Bring-on Community Self Empowerment,
Councils of Wise Elders and Benign Leadership
We in the West have lived with this thing called ‘democracy’ for a good few centuries now. It has been an important experiment, but one which has, in the end, succeeded in swallowing its own tail rather than leading society to a better place. Now its time is up and we have the task of putting something genuinely better in its place.
The most well known definition of democracy – but by no means the first – is enshrined in the Gettysburg Address of November 1863. It proclaims democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ which – maybe for good reason – laid a strong emphasis on ‘people’.
But here also lay its weakness; people (it turned out) had other ambitions that this form of self rule was ill equipped to address. Nor did they particularly want to be responsible for deciding and managing the intricacies of the experiment that they had signed-up to. ‘The majority’, that is.
And it is this word ‘majority’ which encapsulates the failure of democracy, because, as some of us will have noticed, ‘the majority’ have never yet been possessed of the vision and wisdom necessary to move society towards a meritorious goal.
At best ‘the majority’ have created some from of social justice which was not around under the leadership of a regicide (king/queen) unless such happened to have a social conscience. Democracy thus became akin to a personal insurance policy, in which one signed-up to the policy and paid the annual cover – via taxation. In return, one got a type of guarantee that one would have certain ‘inalienable rights’, backed by ‘the law’. A law supposedly designed to support this form of self rule, but in reality providing a cosy revenue absorbing niche for the same exploitive elitist element that had been around well before the democratic experiment came along.
As it turned out, what the majority actually wanted was based upon self interest and not a vision of a better society for all. So give ‘the majority’ the right to decide upon who they wish to run their country – and the one’s they actually elect will be those who have gone the most out of their way to claim ‘to have their interests at heart’. The interests of ‘the majority’.
A society under the mantle of ‘democracy’ therefore never evolves. Instead it simply revolves around the wishes and the fears of the electorate. The wish to be ‘looked after’ and the fear of not being looked after. ‘The majority’ simply elect a bunch of baby-sitters so that they can go out and play, leaving the actual responsibility for the shape and function of society to others – mostly those who enjoy flirting with the power that has been granted unto them.
The electorate then complain loudly when things get done by those in whom they entrusted power – which fail to live up to their fawning pre-election promises. It is a constantly repeating pattern which still shows no sign of abating. It is ‘mob rule’ in action: the undirected, unaware voice of a majority who readily succumb to the powers of the hidden persuaders.
The people, when this means ‘a majority’ of the the people, have never yet, throughout the course of history, been in possession of the wisdom and vision which are the necessary prerequisites of an evolving society. A society asked to raise its level of awareness, consciousness and responsibility.
The democratic experiment is thus an entirely inappropriate tool for getting out of – and going beyond – the mess we are currently in. It is simple naivety which is on display at demonstrations where placards are held-up announcing that such and such ‘is not democratic’ : ‘TTIP is not democratic’, ‘the WTO is not democratic’, ‘tax avoidance is undemocratic’ etc.
Over the years, democracy has formed itself around an unshakeable alliance with capitalism. Capitalism is generally held up as ‘democracy in action’, particularly in relation to ‘the free market’ as a self adjusting silent voice of the people.
It is indeed in the market place that ‘the majority’ have put their faith; and left those who claim to
have mastered its intricacies to operate according to the nefarious rules of competition and greed that dominate the neo-liberal global economy which is the capitalist empire’s crown jewels.
An economy where multi national corporate sweat shops in Third World countries can give ‘the majority’ exactly what they want: ‘cheap clothes’ ‘cheap food, ‘cheap cars’. That my friends, is our famous democracy in action…and those who say “that isn’t democracy” fail to realise that the majority voted-in those who condone and execute these deeply exploitive policies. Voted-in via ‘election by majority’ vote: the cracked cornerstone of the democracy experiment.
Not only this, but when challenged by someone touting the merits of communism, the answer comes “but communism isn’t democratic” thus wittingly or unwittingly, holding up the flag of democracy as though it was a symbol of a free and progressive society.
Like religion and like the Mafia, democracy has provided a formula which offers protection for those who prescribe to a skewed system of control by the few. It puts a nice gloss on that which is, in reality, a sophisticated game of double deception.
