World Citizens' Democracy
By Rais Neza Boneza
The new millennium is still coloured by bloodshed and conflicts of the deceased 21st century. The world seems to be in a continual state of rebellion. The symptoms of people in our age, 15 years after the end of the cold war, are still unhappiness, incapacity to decide for ourselves, general despair, uncertainty in daily life, all that embodied in one principle- “Democracy.”
How can we apply that principle to millions or billions of people?
That question has been raised by many of the leaders in totalitarian systems or former colonised countries like those of Africa. The late General Mobutu Sese Seko from the Democratic Republic of Congo legitimised his dictatorships by recalling the authenticity. Leaders in China could not understand how more than a billion of people in their country could be given the right to express themselves freely. For those leaders, freedom and Democracy rhyme with chaos.
Nowadays we are calling ourselves civilised, however the entire humanity is in complete disturbance. International relations are mined by a spirit of competition that creates a climate of anxiety and hostility. The system owned by minorities is growing more and more greedy and powerful. Suppressing all ideals in the mass “overwhelmed” and frustrated by that decision group. The society has lost, then, the centre of its values. People are living under threat and fantasy of extinction, terrorism, chemical weapons, nuclear danger as the signs of unresolved domestic conflicts.
For the sake of particular types of democracy, we sacrified people,e ignoring that the meaning of democracy lies in freedom and the respect of human dignity; the foundation of that world identified in the almost cultural-religious dogma: “love your neighbour.”
The disease of stereotypes gnaws all civilisations around the world, creating classes, different groups and denominations. The individual is swallowed up in the herd; men are de-humanised, losing their self-hood.
The September 11 attack on the United state comes to transform totally the face of the entire world. No negotiation, no dialogue, only the reason of the strongest one. The fear among us is stronger and perhaps stronger than it ever was. International laws still just a mere demarcation line between hostility and Stability.
How can we stabilise and develop our world?
Democracy is the key, but how can we apply democracy centuries after Athens, to not only one small community or city but to billionsof people with different cultural background. How to understand freedom and human dignity? Peace could be possible after all?
Brotherhood as the answer to everything, the new meaning of democracy – man tries to resolve the difficulties of his existence when he is confronted by nature and his relations to others. Man then produces morality, religion, art, politics or economy…each person recognises another in accepting each other particularity; there is also a feeling of togetherness, of Unity in formation of the concrete universal. In the concrete universality, everyman is recognised in his particularity.
Society is in existence because human being has desires and needs. Those can be satisfied by cooperation. There is a need of community. No individual can live in isolation. Human life is entirely social. Brotherhood is one of the foundations of democracy, which is found in every cultural background.
The stoics admitted the existence of a natural or moral law that gave certain minimum rights to all men without distinctions. “Government have to recognize such rights.” Cicero, the orator, said: “no state except one in which people have supreme power provides a house for freedom.” The emperor Justinian in 6th century, collected one code, “the Digest,” which became the basis of civil justice in the western world and the forerunner of the universal declaration of human rights of the United Nations. That brought a new concepts of freedom within the laws, equality in the common origin of men; brotherhood on the basis of one heavenly father enable roman laws to provide an early universal declaration of human right.
Laws must be made only by the will of the people. King John of England in 15th June 1215 signed the “Magna Charta” which was resumed by:
- Power of a ruler is limited
- Human rights are more important than the sovereignty of the kings
After the “Magma Charta,” democracy did not advance in England because a feudal digarchy tried to undermine the right of the people. That has become a the common problem in Third World countries after the independence events. Leaders were confused between the power of the people, which they were supposed to incarnate, and their own personal will as opposed to the people’s will. In 1888, however, William of Orange from Holland was invited in England to replace James II and to rule according to a revised bill of Human rights, which secured the supremacy of the parliament.
In the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, wherein he inscribed the greatest flowers of democratic ideas, which had been brought to America from Europe. In the declaration of independence we find the basic fundamental principle of democracy:
a. Men are endowed by God with the rights of “life, liberty and happiness”
b. All Government depends on the consent of the governed.
c. It’s the right duty of people to unseat any government whose abuses and usurpations lead to nepotism.
d. The power of the government is divided into three sections: executive, legislative, and judicial.
