Democracy, voting etc

The Indian education system, particularly the government schools, are not about temples of knowledge but about propaganda machines that spew out government approved lessons on history, economics, politics and ethics. So unless you have someone among family or friends who’s not a philistine when it comes to this, or you don’t discover capitalism etc by yourself, chances are you will never know such a thing exists; or that democracy != republic, or that votes don’t mean anything. I say this because till some months back I never did bother about differentiating between a constitutional republic and a democracy. For me, they were essentially one and the same – there is a constitution, and people vote; how difficult can it be. Ramanujam-esque gaps still exist in my knowledge – I know a lot about one concept, but have never heard of an allied one. The fault lies at my end, but sometimes you do wonder about the society you live in, the people who inhabit it and the pleasure some of them take in the process of dumbing down of the education system. If you don’t learn about politics at any length when you are 16, when are you going to do that, at 50?

Even now, barring one major point, I don’t see much of a difference – practically speaking – between democracies and constitutional republics. The point is the restriction placed on the power of the government against the violation of individual rights. A democracy, plainly speaking, is the rule of the majority. In a country that calls itself a democracy but which has no constitutional law, or common law precedents that perform a similar function, what the majority decides is the law. If the majority decides that the minority has no right to life or property, then murder and theft would be legal. In a democracy, there is no theoretical limit on the powers of the government formed by the majority; in a constitutional republic, theoretical limits exist. I say theoretical because, say, in a republic of 100 people, even if the constitution states that everyone has the right to property, if 90 people decide that the remaining 10 people have too much wealth, and that social justice demands that this wealth be “redistributed,” the parliament could pass a law allowing for that. The law may be unconstitutional, but if the courts, and executive are filled with people from among the 90, who cares if the law is unconstitutional. The 10 people will be “legally” stripped of their wealth, and things would go on as if nothing has happened. That’s why even the existence of a constitutional republic is no protection against a mad majority. In the end, it always comes down to numbers. Those who are organized, win; those who are not, lose.

Rand has some quotes on democracy and voting. About democracy, she says

“Democratic” in its original meaning [refers to] unlimited majority rule . . . a social system in which one’s work, one’s property, one’s mind, and one’s life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority at any moment for any purpose.

About voting, she says

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority.

But these are the things that have been happening over the past 2,500 years – mob-rule. In America, in India, in Britain, in Canada, in every bloody country in the world. In the final equation, rights don’t matter – they never have for any significant amount of time.

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  • mit  On February 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    nice article, why this is happening, reason is that our laws are which we are using are made by british people for there colony, so our politicians are safe.
    just send few guys to 100 years of imprisonment and see how many gundas these political parties can get to destory peace.

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