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

Becoming Human

The eye is to observe
The mind to reason
The heart to understand
The life to be experienced
And the Voice is to express and be heard
~Mikavelli~

The modern world has constructed a reality of so-called “normality”, but being a social construct, the definition of “normal” should be ever-changing. However, in this day of fear and conformity, of precaution and preventative measures, the definition of “normal” is unyielding. There are, on the other hand, non-conformists out there who choose to challenge the regimes and boundaries of limitations set by a world trying to maintain afloat in this dog-eat-dog world.

These are the radicals.

Yet to the detriment of dreamers, the word “radical” too, has been associated with great negativity in this era. “Radicals” are supposedly the ones representing intense religious movements; “radicals” are supposedly the ones who force their definition of morality on the people of their reality; “radicals”, in every sense of this generation’s definition, can only (sadly) be used with a pinch of salt.

It is to this that I attribute the greatest challenge to the modern regime – definitions. If normalcy is a social construct, and radicalism has been understood as social destruction, then anything which defies the edifice of modernity (or post-modernity) is thus deemed “abnormal”, “paranormal” or “supernatural”.

Nonetheless, what if these “abnormal” traits and abilities that people have are no more than back-to-basics – of conforming to human nature rather than social construct? Of living rather than merely existing? Of being rather than performing? Those who are in touch with themselves and have life experience to carry forth into the real world are often faced with the challenge of knowing when to conform, and when to defy. The sad truth, however, is that the elements in which humans were naturally born with – the ability to swim as a baby, having an intuition, trusting vibes and gut feelings, sensing others’ presence – all of these innate human abilities have been eradicated by definitions, rationale and logic. Yet, the irony is that these definitions and so-called “logic” are all but rational.

“Logic” cannot be an absolute truth unless both ends of the spectrum are taken into account and analysed – but the attributes of human nature are often destroyed or underestimated by the human definition of logic and reason. But logic can be interpreted and deduced: true logic lies in knowing that not everything is black or white, and that not everything in life is a “model answer.” This is much like what Aristotle had said that “The law is reason free from passion.”

By interpretation, Aristotle argues that in order to rule mankind, one must thus eliminate any form of passion – any form of emotion, feeling, or “abstracts” in one’s mind. This is evidenced in any capitalist society, and being the capitalist era we live in, money is the universal language everyone understands, which then determines success as financial power; accordingly, the “cause” behind all success is the ability to shut off human emotion, defy human nature, and live a passionless and meaningless life.

This, according to modern society, is the most secure survival method, and to revert to human nature and defy those who walk away from it is called “breaking the law” and “becoming radical”.

The paradoxes and harshness of reality leave most at a standstill: at any given point in life, absolutely anyone can have a certain amount of power to make a difference – but standing alone and fighting for what you believe is draining and tedious. Very few withstand the shrapnel and shards of broken glass that conformists swing at them while trying to shape and mould a “model citizen”, but the ones who do (and can) are ultimately the non-conformists. The radicals.

The ones who change the world.

The ones who society calls “antisocial”, “delusional”, “crazy”, “emotionally unstable”, and so forth.

The ones with a power so intense that conformists who recognize it try their hardest to suppress and fight; to water-down and abridge.

We are the radicals. We bear the responsibility of the rest of the world simply on the premise that we are able. But the world is not ready, and brilliant ideas always take the longest time to manifest into reality for they are waiting for the world to be ready.

To be radical, use:

Voice JPG

Live Each Day As If It’s Your Last

Even towards every allusion I’ve been in love with
’cause the heart that portrays itself willingly
Is like a nation that trades freedom for stability
Its so seductive to be cold and corrupted and isolated and try to be an independent republic
But liberty to be loved on the surface is worthless
The sacrifice of revolution with no purpose ~Immortal Technique~

If we live everyday as if it’s our last, one day we’ll most certainly be right.

We live in a paradoxical world obsessed with immortality and the “future of our world,” yet we spend the evenings in bars and clubs, getting drunk screaming phrases like “YOLO” or “live for today.” How often do we wake up in the morning, moaning and groaning, dreading the day ahead? How often do we go to sleep at night thinking about how exhausted we are?

Many of us are lucky enough to climb into bed at night, in the comfort of our blankets, believing with almost 100% certainty that we will wake up the next day and continue with our (sometimes mundane) lives, but what if we don’t? What if we don’t wake up the next day, or what if we don’t make it home the next night?

We all have this life which has been handed to us, and far too often people take advantage of it. Just because not all of us have been in life-or-death situations and haven’t had the need to fight for our lives doesn’t mean that we can take it for granted. If we let ourselves become apathetic to the fact that one day, we’re all going to die, then we’re a letdown to everyone who’s ever cared about us, ever loved us, or ever needed us. More importantly, we’re a letdown to ourselves.

Everyday is a fight – whether it’s staring down the barrel of a loaded gun or just trying to get through the streets without being robbed; whether it’s going to work because you love it or simply because you need the money for food and rent. But if we just give up and retractthen our life here on earth would be meaningless because it was simply handed to us, and we never fought for it.

It’s human nature to want to survive, which means fight or flight.

But do we define survival as sheer existence or do we actually want to live? Are we here because we have no choice, and have been taught that it is our human obligation and right to remain alive? Or are we here because we actually want to seize the one and only shot we have at making a difference?

Which breeds the question of how one defines “making a difference.” Some view the “difference” or change as a macro-scale impact, whereby taking down and breaking the entire system as we know it; other see the “difference” in simply sharing thoughts and ideologies. Others, yet, see the “difference” as being there for people in times of need, and hoping that perhaps one day, maybe those people will pay it forward.

When someone sounds optimistic and hopeful, they are deemed idealists; yet, how is optimistic idealism any different to cynical revolutionism when the ultimate outcome is the same: to eradicate corruption of the human world? It is what it is, and though macro-scale change is seemingly impossible, micro-scale change isn’t, and that’s where our choices can make the biggest difference.

Is it all about us, or is it all about them?

– live each day as if it’s your last
– treat everyone around you as if it’s their last day
– wake up in the morning without hesitation
– go to sleep at night without regrets

and most importantly: make sure the people you love know how you feel about them, because the day you stop caring might be your biggest regret.

To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people simply exist. ~Wilde~

Gordan.

Everybody Lies – But Why?

Lie to me and tell me that it’s gonna be alright.
~David Cook~

The inability to communicate candidly simply in fear of the other person’s reaction is merely a reflection of our own insecurities manifesting. We fear the other’s reaction because we don’t want a living reminder of how we would react – thus we create a scenario where we simply hope that our own reactions will be, later on, reflected in their own behaviour.

As I’ve said many a time, everybody lies. It’s merely the reasons behind the indiscretion that lead oneself to wonder, “What did I do to cause this lie?”

Everyone lies for a reason – most, to avoid responsibility or repercussions of a delayed, ambiguous reaction. Some lie to cover up a story they know should be falsified; others lie because admitting their true feelings out loud “makes it real.”

Everybody lies, but why?

The reality of truth, when analysed by philosophers or political scientists, is often a reference to macro-scale deceit where the government, or its representatives hold a position of responsibility and “trust.” Those in power are the so-called roll models of trust. Paradoxically, those are the ones in which society deems “the Best Liars.”

Politically speaking, “untruths” are mere ways of phrasing certain words to skirt around the law – to justify a questionable cause by masking the true motive.

Socially speaking, “lies” exist for the sole purpose of ego. I coin the term “ego” casually because it refers, not simply to the arrogance of the fickle human mind, but to the perpetual strive for self-recognition (Fukuyama, 1992). Lies exists because we, as humans, have an undying instinct for survival, and perhaps the world is not as barbaric or anarchic as Hobbes described in Leviathan, but ultimately the human sub-subconscious does not (and will not) eradicate the strive for survival. That said, social survival is the new mask of “being alive.” Ergo, lies exists for the sake of social survival, because it is in our instinctive nature to avoid social conflict.

Religiously speaking (and I draw the following from one of the most Ancient – and well known – religions in the world): Christianity. Religiously speaking, lies exist because Satan was known as the “Prince of Darkness.” What this entails is one of the largest “sins” : dishonesty. However, the Daoist philosophy is that there can be no light without the balance of darkness, and vice versa. In other words, there can be no absolute truth without the presence of a lie. The world, our humanity, is imperfect (Christians will argue that it was not meant to be as such), but alas, humans as they are are imperfect and flawed. Perfection cannot exist without the existence of imperfection. This, is true perfection – to incorporate all aspects of human nature: The good, the bad, the ugly truth.

Thus, will that’s said and done, how this relates to the simplicity of a single human lie. Why do we lie?

Even the simplest of ideas can have the deepest and mind-blowing theories. And the beauty of theory, is that it is mere conjecture, speculation, calculation, rationalisation. It is not necessarily a fact, rather a string of facts concocted to explain an experience that is meant to be experienced.

And therefore, by simply adding fanciful academic words, using obsolete yet decorative diction, man has, over the years, learned to evolve language and shape it in such a way that humans can be lead to believe almost any lie. Even Foucault, over the last century, devised a political and social theory of its own simply based on the Linguistic aspect of “Post-Structualism” : simply put, how language has shaped the actual structure of modern society.

Again, to adopt another religious philosophy, if us as humans were to speak only the truth, as suggested in the Hindu “Naraka,” a realm where lies do not exist and there is absolutely no method of creating falsified statements, would we as humans simply lose our essence of creativity? Are lies not simply a darker route straying from “creativity,” from “fiction” ? To those who feel the need to justify and rationalise each and every lie, those who think like lawyers and find a way to skirt around “the rules”; those who think like politicians and know how to touch up their phrasing in hopes of persuading the slightly less educated; those who think like academics who string ideas and thoughts together – create hypothesis; those who create art out of nothingness; those who are capable of writing the next best seller.

Are we not all creators of our own world? If so, are we not all liars, fundamentally?

Can we go too far to find what is waiting here?
A little fall from grace on the longest night
Did we go too far to find what is waiting here?
We’ll take a little time to open up again.
~Howie Day~

Gush of Nostalgia

I know there’s trees
I know there’s sand
I know there’s grass
Is it somewhere in the past?
~MGMT~

Consumed by a sudden gush of nostalgia as the prospect of a future is threatened by an irrevocable past. The present being history in the making, and history being the potter of a defining future.

In running from the realities of what has already happened, the future becomes nothing more than a fanciful skin covering the skeleton of a past already lived. Life being no more than history redefining itself, elucidating every rationalization of infinite possibilities.

Possibilities. Dreams. Future. Ideals. Goals. All but whimsical words invented by oneself to assemble and collocate the mistakes of the past, and relive them in a different image, different light, different setting. There is nothing more than what already is – everything in between being the simplicity of understanding and perception of an innovative conception.

Love. Hope. Happiness. Security. Stability. The beauty in a mundane commonplace which most define as “life.” Beauty lies in the ability to acknowledge and appreciate the presence of such luxuries. The luxury of waking up in the morning, knowing that no man is an island. The luxury of having a reason to wake up. The luxury of anticipating the comeliness of what each new day brings.

Nostalgia. Contemplation. Truth. Fear. Avoidance. Words designed to interpret the inexplicable, the twilight zone in which we subconsciously access the sublunary elements in life. The abstractions of an extraordinary phenomena in which science meets the metaphysical. Where knowledge and wisdom compromise. Where the conscious meets the subconscious. Where the circular motion in which we run ceases. The place in-between, where all the answers can be found, but none of the right questions are ever asked.