The French Revolution was bloody. The king and hundreds of the nobility and the clergy were killed. Religion was set aside and the principles of morality changed. The concept of freedom and brotherhood was made known to every citizen. Ideas and new institutions were not completely wrong.
In other nations, Kings were forced to accept reforms based on the principle that people are the source of authority. Kings had either to agree to rule in accordance with the constitution made parliament, or to abdicate.
Today the mentality of democracy is now spread all over the world; the human rights declaration is mankind’s most eloquent expression of opposition against tyranny and in support of the expression of the individual. Then to build up a political and social environment where the state and authorities are servants of the individual, and where respect for rights and duties of human persons is supreme; this is the aim of democracy.
Demos like the people and Cratos as the power or the government. “Democracy is known as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people”(Abraham Lincoln). Democracy is a way of ruling or governing the people. This ruling is done through the parliament. The ruling of parliament is done by representatives of the people freely elected by the people themselves on the principle of “One man, one vote.” The representatives in parliament must stand for “the people.”
The people must have the right to express their own opinions about the duties and sacrifices imposed upon them. The right not to be forced to obey without being heard, and full respect for their own dignity and freedom. Based on the following principles:
- The freedom of religion and of conscience
- The freedom of teaching of teaching
- The freedom of speech and of press
- The freedom of association,
Those are freedoms of man.
Freedom is a living thing. Good societies give the greatest freedom to their people; freedom defined not negatively, and defensively but positively as the opportunity to realise greater human values, genuine respect of the person. Coming to the individual dimension, freedom is man’s capacity to take a hand in his own development; the capacity to mould ourselves, it involves the acceptance of realities. Realities as the needs for rest and food or as ultimate as death not by blind necessity but by choice. The acceptance of limitations can and should be a constructive act of freedom. The man who is devoted to freedom does not waste time fighting reality.
Freedom is power to mould and create ourselves, the capacity to become what we are truly are. Realise the development of humanity toward the man. When the structure falls through dictatorship, permissiveness of persons who allow and by implication forbid other persons, that leads to chaos, lawless, stagnation, immobilisation instead of the freedom to be and to act.
In the American principles of democracy it says: “We hold these to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain Rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their power from the consent of the governed.”
Democracy is a living and working system of government as such; it never stand still. Meanwhile no democratic system in the world today is altogether pure. Democracy must provide then a permanent possibility of change.
In the religious-moralistic point of view, we find 3 ideas of democracy, which are:
a) Christian idea of democracy
b) Laically idea of democracy
c) The atheistic idea of democracy
1. The Christian idea of democracy tends to give the state a Christian background and this system does not exclude other religions if the citizens want to follow them. Rulers believe in God and in the Divinity of Jesus and rule according to natural laws of the gospel; God is the author of the society and he made society to help men to reach the heaven. Man has an eternal end as well as an earthly end, that for happiness. The rulers have received their authority from. “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” Laws of God and Christianity limit freedom. Equality in the right and also in duties. We are brothers because we are the sons and daughters of God. We do not find any laws against natural laws for example non-legislation of divorce or birth control as they are against natural laws; politics will not be independent from morality, morality is considered here as the soul of society and secret of welfare.
2. Laical democracy gives an artless background to the state, freedom of religion, laws of the state prevail over religious laws because the different churches are looked upon particular societies within the state such any trade union. Leaders are ruling according to the laws of the state without any religious influence. For the sake of a common welfare, the citizens obey the rulers. They do not feel themselves brothers because they have not common Father. They are equal before the laws and the laws limit freedom. Those laws are not against the slaws of Christianity but offend what is considered as natural laws in Christianity and in a moralistic point of view as law of divorce, of birth control. Morality is kept out of politics. What are good for the interest of state are rights.
3. Atheistic democracy is the communist democracy, non really democratic because the dictatorship has it own way of ruling, always monolithic or mono-partic, the foundation of democracy as freedom of speech, religion, of thought, conscience are totally forbidden and repressed, it’s a mockery democracy. The ruler leads the people not for their good but for the good and progress of such and such ideology (the party or power of the country). They ignore the existence of a supreme authority apart the chief of the state. Their brother without a common father, their leader is their father. Only the ideology is free, so free that people could be sacrificed for its good.
