India: Being Greta Thunberg – The Fault Lines Of Democracy

The world is in trouble. And not just because young Greta Thunberg says so.

On reflection, of the two maladies which affect us all, the more obvious issue is the exponential increase in cognitive disabilities caused by the pervasive use of social media.

It was always a perception oriented world. Perception is half the reality we used to say. Well, now it is everything. That's because we have lost the ability to question and ponder over any subject which requires contemplation. Opinions are superfluous and based on inadequate facts.

It's a different era, and not just because of fake news and the use of your private data to predict how you will vote. Fake news thrives because people will believe anything. And if you think your private information has been (mis)used, blame only yourself, because you have become predictable to the point of being robotic and thereby also prone to manipulation. If it is possible to predict your propensity to vote one way or another because of your electronic footprint, it can only mean that you are predisposed to one point of view. Have you ever realised that you will reject anything which does not endorse your unwavering beliefs and joyfully pump the air when anything which reinforces them is presented? Scientists call it cognitive bias.

The level of discourse in mainstream media is shocking and biased. There are the "left leaning" channels and the "right leaning channels". Ironically, they lament about the world being polarised like never before! The UK is sharply divided between the "Brexiteers" and the "Remainers". Our American friends have had 4 years of anti-Trump propaganda by CNN and its ilk, while Fox News and Brietbart remain firmly conservative. In our own country we have the "Love Thy PM" crowd and the entitled elites, who having enjoyed patronage for many decades, cannot accept change.

The decline of intellect is commonplace even amongst educated individuals, with the triumph of perception over reality becoming apparent in academia and even science. Quite simply, if one repeats a lie often enough, people will believe it without question or thought.

Which now brings me to the second, though no less dangerous ailment, which is the reverential belief in democracy. If you are startled or your eyebrows have shot up on reading this, it only proves my point. For many decades we have believed that democracy is the panacea for all ills. Such as eradicating poverty and to ensure life and liberty. These are fallacies.

Democracy is quite simply the best form of Government we know to-day. It is certainly a superior alternative to dictatorship, but only because that model depends entirely on the virtue and intention of the dictator. This can be an existential gamble. If it pays off, then you will have a dictator like Lee Kuan Yew and a Singapore with remarkable development. However, history is replete with instances where dictatorship implodes in the face of the sovereign as well as the people. That then leaves us only with democracy.

The thing about democracy however, is that it is imperfect and seldom results in acceptable outcomes. The Western world pontificates about democratic values and strives to export it to impoverished nations with divisive societies where it is a recipe for unending strife and corruption. This has prevented the progress of political thought to a more evolved system, which though not a dictatorship, could be beneficial and equitable to the people it claims to serve. But in recent times, the fault lines of democracy are being progressively exposed.

Many well-heeled Londoners believe that Brexit will be a retrograde step and plunge the UK back into the dark ages. Well, Brexit was ushered in by a referendum – the purest form of democracy. England gave us Westminster style democracy which we admire and yet its outcome, is what many believe will be disastrous (this author not being one of them, but that's beside the point). As the saga continues, Parliamentarians who opposed Brexit, now want to implement it all the same in the name of democracy. Even if the dark ages were to befall their great country – it is what the people voted for so let's turn out the lights!

Yet another momentous paradox was witnessed this week when the Supreme Court of that sorry land struck down the decision of the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament. Mr Johnson, in an effort to ensure that Brexit is not further delayed, or even derailed by what he believes are rogue members of the Parliament, relied on the advice of his Attorney General who apparently opined that it would be legal to do so. Surely, he would not have been foolish enough to believe that any deal he negotiated, would not have to be tabled before Parliament and to therefore say that he was being dictatorial is mere posturing. Being plagued by fetters placed upon him by different factions of Parliamentarians who cannot seem to agree on what a deal should look like nor on the question of whether a no-deal Brexit ought to be an option, he wished to focus on negotiations with the EU.

The primacy of Parliament and the accountability to it are absolutely the correct principles in a Parliamentary democracy and therefore the decision of the UK Supreme Court is eminently sound. However, what it has effectively done is to put the Prime Minister in the untenable position of battling Parliamentarians, some of whom belong in a circus (bring on the whips and chains) instead of getting on with the serious business of negotiations.

Surely it is now time to ask the questions which many consider taboo. Firstly, whether Parliamentary democracy is really the absolute ideal it is professed to be. And how is a mature democracy expected to function if elected representatives of the people stoop to buffoonery, to achieve what their constituencies desire? Given a polarised electorate, is the debacle we are witnessing not inevitable?

If this was not enough, we also had the spectacle of a national party in UK pledging to do away with private schools. While one can expect anything from a radicalised labour party, what is astounding is that the pledge is premised on confiscatory actions which would enable endowments and private property being redistributed. Lenin himself could not have done better (or shall we say worse!). That Mr. Corbyn may soon be found at No 10 Downing Street is a serious indictment of a system where charlatans can espouse the cause for democracy while at the same time indulging in class warfare by trampling all over democratic values.

Evidence of the decline of democracy is by no means limited to these events, though this one week of September starkly revealed its pitfalls. We know for instance, that the Democrats in the USA were baffled when the democratic process threw up Mr. Trump as the President. The blame was placed at the door of 'populism' and the narrative that the 'plain Joe' working class of middle America doesn't know what it is doing has been accepted as a truism. Without commenting on President Trump (being beside the point), the learning again, is that democratic processes are prone to throw up results which those who propound democracy themselves consider to be unpalatable.

Given this, the question which must absolutely be asked is this – what should one expect in such circumstances? Are we to necessarily follow the desire of the electorate and turn off the lights if need be, like we witness with the Brexit mandate? Or are we to wring our hands and cry 'woe is me' and blame the 'plain Joe' for its gullible acceptance of populist ideology?

Or is there a third more civilised way which we are completely missing and that only because our fascination with democratic values in the last century has prevented us from strenuously progressing the evolution of political systems from where we last left off?

And that now brings me to Ms. Greta Thunberg. Let it be said that it is shameful on the part of any cause, no matter how virtuous or desirable, to use a 16 year old pretending to be not enjoying the limelight, to further its agenda. Ms. Thunberg will one day realise that her childhood and future was stolen by the environment lobby and not the leaders at the UN.

Further, her diatribe is probably the most serious indictment of democracy in recent times. The drastic response to climate change which Ms. Thunberg asks for cannot possibly be implemented by politicians who owe their power and prestige to an electorate which is concerned only with their everyday lives. Some of these responses would cause massive setbacks to economic growth, and consequential loss of employment. Lawmakers who need to campaign on how well they did on these counts every few years cannot be expected to take tough decisions which Ms. Thunberg and green radicals would like to get done. So yes, shame on them for talking about money and doing nothing. But its democracy my dear.

The greatest question of this century must surely be – after democracy what next? And there are some answers which would be forthcoming if only one were to permit that question to be asked. Or definitely not berate those who dare to ask.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions