Why I Support Democracy

poverty gap

Power is not meant to be used to torment the defeated! […] the very concept of inequality will be forgotten! -Meruem

Ever since episode 122 of Hunter x Hunter (2011) I felt the need to grab the chance to talk about totalitarian regimes because this is very much a threat to the country where I live. Greece has seen great rise in support for neonazism during the current period of ecomical crisis (2008-2014) and having Golden Dawn governing in the near future is one frightful scenario, no matter how hard life has become these past years.

Meruem is a character that I came to like a lot despite his first -very- violent steps. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t object to him playing the role of a possible messiah. At this point of the story, he had been influenced by Komugi and valued others who didn’t belong to his species. He was touched by the disturbing difference in living conditions between different groups and had a dream of fair ruling and executing divine punishment upon those living at the expense of others. How many times have people imagined torturing those who have harmed them? If a person was given the chance to be an emperor for a single day, most probably this day would be soaked in blood. But such an act implies that, depending on the value we prescribe to certain lives, we can take them away. And operating under such logic is, needless to say, dangerous. But, do things have to be that way? Are there solid arguments against the rule of one man over the rest of us?

First of all, monarchy has its limitations, both time-wise and experience-wise. A single person can’t talk to all the people and deal with their problems, making sure s/he judges rightfully. But even if we accepted that this person is the wisest on Earth, there’s a point when s/he dies. No one can guarantee that his/her children will carry the same vision and be equally just. The same is true for oligarchy. Democracy may have many flaws but it makes up for it by having many different people involved in the decision-making processes and these people change periodically. If the death penalty might be an option for one ruler, in most democracies it is but an obsolete legal punishment for the worst of criminals.

Furthermore, monarchy, tyranny and oligarchy offer safety at the despense of not only the value of life but also freedom of expression. One must have never felt the need to go outside the mainstream and talk about things considered taboo to not understand how important this freedom is. A human life isn’t only limited to eating, sleeping and working. This is a very mechanic way of spending your days on this planet. Our ideas, worldviews and artistic endeavors are what distinguishes us from the next person and essential part of who we are.

Lastly, as it history has shown that totalitarian regimes don’t simply redistribute power (and not always in the ways they are supposed to); they target minorities and civil liberties. In the name of the common good and according to arbitrary criteria, namely the ruler’s prejudices, many people are jailed and tortured. If you’ve faced social discrimination, even during democracy, chances are that you won’t want a patronizing figure persecuting you in a regime which is supported by absolute principles.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

~Martin Niemöller

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6 thoughts on “Why I Support Democracy

  1. Yeah, I’d have to agree with you that an absolute monarchy gives way too much power to one person and that the history of kings and queens is rife with oppression. You give all the best reasons for preferring democracy to monarchy. And democracy also stands superior to an oligarchy.

    But, I think that democracy is only second best to a republic. The terms are treated almost interchangeably, but I’d say that the chief difference is that a democracy is less restrained by its constitution, especially when it comes to protecting individual rights. To use the example of the United States, the Bill of Rights protects fundamental rights and various amendments have extended freedom to all classes of people. Should some political party gain enough power in Congress and wish to deny women the right to vote, they would need not only to get two-thirds of the representatives in both the Senate and Legislature to go along with them, but also the majority of the populace in three-fourths of the states. This makes sweeping political changes very slow, which protects minority rights.

    On the other hand, many democracies could deny the rights of a minority group through passing a law with a simple majority and getting their president or prime minister’s signature. And these changes can happen very quickly with little time for debate. For example, Australia banned guns very quickly while the nation was anguishing over a mass shooting incident.

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  2. What I ask of those who rule over me.

    First off I’d like to apologize: as I feel that I do not really have a handle on the situation in Greece, it’s likely that I’ve missed the essence of this post, but I like the topic enough to formulate my own [u]lengthy[/u] view on it.

    My stance on Meruem: his earlier cruelty streak I contribute to his childishness, children are effectively amoral after all (hello there Gon Freecss) but what’s truly profound is his childlike ability to learn. If his learning potential transfers to leadership and administration then; even if he were to push some flawed world view on his subjects his rule would probably still be preferable to any other viable alternative because of it’s efficiency and fairness. I can’t see any real challenges in the mid-long term for him; with the main short term challenge being the acceptance of his rule and the long term challenges being succession and the dangers of lethargy. Though perhaps that’s just a juvenile desire of mine for some higher more enlightened being to take the responsibility of dominion from us mere humans. After all, in reality there is no recombinant-ant-demigod coming to save us from: sloth, unfairness and inequality.

    My stance on forms of state: one of the anime that I feel has most shaped my ideas towards competing forms of government is Legend of the Galactic Heroes: in it a democracy, an aristocracy, a religion and a special economic zone all vie to rule the galaxy.Though the SEZ and the cult don’t really don’t really come off well, I can’t remember how either justified itself other than “muh greed” and “muh object of reverence”. Really I don’t think I cared which side won out. The SEZ was arguably the best place to live for anyone not lavishly rich and how anyone on this earth not feel bad that big ol’ blue is just some abandoned spec of dirt on the fringe? In my opinion they were all right. (Except for the Hitler expy, he was clearly wrong.) The deciding factor was always the people. Yang said that if he had been born in the empire he would have wanted to join Reinhard. Reinhard on the other end had mused that if he had been older when the Empire took his sister he would have taken her and fled to the Alliance. And most notably: Job Trunicht the most vile politician who sold out everyone, every time, in the series strived towards the same goal as one of the deuteragonists. While these are in part all deliberate choices I don’t necessarily think that the series is arguing that all forms of government are more or less the same.

