Democracy – What is Democracy?

Democracy – What is Democracy?


What exactly is democracy? Democracy is defined in the dictionary as: The control of an organisation or group by the majority of its members. The modern word is said to have originated during the late 1500’s, derived from the ancient Greek phrase demokratia, from demos meaning ‘the people’ and kratia or kratos meaning ‘power or rule’. A democratic government, therefore, is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. And it is by no means restricted to the human definition: Democratic procedures exist within the animal kingdom too. Some experts even musing that democracy is not something that humanity invented at all. Studies have shown that whenever pigeons fly in large flocks or when types of red deer stand up in turn and point in a certain direction, they are expressing their preference as part of a group. It can be demonstrated that in many social species no dominant individual decides for the group as a whole. Of course the process is largely unconscious, and no cognitive reasoning takes place in any human sense. But nevertheless decisions are made on majority preference, fitting with what most individuals in the group want. For you and me, this system of government means, theoretically, we are all offered the equal opportunity to have an impact on national and international politics. Whether through voting, contributing to social movements and the media or through working for the government directly. To most, these mechanisms (along with the rule of law) are viewed as the liberating forces that protect the majority from tyranny, whilst providing the greatest amount of good for the most possible people. To others, it is seen as a farce or just another ambiguous system of rule through which the individual has little or no significant impact on the greater scheme of things, unless otherwise part of a tight cluster of elites. Many choose not to participate at all. But how did Democracy come about? What does it mean to people worldwide? Is there only one type of democracy? And taking into account its underlying principle ‘Empowerment of the people’, can it really be said that this principle is being lived up to? During the course of this documentary we aim to answer these fundamental questions and more, as we explore the many faces of Democracy. As far as we know, early examples of central organisation on any large-scale first began emerging in Africa and the Middle-East around 7000 years ago. We also find early evidence of civilisation in South- and Central America dating back to 9000 BC. Much of what we know about their existence is derived from magnificent ancient structures, carvings and scriptures. They suggest that they were able to acquire, maintain and control great amounts of human capital and natural resources, which demonstrates early central organisation, but democracy had yet to be developed. The first ancient republics we know of sprang up between 2000 and 500 years BC in Syria, India and Greece respectively. You could easily say that the whole principle goes back to the ideas, ofcourse, of the old Greece people, thousands of years ago. In terms of collecting the people, and taking decisions on the basis of dialogue, again. And then decision-taking on the general will of the people. On the other hand you see the same in Africa, rooted in Africa. With this old idea of all those people sitting under the tree in the village. And talking to each other as far, and as long as needed and possible, to reach solutions for given problems. I mean historically we know where it started, the Greeks invented this kind of system in a time when I think they were quite fertile in ideas for different political systems. And they have, I would say in a relatively short period of time, experimented with all forms of political-rule that they could experience at the time. The Roman Empire paved way for what is considered to be the first Democratic World Power. At least, to the known Western world. During the period between 500 BC and 50 BC, the overthrow of the Roman monarchy lead to the development of the first republic of Rome and a preventative constitution for the population involving the separation of powers that we are familiar with in democracies today. In medieval Europe, Feudalism was the norm. This was a legal and military custom whereby the economy (at this time centered around pieces of land) was dominated by a group of lords and monarchies. The vast majority of people had no choice but to work for the nobility and kings in exchange for a small plot of land. People were born into a situation where they had few, if any, rights at all. Unless they happened to be born into land-owning families or royalty. There came a point in England where people in England, admittedly the nobility, made clear to King John they were not his slaves, and would not focus their resources based on his arbitrary whims. This prompted the King to grant certain liberties and restrict his involvement in common affairs. More importantly, the Magna Carta lead to the concept that no freeman could be punished except through the law of the land. Though this legal framework still only applied to the land-owners and entrepreneurs to protect their priviledges, it laid down constitutional values that would later be improved upon once exported to the Americas. On July the 4th, 1776, the American Revolution officially declared the United States a sovereign republic, no longer under control of the royal British Empire. The Founding Fathers, as they are known, developed a constitution that afforded citizens certain basic rights and limited the involvement of government in the affairs of the people. Though admittedly again, the demographic in this particular democracy was restricted to white men of applicable age. These ideas of self-determination and liberty for the people, combined with ideological developments that came during the Enlightenment period in Europe, led to a wave of democratisation and 13 years after the revolution in Philadelphia, democracy spreads into Paris during the French Revolution. So began the Era of Democracy in the Western world, as it accompanied the expansion of the US to becoming a superpower and spread to cover Europe in one form or another. The 1st and 2nd World Wars were times when political ideologies such as fascism, communism and nationalism threatened the existence of democratic societies. Their quests for achieving military and economic supremacy lead to the exclusion and outright extermination of minorities and any dissent that may speak out about their policies. Following the defeat of Nazi-fascism there was a wave of self-determination amongst former colonies and populations that were once under authoritarian governments. The eventual collapse of the Soviet Union meant that people were able to take control oftheir national political systems, and direct time and resources to things that improved their collective quality of life. So it all relates to these kinds of old ideas and principles that you bring people together, that they feel represented, and that they are able to take the decisions that really matter. Government of the people by the people, it’s very simple and there’s no need to fiddle with it or alter it. I mean the Greeks got it about right about, what was it, two and a half thousand years ago? and whatever its imperfections or flaws, as Churchill said, you know it is without doubt, the least worst system that mankind has yet devised. Democracy? Well, I think you can have narrow and broader definitions of it. But to take a minimalists’s definition I would say it’s a form of government in which people have a certain influence on political decision-making. Or better, a considerable influence compared to other forms of government. So my definition of a true democracy is a society where people decide themselves how their lives look like. This doesn’t mean just going to the ballot-boxes every now and then. It means actually being together in control of how we work, how we consume and produce, how our cities look like, what kind of policies we have on, say, national security: whether or not we go to war. Probably if people are in charge they won’t go to war. And it basically means a fundamental equality on which societies decision-taking is based. So no groups of powerful politicians or powerful capital owners having a bigger say over society than average, or ordinary people. And I think importantly, certainly within our culture, Western culture, the beauty of democracy is that it acts as a safety-valve. Even if you hate the government of the day, you vow to vote for somebody else. And it acts as a safety-valve because you don’t need to resort to violence or take to the streets because the democratic process gives you the opportunity to change things. It’s when you haven’t got democracy that people start turning nasty. Democracy, really, it’s important for the people, and even the communication of the country and the people. If you have democracy it means you have freedom, and you can talk freely, and you can choose whatever you want. Freedom. It’s the new model of running such large countries of our century. Democracy is that everyone can have a say in what needs to happen in the country. Democracy? Democracy is supposed be that everyone should have the right to say his mind, and to feel free to say it, and be safe afterwards. And yeah, be able to vote and for the guy you want or any politician you want. Democracy is what we all want together. The whole population wants something and that is democracy. Let’s say, the majority decides at a certain moment, whilst taking the minority into consideration. Democracy? Worthless. I think that.. yes. For the most part it does work. I think it’s not really there, it’s terrible. It is presented as if it is there, but if you look, for example on the 12th of September we are entitled to vote for a person and a party with a program, and we all know that nothing will ever become of that program, because there are always compromises. We also never know what will happen afterwards, because once we’ve voted the doors are closed and then they decide between themselves what they are really going to look like, and we don’t get to interfere anymore. And you can see it if you look at the last elections, that the biggest losers, the CDA, after the elections, got half of the power and several minister-posts. Yes. I think it works. Well, it works in some countries, but not everywhere. Like those countries who have, like, a monarchy, maybe voting will not work. At the European Union level also, yes. These people who are living here created this country and they think that this is real democracy. Democracy is important to all people. Everyone seeks democracy. and no one can do without it. Democracy differs from country to country, from society to society, but the general principle is that every human, can do what he or she wants, and be responsible for his or her actions. In addition, as a people living in one country, we have to follow government regulations after agreeing on them. For example, if we have a constitution, we should all agree on how it is written. Consequently, if we all agree, we have followed a process of democracy. A democratic process. A democratic process which we could apply to everything. Yeah, isn’t it insane? It is insane. The biggest loser gets half of the power. And the ones who doesn’t take part and the government says “Okay, we’ll tolerate you anyway” they still have an enormous say in current affairs. Ridiculous! Democracy may mean different things throughout the world. Definitely so. For some it’s about freedom of speech, for some it’s the ability to vote. For some it’s the ability to make a career in a political party, you name it, it depends. As you can see, definitions and opinions vary widely. The truth of the matter is, democracy is not a single, distinct form of rule in its own right. It has taken shape in many variations in different countries and regions across the globe. On an international level, democracy is the most widely advocated form of government rule, and proponents of democracy advise it needs to be defended at all costs. During the last quarter of the 20th century, the number of democratic countries more than doubled, from less than 40 to more than 80 worldwide. Not only is it a form of government, it is a conscious political philosophy and a way of life. But I would say that democracy has much