Democracy, equity and participation are some of those wonderful terms that stand for a developed society. However, while these metaphors are prominent on paper, in reality they are quickly disappearing.
In Australia, the anger over the execution of some drug dealers doesn’t come to an end. After even highest rank government members failed to save their delinquent fellow citizens, people are looking for scape goats. What to me is most shocking is not the debate over whether death penalty should be accepted or not but rather the fact that while the Australian police helped to arrest some really bad criminals, nobody seems to care about all those traffic victims that suffer life-long traumas due to other criminals that are seen as modern Ned Kellies. While most forms of drug consumption are still illegal on most parts of the planet, Aussies believe that drug smugglers deserve an award rather than punishment. Do those people really believe in democracy?
Aussies are not alone with their attitude. This week, my girlfriend was rammed by a mini bus full of people, driving her car correctly and respecting the speed limit and traffic conditions. However, the impatient bus driver simply drove into her from behind, scratching the car over the full length and then, manoeuvring around her, away – with him all the witnesses that didn’t care the slightest bit more than the villain. In Vietnam, where citizens are discriminated on a daily basis, nobody cares about a damaged car or the property of some “unknown”.
A recent visit to Europe proved that even the old and “well-cultured” continent is suffering from increasing anarchy. While the once famous term “service” has become obsolete, taxi drivers in Brussels make their own rules, charging whatever comes to their mind, all in cash and without declaring anything. Not that it bothered me at all; considering all the stealing and corrupting politicians and technocrats dictating European present, I couldn’t feel but delighted to see that whereas Europe is closing its eyes and doors from our fellow citizens from the continent further South, it can’t escape the survival instincts that some of the escapees developed during their horrifying journeys. As a visitor, their openness and willingness to help was a charming contrast to all those egoists isolating themselves in their iPod, smart-App or nine-to-four (with two hours siesta in-between) bureaucrat worlds.
If less control and less caring meant more democracy, then I wouldn’t write this text. The point is that when people feel freer, they are becoming themselves. In contrast to all those famous writers, who under times of repression found themselves, people who have too much freedom seem to lose themselves. Driven by selfishness and opportunism they only care about themselves, not understanding that democracy, equity and participation actually involve a collective. One can’t be equal to him/herself, nor can they participate in their own ego trip. All they do is becoming themselves.
Now, becoming oneself needn’t be bad if humans were “good” as religion teaches us. However, it’s exactly religion that thought us that we are not. The Catholic Church killed and abused for centuries, the few Islamic terrorists that do it nowadays are peanuts compared to it, not to say that I vehemently condemn all. Humans are only good if they need to be so, as Hobbes has correctly claimed before. The criticism that he was blinded by only seeing a short window of time is now turning against his critics: it wasn’t Hobbes but all those utopian social-democrats of the European 1980s and 1990s who didn’t see clear. Their view was narrow on a time scale as much as in geographical distribution: for most of the time that human society existed, the planet was a dark place for most of humans that existed. Unfortunately, it’s getting darker and darker again.