A deception which has its roots in the the electorate’s abdication of control over its own destiny. Choosing instead to play victim to a system it helped put in place.
Today, eyes are slowly opening to what it is we have saddled ourselves with. Be it under the name of Conservative, Socialist, Liberal, Republican, Democrat or whatever – it makes not the slightest difference. They are simply entertaining variations of the same theme, and that theme remains mastered and controlled by a shadowy elite which quietly pulls all the main strings of power and will allow the game to be played strictly within its own terms – and no further
So where do we go from here?
By we, I mean that smallish minority who are capable of rational thought informed by vision and wisdom.
This group cannot exert any serious authority upon the society around it, because – in a democracy – a small minority cannot form the majority necessary to becoming an elected administrative body. But at least we are not going to deny that, should a council of wise elders be at the helm of regional, national and global affairs, the world would be a different place. The value systems would be reversed. Instead of money, power and selfish self interest dominating the scene, we would have humane values , deep ethics, and genuine justice as the main prerogatives, within an eclectic, multi ethnic society.
There are still tribal societies that operate on such a system. They are called ‘primitive’ and are vindictively linked to a scary voodoo world of witch doctors and unruly shamans. Every attempt has been made to wipe them off the map – both physically and by our ‘democratic’ Western value system’s high minded judgemental view on this ancient, time tested from of ‘leadership by the wise’.
As we once again find our true spiritual footing, our thoughts naturally turn back to this form of society by the wise, because it is an organic response to our deeper, actual and non superficial needs.
No wonder the North American Indian tribes were wiped out or driven into special ‘reserves’; likewise the native South American tribes and the Aboriginals of Australia. The ‘democracy’ that supplanted them could have no truck with such deeply rooted and nature attuned cultures.
The capitalist free market needed to exploit their sacred territories and rip out the uranium, gold and all other precious metals which, while under the ground, informed the vibratory geography of their holy sites.
The supposed ‘civilisation’ which plundered the native territories, was largely a Judeo-Christian fabrication. One with a strongly Eurocentric bias and a penchant for grandeur and unashamed material wealth. Nothing of ancient tribal or pagan origins had any place in this great show of unabashed self importance. And it is from this tradition that most people reading this essay will probably have received their education – or more properly said: indoctrination.
Yet along with its pride and arrogance, there have been some idealistic ventures in various parts of the world into territories that bear some resemblance to ‘leadership by the wise’ and these belong to the category of ‘benign dictatorships’. Fidel Castro of Cuba; Frederik the Great of Prussia; Mustafa Kamal Atutuk of Turkey; the king of Bhutan, are cited examples. Dictatorship is far less complicated than our form of democracy – but only if it is ‘benign’ can it be deemed genuinely superior.
A number of great spiritual leaders have filled this role of benevolent dictator during times of national crisis. Their followers seeing that they possess the qualities that combine love and leadership – consequently feel happy to live under their guidance. Great leaders always encourage the best to come forth in mankind, by-passing power and self prestige in favour of leading by example.
This form of ‘leading by example’ runs closer to universal spiritual principles of divine leadership than anything democracy has or can, ever come up with. When earthed and coupled with village level self determination and a council of wise elders – it probably constitutes the best role model we have to guide humanity through the crisis that is now upon us – and only likely to worsen. That is until a majority of human beings finally recognise themselves as divine entities – and therefore only answerable to the Supreme.
None the less, it is beholden for all of us who are both willing and bale to see a bigger picture, to now give serious amounts of time and energy to thinking through the basic tenets that need to be put in place so as to bring about the world that we know must replace the current crumbling dystopia.
We must, as an imperative, lay the foundations of the life to come even before the present fiasco has reached its lowest point. That is the true meaning of taking responsibility for our destinies.
Julian Rose is an early pioneer of ecological farming, integrated rural economies and decentralised community regeneration. Farmer, writer, holistic thinker, broadcaster and activist: Julian campaigns against all attempts to sterilise our living earth and creative aspirations – and expresses belief in the power of the human spirit to awaken and direct our passion for life. You can buy his latest book “In Defence of Life” at amazon.com and via his website www.julianrose.info