more important implications on society as a whole: The way people think, the values they endorse. And in this sense I follow Alexis de Tocqueville, who you may know. He wrote a book ‘Democracy in America’, the first part is on democracy as a form of government. But what is actually more interesting is the second part, on the societal influence on the minds and the ways of thinking of people, and I think that this is the much more important implication that democracy also has. So people think of themselves and each other as equals, which has many implications. Because when people are equal to each other, it does not only mean they all have one vote in the election, but also that my neighbour should not be arrogant to me but that I am at least as good as he is. And that maybe I should earn as much as him or about as much. And that he should not live in a palace and I in a cottage, but that we should have comparable housing. So this basic idea of democracy, that people are equal, has profound implications on all aspects of social life. Economic aspects, sociological aspects, culture also: There is no longer high-culture and low-culture but everything is becoming mediocre. As Tocqueville explains. So I think these are profound implications of democracy. It seems only to be a form of government but it’s more a way of life. In theory, democratic model allows the ruling majority to allocate the right politically involved parties to the level of government, who in turn must justify their intentions and actions as for the greater good for society. Democracy is the way we make decisions by involving all people in the decision-making process. It’s as simple as that. What it basically implies in practice, is that the minority who make decisions regarding the functioning and smooth running of the state in almost all regards, play a subservient role to the majority. In other words, we should decide who is in government and in what ways this is acceptable. If their actions are objectionable by popular opinion then we have the right to oust out our current leaders in preparation for a new elected officials. There should always be, in our point of view and I think in the general point of view of many people in Western countries there should be not only democracy but it’s also very important to have a very well developed ‘rule of law’. These two things can’t exist without each other. When you make democratic decisions, it’s very important that government is reliable and that you have a very good legal system and that minorities in a country are protected by the law. Thirty-five horseback riders catch the gunman and vote thirty-five to one to hang him. But the sheriff arrives, and he says “You can’t kill him, he’s got his right to a fair trial”. So they take the gunman back to town… …a jury of his peers is selected, and they hear the evidence and the defence, and they decide if he shall hang. Does the jury even decide by majority rule? No. It has to be unanimous or he goes free. The rights of the gunman are not subject to majority rule but to the law. Otherwise, when you only have a democratic system without the rule of law, it would mean that minorities in a country are not protected at all. So democracy has all kinds of benefits, but there are two dangers to it. The first he calls ‘Tyranny of the majority’. Which means simply that the majority, the greater number, can violate the rights and interests of the minority. And this is a danger that democracies always have. In the ancient times, in modern times and also nowadays. So ‘tyranny of the majority’ is one problem, and you have to have careful checks and balances; constitutionalism; rule of law, to counterbalance ‘tyranny of the majority’. Why is the rule of law so important in a democracy? Basically it provides for the checks and balances needed to ensure that everyone is subject to the same laws and legal procedures. This applies to the individual, as well as people working at the government-level. The LA County District Attorney calls it “corruption on steroids”. Rizzo and the others are accused of misappropriating at least $5.5 million. The complaint alleges they used the tax-dollars collected from the hardworking citizens of Bell, as their own piggy-bank. Which they then looted at will. Citizens are bound by laws to which they have agreed upon as being part of that society, and likewise, government officials are bound to the same laws and legal mechanisms, as well as being restricted to a certain degree by a constitution. This ‘constitutional’ is very important because that means that power is being checked and controlled by law. And not only by law in the sense of hard-law, but also by social convention: There are certain things you should not do. Morality, if you want. So constitutional democracy, well-ordered democracy is better than democracy, per se. Anyone who now goes into parliament, it’s now either you are a lawyer, or you have a certain kind of interest that you also want to defend there as a parliamentarian. Not the public interest but your own corporate- or private interest. So, and of course the parliamentarians are the ones who propose laws, who make them, and sometimes the language becomes more and more technical, less and less intelligible for the common man. In order to understand what’s in the law you need to go to a lawyer’s office and ask for some clarification on some points. So you are feeding that into the system. So the rule of law, sometimes when laws change and laws are made that perhaps are not entirely fair for everybody. Laws are made criminalising behaviour or activities that are not harmful but because they serve an interest. So we need to be careful when approaching the rule of law. Governments who are above the law, are not accountable, and therefore are empowered to work against the best wishes of society. As will be explored, democracy is a fragile concept and takes a lot of protection and maintenance. The shaping of democracy will vary from country to country, due to the different cultures, languages and demographics. Due to environment of security, stability and development that comes with it, Democracy is universally regarded as the best way to ensure that the vast majority of people can be more concerned with living and working. Sharing a common language, history and geographic area, citizens and their elected leaders accepted a mutual need for stability. Citizens give the substance to any community, and are the creative and productive drive behind it. They should be free to choose their own destiny and therefore work on the micro-level. They accept certain rules and obligations as being part of that sovereign state. On the other hand, certain important tasks can only be carried out with central oversight, with the use of state-of-the-art tools to oversee the smooth running of the state on the macro-level. Together, these two elements make up a functioning, coherent state, which can act competently both on the national- and international level. It is widely accepted that people who live in a healthy, stable democracy are in a better position to produce things and provide services and develop a better standard of living. The principle being that the people who are not in government, should not have to concern themselves with keeping the streets safe and clean, for example, but should still have some influence as to what kind of people are to run the country. And without a central authority, there would be no one voice for them as a people, which would make diplomacy a very patchy and confusing affair for both sides. The majority would not need to worry about protecting their families, themselves and their property. Certain tasks that required central oversight were being taken care of by the ruling minority, paid for by taxes from the producing majority. Because running a country is a very delicate operation, requiring many different fields of expertise, the people they elect to perform these tasks could be held accountable, should their short time in office prove them incapable or unsuitable to run the country. It has always been important that the authority have a degree of connection with the people. The people choose for a familiar character, someone who shares their common interests and who is unquestionably devoted to the wellbeing of the electing population. Election campaign speeches for example speak to the common man and woman. They are heartwarming and well-crafted pleas to the hard-working, the over-taxed, the downtrodden, the sick, the elderly, to anti-war protestors and victims of the economic struggle. These common interests may also incorporate the peace and wellbeing of people in other states. Such as the international call for democacy, and the spread of basic human rights across the globe. Very formally and constitutionally there are of course important differences with authoritarian governments or with monarchies or aristocracies just by how political leaders are selected. It can also be suggested that these forms of government-rule can also be loosely applied to arrangements found within the animal kingdom. For example, monarchies can be found within ant and bee species. As each nest has what’s known as a queen. A queen is a much larger variation of the other bees whose main role is the procreation of yet more members of their nest or hive. The remaining majority work to provide for the entire population. In this case, one very large family, and serve the queen who remains immobile for most of her life. Though again, this does not signify a monarchy in any human sense, but these species at least come closer to saying their queen was decided by the ‘grace of god’, as the queen of their domain has been ‘biologically determined’. Loose examples of authoritarianism exist within animal species who have what is known as an ‘alpha-male or -female’. Chimpanzee communities are led by an alpha-male. Males vie for dominance and form complicated, frequently- changing alliances in order to move up the hierarchy. Many, if not all of them, put a lot of effort into trying to achieve the highest status that they can. Through perceived or genuine social- or physical superiority over the rest of the pack, pride or other grouping an individual can claim dominance over the groups decision-making processes and all available resources. This dominance through physical or mental coersion exists within the animal kingdom, and sadly, in human politics and works on the princicple that ‘might is right’. People have to have a considerable influence in decision-making and this can be organised in various ways. Through elections, referenda and otherwise. It is understood that human society should not be based on a structure of cruelty and oppression that grants everything to an elite few and allows for the unfair ruling of what’s known as the ‘little guy’. Democracy allows people to break free from the cold natural order of things and justifiably claim a right to life granted to them by being an inherently equal member of a society which protects people from harm and limits the powers of those with monopolies of force and decision-making by making them accountable to the people. Elections offer a choice of candidates with differing ideas, views and perspectives for public consideration. Usually in a two- or multi-party system. Non-democratic leaders, however, assume the role of supreme leaders in all fields, meaning whether good or bad, their engagement whilst in power has massive impacts on the general population. In democracies, elected leaders are restricted to a limited term in office and may only be elected for a restricted number of terms. By contrast, authoritarian leaders keep a stronghold within the government for as long as they can. In order to maintain control, these leaders may resort to information restriction, the threat of force, extermination or forced detention to make sure the true nature of their involvement does not provoke widescale civil unrest. Freedom of speech and freedom to hold an opinion are largely prohibited, so protests within these systems are usually met with brutal resistance. Historically, the restrictive nature of these forms of rule have had dire consequences, both for the people of the state and for the ruling-elite themselves. Leaders strive for a good, clean reputation with their electorate, or else be voted out in the next election based on the quality of their time in office. Constitutional mechanisms are also put in place to ensure that