In Africa, democracy is just another form of totalitarian power because of its cultural background, but wherever there is human nature, there is the possibility of democratic form of government. In Africa years ago the chiesf were not only the makers of the laws and administrators, but were also judges of those who broke the law; we must to consider it history for the settlement of democracy. “ There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, no more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system” (Niccolo Machiavely 1513). It will be unwise to destroy the old system before building a new one.
Democracy must have limits. Democracy without restrictions is the worst form of government. Democracy includes taking advice from others. Building a space of Dialogue. Laws is a necessary condition for democracy and any law is a restriction of our freedom. Democracy must be for the good of all class people. Political parties work for the good of the society and not for the good of the parties themselves.
To build a dignified society we have to educate the mass on being people because the mass, the mob or the public is the mortal enemy of democracy. Democracy is not about the number but the consciousness of the individual as being a part in the progress of the society. Therefore people does not mean a mass of individuals, a crowd; people means a living together citizens who are consciously responsible and aware of their duties, their rights, their freedom limited by the respect, the dignity and freedom of others. Democracy cannot be a government of the mass, for the mass, by the mass. That is why many third countries have flooded under a cycle of crisis because the people were not mature enough to settle on a power which would provide equality and freedom. The men of the future have to work through other and for others. A mass, a crowd, a mob lives and works by other people convictions. A mob is ever ready to follow his flag today or in the future. Being irresponsible for its actions provokes a dictatorship.
Training for democracy:
Training for democracy consists of knowing and applying those fundamental rights as the rights for the citizen to express his opinion about duties or burdens that civil life imposes on him, the right not to be forced to obey in civil matters without first being heard, either directly or through his representatives. In that task the skill of mass-communication is required.
# Mass-communication introduction
According to De Fleur and Ballrokeach 1989, communication enabled inventions and solutions to problems that marked the stages of human civilisation to be shared and passed down to the second generations. The stages in human communication are associated with development of speaking, writing, printing and the mass media in what we shall call “the information society”. Each development did not replace its precedent. Man exists as a unit of the society. By himself he is isolated, meaningless; only when he communicates with others then he became valuable. Different conflicts in our societies are misunderstandings or breakdown in communication; we could eliminate those conflicts by applying the method of dialogue to human relations. When a man is engaged in mass-communication, public relations, advocacy and counselling, he can feel himself a part of the society. Human life is essentially social and a democratic society must not be an individualistic society.
# Personal opinion formation
The use of a basic education and personality, the practice of social charity and social justice so as to reduce selfishness tendencies, useful meetings and well-prepared discussions, reading and listening the wireless in general we have to be adept of information. The interaction of people of different classes or denomination is useful for stability and an integrated society.
Moral qualities for democracy are necessary; people must have an ideal, as for example the belief in God, because whoever leads a country without a certain sense of belief or ideal is a blind leader who lead other blind men. The societies in the process of education and formation have to develop a sense of trust. Without trust, we are destined to assist at an increasing level of criminality as we see in most of the great capitalistic towns in the world. Leaders have to be attached to principles and laws without discrimination.
Concept of freedom:
A man is free not because he does what he wants but because he does what is reasonable, and to go against the reason to do what he likes means that he is slave of his pride or of his instincts or something else. There is freedom when we follow the wish of the reason or of the soul and the wish of the body, the blood. unless these are reasonable.
When I am thirsty. I have the possibility to choose between water, coca or a beer. That is reasonable, but if I know that to drink to much beer will make me drunk, give me a headache or even waste my money, then choosing beer at that special moment will not be reasonable.
There is free action which is supported by awareness. I am not a slave; my instinct therefore is to follow feelings and wishes where they are against reason is slavery that will lead to irrationality
Human freedom, as we know, has limits, no man is fully free, all human power is totally restricted; we are born without our consent and we shall die without it. Nature itself limits our freedom; if you want to live you must breathe and eat. Can someone say I am free and so I want to live without breathing? The condition of our nature goes beyond our freedom. As our nature is limited, our freedom too is limited. If we could have an infinite, we could have an infinite freedom. If we are free, our neighbours are free too. We are not allowed to use our freedom to destroy the freedom of others.
