Democracy And The Elevated Self
We talked about the recent votes in Russia and Venezuela. Neo-neocon, Dr Sanity, Shrinkwrapped and ourselves offer up some pretty interesting thoughts and ideas on Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez and what distinguishes the strongmen and their respective nations.
Democracy is a curious animal. Recent votes in Venezuela and Russia proved just that.
In Russia, a strong man leader was elected because he campaigned as a reform minded democrat who was determined to bolster the economy. Vladimir Putin's only election challenge came from former Communists.
In Venezuela, a strong man leader was rebuffed because he was determined to deprive people of their democratic rights and to establish a socialist regime- with himself at the helm, of course.
One leader is reasserting his nation's power. The other leader is a buffoon, a laughingstock who embarrassed his nation and democratic principles.
Democracy is about the freedom of the most expansive ideas- possibilities and the freedom to reach our potential. On the other hand, a democracy can also regulate much of even the most private of behaviors. For example, we can't necessarily act out on all of passions or desires, without consequence.
It is the role of government to strike that balance between what is good for the individual and what is good for the community. That only happens when government can balance morality and justice and law and order.
That is an extremely difficult balance to maintain- and just maybe, that is a good thing. As long as we continue to talk with each other about morality and justice, those ideals are at the fore of what defines us. However, when those exchanges are no longer real exchanges, but are reduced to 'talking points' and crafted into agenda bases ideologies, we are no talking about morality and justice. Some appropriate and use those ideas to serve selfish agendas. In fact, it how we behave, in the way we protest and in the way we live our lives, rather than what we believe, that speaks loudest.
We have seen in just the last century, imperialist monarchies, empires and despots. We have seen Fascism share the halls of power with Democracy and we have seen the two mighty economic models of Marxism and Capitalism go toe to toe at the same time. We have seen the fall of the Iron Curtain and the legacy of two world wars are behind us.
Of course, the names and locations change but the story says the same: the conflicts and issues are no different than they are today. They are about individual rights versus what is good for society and the community.
So far, no government has managed to strike that perfect balance. That said, democratic societies have done a whole lot better than their predecessors. Those that are so eager to find fault with democracy studiously avoid comparisons with other systems, preferring only to heap scorn on freedom and free ideals.
Of course, that is expected. We are a naturally diverse society, in belief and opinion and that has, and always will, yield conflict. We cannot suppress a diversity of ideas and thus infringe on civil liberties. However, we cannot allow an unregulated and unimpeded freedom for everyone. As we noted earlier, for real freedom to flourish, we must limit narcissistic and self serving expression that would impinge on others. We are not free to hurt each other, simply because we disagree with them.
Totalitarianism argues that for the good of the whole, the individual remains an expendable commodity. Individuals are selfish by design, they would say and thus, his selfish needs will always undermine and usurp the common good. Of course, such governments are almost exclusively run by tinpot dictators and tyrants. The record of the mass tragedy suffered by the human race brought on by such governments and leaders needs no explanation.
Democracy imposes an equality on each of us and in the greenhouse of freedom, nurtures that ideal. Democracies believe that empowering the individual, people will be motivated to do their best and even excel. Democratic ideals believe that although there is a risk of self interest, man's basic instinct is good and not bad and that free societies tend to do more good.
Democracy in a vaccum might appear to be superior form of government than totalitarianism. In fact, unregulated democracy contains an insurmountable impediment: the essential motivator in a democracy self-interest. If democracy is left unregulated, the core values of what defines a community will disintegrate as the millions of individual desires and needs supersede the need and good of society. These conflicting interests could easily obliterate and disintegrate a society’s drive for meaningful achievement. Many democracies have struggled mightily with this dilemma. Certainly, the United States, the largest democracy in the history of the world engages in that struggle every day. An example of that are the current battle in many American cities where individuals’ freedom of expression have been met head on by 'community standards.'
A government has to define freedom and often times, a morality that is applicable to all citizens. That is a tall order.
There is only one model/basis for a government and morality that has stood the test of time: Morality, as defined by the Judeo Christian ethic. (Now, if you wish to debate that, feel free to do so. Be warned however, that we will not suffer fools lightly. If you want to argue that more deaths have been caused by Christianity, than the repressive 'progressive' movements, take the moronic ass on your shoulders over to Kos or the ISM idiots). We are in no way advocating a religious government- nor would we ever- but rather, we are believe that a government, predicated on a higher morality that recognizes human nature and individual needs serves a society well. Clearly, a society predicated on any other kind of morality will inevitably escalate prejudice and disengagement.
A society where all are equal under the law must have an equally uniform sense of morality and justice. Those absolutes are easily defined (the following are based on the Noachide Laws):
- Respect for human life
- Respect for family
- Respect for equal rights for all
- Respect for property rights
- Respect for the judicial system
- Respect for all living creatures
It is clear that these moral statements can serve as absolutes- and as a foundation for a just society. We need to look beyond the self interest, self absorption and self indulgence of those who would tell us what to do. It is clear that their agenda and temporary tenure is superseded by a higher truth- we are all part of the same family. As a society, we are really parts of a single organism. We are meant to inhabit this earth in a way that elevates each of us and the society we live in. We are not meant to tear apart that which we were given. We may from time to time need to mend our imperfections and live up to ideals that raise the bar- not lower it. Freedom is the same as the unrestrained self indulgence of narcissism.
The nations and governments that do not espouse these truths are either repressive dictatorships, or they are no more than anarchies, where there is a free for all, with no respect for society or government.
Our community is made up of many individuals, of different races, religions and origins. Each one of us is blessed with the right and privilege to participate and contribute our individual strengths toward the greater good of a united community.
There are those who argue that by self imposed self restraint on the darker side of human nature and human behavior, we are somehow binding our own hands and limiting much of our potential freedoms.
In fact, just the opposite is true. By insisting on behaviors that limit narrow, selfish and clearly narcissistic tendencies, by extension, we elevate the higher calling that freedom extends to each of us. In other words, society, culture and the law can have higher expectations from us, expectations that that exceed our own selfish instincts. If we are more and not less civilized, we can expect a greater expression of higher ideals, culture and our own potential.