Is Western Democracy at Its Tether?

politicaljokes

Years ago, in my first year of university, I encountered the question: “Social sciences, primarily that of politics, is a science. Agree or disagree?) In light of recent events in the international arena of politics, I began reflecting back on that question. Before you read on, what would your response be, and why?

As a citizen of a democratic nation, it is your duty to keep the place in-check. It is not the government’s responsibility, it is not the government’s shortfalls, and it is not the government’s incompetence, because democracies are ruled by the People.

For a democracy to sustain itself, it needs nation-wide standardised government education to teach following generations to make calculated votes based on conjecture over emotion. Dahl, in his book “Democracy and Its Critics”, writes about how polyarchic democracies can only be sustained “if it possesses a political culture and beliefs, particularly among activists, that support the institutions of polyarchy.

Democracy in itself is traditionally known as “for the people and by the people”. If the People are to rule each other, the does it not stand to reason that the People ought to know what is best for themselves? Yes and no.

People may know what is best for themselves, but not always what is best for the nation. The emotional appeal to people is often the detriment to democracy, because it allows people to vote for who they trust, who they like, who “seems” like a good candidate. It allows voters to become subjective rather than objective, but also takes away their accountability as a democrat. Dahl, however, states that sustaining a polyarchic democracy is possible if – and only if- those who advocate for politics share a united belief. Therefore, once the masses are swayed, it is hard to override the wants of the People in a short period of time. It is through educating the younger generations of voters to keep informed that an educated democratic vote can be made.

Politics once had a dichotomous front – that was to say, East vs. West, North vs. South – but today, with globalisation at its expansion, politics has become a multi-polar game where the aspects traditionally defined as “grey aras” are now the new norm.

With Western liberalism on the rise and the push for humanitarianism toughens, democratic OECD nations have shifted focus from national economy to social justice; however, for Third World Countries or other OECD non-democratic nations, liberalism has been a gradual push through media, education, and travel. Technological advancements have brought the international arena out of the shadows, and it is partially for these reasons that democracies are reaching their limitations.

The gap, which democracies have been yet to fill, is that of cultural flexibility within education: as it stands in today’s era, many institutions structure social sciences as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Arts. Politics itself may have been an art, traditionally, if analogised by chess played with words: it was an art, a virtue, a reflection of character and integrity. Nowadays, however, politics has become so systemic that democratic education platforms should consider restructuring political science into a scientific method of studying rather than an artistic one.

Though it has been argued that the volatility of politics makes it hard to be defined as a science, those who have studied the scientific route of politics are well-versed in their ability to see conjecture and formula over emotion and reflection. Information has reached the stage where it is not facts and opinions that are in flux as much as interpretation. Politics has facts, it has opinions, but what it lacks when applied is interpretation.

Critics argue that “interpretation” is subjective; but science is clear in that when a hypothesis is formulated, the variables make up the solution. Conjecture can be formed based on pattern learning, and interpretation is a collection and process of data. (see Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data)  Having studied political science for years, and watched how it plays out in the world, I have come to realise that a gap political scientists need to emphasise more is that of culture. In a globalised world, “culture” is the determinant of how votes take place. Rogoff, in his analysis “Britain’s Democratic Failure” in regards to Brexit, stated that “a country should not be making fundamental, irreversible changes based on a razor-thin minority that might prevail only during a brief window of emotion”.

It is in this regard that nationalism is key to a successful vote, and arguably, nationalism is the antithesis of globalisation. With the information era pushing globalisation at a rate no renowned political scientist could ever predict (due to technological setbacks in the past), it is evident that democratic votes hold higher regard to emotion than cognition. Many democratic votes in this century have been swayed by creating a breeding ground of emotional frenzy whereby the arguments are one sided on both sides.

History shows us examples of where emotive language has succeeded because it catered to those who were not in positions to receive the education required to understand political language. Machiavelli instilled fear in his attitude that “it is better to be feared than loved,” (Cahn, 2005). Napolean Bonaparte moved the revolutionist in the French; Hitler manipulated the minds of the Nazi’s; Churchill, amidst the panic of ideological change during the Cold War. There are also recent examples such as how “Brexit has thrown the U.K’s two major parties into civil war”.[1]  It is evidenced by America with Trump’s appeal to the radical, barbaric, and competitive side of human nature (as philosophised by Hobbes, Rousseau, and Machiavelli), Clinton’s dual-sided arguments appealing to the freedom-hungry, autonomous, as well as self-interested side of human nature (as speculated by Locke, Mill, and Smith).