    A few thoughts and questions concerning Greece: if the Golden Dawn where to come into power would it make a difference if they were democratically elected or simply took command of the parliament by force? Neither would guarantee they would stay in power for long. [s]Though the latter might provoke foreign intervention.[/s] However if both would lead to the same policies being enacted would it make a difference?
    Also a lot of people where I live where pissed about having to lend Greece money via the ECB. Will there be defaults?

    My stance on governance in general: I don’t think democracy equates to freedom of speech. There is no democracy that does not impose limits to whats it’s people can say publicly or publish, most well organised companies are the same in that regard and even if they aren’t if they find you’re hurting their interests. This is not all that unreasonable and institutions with better reputations have less to fear and therefore less reason the persecute dissidents. Also ruling by ones self is simply not possible even if one person were to hold all the power in the world managing the day to day affairs would be impossible for a few people. Id’s argue that inviolable laws are more important in attracting and keeping dissident but capable administrators and dissident voices in general.

    My stance on the politics of the Netherlands: my country has been ruled (with few interruptions) by Conservative Christian Democratic parties and now the Liberal Conservatives seem to have a definitive edge, business has taken the mantle of church in shaping politics and policies. I don’t think anything would change all that much if the most powerful men and women would come to rule the Netherlands as an Oligarchy. As long as they promote understanding, harmony and trade, make preparations to mitigate disasters, prevent and repel invasions. In fact I might even feel better if we were an de jure oligarchy that way I wouldn’t have to share in the guilt of all the frivolous wars we take part in to keep our stature in the world and our military industry in our borders unless I actively chose to take part in them.

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    • First of all, I don’t think Gon is what one would call “amoral”. He may act like a fool at times, or appear immature, oversensitive and selfish but, through the various arcs it is clear that he has a strong sense of morality.

      As for Meruem, *SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD* the only thing he did efficiently was to improve his individual strengths. Taking into account the cost in lives that took, it is highly unlikely his rule would be prosperous for anyone else besides Komugi and a small percentage of the ant population. Let us not forget -he intended to kill almost every human being, from newborns to hunters, then have the survivors to live in a special zone as if they were animals. The only point where it can be said that he shows empathy for someone/thing beyond those who are useful to himself, is when death is certain -thus, he finds himself hopeless, powerless and humbled for the first time.

      About Golden Dawn: the difference lies in the time before, not after, the elections. The latter are a way to stop hateful groups from gaining reign and to limit power to those who rule -what people call “separation of powers”. So, if there is a way to stop Golden Dawn from ruling, that is through elections, not by having someone more enlightened to come and “save us”. After all, saving us also means to gain power over us and our choices, patronizing us.

      That democracy is not enough to have liberty, equality, etc. does not mean it is not a prerequisite for it. That is a fact confirmed by history, to any single society one can thing of. Have there been oppressive and problematic democracies? Absolutely. Have there been liberating, freedom loving oligarchies? Not really. Whether we like it or not, there has not been a single/cast of ruler/s that has been willing to allow to those who disagree with them to question their rule. Even the concepts you mention -especially understanding- are hardcore democratic values.

      Guilt is a personal feeling and, as such, we are responsible for it. If you’re certain that you want someone else to rule over you so that you’ll get rid of a that discomfort, then why not have someone come over to your house, dictate how you live and to what extent you can decide for yourself, so that you won’t have to worry about losing your job, cleaning up your house, etc.? Responsibility is one of the prerequisites for liberty -if guilt is a side-effect for those don’t exercise the latter value correctly, so be it.

      Beyond that, thank you for your comment and welcome to our blog.

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    • Hello and thanks for commenting!
      My partner has actually pretty much covered me, but I also want to add my 2 cents.
      As I mentioned in my initial text, one whose life bears social stigma due to an x factor (be it race, sexual orientation, gender identity etc.) will comprehend what I’m saying better. My partner and I are lgbtq individuals. There’s much homophobia and transphobia in Greece and our families aren’t recognized by law. But we still can hold our Pride parades and have magazines for issues that concern our community. Some days ago a transwoman was beaten badly and she had her money stolen, but the police did help her and the man has been captured. We can still fight for our rights and push for our voice to be heard. If the far right wing comes to rule, I’m pretty sure that the situation certainly will get nastier.
      If we assume that GD becomes government through elections, the outcome might be the same or not. Although I doubt they’ll hold democratic procedures, if they do, there’s a chance of continuing and improving our lives. Otherwise interference from outside will be asked and/or demonstrations will be held. Until then though, there’s still hope of speaking out, educating people so as not to end up in another junta. And that’s the chance democracy offers.
      I haven’t watcht LoGH yet, but surely is on my to watch list.

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