if the population disagree with their elected leaders, they can remove them through impeachment, and elect a new representative to take authority. There are in fact more than one types of democracy and some are more restrictive than others. Many political analysts use two terms to describe the differences between two outwardly similar democratic systems. ‘Liberal democracy’ and ‘Illiberal democracy’. Liberal democracies are described as having all the elements of a healthy democracy: Open-elections, freedom of information and importantly the rule of law at all levels of society. Illiberal democracies, however, are described as having limited political participation, tightly controlled media and although government officials appear to operate under the scrutiny of the people, they are in fact above the law and control most, if not all, of the election processes. Political discussion in many democratic societies today involves the domination of one party over the rest. This mainly involves the undermining of opponents’ principles, plans for policy and even their individual members. Electoral debates, much like parliamentary or congressional debates, often devote resources to the domination of other parties, rather than actually tackling problems that affect you or me. This ofcourse leads to great inefficiency in terms of social benefit. But this is a natural part of a capitalist democracy. There have to be some means through which a concerned citizen can join in political debate. And an environment of conflicting ideas coupled with the need for money inevitably produces an atmosphere of healthy and not so healthy competition. As of yet, there is no legally enforcing mechanism which binds politicians to their campaign promises, so it important a concerned society are able to distinguish true political ambition from empty campaign rhetoric. The currency of business is of course money, or profit, and the currency of politics is power and the two are not the same. So the richer parties and people in society should not necessarily have more power. These are two different things. On the other hand, the rich and also business have more to lose by bad political decisions. So I’m not against a certain influence of business in politics as long as it’s transparent and checked by countervailing powers: Legal-, and also social powers. For instance labour unions, but also in particular other actors in society that speak for different values than money and profit, like churches or charity organisations or non-profit organisations with certain ideals that they want to promote. I think they should also have a voice next to business. In the presidential elections in a two-party system such as in the United States, there is a larger part of the population who doesn’t recognise itself in one of the two candidates and decides to stay home because they find it very difficult to make a choice between two candidates that they do not agree with. In the Netherlands it’s completely the other way around, we have an enormous amount of political parties: There are ten parties in parliament but on the ballot-sheet you have like sometimes even twenty political parties. So everybody is able to make a choice that’s close to their own opinions and that’s good for the turnout in elections. There’s surely a gap, a certain distance between the two. I do not know whether that’s always and in all respects a negative, I think there should be a certain distance. Politicians should have authority and they should make decisions sometimes that can be unpopular. So there should be a certain distance. On the other hand people should be able to identify and relate themselves with their political leaders and there may be some problems, in that respect now, in modern democracies. For various reasons: one thing is that most leaders are highly educated whereas most voters are not. Politicians may be unable to explain their.. or unwilling, unable or unwilling to explain their decisions to voters. Voters may not be interested, they’d be much more interested in entertainment and amusement than in seriously considering politics and political decision-making, so there are all kinds of reasons why the two can not find each other. On the other hand you could say that these multi-party democracies like in the Netherlands have some difficulties in organising power after the elections. We have a very divided parliament with quite a number of small political parties. So the problems you see here are after the elections, when you have to make the step from the election results to forming a government. And that of course is, in a country like the United States, much easier. Where directly after the elections it’s completely clear that one of the two parties gets the majority and is going to rule the country for the next four years. Those systems have their advantages and disadvantages. The meaning of democracy is you have freedom. If you have freedom, and you can choose, and you can say everything you want. The freedom of media is something which belongs to democracy, but sometimes they go a little bit far. There are conclusions which are drawn, which are not always the right ones. By the journalists, by the media. There is nothing called ‘open’ media. I come from Iraq, and I just don’t know something called ‘open’. So, sorry.. Is it different here? Of course it’s different, but.. You are free to say anything, but I don’t know if your talk will be considered or taken into consideration. But yeah, you are free to say anything, and you will be safe afterwards. There are no other consequences. The media should be transferring the truth to people. So they can form their opinion based on structural causes. And they should be able to understand the global system. They should not be bossed by people who have a lot of money and can manipulate the media in order to get their point across in the political process. The media we are concerned with refer to all forms of communication such as newspapers, magazines, radio, internet or television, that publish, broadcast, or distribute information to a wide public audience. The media, of course, democracy.. I mean even when the Greeks invented it it was very much communication oriented, right? The guy or the politician making a big speech or through their powers of oral expression they could convince people with the beauty or sophistication of their arguments. Right now you still kind of keep a bit of that with the media that you have today. So image is important for a politician to be structured in his political discourse, to talk almost in bullet-point fashion, so that you have quick, understandable messages for everybody. Thanks to technological revolutions the mass-media now come in a wide variety and are instantly accessible. You only have to switch on the radio or television or more recently you can read a news website or have a live feed to current-affairs. This can also enhance social awareness, even people who are not connected can still quickly learn about a major event in the world, from people around them or from the headlines beamed to public spaces. They also represent media through which our consumer preferences are formed and encouraged. So basically the mass-media are a simple fact of life, and the potential of this powerful force did not go unrecognised by civil-society, government and corporations alike. They are an important tool to spread political messages these days. They are a great way of convincing people that you have the best message. But the problem with media is that the medium itself sometimes transforms the original message. You know, it has that power to do so. You also see it in T.V. – the importance of image that also comes in a way of getting the message in its entirety. The well-functioning of democracy is not only about guaranteeing freedom of speech, but also free-press, the freedom to form associations and form political parties. But at the same time it’s difficult for the government to guarantee that sometimes. I will give you an example: Free-press is also very important on the local level for local democracies. We have municipalities, municipal councils and mayors and so on… so democratic political powers, who also need, you could say, free-press on the local level. But what you see at the moment is that there are almost no local newspapers anymore in the Netherlands and no good quality local news websites. We have to be careful in evaluating the role of the media, it’s not only passing the information they’re also kind of altering it in its essence. Was it really a victory for good government, Mr. Brown? Or was it a victory for propaganda? Why are you asking? Well we’ve been studying Citizenship in school. In a few years, I’ll start voting. I’ve been following the campaign, so much was said on both sides, I’m confused. How can you know what to believe, when there’s so much propaganda? Perhaps I can help you, Chuck. It might also be called a victory for propaganda, but that would have been equally true if our opponent had won. But that’s what I mean, everybody uses propaganda. Oh no, not everybody, Chuck. I’ve been studying it for some years. Propaganda made this picture. Propaganda skillfully employed to turn millions of men to a cruel hatred of their fellow man. On the other hand, propaganda often persuades us to help our fellow man. The products of our factories are also known around the World through propaganda in the form of advertising and salesmanship. The study of history reveals a great deal of propaganda that has been used to fight wars and win wars. Propaganda can also be used for peace. So you see, Chuck, propaganda is important. Well worth anytime you hear it, studying it. I see that, but how can you study it? Well, you can begin by investigating the techniques of propaganda. Here, I’ve listed some of the main ones: Glittering Generalities, Transfer, Name-Calling, Card-Stacking, Testimonial, Plain-Folks and Bandwagon. You’ll find these techniques used in many places, in many ways, for many different purposes. Your job is to recognise them when you see them. My first job is to understand what they mean. What is a glittering generality? Well, let me see. That headline you were quoting: ‘A victory for good government’. ‘Good government’ is a phrase we used many times during the campaign. ‘We said the mayor stood for good government and promised good government’. But it’s true isn’t it? What’s true? What does good government mean? Is the mayor’s idea of good government the same as yours? I see, it’s a glittering generality. One of the best. Change has come to America. ..but the choice is between the right change and the wrong change. The right change. The wrong change. The right change. The right kind of change. Change what must be changed. Our world is changing. I called for the change in strategy. That’s not change we can believe in. Values don’t change, but times do. That is the change that I’m talking about. We can change. We can change. ..looking for change, democrats we are that change. This is indeed a change election. Change is marching on again. That’s got to change. Change-makers. ..experiencing a lot of change in their lives. And some of these changes.. Change. The changes. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Completely unaware of the changes. Climate change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Changing. Changing. Changing. Changing. That’s not change we can believe in. That’s not change we can believe in. That’s not change we can believe in. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change. Change again. That’s not change we can believe in. And that’s… and that’s not change we can believe in. A party that doesn’t just offer change as a slogan. But real, meaningful change. There’s another. Yes, and why do you suppose our opponents chose that phrase? I guess because everybody likes a real American. Right. And they wanted to transfer that liking for a real American to Mr. Butler. And that’s what you mean by the technique of transfer. That’s it. Now let’s see if you can recognise another technique. There will not be a magic solution. It will require time, determination, persistence, coherence. Precisely to win the battle against the nationalists or the extreme populists. I know populists, populists they manipulate feeling and anger. They can give a very simple solution: The solution is ‘No’. Saying ‘no’ is easy. Saying ‘no’ to Europe is easy. Difficult and that requires leadership is to say ‘yes’ but to say how we move can forward. Now what would you call that? That’s name-calling, visionary, theorist, dreamer… That’s right, and those are very polite names. But now I want you to listen to something else. I just want to also say that, Congressman Paul, I’ve heard him now in many debates talking about bringing our troops home and about the war in Iraq and how it’s failed, and I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II. We allowed.. Allow him his answer, please. We allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude of isolationism and appeasement. And I just want to tell you something, sir, I’ve just finished having Thanksgiving with the troops and their message to you is.. The message of these brave men and women, who are serving over there, is: ‘Let us win, let us win’. You recognise the technique? – No, I don’t. It’s a tricky one. – Is it true about?.. Partly true, that’s what we call ‘card-stacking’. I do have to allow Congressman Paul 30 seconds to respond. Absolutely. The real question you have to ask is why do I get the most money from active duty officers, military personnel. So what John is saying is just totally distorted, he doesn’t even understand the difference between non-intervention and isolationism. I’m not an isolationist. I want to trade with people, talk with people, travel, but I don’t want to send our troops overseas using force to tell them how to live. We would object to it here and they’re going to object to us over there. I see. And card-stacking is choosing some facts and leaving out others and arranging them to suit your purpose. -That’s the idea. So, I sometimes have the feeling that the media have their own agenda, driven also very much by commercial interests. Way too much I think. And that the ethos of journalists may be lacking. So.. okay, who have we got next? Paris Hilton! Oh my god. This is disgusting. I mean, who’d want to #### that? We obviously know that she got where she is because of her money. It’s not because she’s got any class. She has no class, at all. She comes off like a royal #####. Erm.. uh. – We need to have it more?.. Alright, no, no, no. This channel is like, part-owned by the Hilton Group. – What channel is this? – Oh now you tell us… Forget it we’ll just do that again. Okay, who’s next? Great! Paris Hilton, what do you think of her? Hot! Here’s a star. -Great. Now, here’s a star, this is how every girl on the red-carpet should dress. Why do you think she’s so respected in America? Erm, I love everything there is about the Hilton family and I just think she’s great! And the media are making a lot of money on that as well, I mean corporate media and we live in a world where corporate media is more and more prevalent, let’s not be fooled by that. And they also, as corporate media, they have to make money as well. So it’s obvious that this kind of very close relationship between corporate interests and political interests will also take its own shape in the media world. Now, did you see our little campaign movie? – Yes, a couple of times. Well, let’s look at it again, as an example of propaganda techniques. It was a testimonial, wasn’t it? – Yes, we used other techniques too. See if you can spot them. Why am I lowering taxes in the middle- class? Because under the last four years, they’ve been buried and I want to help people in the middle-class. And I will not I will not, under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income-taxpayers and I will not, under any circumstances, increase taxes of the middle-class. Well, stop a minute, Chuck. Recognise the technique? That’s what you must be what you call ‘Plain-folks’. That’s right. You’ll find many versions of the appeal based on the ‘common man’, the man on the street, log-cabin to president. Now, let’s look at the rest of the movie. Mayor Cooper, her friends are voting for Mayor Cooper, your friends are voting for Mayor Cooper. The people know what they want and what they want is Mayor Cooper. Don’t you be left behind – get on board the victory special. Vote for Mayor.. That ending’s easy to spot, it’s the band wagon. Yes, propaganda we’ve been talking about is easy to detect, but a great deal of propaganda is much more hidden, much harder to detect. That’s what’s bothering me, does that mean it isn’t true? Not necessarily, evaluating propaganda isn’t that simple. Recognising the technique is one step. Another step, is to know the purpose. What is the purpose here? That’s easy, to get people to vote for Butler. – Yes, to persuade people that Butler is the better man to move them to vote for him, in short, to sell Mr. Butler to the voters. The media in each country should have a kind of independent status. That applies not only for developing countries, but it’s the same for the UK, the US and the Netherlands, to be very honest about it. So it’s a question about being independent, being as free as possible in terms of addressing the real subjects and topics, that arise in these kinds of countries I think the question of media that are controlled, or too much controlled, is really a risk for a democracy. You never know who is controlling, who is doing this, you can guess ofcourse and all of that. So really being independent, and not controlled, and having different ways of expressing in the media so not only having one big newspaper, but as far as possible to have more. The same applies for all the other media we have now including the social ones, to do so. You could talk about free-media and say well it’s up to the market to do so, but it’s in the hands of monopolists then you still have a problem. So the independency is a thing, the freedom to do so, the variety, all these things, really matter in terms of free-media. The problem is not purely that media are state-owned or state-financed. Here in the Netherlands, but also in the UK or in Germany we have quite a lot of state-owned or state-financed media; television stations, broadcasting corporations, and so on. This does not necessarily mean that these media are controlled by the state. I think that nobody would argue that the BBC is a state-controlled broadcasting corporation. Although it is run by the state basically or financed by the state. As a news medium it’s independent. That situation is of course quite different in some other countries. Not only in Russia, it used to be the case I think in Italy as well. Where there were very close links between the former Prime-Minister and some media companies. Those situations can be dangerous of course. Your next step, and it’s a big one, is to get the facts. Well, is he a real American? Howard Butler was born in this country, he obeys its laws, he’s a good citizen. Yes, he is a real American. The same can be said for Richard Cooper. So ask yourself whether the facts support the purpose. In open-societies, the mass-media serve as a bridge between what people experience in their daily lives and what is happening outside of their experience. It is the role of the media consumer to cross this bridge by deciding how events and decisions made outside of their control relate to or have an impact on their own or other peoples’ lives. Also, a conscious medium consumer should be aware that certain programs or articles are designed to invoke a reaction. You’ll find the purpose of most propaganda is to persuade people to believe something, to do something or to buy something. Alright. Whether the underlying message implies buying a product or whether it is politically motivated, we are constantly being bombarded with motivated messages every single day. These messages are becoming increasingly more developed and complex. Depending on how the information is framed, mass audiences can be lead to draw the same conclusions or adopt the same attitude as the people behind the information being presented. Also by persistent and repetitive exposure of select information, audiences can buy something they don’t need, or be completely convinced of something that may not even be true. When I was being interviewed on mainstream television and radio, I mean, the levels of hostility were just extraordinary. So no balance in the press, at all. Massively more money spent on the ‘yes’ side than on the ‘no’ side. I mean, more like one of Hitler’s plebiscites than a proper referendum. The professed goal of the media, that is honest reporting, is a good one, but they don’t actually do what they say they do. The media, currently, are controlled by what we could call a state-corporation complex. So an alliance between big corporations and governments, and these corporations and governments they control the news that we receive most of the time. This is why this news is very supportive of the status-quo and hides and distorts many of the very relevant facts to peoples’ lives. And the purpose of this goal is to manufacture consent, to fool people into accepting the status-quo and not revolting against it or believing at least that they can’t do anything about it, this is why people often choose not to organise because they are fooled by this discourse in the media. Active and informed participation in democratic decisions inevitably involves the free flow of information with which voters base their decision making processes. If this flow becomes compromised or contaminated in any way, it can distort the very foundation of realising a true democracy without us even knowing it. And I think we have plenty of proof of that these days. The democratic system is becoming a bit hollow. Just a utilitarian structure to advance certain interests of groups who are perhaps better placed in society to influence decision-making. Weigh the facts against the purpose and the technique. I think I understand. To know whether propaganda is good or not, whether it’s true or not I should know the purpose, recognise and judge the purpose and technique. Don’t come to a campaign-manager. Or my opposition. Well, that’s alright. Whenever you’re tracking down propaganda, get as many different points of view as you can. In today’s democracies it can be said that the best Media censorship essentially brushes information that could be damaging to the establishment under the carpet. This can range from an oligarchy omitting certain information from being broadcast or published, to the outright kidnapping or extermination of whistleblowers in order to maintain the status quo. People read less and less newspapers, people are used to free news on the internet. You pick your information and your news from free websites. Those are ofcourse either commercial websites, or amateur websites or whatever. So the professional free-press on the local level in the Netherlands, almost does not exist anymore. There are a very small number of local newspapers, for example. So when you’re looking at checks and balances in our political system, free-press is one of them. On the local level, those checks and balances are not always around there anymore. But for the government ofcourse it’s very difficult for them to do something about this, because you cannot expect for example for government to start financing local newspapers or something like that, because then you would be in a situation where government is financing the press, and that’s not free-press. Because then you’re in a situation that the government is controlling the press. So these are interesting dillemas within the modern free-media, because there’s lots of free-media, there’s lots of information, but you do not always have a perfect situation of free-media as proper checks and balances in our political system. Traditional media such as television and newspapers are not the only mass-media that can have massive impacts on society and the way we frame particular candidates or issues. More recently, the internet and even computer games have received a lot of attention over the last few years. The internet is a raw source of information. It is raw in the sense that the contents are not necessarily factually accurate or verified. Anyone can put information online for the World to see. No longer does the printing press need to produce many millions of copies of newspapers every single day, people can go to the information themselves. What was previously done through broadcasting, distribution and heavy leafleting campaigns can now be done in the blink of an eye, globally, with one single email or post. In its totally it is a digital snapshot of humanity, displaying the good and the bad sides of humankind. Though it has its pros and cons, it has become an indispensable tool for our species in making us ever more integrated, connected and more importantly, aware. The internet also allows for the uninhibited freedom of association between socially aware and politically active individuals through social networks. This has proven to be a bit of a nuisance for governance in both non-democratic and even democratic countries. By being able to readily distribute information and rally up support for a social movement, however ambiguous, large groups of otherwise disconnected or politically neutral people can suddenly be mobilised to fight a common cause. This common cause might be carefully contemplated and justified by a shared ideology. It might just be a unexpected expression of emotion or unregulated movement without any real direction. Again, I think new media, like the old ones, are, as the word says ‘media’ that means ‘means’ and what’s much more important here is the ‘ends’ for which these means are being used. And social media, also like the old media and business interests and so on, can be used for both good and bad. I do see interesting opportunities for good usage of social-media: It stimulates certain discussion and interest of people and they become much closer to politicians and political decision-making. Their questions can be answered instantly. So this may be a good effect. On the other hand they can use social-media to insult and, well, use improper language in their communcication with politicians very easily and anonymously, which I think is a pity and a sadful use of these means. Undoubtedly they will become more important over time, but its hard to see what their effect will be on democracy and whether it will really be beneficial or not. So I’m not very idealistic in that respect I do not think that social-media will solve many serious problems of democracy. I think that would be naive. Although some colleagues and some people certainly have those dreams. In todays democracies it can be said that the best candidate does not have to be the politician with the best innovations or ideology or ways to improve societal devlelopment, rather, it is the candidate with the most campaign funds. Not only are they able to get a high-rate of exposure and approval from huge media conglomerates, they can drown out all but the richest opponents. Much like consumer products are selected by repetitive exposure advertising, elections can be decided by the amount of capital a candidate is willing or able to put into his or her campaign. This is nothing new, the mass-media were used also by totalitarian regimes. Control of the media helps ensure a favourable image of the ruler and an unfavourable image of the regime’s opponents. On the other hand, politicians also make use of this and they go along very often with the almost childish way in which journalists treat them, so there are serious problems there. It is crucial the media stay as varied and as uninhibited as possible. Much like a science, political-debate is a fluid system it should be ever-changing through conflicting ideas and theories, and no one single argument should monopolise the media with consensus, unless, it is proven beyond all reasonable doubt. We should at no point be plowing much needed capital and human resources into initiatives that do not benefit society as a whole and ultimately wind up in the control of corporations and other profit- oriented private interest-groups. Media could play a very good and positive role and it’s of course an important part of what a democratic system should be. But it’s not functioning well nowadays in many modern democracies, a serious concern is that, I think. We are in constant need of the basic requirements that sustain life. We also have our loyalty to our family and friends and as a member of a collective species, with a shared planet, common ancestor and destiny. We are also a very social species and in being so we tend to form groups and cultures, and may be part of a religious or ideological alliance through which we interpret and form identity through a process of socialisation. Socialisation entails the processes through which we learn to understand and interpret our environment and the people around us. This takes place on many different levels, starting at birth on the family level and then later progressing to social levels as we grow and develop. Our upbringing and experiences will tend to shape and define to some degree what kind of individuals we are. This process of socialisation also creates in humans a certain perceived identity, which may also be derived and carried down from political or religious social constructs. As the split in the Eurozone from North and South is showing: You know, whatever the political differences, whatever the economic differences, the big split is cultural. Huge cultural splits and divisions. And actually, what’s wrong with that? What is wrong with a Europe of diverse cultures, and languages, and customs, and wines and cheeses? You know, if I was French I’d say ‘Viva la France’, wouldn’t I? This identity, however ambiguous, must also never be underestimated. It is the same arbitrary force that can have two supporters of two football teams beat each other senseless when their local teams are playing, but have those two same supporters cheering, laughing and crying together when their national team plays. It can make one person have a hatred for another with no real reason whatsoever. People brought up in a society with a shared culture, a shared language, shared family values and social experiences, will inevitably interpret and view the world in similar ways. However this is not to be over-estimated: Just because two individuals have been brought up in the same society under the same conditions does not necessarily mean they perceive things similarly or that they are even compatible with each other. Two people from the same country may even look the same, but may have completely differing views and ideas. Two neighbours, though sharing the same geographic location also may not necessarily agree with one another but go about as best they can to avoid confrontation and go about their daily lives. There’s a wide-variety in the forms of awareness you may have. In that sense, locality still matters because depending where you come from and the kind of personal and social experiences that you have had, democracy may mean different things throughout the world. Oh yes, I think so, yes. Well, I think it’s alright. The youth, like other people, are not crazy at all. But even the youth are showing that you are constantly being, in speech marks ‘screwed’ by that what they promise and that what they actually do. There’s not enough political awareness and the people, especially young people, people I meet in my daily life, some are politically active, but they’re politically active in the status-quo. So they’re following parties that have already existed for decades. And in this way they really follow what’s always been, so they don’t think for themselves. They just follow what the older generation has done and this is a really bad influence to evolution. In this way, how can we?.. It starts with thinking for ourselves and with redefining everything that we think is natural. We must be so honest as to say that when you’re looking at regional and local elections in the Netherlands, or European elections, you see much lower figures in the turnout. For example European elections, most of the times only 30% of the people go out to vote. It’s growing, but there’s still a fairly big gulf of misunderstanding. People think ‘Oh, Brussels is boring’. People don’t realise that what happens here impacts their lives massively in every single way. But the more people wake up to it, the more they’ll be opposed to it, so we’re getting there, there is progress, but for the moment the political class have got the whip-hand,they’re in charge. And the people, particularly in the Mediterranean, are suffering terribly. Not pretty. What we have now is the illusion of democracy. The idea that is caused by a drama called elections, that we as people indeed have a say over our lives. A significant say. Citizens are free to articulate their views and the media are empowered to explore issues and express critical comment. Leaders are compelled to act for the benefit of the population and justify and account for their choices. Conversely, in closed societies the authorities are liable to suppress the population and their opinions. And rulers might unrestrainedly abuse their power and only advance their own concepts and interests of the upper-class. Democracy can lead to better governance, but even the most developed democracies can pursue bad policies. With enough open-information and legal systems citizens are better equipped to judge, and should the need arise, replace the leaders. So if elections and democracy are not an expression of the will of the people, what are elections and democracy then? What is the role that it plays? Well I believe, and many others believe, and there’s good evidence for that, that the role of elections is to have a periodic drama, a ‘show’, that distracts people from what really goes on in their lives. And that creates the illusion that they are being listened to and that what they want is actually going to be found in political decision-taking. And it also distracts people from considering non-parliamentary avenues in order to change their lives and change societies. Now why is this a problem? Well basically it keeps the system in its place. Because if we look at history then we see that hardly ever any fundamental change or improvement in the lives of people was the result of parliamentary politics. Probably in all cases, the improvement of the lives of the people was as a result of them organising themselves, and forcing the elite in society to accept what they want. Let’s again take an example from the Netherlands: In the Netherlands child-labour was only banned in the beginning of the 20th Century and labour rights were only introduced when there was a labour movement. And a labour movement means ordinary people organising themselves. When this labour movement was strong enough to force the Dutch parliament to accept such basic rights, for example, not having to work sixteen hours and being randomly fired or not working in an environment where you are poisoned due to toxics. And the function of elections is to make people forget this, to make people not consider it. And just vote and believe whilst voting in ‘a change we can believe in’ as Obama put it. But does that ‘change’ that Obama talks about or any politicians in so-called ‘democracies’ entail a real change? No, it doesn’t. Of course, freedom of speech is essential to a democratic process, you can not have democratic elections when you don’t have freedom of speech, and free-press and the freedom of association. It’s not only a matter of freedom of speech. There are other issues around that. It’s not only about freedom of speech, there should also be a discussion about are there any limits to the freedom of speech? With so much rich variety and diversity in a society of equal individuals, it is natural that all members of society be protected and be able to hold and offer their views and opinions without the risk of persecution. Each person accepts that should we find ourselves trapped in an oppressed minority for whatever reason, we should find some kind of protection from a society which protects minorities. By ‘minority’ we don’t just mean religious or ethnic minorities, we are also refering to people in society who hold marginal opinion. I think freedom of speech like freedom of the press and also freedom of business in the previous questions, that’s a very formal ideal. So freedom of speech in principle does not say much. It all depends on how speech is used and how media are functioning. And this can be both good and bad, so you can misuse freedom of speech by insulting people insulting religions, insulting politicians, and so on. I think that’s a bad use of freedom of speech And I do not say it all has to be banned by the law, sometimes the law has to be wider than what morality requires. But morality would say that such negative forms of speech are improper, and should not be done. Of course there are limits and I think, at least in the Netherlands, everyone agrees to the fact that an important limit to the freedom of speech is that you are not allowed to promote