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Democracy keeps failing so maybe itís time we try logicracy

By Mark Manolopolous - posted Tuesday, 1 August 2017


With both mainstream and alternative media transfixed by the Trump phenomenon, you'd think that everything that could be said about it has been said about it. But you'd be very hard-pressed to find anyone talking about the most shocking truth of Trump's electoral victory: it once again confirms democracy's fatal flaw.

Before casting the spotlight on this fundamental fault, let's quickly recount some of the election's more talked-about failures. First of all, it appears that Trump didn't win the popular vote: the majority of participating constituents voted for Clinton. And given that voting in the USA is voluntary - with the requisite low voter turn-out - there's no way of knowing which candidate was actually preferred by the majority of the country's adult population. So democracy in this case failed at the level of the popular voluntary vote and possibly/probably across the constituency.

We should even add here a failure on a deeper level. Even though Trump cunningly positioned himself as "anti-Establishment," we know that this was mere posturing. What this means is that Trump and Clinton ultimately belong to the same side. Hence, the election failed to provide a real choice for voters. Despite Trump's portrayal as a "swamp-drainer," what the American electorate was actually offered was either "more of the same" or "mainly more of the same," i.e., nothing really different.

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This "more of the same" has been confirmed ever since Trump took office. There is nothing really new about his policies – indeed, they merely perpetuate and perhaps even intensify the neoliberal agenda: massive tax cuts for the mega-rich, which means they now pay even less tax; stripping away healthcare for the unwealthy; and so on, and so on.

But all of these defects pale in comparison to democracy's most fundamental failure – a taboo that very few people dare to mention: democracy is doomed to fail precisely because the electorate that chooses its representatives remains typically uneducated or undereducated or miseducated. So the electorate can't make well-informed decisions.

Ergo: Trump.

One of the few thinkers that openly discloses this fatal flaw is the brave and brilliant Slavoj Žižek. The following passage from his 2016 book, Against the Double Blackmail (p.11),is located in the context of a discussion of the refugee crisis, but it also equally – and perfectly – applies to the Trump victory (given its references to racism and sexism):

"We encounter here the old problem: what happens to democracy when the majority is inclined to vote for, say, racist and sexist laws? I am not afraid to draw the conclusion that emancipatory politics should not be bound a priori by formal-democratic procedures of legitimization. No, people quite often do not know what they want, or do not want what they know, or they simply want the wrong thing."

Confronting the reality that the majority is often deplorable is one of the last remaining elephants in the hyper-PC room. Those of us who dare to challenge it will inevitably be denounced as "snobs" or "elitists" (which is both laughable and offensive for this son of Greek migrants). But it's our job as truth-seekers and truth-tellers to speak the truth whenever we encounter it.

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One could object that the solution to this apparently intractable problem is better education: the better the education, the more enlightened the electorate. While this is an attractive thought and something to be vigorously pursued, I seriously question whether the status quo would willingly foster an education system that teaches its citizens to question it, to think differently, to start transforming society and rejuvenating the Earth. After all, it's in the Establishment's interests to keep us dumbed-down.

What, then, should we do?

Allow me to start off by paraphrasingly recalling here the saying attributed to/recited by Winston Churchill: "democracy is the worst system – except for all the others." What's problematic about this wonderfully clever remark is its questionable assumption that we have exhausted all notions and possibilities of "all other" political systems. What if there's another form of governance that might be better than – or at least not as worse as – electoral democracy?

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About the Author

Dr Mark Manolopoulos is a philosopher. He is an Adjunct Research Associate with Monash University and he is also undertaking a second PhD (leadership studies) at Charles Darwin University. He is the author of If Creation is a Gift, an edited work (With Gifted Thinkers), several scholarly journal articles, and op-ed pieces.

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