Communism versus democracy: The age-old argument between purveyors of democracy and those that advocate communism both depend on ideologies that don’t work in practice. In many ways, at least ideologically, they are similar. It’s in practice that the two differ substantially.
Communism is based on the idea that everyone is equal, which is obvious nonsense and totally impractical. Democracy is based on the power of the people governing the people, which is slightly less nonsense but also doesn’t work in practice.
The current worldwide trend of popularism, which, in most cases, is a halfway house towards autocracy, if not outright dictatorship, has called into question which system works better for the people and which system do the people prefer, which may be two different things.
China is currently pushing the idea that democracy is in decline because it doesn’t work. Russia is aiding and abetting that idea while trying to maintain the illusion among its people that Russia is a democracy. Having the best of both worlds, at least from the country leadership point of view, seems to be a growing trend among many populist leaders across the globe.
Is anyone going to win the fight between practical communism and practical democracy? Probably unlikely and probably just as well.
Throughout human history, people have sought leaders, whether they be kings, emperors, popes, clan heads, pharaohs or heads of your local book club. Most people want to be led: They don’t want the responsibility of making decisions, they just want to retain the right to bitch about those decisions. In principle, I have always thought that “if you don’t wish to participate in a decision, you have no right to complain about the results of that decision”. So where does that leave communism, in all its various forms, and democracy, also in all its various forms?
You can also throw into this mix the dichotomy of individual freedoms versus collective, or community, responsibility. In most of our current world, lack of population control means that collective responsibility will become more and more dominant over individual freedom. Few people, even currently, live their lives without affecting others in some way. Short of continual conflict, we must learn to put community responsibility over individual rights. That requires collective decision making which, in turn, requires leadership.
The only difference between current political systems is whether that leadership is chosen by the people or whether it is imposed upon the people.
Unfortunately, the current political trend in democratic countries is pushing the two systems closer together. The rise of demogogues like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro are both examples of this trend. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are already firmly in the camp of leadership imposed on the people.
I wrote last week on the rise of blind ambition against integrity among public figures. This loss of integrity is also pushing current democracies towards autocracy and leadership imposition.
Is this trend inevitable? I would say yes, unless the silent majorities in currently democratic countries, start participating in the futures of those democracies. However, the signs are not good. Voter participation in most democracies is falling, and is already way below 50%. I go back to one of my points above. The masses don’t want to participate in decisions. However, there seems to be little realization that continuing on that irresponsible path will inevitably result in revocation of any right to participation.
The leadership in China is totally convinced that it is not only their destiny, but also their right, to rule the world. Abrogating our responsibility to actively defend, protect, promote, and participate in, democracy will inevitably prove them correct in the long run.
HOW DO WE WAKE UP THE DEMOCRATIC MASSES AND DRAG THEM, PROBABLY KICKING AND SCREAMING, OUT OF THEIR SELF-CENTERED COMPLACENCY?