violence to specific people in society or in general so that’s where there are limits to the freedom of speech. And then ofcourse you get discussion on when are you promoting violence and when is that not exactly the case. But that’s a very clear limitation I think. But otherwise freedom of speech is a very essential asset in democracies. So freedom of speech is important but people must learn and be taught to make good use of it and we should try to teach our students in that respect, and our children, and our journalists and our politicians not to abuse freedom of speech but make proper, decent use of it for the common good in the end. As long as the rights of others are not infringed in the process and a call to violence is not made, all people should have the means through which to express themselves in ways they feel society should hear about. This at least gives the general public a chance to legitimise and verify what is being said and consider themselves based on information available what they feel the best way forward is. This is the purpose of democracy, and the media play a large role in doing a lot of the verification and interpretation for us, and the information the media receive may have had a degree of interpretation from their sources. So in order to keeps the channels of information as open as possible, democracy needs to always advocate the right to the freedom of speech. Much like any powerful force, freedom of speech can be used for both good and bad. In a democracy, as I said, everybody believes to be equal to his neighbours. So there is a mass of citizens all equal to each other and the individual feels vulnerable in such a mass, he’s only one of 16 million. On the one hand he thinks he’s quite something because he’s equal to his neighbour he’s certainly not less and there’s no king or nobleman anymore above him so he’s, in a sense, sovereign in his own life, that democratic man. At the same time he’s only one of many, so he feels vulnerable, as well. And what do democratic people do to resolve that uncertainty? They establish a big state – that cares for them in all respects of their life – A welfare-state. A common understanding of our own, and each others’ needs makes possible the establishment of a social-system which takes care of the sick, the elderly and people unable to find employment. This is a logical consequence of democratic equality – the establishment of a welfare-state. And this welfare-state takes care of them in all respects of their life, from cradle to grave and it takes away many of their own initiatives and their own responsibilities, they are being cared for. And ultimately, they may be well-off, they may be safely housed, they may be well-fed and so on. They may be secure in their environment or because there’s a state which takes care for everything, but they become less-and-less human, and this Tocqueville describes as a form of despotism. It’s not old-fashioned tyranny with soldiers and torture and everything, but it’s a form of despotism. A soft form of despotism over society. That people are being steered and directed in very subtle ways. Especially how they should think, because you may associate ‘democracy’ with freedom of speech, freedom of thought and so on, but democracy also creates taboos, there are certain things you should not believe in democracy. This is a form of despotism of course, that people are forbidden, implicitly, to believe certain things. For instance: Believe that the queen should reign the country by the grace of god, this is something that you should not believe in a democracy. Or that capital punishment is a good thing, is something that you should not believe in a democracy or people are better qualified to govern than others, this you should not believe because we are all equal. And so on and so forth. So there are certain taboos that democracy creates. A system of benefits means that the established government guarantees that those unable to find employment are still able to get by. We all accept that there will come a time in our lives that we will be unable or unsuitable to work either through age or sickness. So it is logical democracy tends toward a mutual system of benefits for the elderly and less fortunate and this is a very good thing. But at the same time it has to be realised that this makes it easy to become complacent to bad political decision-making, in that many of the responsibilities and duties of the individual are being taken care of. Meaning that as long as citizens are getting their paychecks and social benefits each given period, they may not be too concerned with who is in power or what else might be going on. This should not matter as long as the system is sustainable. I think that debt of states is an underestimated problem. So, many economists believe that states can have debts endlessly and that they still can continue existing. Many politicians find this very handy too because then they can spend money on popular purposes and be re-elected and so on. But I think this is a serious problem because debt always means dependency. It must be noted that this system, together with other expenses paid for by the state such as military is very expensive and high-levels of national debt amongst democracies are typical. National debt is a hot-topic in voting- trends and political decision-making. It is having the incremental effect of making our elected institutions less and less autonomous by binding them to financial obligations that give them less manoeuvrability in terms of fiscal-policy. No doubt about that, I mean, political autonomy of a country, of a city, of course, because as governments, and this is a trend especially in the West, have privatised many of the services they had vowed to give as part of public service. And they are becoming smaller and with less means of financing themselves, I mean governments are now agents in the financial markets like any other company, right? I mean traditionally, governments or kings have always been in debt. You’re dependent on the party from whom you’ve borrowed. And dependency for national states means difficulties and political danger in the end. Public-debt in democratic-states is steadily increasing. It has been stated that two democracies never go to war with one another, but democratic states are by no means strangers to war. A function of force usually under strict monopoly of the government of a state. As populations are growing, and sustained by being able to produce the things we need more and more resources and jobs are needed to allow for people to produce goods and carry out services to maintain the state. Therefore, big industries have a lot of bargaining power and have inherently more time and capital for lobbying and political contributions. All the mentioned elements that keep a democracy true to the people, with the right amount of ownership and manipulation can become nothing more than tools of deception. Both the government and the media can become dominated by spokes-people for business and private interests, and masquerade decisions that work to serve a minority, as positive decisions for the greater public. As decision-makers are forced to cut more and more public expenditures to accomodate the debt and its interest, the voting population begin to realise how another entity, national debt, is infliuencing their statesmen to such a degree that they appear to work against public interest, taking money away from vital social institutions such as education, infrastructure and policing. In many ways it can be demonstrated that if you can not afford democracy for one reason or another, you might start to lose it. This phenomenom has been dubbed ‘debtocracy’. Now, the extension of it, the interconnection of it, makes it quite a complicated problem to solve. Because it doesn’t matter whether you vote right or left the structure that you are going to occupy has already this accumulated debts or obligations that you need to face. And states should try to reduce their debts, as citizens should do by the way. Now, using the excuse of the crisis, all these big corporate interest-groups are able to enforce the policies that they have always wanted, because now they can say we have no alternative, and the crisis is going to destroy our economy so we have to start slashing education budgets, start introducing austerity measures in healthcare, start decreasing wages. Whilst if we look at it we could also, if we believe them, if we believe that we need austerity measures we could take oney away from other things, for example, global military budgets have hardly decreased despite the crisis, why don’t we take money away from there? If people really had a say about these things, they would probably stop all the wars, and take money away from military budgets in order to pay for proper education for their children. Maybe you can find a way out, in defining the spaces where government and corporate interests connect. Which government and financing entities connect. You need to rethink all the ways in which these processes take shape, because otherwise it will just be a repetition of the same problem, and it will just get magnified, with time, if nothing is done. Democracy like every form of government is a system of power, so people are forbidden and coerced to do certain things and to abstain from other things, and we tend to forget it, we tend to associate democracy with everything positive, And that’s naive because democracy, as Churchill said, may be the least bad form of government, apart from all the others, but still it has its disadvantages and its problems and we should do well to realise that. The previously mentioned aspects: the rule of law, the government and the media, which should always be kept as transparent and diversified as possible, are vital components of a healthy democracy. Democracy requires equality before the law, due process and political pluralism, to make sure that voices are heard and minorities are protected. In other words, democracy in itself is insufficient to guarantee everyone equal rights and opportunities, and the way we receive and interpret information plays a massive role in shaping our opinions and expectations of certain issues. Theoretically, people rule, so this means being aware of and monitoring the various precious elements of a democracy and making sure they remain genuine to public interest. In a capitalist environment where progress is characterised and rationalised by profit, one natural development which could emerge is that political or public figures can become nothing more than salesmen, assigned to sell us a particular party and campaign ideal but are ultimately acting on behalf of wealthy private interests which made their rise to power possible in the first place. The media, which are instruments of mass communication also used for advertising, may also become susceptible to corporate bias. We should at no point let our guard down in terms of protecting these key mechanisms, that help ensure that we are treated equally and that our elected leaders work in our common interests. Open-debate and accountability will become ever more relevant as we enter an ever more precarious future with an unprecedented number of people on the planet. Democracy was far away from political thought for a long time, and now it has become really the key political system of the 20th century and also in the 21st century, but I think that everybody can that agree it needs to be restructured to the needs of this world. It is an increasingly globalised world in which borders may not necessarily serve the function that they used to serve people can connect at different levels. So democracy is definitely under a reinvention phase, I like to believe that, you know, I think it would be very healthy to rethink this political system into something that is true to our needs as citizens. I do not want to exchange our democracy for something else, but I want to be aware of those difficulties and also, have something in place to check democracy. So the best form of government is not a democracy but a constitutional democracy. Democracy is something that has evolved over a couple of thousand years, is something that we used to consider so important we even fought world wars over the very principle of. And now, our political classes have allowed people here to deliberately attempt to dismantle it, So the fight is to get back our independence and our liberty. In the end, we’ll win.

