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  • James Tam

The Second Enlightenment - Debunking Democracy

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

More people are waking up to the fact that populist democracy controlled by money is a political dead-end.

However, just as enlightened individuals the likes of Galileo and Newton dared not denounce God, modern-day democracy skeptics are hesitant to challenge its sanctity. Without God, one’s doomed. Without democracy, life’s unthinkable. That’s the mantra. Don’t question.

Capitalistic liberal Democracy bears many resemblances to its religious precursor. God and Democracy are similarly upheld by faith rather than reason, analysis, or performance benchmarks.

Democracy has replaced God in most of ex-Christendom, equally absolute and undefinable. Politics in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, India, Switzerland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. all differ in form, substance, and spirit. Even blood relatives like the US and UK have markedly different political structures and traditions. But as long as they hoist an approved Democracy banner, all is fine. Like God, Democracy is tautologically perfect. Details are unimportant.

The missionary ferocity of Democracy fanatics is reminiscent of their pious forebears. They see nothing wrong with letting loose the dogs of Democracy, to wreck havoc on benighted heathens. All for their own good, you see. To the faithfuls, the D-word has absolute moral authority over the innocent lives of heretics — especially heretics cursed with natural resources.

Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a big surprise. For most of the past two millennia, what some call Western civilisation now was a theocracy until recently. In its social DNA, there remains a strong residual yearning for something divine to believe in, and moralise about.

After the long Dark Ages, Europe started to free itself from the religious chokehold on its intellectual and creative potentials. The Renaissance was astounding, revolutionary, and brilliant, but far from complete. The Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries was in essence Phase Two of a movement to depart from theocratic dictatorship. That too was remarkably inspiring, and successful in many areas, for a while, though arguably still work in progress over at the God-fearing New World. All American presidential candidates, genuinely religious or not, must fake piety. In that ostensibly democratic republic, creationism is still a controversial subject in the 21st century.

We share the same tiny planet, and there are critical issues which require global efforts to resolve or contain: pandemics, environmental catastrophes, and financial crisis are just a few pressing examples.

Ballot-box Democracy inevitably falls into the hands of a few (see Democracy Mission - a Conspiracy Theory). In principle, it’s up to the citizens of Democracies to sort it out, or keep voting, none of anyone else’s business. Unfortunately, we share the same tiny planet, and there are critical issues which require global efforts to resolve or contain: pandemics, environmental catastrophes, and financial crisis are just a few pressing examples.

Epidemics and environmental disasters in particular threaten our common survival. They require coordinated, committed and persistent global actions sustained over coming decades and beyond. Like it or not, nature’s time-scale is much longer than election cycles.

There are plenty of experienced wise men and women in democratic countries who understand and care about our future. But without multi-billion-dollar sponsors, they seldom get past the level of municipal politics. The rare ones who do are promptly bought, marginalised, or subdued. Furthermore, populism is short-term, fickle, and speculative by nature. The ballot box overwhelmingly favours charismatic opportunists over responsible individuals.

Homo sapiens, a young and now self-endangered species on an insignificant planet, can no longer afford this entertainment. To prolong the survival of our Community of Common Destiny, we need to make many difficult choices, unpopular decisions, and inconvenient compromises, urgently. To do that, we need competent leaders, not duplicitous followers who can only think inside the ballot-box, and promise every voter their own moon before election day.

Democracy might have served some countries well for a while. But all human inventions face obsolescence brought on by time and circumstances. Democracy is due for a full checkup and rethinking. Switching off its halo doesn’t mean the automatic rise of oppressive dictatorship. Quite the opposite, Democracy has been hijacked by a few, becoming legally tyrannical through elected representatives. Invasion of foreign countries and domestic privacy, subsidising rapacious bankers, operating black cells like Guatanamo Bay, carrying out drone assassinations, incurring impossible debts and promoting insane fiscal policies are all done without due process, or statistical consent of the people.

Democracy secularism may help some countries think and act pragmatically out of the ballot box again, and rediscover their problem solving talents. Curbing Democracy fanaticism may also help reduce pointless aggressions committed in the name of freedom and democracy, and make the world a safer place. True freedom is the ability to think beyond preordained confines.

To reinvent capitalistic Democracy will be onerous, just like the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. But inaction will be disastrous. The D word should be debunked, just as the G word that went before. The world needs a Second Enlightenment to liberate humanity’s inventive spirit, for self-salvation this time, as a matter of urgency.

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