A full understanding of democracy is based on a full understanding of freedom, equality and brotherhood of men. Freedom is not rebellion but rebellion could be an interim toward freedom. Freedom means openness, a readiness to develop, to grow morally-spiritually-physically; it means being flexible; ready to change for the sake of human greater values.
From the universal declaration of human write, we can synthesise those following kinds of freedom:
# Freedom of religion
Every person is free to choose his belief, or a faith, and the state has to make it comprehensible to the people to avoid tension and harm to the society. By respecting that freedom, we make ourselves ready for love and fraternity in the society because we will have tolerance then work with others. Religion is a personal affair and also a social affair. The 18th of the universal declaration of human rights, approved by the U.N, says that every individual has the freedom of conscience, and religion and one of these freedoms includes the freedom of: - changing one religion, displaying one religion openly. This means no interior worships only but social and public life within limits of laws.
By tolerance mentioned earlier, we have to understand firstly that men have to learn to develop a capacity of love instead of hatred or atrocities. Tolerance is one step to love. Tolerance does not mean love by any means. Love is a delight in the presence of other persons and affirming of their value, development as much as one’s own. Love requires the ability to have empathy with another, to appreciate and affirm his potentialities; also love presupposes freedom. You can love someone as long as you are free. To love someone because for example by accident of birth, you happen to be a member of his family; that not love. Love is not a given by choice; you can love only in proportion of your capacity of independence as said Spinoza: “truly loving God does not involve a demand for love in return.” For example to produce a piece of art it requires that the artist be able to bring out his love that means to give without thought of being rewarded. Then to love means to give and to give demands a maturity of self-feeling.
# Freedom of expression and press
Everyone possessing truth or constructive ideas has the right to pass it to others through speaking or other means of communications. Everybody has the write to express their opinions on certain facts and principles and to discuss the opinions of others. Those rights of speech and press are limited by the laws of Justice, of charity, of truthfulness, of the church and laws of the state. A speaker or a writer can be a writer and may be prosecuted when using false statements as:
- Defamatory libel,
- Seditious libel which induces people in violence;
- Blasphemous libel against beliefs,
- Obscene libel,
- Official secrecy,
- Abuse of copyright,
- Contempt of court.
# Freedom of association
Man is a social being; he is obliged to live in some association with other men. In a democratic country, citizens are allowed to have meetings and to join the associations they feel like joining.
All men are born free and equal in respect to their rights, meaning equal opportunities, equal justice and right. All Men have the same type of soul, red blood, and flesh, needs air, food and drink, born in the same way and will die in same way as an Bantu proverb says “All men’s nostrils are directed down”. Equality of men can be reached by education, public morality, honesty, fair standard of living, and democratic ways of living. As men are equal then they are brothers; there are no brothers without a common father. But by learning love, men can achieve true brotherhood. Lack of social charity makes a country unhappy. Citizens are often indifferent and that creates only anxiety, criminalities and other social evils. The Golden rule that we can find in all the big faith or religions in the world is: “Do to others that you would like others to do to you,” in other words “love your neighbour.” You will learn to be a brother or to love someone by going to the other, by sharing feeling or interest, by sharing a common language, interaction between nations, races, tribes, and classes should be made easy, international laws, institutions and laws must be strengthened. In general for a world democracy; we need a strong sense of internationalism and humanism.
The new society must harmonize the basic values of the contemporary. We must implement a democracy whose major institutions, resources, industry, health…are public, a democratic world in which all states participate. And that can be accomplished by a total reform of education. An education through the art of human relations must stop to inculcate the values of an industrialised society, such as materialism or endless competition but promote, instead, values such as cooperation, charity, respect, peace, and consensus instead of majority rule. The world needs a democracy with converging ideas based on human rights laws instead of diverging ideas like now, creating only conflict and confusion. A man’s life must be based on cooperation with other men and the natural environment.