38 Comments on "Democracy – What is Democracy?"


  1. de·moc·ra·cy 
    1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.
    2. a state having such a form of government: The United States and Canada are democracies.
    3. a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.
    4. political or social equality; democratic spirit.
    5. the common people of a community as distinguished from any privileged class; the common people with respect to their political power.

    Where in the above definition is "control of an organization or group by the majority of it's members" necessarily implied?

    There are many forms of Democracy, and Majority Rule is just one.

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  2. it only takes one voice to spark a chain of thought.  the braver the better.
     However it helps if you can hear that voice.  Sound!  take a sound class. 

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  3. 6 mins in talks about feudalism. Ireland is coloured to imply we had feudalism along with England. This is factually wrong. Ireland had it's own system whereby the chieftains were voted in by their clansmen. The chief didn't own the land, the people did, the chief/king was responsible for the land and it's people. It was a far superior system to feudalism, and was closer to democracy, since chieftains were voted in based on merit, and the people who voted for him knew him personally. Just like any group, everyone is aware of who the natural leaders are.

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  4. The declaration of independence was influenced by the Iroqious native americans system, where each person in the tribe, young and old, male and female, had a say. Representatives who didn't honour their role were shunned and not allowed to represent the people ever again. The iroqious had it sussed. And look at how they were looked down upon. Shameful.

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  5. "Democracy" is by far the MOST PROPAGANDIZED WORD OF ALL TIME! I.e "making the world safe for democracy". Really? Edward Bernays had an absolute FIELD DAY with this word !!

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  6. REPUBLIC NOT DEMOCRACY….democracy is majority rules and if that majority consists of wealthy corrupt bankers then the poor and middle class have no say. Republic is what is best for the whole. That is what America is based upon…the good of the whole.

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  7. It's a cruel lie.

    It's the ideal we never can achieve on anything that matters excepts intangible moral ideals like getting rid of racism. Actually, it's mostly about not talking about race, since race is the notion that kicks off nationalism.

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  8. DEMOCRACY, is NOT freedom, it is control of the minority by the majority. 
    You may have 100 items on an agenda, but on 1 will be decided cause the majority tells us what we're gonna do.

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  9. Democracy is when the majority are given a chance to vote for the minority to make decisions on them. Eg In USA very few people who won elections made a decision to go to war with Iraq. The voters did not have a say….

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  10. @Critical Productions: Watched a few uploads, well done! Kudos for the Al Gaddafi documentary.Whether we agree or not, let's embrace non-mainstream perspectives we often miss. This your strength, thanks.
     May I suggest a quality microphone and sound editing? One struggles to understand interviews… let them be heard!
     Do you produce as an individual? Are you backed by an organisation? Just curious, the epilogue is so short.

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  11. It's quite simple really. A modern democracy is the vehicle for capitalism and the free market, period.

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  12. democracy is biggest scam in the world

    where everyone believe that they stand a equal chance to be elected as leader

    in actual fact, it is BIGGEST DECEPTION in the world.

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  13. Democracy is when the US and Nato destabilise and attack a country to reverse it's government and put a new one in place that will do whatever they say.

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  14. A lot of people associate democracy with freedom of speech and equality. But inequality is pretty much still ruling the US and freedom of speech they pretty much figured out is useless if you can't be aired on TV (without being heavily ridiculed or followed up with a good indoctrination speech to keep people in line).
    By making more than one person answerable to political issues, they made things easier to control for the powers that be. With more people to bribe (eg: lobby) it will be harder to give a solid NO against any entity looking to take advantage of this political structure at the expense of society. Also it will be harder for society to reverse or influence decisions being made. The answer will always be: I will need the support of the majority of my colleagues (which already are bribed into the pockets of the few). With one dictator that can take decisions on it's own there's a lot less of this BS and things get actually done, as someone said earlier democracy is just a vehicle for capitalism. I think a semi-democratic system would fair better, a dictator to be chosen every year by the people instead of a group of people every 4. If the majority is happy with it, than this dictator should be allowed to stay.

    PS: There are no democrats or republicans amongst officials, it's a farce

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  15. America is not and was never designed to be a democracy (rule by the majority) it was designed to be a republic (rule of law) but it is slipping into an oligarchy (rule of the few or elite). How America lost this vision has been by design as well. Critical Productions seems to be, like most, conflating Republic and Democracy. Technically speaking a democracy is as bad as a dictatorship as far as limiting freedom.

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  16. Democracy is to let you think that you are free but only have the freedom of shutting the fuck up.
    Democracy is the liberty to do what they( the government ) are telling you to do.

