocratic governments at times can be seen boasting ever more.
All the voices that are raised against the real state of affairs in a flawed democratic state and an antidemocratic country are muzzled and never allowed to reach to the world. Propaganda machinery is always on to present an entirely different picture of the country to the world and the picture that is presented to the world is diametrically opposite to the one that is there in the country.
As an example, if a minority is persecuted and prosecuted but there are some people belonging to the minorities who are given some posts of power and these people are presented as the role models as how the minorities are treated in the country. At times, the highest posts of presidents and prime ministers are selected from the minorities to show to the world that there is no discrimination or exploitation against the minorities and the minorities in the country can reach to the highest posts. This is done when the condition of the minorities is made pathetically painful, to say the least.
So, if questions are raised against the democratic credentials of these countries, it is but natural and there really is a problem with such governments. The problem becomes more complicated when such questions are raised about the mature democratic countries of the world and those who call themselves as successful democracies. There really are questions now raised against the way democracy works in some of the mature democracies of the world like the United States of America. The way governance is conducted in this country raises many questions and apprehensions.
Some people and experts have started asking questions that is democracy dying in these countries and is it in decline? The problems have accrued at the multiple levels of governance in this country, if not at all its levels. At the electoral level the government is not all representative and there is a majority of people in those countries and in the USA who stay away from the elections and the electoral politics. The governments that are elected are representatives of the minorities actually. The majority of the population and the electoral remain unrepresented or underrepresented in such a government. How could such a government be called as democratic where over fifty percent of people are not represented actually?
Contrary to real democratic values and the practices, it has been observed that the ruling parties give first preference to their constituencies in distributing the benefits of the governance. Employment to the youth, sanction of various developmental programs and schemes and sanction of different social welfare programs are made in favor of the people who have voted for the rulers. If any consideration is given to the people and the constituencies belonging to the opposition it is always the last.
This is not democratic; a in real democracy equal credence and preference is given to the minorities as is given to the majorities. But here only one section of population, that literally is a minority in the guise of the majority, is given all consideration and that is the one favoring and supporting the ruling elite.
Another problem in this governance is the way decisions are made by the government. Here again if we take the case of the USA, a mature democracy, it can be easily deciphered that the decisions are made as per the liking and whims of the ruling elite. The USA attacked Afghanistan on the pretext of fighting the global terrorism. It was presented as in the interest of the world as a whole and that of the USA.
For the initial period it appeared so but once the curtains started falling, it was observed that there were no interests of the states at stake and if there were any those were the interests, and egos, of ruling elite of the country. The heavy human and material costs that the United States suffered defied any logic that there were any benefits and interests that could be fulfilled for the US and her people by the war. The benefits were neither there at the beginning and they are not even today after around eighteen years of the war.
The US has suffered heavy losses in the war and for the costs of the war the government of the country is responsibly directly. A democratic government in the real sense would have never plunged in such a dangerous endeavor without making a thorough analysis and investigation of all the pros and cons of such a war. The government acted like another dictatorship, like another Hitler at the time of attacking the erstwhile USSR in the Second World War.
Though Hitler suffered the consequences and repercussions of that endeavor just in three or four years but for the USA it took eighteen years. Anyway the results are similar with only a big difference that is Hitler was defeated by an alliance of the world powers that possessed all the modern weaponry and technology of that time but the USA stands defeated by a power which is by no means a power.
The Afghan Taliban with very ordinary kind of weaponry in comparison to that in the hand of the US army and air force is not even a state. So we can say that the USA stands defeated by a stateless group, a heavier defeat than was suffered by Hitler. How could have a democratic government done so, how would have it sanctioned such a war?
In short, the threats to democracy are multiple and the world needs to collectively fight these. The fight should begin at the lowest level of democratic form of government and move on to all levels including the global. The only government that is possible in the current day world is democracy and if this form of government is defeated there could be anarchy everywhere and in each country. Sustainable and honorable existence dislikes any kind of anarchy. Does it not?
—The author can be reached at: fayaz.greatstep@gmail