Challenges to democracy


An inexplicable fear has gripped the interlocutors of democratic governance around the world as they suspect that democracy is facing the toughest possible challenges of its existence. The dictatorial conduct of authority shown by the US president has encouraged autocratic regimes to capitalise on the fears associated with slow-paced democratic governance and to browbeat their opponents. The growing tide against consensual governance is appealing to the instinct of summary rewards and protection of status quo.

The resurgence of personality cult has caused serious setback to democracy as even the western democracies somewhat rely on propping up the charisma of their elected leaderships. The rigmarole of democratic pattern of governance has created dissatisfaction amongst official circles of many countries as they consider slow pace of service delivery as hampering national progress. They feel embarrassed when corporate sector CEOs show outstanding performance taking their enterprises on high levels of development. Though the comparison may not be appropriate but the demonstration effect created on governance circles cannot be underrated.

Democracy’s strength lies in its principles but practical implementation of these principles is usually time consuming and tests patience, a valuable commodity lacking in wide cross-section of people. Democracy also challenges monopolising thought process and insists on lateral growth of thinking, a process a majority abhors adopting and abiding by. The proponents of ‘efficient’ governance despise the democratic insistence on dispersal of power. For them power concentrated in a cabal is the sure therapy for solving problems speedily and to the wider satisfaction.

Democracy specifically is an eyesore for people believing in presenting a world of make-believe to the citizenry. They insist on painting a rosy picture and keeping people unaware of reality. They devise all possible measures to hold truth from coming out and their first target is to muzzle all avenues providing unalloyed information. This process is in vogue in current day Pakistan where media organisations are vociferously campaigning against it. The official authorities are carrying out a massive spin exercise trying to portray a false sense of calm whereas plenty of friction exists in the polity and much of it is detected all across the land.

Absolutism is the sworn enemy of democracy and the world has seen the horrific consequences of absolutist regimes holding sway in many of its parts. Absolutism is unfortunately addictive and always remains prevalent in regimented areas of any social system and is thought by them to be the only solution of myriad problems existing in a polity without realising its closed-door approach. Absolutists give examples of fast development they managed without paying heed to the ancillary failures associated with it. Pakistan faced such a situation before when its much vaunted decade of development was instrumental in creating an entitled class that has grown so strong that it calls the shots in contemporary national decision making process.

The current world is witnessing revival of authoritarianism in shape of national movements for revival as is witnessed in Hungary. The badly disguised democratic authoritarianism is also the hallmark of modern day Russia that still retains influence in many parts of the world particularly Central Asia. Authoritarian thought unabashedly employs any cause available to it including race and religion and creates paranoia to achieve its objectives.

The pressures of adhering to democratic principles are taking a heavy toll on its champions. They are slowly finding them in minority trying to hold the fort by rationally pursuing the course of governance. They find it increasingly difficult to convey their message and feel embattled by short-term populist slogans gradually causing their message to drown. Democratic path was never easy but confronted with the lure of exclusivity and false glitter of development trumpeted by absolutism it has become more cumbersome to traverse.

Democracy values ethics and high moral principles because they are inherent human values distinguishing it exclusively. There is no other race humans are competing against, except their own race. The prejudices of self-absorbed existence are weakening democracy and self-interest has always ruled supreme but democracy tempers it by keeping it subordinate to collective interest. A system is stronger when its collective interest is taken care of and it gets weak when individual concerns overtake it. All efforts should be made to protect democracy and make it as strong as possible. TW


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