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  17. Democracy is being planted around the world, typically laser guided…
    And when they talk about democracy, there irony never fails to amuse me…

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  18. A democracy is a way to point out who the people are that are trying to control you so you can find out where they live and make "them" drink the kool aid…the masses need to learn ruthlessness

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  19. GLOBALISM IS JUDEISM, COMMUNISM AND SOCIALISM IS JUDEISM, DEMOCRACY IS THE VILLEST FORM OF GOVERNMENT, ALSO IT IS JUDEISM IMPOSING THE CENTRAL JEWISH BANKS KEEPING HUMANITY UNDER SLAVERY WITH USURY…
    THE ORIGINS OF DEMOCRACY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq3HM17YJ-w&list=PLdb-yNh5BBHnYfMekQd8nZKtuUKIlf_da&index=20

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  20. "the issue" ghettoman on jury nullification https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtxLq2bPUSQ&t=6s

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  21. Now let's talk about the Indian democracy, hope you will love them:
    Democratic claming:
    ——————–
    India is indeed a democratic country having freedom of false claiming:
    As India is so called democratic, Indians and Indian government can keep claiming and talking nonsense in the world as it is the nature of the democracy.
    India claimed: "India is a democratic country, democratic countries never invade other countries, democratic countries never lie, democratic countries never devalue their currency"
    India has been good at nothing, but false claiming for the past 70 years in the world.
    _________________________
    Democratic society:Democratic toilets (People do not need to look for Toilets, as the democratic Toilets are everywhere).
    Democratic raping (capital of the world, mums, girls, infants, nuns, visitors, so long there is a hole, India male will plug in it).
    Democratic bastard countries (all Indians are bastards, as Indians have the freedom of raping days and nights in India).
    Democratic Caste system (India sociey has been deeply rooted with the world largest Caste system. If the world has the simialr Caste system, India belongs to the Untouchable group in the world). 
    Democratic shitting in streets , democratic pissing in streets, democratic defecation in public.
    Democratic censorship (for BBC's India's daughter, porns).
    Democratic poverty (9 states is the same as 25 African countries in poverty, the poorest place on the planet).
    Democratic dirty (India is the filthiest country in the world).
    Democratic military weapons (No 1 world military weapons importer).
    Democratic language (India's own language is autocratic and inferior to English, so India set English as India's official language).
    Democratic pollution (the No1 in pollution growth).
    Democratic suicide (over 1,000 farmer suicide every year).
    Democratic alcohol ( 2015 over 100 died due to fake Alcohol).
    Democratic tribe ruling society (primitive and uncivilised society).
    Democratic heat wave (over 2,000 people died of heat wave every year).
    Democratic child labour (over millions Child labour underground).
    Democratic toilets (whole India is a toilet, who says India has no toilet?).
    Democratic religion suppression (Modi killed over 10,000 religions people).
    Democratic sterilisation (over 1,000 Indian women died of sterilisation every year).
    Democratic Olympic medals (Zero gold with 1.2 billion population).
    Democratic infrastructure (still remain the infrastructure which the UK built).
    Democratic slum (the largest slum in the world).
    Democratic IQ (India has a low IQ of 74, it is lower than Africa based on Indian PISA score).
    Democratic voting (biggest payday for poor Indian people, Indian poor people expect voting everyday),
    democratic animals (rats, dogs, elephants, cows etc. have the freedom of jogging in Indian streets, it is very hard to see the difference between the animals and Indians in Indian streets).
    Democratic illiteracy (India believes that freedom is more important than autocratic schooling, most are illiterates, and the rests are ill-educated).
    Democratic beggars (India believes that democratic beggars enjoy more freedom than people working in autocratic offices, thus beggars are one form of work in India, that's the reason why India has been proud of the freedom).
    Democratic food (India believes that so long as India is a democratic country, India will naturally become a high statdard of living country in the world).
    Democratic GDP calculation method (India believes that when India cahnged GDP calculation method, then India will natural become a superpower).
    ——————————————–
    Democratic education:Democratic birth control (kill 1,000 Indian kids every day as Oxford press revealed).
    Democratic education (none is listed in global top 200 university).
    Democratic PISA score (Indian PISA kids scored bottom in the world with an IQ of 72).
    ————————————————————-Democrstic corruption:
    Democratic corruption (asking for money by Indian officials openly).
    Democratic demonetisation (All Indians officials are clean from corruption, Indian currency notes are corrupted).
    Democratic military parade (Indian military parade look just like a poor circus).
    —————–
    Everything is justified/legalised by putting a word "democratic" in front of everything in India.
    ———–
    Can you guess what was the last word for those who were dying from the heat wave?
    "Is there any voting today?"
    ——–
    One example:
    The democratic farmers in democratic India enforced democratic laws on democratic rapists to cut off the democratic penis from the democratic rapists and then put the democratic penis into the democratic mouth of the dead democratic rapists.
    Those democratic farmers are then democratically elected as the democratic leaders of India to rule the democratic India.
    The above is the so called largest democratic India.
    ————-

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  22. Politics is just a mere war of the left VS the right, this is why I won't go to war.
    People just plain cannot be trusted period.
    Even if we voted for ideas and concepts instead of for people, it is still mob rule.
    Can it be proven that the majority is less educated and moral than the minority, you bet they are, just take a walk down main street.
    Voters are imbeciles.

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  23. DEMOCRACY AND POLITIC CLASS WHO SUSTAINS THE IDEA, IS A FUCKING LIE, SCAM, FRAUD, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANISATION WHO TAKE DECISIONS AGAINST THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTS THEM. THIS ELECTION IN ITS CONSTITUTION AND IDEA IS SOMETHING THAT IS STEALING PEOPLE THE POWER OF THEIR EXISTENCE AND BIGGEST RIGHT, ITS AN ORGANISED CRIME THINKED ORGANISED AND PUT IN APPLICATION BY A CRIMINAL ORGANISATION THAT IS THE POLITIC CLASS IN ORDER TO GAIN DECISIONAL POWER THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! THINK ABOUT IT THE DEMOCRACY IN FACT EXIST ONLY FOR A GROUP OF PEOPLE IN PARLIAMENT OR SENATE, THAT IS THE ONLY VOTE THAT IN REALITY COUNTS!!! FROM WHAT I REMEMBER WHEN ONLY A HAND OF PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER OF VOTE OR THEIR VOTE COUNTS IS CALLED OLIGARCHY!! I REPEAT AGAIN, THE ACTUAL VOTE OF THE POPULATION IS BY DEFINITION A FRAUD AND A SCAM BECAUSE IN ORDER TO GIVE SOMEONE ELSE POWER OF DECISION IN YOUR NAME U NEED A NOTARIAL EMPOWERMENT THAT IT HAS NEVER BEEN DONE!! AND THERE IS A SIMPLE QUESTION, WHY DO WE NEED TO ELECT SOMEONE ELSE TO TAKE DECISIONS IN OUR PLACE, IT SEEMS THAT THEY THINK THAT WE ARE STUPID RETARDS AND THEY NEED TO RULE MANIPULATE AND CONTROL OUR LIFE'S! A GOVERNMENT SHOULD NEVER HAVE POWER OF DECISION OVER PEOPLE DECIDING LAWS, POLICIES THAT ARE BOUGHT FROM WHAT I UNDERSTOOD IN THESE DAYS THAT IS TOTAL OUTRAGEOUS, THEY SHOULD HAVE NO POWER OF VOTE OR DECISION HIGHER THEN A NORMAL PERSON, AND THEY SHOULD EXERCISE IT IN THE SAY WAY AS EVERYONE ELSE IF GOVERNMENTS WILL STILL EXIST IN THE FUTURE! IN MY OPINION THE MEMBERS OF GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE THE ONES WITH NO RIGHT TO VOTE AND THEIR ROLE SHOULD BE TO COME WITH IDEAS, TO EXPLAIN THEM, TO EXPLAIN HOW THE DECISIONS OF THE PEOPLE ARE GOING AND SO ON, THEY SHOULD BE THE ONES WHO PUT IN APPLICATION THE DECISIONS BUT WITH NO RIGHT OF DECISION OR OF INFLUENCE THE PROCESS, TO BE LIKE OBSERVERS

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  24. Why do they call it Democracy….

    They should call it …
    The second floor governing system…
    Or the upstairs government…
    Or the Upper System…

    It has absolutely nothing to do with equality, choice or any sort of freedom….or rights….

    It's a monarchy in disguise….

    Democracy is the biggest scam in all of humanity's history ….

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