“It is not hard to convince ourselves that democracy has terribly failed us” – Dr Upatissa Pethiyagoda – in his Island article ‘Are We A Disfunctional Democracy?’
My mind rejected the above because the question that needs to come before this is ‘Did we fail Democracy?’ One who raises the question ‘Has Democracy failed us?’ needs to have contributed to democracy in her / his own home territory. The moral right to raise such a question stems from our own contribution to Democratic structures.
Wikipedia explains as follows:
[Democracy in modern usage, has three senses - all for a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body, and vote directly on each issue, e.g. on the passage of a particular tax law. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. "Rule of the majority" is sometimes referred to as democracy. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.]
The following confirms Current Contribution to Constitutional Democracy:
Addressing the symposium former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Chairperson of Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), stressed the urgent need for a new Constitution, which was necessary to build national unity and peace.
“Minority rights should be ensured by law through the Constitution, either with amendments or with a new Constitution. The government has to do this. It is moving very slowly,” former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, at the Inter Religious Symposium organized by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.
But lacking is a specific example in the Constitution that denies minorities their rights to be ‘free’ in their own environments. Let’s take for example, Mrs Vijayakala Maheswaran’s recent outburst in Jaffna and the threat of legal action against the lady. How does one express one’s Truth that represents also the Truth of other women in the area that one has the DUTY to represent without fearing punishment by the Representative Government?
The role of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is to oppose the Government by taking legal action by active use of the provisions in the Constitution. That opposition is essential to prevent rebellion by those who seek to lead their own communities. There can be no order in a society where minorities seek to actively self-govern and show it to prevent being taken over by majority. Showing that self-governance is the role of the Leading Opposition. The Party/group with 2nd largest votes is elevated to Equal status by law, to prevent unruly reverse autocracy.
In Democracy ‘showing and telling’ is an important milestone. But such showing and telling needs to be of outcomes delivered Independent of the Government and needs to be overtly adverse to the Government’s own outcomes. The outcomes need to oppose – without any justification by the subjects.
In the war – between the Government and Tamil rebels for example – to the extent the rebels defended their own territories on the basis of their own belief – they became the opposition to the Government soldiers who were doing their duty. But ‘attacking’ to show cleverness is reverse autocracy/dictatorship.
Given that in a Representative Democracy – those elected to government – are not likely to rule against their own, opposing minorities are essential to maintain order – including in Parliament. The downside of ‘Representative Democracy Only’ – is this emotional block to higher intellectual thought structures that facilitate balance of mind and therefore rule of law and the order that flows from such rule of law.
In migrant societies such as Australian society – minority rights are Constitutionally protected by Equal Opportunity Laws. This does not mean that in real terms we are self-governing. Most migrants known to me at my level – do not oppose their CEO’s / Government actively because they prefer to be followers than leaders. Many of them however, find it easier to criticize their past CEOs / Governments to show their cleverness. To Mrs Maheswaran – after the SLFP / UNP split in Government – the President was such a past. That confirmed also that it was not her Truth and that the lady was using a remote community’s public outcomes to her advantage. That toddy tapper community is also the parallel of the SLFP – remote and usable as an object – now that they were not protected by rebels who had influence with LTTE leadership.
Dr Upatissa Pethiyagoda states:
[Our system claims to follow the UK and US. This is dominated by two political parties – Labour and Conservative in the UK and Republicans and Democrats in the US. The equivalents for us are the UNP and SLFP with smaller representation by frequently inconsistent and fluid numbers. This is through changing alignments and frequent crossovers. The latter are very rare in the UK and USA and instead marked by resignations in the event of serious disagreement. In Sri Lanka, we indulge in horse trading instead.]
This is because we do not have constitutional democracy in practice. The solution is Business Unit approach – where money and immediate pleasures dominate. The costs bypass the lawful structures – as do benefits. Most democratic enterprises in Western countries are shifting to Business approach – because they have abandoned constitutional democracy.
Be it autocracy or democracy – they were mere pathways to Oneness. Their lifetimes are limited. One who realises Truth through these pathways – is the ultimate winner.