Death To The Fake Democracy!

What a title! And if you’re wondering, yeah, I’m about to get a bit over dramatic. However, I honestly believe what I’m about to write… so opinions would be nice 🙂

It’s no secret amongst my friends that I’m fairly sceptical about democracy. I’m not a communist or anything before people start moaning, but I do believe that the democracy that we are given, isn’t real. What we in Britain do, is vote-in a person, who we know little about, to be our dictator. I think the latest Labour government proved that. We didn’t vote-in Gordon Brown, we were denied a general election when one was called for. Those things shouldn’t happen in a democracy, it’s not what the people asked for. Similarly, we voted in numbers for both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives this time round, but neither of us got what we wanted. We got the “Con-Dem” coalition. And then, to prove how little we know about our leaders (and vice versa), Mr Nick Clegg openly supported a complete betrayal of his election promises, effectively dooming the future of his party. Way to go there, Nick. Oh sure, I believe in my heart that he was doing it while thinking of the long run (such as being able to gain Conservative support for a change to the voting system, so that his party could gain real power next time, and force through the changes that he truly believed in), but that’s pure assumption right there. In fact, it was a measure of how little he knew about the bastard bedfellows he’d made.

The main way our democracy is a joke, from an ideological perspective, is that our votes are not equal. If, like me, you live in a more congested area, then your vote counts for far less than someone who lives out in the middle of nowhere. An individual in Cumbria has more say than someone in London. That is intrinsically wrong (because I live in London). Welcome to the “seats” system.

The classic criticism of democracy is simple. What gives an individual the right to vote? How are they qualified to make such a decision? Why should someone in London, with their own problems, have a say in politics that stretch to Scotland? These are all very valid points, and the simple and honest answers are that a)nothing, b)they’re not, and c)because it’s fair.

Now, it’s a sad world where the only truly fair system is one where everyone is equally discriminated against (and even that doesn’t happen in this country of favouritism), but, like Winston Churchill said “…democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

Well now that’s changing. A revolution is already under way, the seeds have been planted, and everyone has been infected. Here’s the cherry on the cake: you’re all involved, and you don’t even realise it.

For years now ONE thing has changed in our world, and as such, has changed our world beyond the point of recognisability. We have accepted this change into our homes, we walk around different people than we did 20 years ago, and we are now an almost different species. What is this miraculous change? Technology.

Now, that may seem like a bit of a weak outcome to such a build up, but let me guarantee you, there is nothing weak about this. ALL technology has ONE function, which is communication. Simple. At it’s very source, that’s all technology does. Using metals, and electricity, and very precise machinery, computers and phones all communicate. Why does this make any contribution to politics? Let me explore this with you…

(I wrote the following months ago, so if it feels a little detached from the main text, that would be why)

Have you heard about 2010 Thai political protests? How about the 2011 Bahraini protests? Or the 2011 Egyptian revolution? The two large protests in the same about of years in Iran? The Algerian protests? No?

Well, that’s unfortunate, but hey, you’ll have perked your ears up over Call of Duty to hear about the Libyan revolution even if it’s only because there’s a war there. Wait, did I just mention 6 large conflicts that have taken place in the last 2 years? Yes, yes I did. Not including the “Second Republic” in Ireland. Or Tunisia. Or Yemen. Or Jordan. Or Syria.  Those are only the ones to my knowledge as well.

Now there are a few obvious connections between all of these protests. None of them happened in western countries, which might explain a general lack of interest amongst the everyday person in the western world. They were all political in nature, and are all generally aimed at removing or changing their individual government for being generally dicks. Political commentators may flinch at my over simplification of these serious events, but yeah, that’s what it kinda boils down to.

There are other links here, that the world news hasn’t really focused on, because they don’t involve any of the gratuitous death and violence that the news sells itself of. Most notably for me, is that these protests were helped, and fuelled by interactive communication. Now, this might seem a little strange, but bear with me here.

People in the west have been communicating with each other for a long time, and each major technological advance is more or less focused on improving that communication. People like to talk, share insight, and generally communicate, and lately with the internet that’s become easier than ever. Now smart phones are capable of accessing the net with 3G, affectively making the internet fully portable. That’s an amazing advance really. I mean, sure, you can contact people you know with phones, but the internet is free, can contact large groups at a time, and you don’t even have to know them! Blog sites and web forums are virtual conversations between strangers, and you know what? People on these sites find kindred spirits. They find communities that wouldn’t exist without the internet. Geeks have found each other, and popular culture has found geeks. People can date, relate and connect with people, when maybe in real life they felt alone. And that’s the link between these revolutions.

It would be ignorant to say that any oppressed person enjoys that position, but if that’s your life, and you don’t see how a person can fight an oppressive government, you aren’t likely to try and change the status quo. Remember that these are the countries and governments where you couldn’t stand up on a soapbox and claim foul play, because they’d just take you away.  Not only that, but a lot of people in these countries just know any different. I read online about “human rights violations” in certain eastern countries, but you know what? Not only do they have a different culture to us, but they don’t know any different. People criticised the opening ceremony to the Beijing Olympics, as being a testament to slavery and abuse, but you have to really wonder if the people in the ceremony felt the same way.