Yes, politics has become more systemic in the information era, and it is for these reasons that institutions (especially democratic ones) ought to reconsider how the social science courses are implemented, for the art of politics was the “old man’s game”; but today’s forward thinking generation of tomorrow’s world needs balance – the science of politics.

As a citizen of a democratic nation, it is your duty to keep the place in-check. It is not the government’s responsibility, it is not the government’s shortfalls, and it is not the government’s incompetence, because democracies are ruled by the People.

[1] Politics in the last two decades has become so systemic through the information era that it’s inevitable to be “surprised but not surprised” by the Brexit vote. As seen by the results, Brexit has, in itself, created a breeding ground of emotional frenzy whereby the arguments are one sided on both sides.

~Gordan

The Monetary Mistake

“Inherited fortunes are a misfortune that can only lead to sloth.”
~Alfred Nobel~

Money is volatile, it comes and goes, and even when it comes, it doesn’t necessarily lower the cost of living. In this generation, combined with growing up in a commercially competitive society, you soon learn that chasing money will get you nowhere. It’s like the leprechaun chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: “enough” just doesn’t exist, right?

 Wrong. Having “enough” money means if you can afford rent, food, bills and still have a little left over to have the occasional night out with your friends once in a while. We are consumed by the commercial mentality of consumerism that having more money means more shopping, more travelling, just more of whatever you have managed to live without for this long.

 Yes, it would be nice to have state of the art technology, to have a nice car, to travel around the world to see your loved ones and what not. But if you’re waiting around until you have “enough” money to do so in the future, I’ll tell you for a fact that unless you win the jackpot, you’re going to spend the next however long it takes to reach that “ideal figure” in your bank account. Why? Because the cost of living continuously grows. People are born, people need places to live, and earth is running out of land. Right?

 Wrong again. Earth is not running out of land, people are just flocking to places which have a stronger economy, which means that places that already have a high cost of living will continue to have a high cost of living. Now I can go on explaining how it’s all a result of colonialism, how colonisers took advantage of poor countries with lots to offer but also lack of resources, but this is the present. Yes, the past played a part, and the future will be impacted, and regardless where the focus is – if it’s on using the past to predict the future, or using the “future” to set ideals and standards for what is now – the present isn’t going to magically make things happen.

 Which brings me back to money. We have convinced ourselves (by way of media and society) that studying hard gets us a good job, good jobs bring good money, good money means raising a stable family. But why bet on the “what ifs?” Yes, education is pertinent to the future of our world, but it doesn’t have to be for money: contrary to the modern educational falacies, education is about knowledge, not status. It is about opening doors into our future by providing tools and skills, but at the end of the day, how you use them determine the level of happiness we gain from the output.

 So what is happiness? Happiness is not about chasing the pot of gold, it’s not about waiting for the day when you will be recognised and paid for your talents. It’s not about having enough money to waste and splurge. It’s about enjoying what you do have now and taking from each experience something that money will never buy. Yes, a new shirt or a new laptop might make you happy for a while, then it gets old. Think about this when you shop, “will this purchase significantly impact my functioning life?”

 Because in all honesty, if you really can’t survive without it, how has the human race not ceased to exist? Someone, somewhere, is still alive without that shirt. You don’t need it. You need happiness, and that shirt ain’t gonna make you happy. You fill your lives with objects that decay, with momentary frivol to keep you distracted, with the latest technology to make life simpler and a little lazier, with plane tickets around the world to “get away from reality.” Well face it, if you need that much reassurance and distraction in life, you’re never going to be happy.

 Just make the most of what you do have, because at the end of the day, people who love you will still be there at your lowest, and if they aren’t, then you were just their latest trend, just as your iPhone is now.

 Shit gets old. And so do humans.

 But at least humans can grow up.

McGordan

My comrades don’t fold, pop ****, get throwed
When it come to politicking all the homies need to know is
Get money, rent money
Get money, food money
Get money, school money
Stop taking shit from me
~Bambu~

Analysis on the Umbrella Revolution

CartoonWhat is the Umbrella Revolution?

The Umbrella Revolution is a revolutionary protest organized by students, educators and civilians around Hong Kong to fight for democracy. The name was coined during the final weekend of September in response to the publically deemed “excessive force” exercised by the police when they launched tear gas at unarmed civilians. The police justify their actions by claiming to have been outnumbered by a ratio of 7 angry protesters per 1 cop.

 Why is the Umbrella Revolution taking place?

