Democracy is elusive because there is no definition to tell us what democracy is.
Democracy is not voting for a government each three years and leaving it to ‘them’ to rule us until the next election. That is just a series of time-limited dictatorships.
Doing whatever the majority of people vote for at any moment is not democracy. That is mob rule. And even mob rule is not the will of the majority.
We are all part of a minority. Mob rule is many minorities believing they have a common cause even though their rationale for thinking they support a common cause differs from the other minorities.
When thinking about democracy it is worth remembering that every one of us is in a minority. We are never in the majority. So if we are to have democracy it must be about minorities. If it is not it becomes a dictatorship suppressing minorities.
If we find a minority to blame for some perceived catastrophe we need to remember that next time it might be the minority we belong to blamed for things completely outside our control.
The strange thing here is that contrary to popular thinking a true democratic society is continually shifting groups of minorities working together for the greatest common good for any issue.
The biggest bar to a true democracy is that in order to make decisions the population has to be informed. That is a real problem. The last thing a politician needs is an informed population of minorities making considered choices for the common good.
Magee (1973, p.28) wrote;
Popper (Karl Popper) denies this. Any fool, he points out, can produce an indefinite number of predictions with a probability of 1 — propositions like “it will Rain” which practically bound to be true and can never be proved false—never, because however many millions of years go by without a drop of rain, it may still remain true that it will, one day rain. The probability of such statements is a maximum because the information content is nil, namely tautologies, which tells us nothing at all about the world because they are necessarily true regardless of the way things are.
The quote was about science but it is the principle on which our supposed democracy works. If information given to the people by politicians is sufficiently general it will always be true at some time. This is the perfect breeding ground for meaningless slogans that can never be proved untrue because they have the probability of 1 that sometime, somewhere, somehow they will be true.
What is missing in Australia’s version of democracy is content. Even with issues like climate change the content is zero in the public arena. Basically Australian democracy is a vacuum filled with predictions with no content but cannot be proved untrue.
It was part of Popper’s philosophy that the less content the harder it was to falsify. If we are to test content there has to be content.
The debate in Australia on climate change has no content. The debate the economy has no content. There is no content in the slogans about border security. Whenever there is any content provided by either major political party the other says ‘me too’ and there is no alternative to vote for. Without content democracy is an empty shell and that will lead to bad things.
When George Bush claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction the claims had no content, but that lack of content proved to be the reason it was impossible to prove Bush was mistaken and the US presentation to the UN was an example of using zero content masquerading as something in a way that could not be proved false.
The Australian election campaign is about nothing. Niether leader of the two major parties has any content to present to the Australian public. Who can be the cruelest to refugees is not about content it is about lack of content. If you have nothing to say or add find someone to blame. It saves the inconvenience of having to find real solutions to real issues.
Is there anyone out there who has the slightest idea what is happening with the economy? The pronouncements of Abbott and Rudd drown out anyone who might be able to add content to the debate,
According to those with the knowledge to add content human induced global warming is real. However the debate in Australia about global warming in Australia is not real because the politician’s slogans have no content and slogans is all the population hears.
The September election will be about slogans not content fought between two political parties that have nothing to offer and democracy in Australia will be dead because it will be devoid of content even if we continue to believe this is what democracy is about.
Magee, B. (1973) Karl Popper. Modern Masters. New York, USA: Viking.