Primal. Past. Present. Future. Infinity. The endlessness of time, stretching both ways. For if time never ceases to exist, thus there was no beginning. For if there were a beginning, there would inevitably be an end. The enigmas of the universe, stretching far beyond time, leaving the concept of time a triviality contrasted with the vastness of infinity. Everything around being the “bigger picture,” the real issue. Life in itself is meaningless without rational explanation – yet rational explanation in itself being the simplification of a seemingly phantasmagorical truth.

Everything that is: every atom, every molecule. Every noun, every fact. Every substantiated realization, every abstract sensation. To stand and revel in the surfaces of life, the momentary pleasures which one mistakes as “truth” and “reality.” To watch our lives from the present, stretching our lifeline (now being the pinnacle, birth being the starting point) into the potentials of an infinite future. Our lives, our minute issues and minuscule moments of happiness, just happens to be, as the infinities of the universe surround us, and pass by (however slowly) in comparison to the pace of everyday life.

Adding a definitive meaning to life is all but undermining the limitlessness of something greater, something unfathomable. Whether the rationalization being religion or science – to add a written account for what was meant to be experienced is denying the fact that there are questions meant to be unanswered.

Everything has an explanation, but not everything has an answer. The only truth in any controversy is that we, as humans, cannot accept the fact that the universe is larger than life. We as humans create religion and science to define what was meant to be lived: to add meaning to what was already meant to be. To add relevance to what is already relevant.

And what is larger than life is not meant to be explained.
It’s meant to be experienced.

When busy streets a mess with people
Would stop to hold their heads heavy?
When pleasure moments hung before the takeover
The sweeping insensitivity of this still life.
~Imogen Heap~

Hobbes’ State of War

A morning of understanding the basic idea of Hobbes’ theory on man’s natural state being a state of war resulted in an incessant usage of brains vs. writing skills. As I have come to conclude, not only is human nature flawed, but because of our unwillingness to accept that we are equal at the core (we are glory seeking – thus, we want to be “different” and “special”) we are in constant conflict – constant matter in motion – with self and society as it is.

Man is egotistic, focusing on the unquenchable needs of self before the desires of others, and with our naturally conflicting and competitive nature, we are in constant battle for resources and space. Not only are our materialistic desires incessant, but essentially our desire for freedom becomes the driving force for conflict. This, and our diffidence (lack of trust in others) causes us to meet our own gains rather than risk loss via means of co-operation.

Anyway, this is just what I studied this morning. Obviously I have the rest of the day ahead of me. History today, and International Relations tomorrow, hopefully.

But as for current affairs…

  • The UN introduced reducing the amounts of female circumcision in Africa (despite this being a part of the culture) but has resulted in 65% reduction since 2007.
  • The IPCC was off by 22 years in predicting when the Himalayan Mountains would melt: Global warming is still a controversy, and unproven.
  • Debates regarding whether economic improvement will result in climate change – but ambiguity regarding whether the change is “good” or “bad” results in unending and rhetorical arguments.
  • China over-reacted to America’s selling 6-Million worth of military artillery weapons
  • North-Korea liberated the Christian Prisoners on suspicious terms, possible brainwashing involved
  • China is North-Korea’s greatest ally; Russia is China’s greatest ally; the Middle East is Russia’s Greatest Ally. If the world were to break into a Third World War, the Western nations have little to fend for.
  • Hong Kong’s continued fight for democracy is succeeding by far – however, because of the little capitalism that HK is built on, there is a chance that if HK becomes fully democratic, China will react negatively and HK risks another post-97′ decline.
  • South African President Jacob Zuma’s fifth wife was recently arrested for drug smuggling.
  • Haiti’s death toll reached 200,000 (the first estimate)

That’s all for now. More updates to come soon.

As a matter of fact
There’s no turning back.
~ATB~