As per an agreement made between Britain and China in 1984, Hong Kong is to exercise a One Country Two System policy until 2046. This agreement was made to ensure that Hong Kong is entitled to its capitalist free market and independent government. However, in the recent years, China has begun to appoint pro-Chinese government officials to the Hong Kong “Cabinet” so as to secure their hold on Hong Kong before the final handover thirty years from now.

 The People of Hong Kong are now standing up to this government and challenging the ideologies and expectations set out by the Chinese government. Two of the largest issues raised during the protests are universal suffrage and censorship. On Thursday night, 2nd October, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung announced that he would grant Hong Kong five million votes for the 2017 election. Hong Kong is unsatisfied with this response, claiming that it is not the number of votes in concern, but rather who the candidates are. “Giving us the selection of A) Bread with ham and cheese, B) Cheese with bread and ham and C) Ham with cheese and bread is not a real election!” claimed one of the leaders at the Central protests. “We want a true election!” echoed the crowd.

Click here for the definition of True Democracy in Hong Kong.

The realities behind the protests:

All throughout history, Hong Kong has always been a popular hub for international traders. The Imperial Era recognized Hong Kong’s tea, pearl and salt resources, and thus began trade. The Colonial Era then acknowledged Hong Kong’s geographical location, and used Hong Kong as a port between traders. Over the years, Hong Kong has always caught the eye of many stronger civilizations. The 1800s marked the beginning of Hong Kong’s existence under colonial Britain, but by the mid-1900s, Hong Kong’s paradigm was challenged by Japan. The Japanese managed to occupy Hong Kong for just under a decade before Britain took full control in the 1950s.

 1984 was when the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed, permitting Hong Kong to function with two policies until 2046. 1997 marked the “Handover,” which was when Britain “returned” Hong Kong to China under the terms and conditions listed out in 1984. In 1996, Prime Minister John Major promised Hong Kong that “If in the future there were any suggestion of a breach in the Joint Declaration, we would mobilize the international community and pursue every legal and other avenue open to us. Hong Kong will never have to work alone.” This promise was evidently disregarded in Hong Kong’s fight for True Democracy, but the reason being that the timing within the international arena is not ample.

How timing is severely affecting the outcome of this revolution:

Many sources have made various claims that this plan was set in motion within the last decade, albeit these claims are heavy, but not necessarily inaccurate, conjectures. Democracy has always been a threat to the Chinese government, but Hong Kong has always been open to democracy. Therefore, superpowers who are engaged in spreading democracy can easily use Hong Kong as a hub or pathway into China. However, the timing of this revolution is the greatest weakness of the revolution itself: considering that most of the international focus is on defeating Isis, most superpowers feel that their resources are better spent ridding the world of a concentrated religious paradigm rather than supporting a small city that is one of the top ten contributors to the global economy.

 Further analysis and outcome of responses indicate that Western Superpowers would put more effort into supporting the ideological paradigm had the emphasis not been so heavily concentrated on Isis, but also that the involvement of Western Superpowers would be from a diplomatic standpoint, and not military warfare. China is currently one of the strongest economic powers in the world, and considering that those whose armies are reliant on Chinese money, it is unlikely that their armies would take on the Chinese government in the first place. Conversely, the Chinese government is a threat to Hong Kong’s democracy, which essentially threatens the independent free market on many levels. This threat is partially what is attracting attention in the global arena, and this is the reason why Western Superpowers are even marginally involved.

What will happen?

What the media has failed to accurately portray is that this revolution is not a fight that began just ten days ago. This is not just a “protest by bored people who want to change something.” And the fact that protesters are leaving the scene is not a sign of boredom or defeat, it is a sign that Hong Kong will continue to maintain its solidarity and together, we will come up with a new, more feasible and more realistic method to achieve an outcome. The protest was needed in order to arouse international and national attention, and now that we understand which Superpowers are in unison and for what reasons, perhaps all we need is the correct timing. Whatever happens to this protest, this Revolution, it is evident that these ten days are just the tip of the iceberg, a taste of greater things yet to come. Greater, regardless of the ideological or paradigmatic shifts, but greater in the sense that very soon, big changes will take place in Hong Kong, and these changes are all dependent on how strongly China values their reputation in the International Arena.

This volatility of China is the greatest threat to Hong Kong.
And Hong Kong’s independence and social progression is the greatest threat to the Chinese government.

So, what now?
Click here to read “The next 36 hours could determine the future of Hong Kong.”

McGordan