Either way, the people in these countries didn’t like the way that their governments were working. So why the sudden rebellion? Internet. Simple. At the core of all of these protests there are the same people. Young people, including a disproportionate amount of women, comparatively speaking. All able to access the internet in order to educate themselves, and communicate with others. I once made the observation that many people use technology that they don’t understand? That goes for governments to. They are never going to be able to fully outsmart, outwit, or control the internet, nor can they the people that know it better than them. Don’t get me wrong, everyone in these countries was aware of the problems that were happening, but these were the people who could, and did, change it.

If this all sounds like an overwhelming success, it isn’t. At least, not on a grand scale. No government is safe from this kind of revolution, and smaller ones are popping up all over the place. In Britain lately there have been a few “marches” lately, from students and trade unions unhappy with the current government. Yeah there have been similar in France and America and suchlike, but I know the British ones better. Now, marching is a time honoured tradition in this country, and has never really gone away. So why are these protests gaining so much media attention. Well, it’s mostly because they’ve been turning violent, or destructive. Why is that? Undoubtedly it’s because of the increased numbers of people there. Why so many people? Social networking. That little tabs on your facebook page? That’s right, the events tab. That right there is why. Oh, not everyone is swayed by an invite, but they are swayed by peer pressure, encouragement and viral campaigns, things that all of these events use, regardless of actual intention. And just making someone aware of a march is likely to attract those who wouldn’t actively seek one.

Just to use a contrasting situation, in 2002 around 400,000 people turned out in central London, some to protest, and some to support anti fox hunting legislation that was being bandied around at the time. The marches were side actually side by side each other, and being an animal rights issue in Britain, everyone cared. Despite the close proximity between the two groups, there was very little in the way of violence or problems. Why? I’d imagine because the only people who went out on that march were people who truly, honestly gave a shit. Remember, facebook wasn’t around until 2 years later. So why the difference now? More people, who wouldn’t actively attend such a demonstration.

Now I can’t say that facebook is causing all of these problems. That would be a lie. Facebook is nothing more than a tool. People are causing these problems, and the reason is almost certainly because after 60 years or so both of our major political parties have been taking turns to fuck our country up as much as possible, with our third choice party immediately turning over to their political opposition the second they had any chance at power. People are pissed. A lot of these marches are about issues that a lot of the attendees don’t really know anything about and probably only superficially care about. They wouldn’t even be aware of the marches, had social networking not informed them of it all. Which gets to the real crux of the problem.

Lies, untruths, coercion, opinion, and suchlike are all forms of information and communication. We’ve already been “exposed” to this in the medium of newspapers a lot, albeit in a biased and untruthful way, thanks to freedom of speech having been opportunistically hijacked by super capitalism. Everything on the internet was put up there by someone else. There is no internet quality control, and very little censorship. In fact, it’s about as “free” as anything can get in this world. People are reactionary creatures, as well as creature who like to socially fit in which is why systematic ideologies, like religious or secular groups are so widely subscribed to. When this extremely high level of communication finally gets to the point where every viewpoint, political ideology, and opinion is represented, and has been expressed, it means that you, as a person is going to have to choose what the truth is. Some may say “that’s better than having the truth dictated to you”, but I’m not so sure. Having a “pick your own fact” looks like it could go really bad.

Anyway, that’s not really an issue here (currently). What is an issue however, is how the governments are going to deal with it. We’ve seen the music industry try, and fail, to monitor and legislate content on the internet. We’ve watched actual governments trying to go after wikileaks, but that’s never going to happen when those guys are so much better at computer stuff than the government is. I’m pretty sure that the conservative core that makes up ALL western political parties is going to instinctively give out knee jerk reactions when this shit starts becoming an issue, mainly because of their own ignorance of the internet. “Shut it down” they may say, “get the ISP’s to filter all content”… yeah, right. That’s not going to happen.

My guess? The strangest revolution of all time. Governments are going to have to adapt and evolve around the internet. They won’t be able to lie or make false promises any more,  because some angry as fuck kid is going to call them out on it, and start some trouble.  The government of the future is going to not only going to HAVE to be honest, but actually give out information to people directly, whether it’s in the shape of a podcast or whatever. And again, they can’t lie, because someone will call them out on this. I’d kinda love this to happen, make public servant actually have to serve, and ask people if it’s going right. They’ll have to work in the interest of the greatest number of people; it’s the only fair system. Is this a good future? Depends on what people’s opinions are really, and unfortunately, at the same time this would happen, we’d also be having to choose our own “facts”. Which is going to put a whole load of pressure on social conditioning….

ANYWAY, this is turning into one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever contributed, so I’m going to have to try and wrap it up somehow. Will this new system be great? Nah, probably not. The same issues still apply, really. Why do we accept printed media over digital? It’s because it feels real, and trust worthy, while the internet, especially sites like Wikipedia, are customisable. The truth is, however, that a human being, flaws and all, wrote that information down, while being moderated by another. There is no absolute truth or fact in the universe, and as such, we will remain as poorly informed as before.  So, why bother writing this? Simple: We are heading towards a new world of democracy, one where governments are held more responsible. In face, we will be in a world of super democracy, where we can choose everything ourselves, and you’d better believe it’s going to shake things up. No wonder politicians are trying to rein in the internet. It’s never going to happen though. Sleep tight people…

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