Thinking about Democracy

A noble sentiment that has failed

Most of us were taught in school that democracy was a Greek idea adopted by the civilised world but is this really true? To understand the principle of democracy we need to step back to the first hunter gatherer humanoids to walk the planet, but it's helpful to begin looking at animal groups.

Within the species that hunt and feed off other animals, they tend to be more solitary although they do congregate more closely when food is abundant. In the instance of lions, their society is matriarchal although while they are ruled over by a male, is typically the oldest female that makes the most important decisions and the rest of the pride is free to go their own way if they are not happy with the matriarch's decisions. But even here the matriarch does not live in isolation, the rest of the pride will be learning and aware of the rationale for her decision-making process and happy to follow along.

Within the herbivores, they form much larger groups and the leadership again is matriarchal. The rest of the herd or flock free to move independently although they tend to congregate together for safety. Within all the animal species, decision-making is about survival strategy which requires the animals to understand the passing of the seasons and position themselves accordingly.

Now if we think about the differences between chimpanzees and bonobos, the chimps have a more aggressive tribal culture under a dominant male. They are territorial and the older females may participate in the decision-making process, but the male has the last word so we consider they have a well evolved and somewhat exclusive social structure. In contrast, the bonobos who are often referred to as the hippies of the forest have a matriarchal leadership and perhaps an awareness of a common bond? While the chimpanzees are competing with each other for leadership, for food and mating rights, the bonobos simply share everything and have a very peaceful and amicable life governed by possibility and happiness while the chimpanzees are governed by fear.

Our early hunter gatherer ancestors would have contrasted between these two ideologies. Some groups would have been masculine, dominant and exclusive leading to mistrust of neighbouring populations, competition over food and mating rights. But where food was plentiful and the people didn't have to spend a great deal of time every day providing for themselves, this would have led to a more inclusive matriarchal social structure.

By nature the masculine tends to be exclusive and the feminine inclusive. While the father figure wants his children and those he is emotionally connected to to be successful, the mother figure wants everyone to get along nicely and to be more creative. The staunch masculine hunter once he has learned a hunting trick wants to rely on it for life, but the feminine aspect of himself wants to be more creative and therefore to reduce his workload or increase productivity.

Typically within masculine dominated societies we get tyranny and oppression whereas in matriarchal societies, we get social coherence, education and learning for the betterment of all. Fathers teach their sons and mothers taught their daughters according to the masculine/feminine balance of their personalities. It is the feminine aspect that gives rise to collective education because it generally benefits everyone. In the first societies where people began to put down roots developing agriculture, it was the feminine exclusivity which enabled things to work.

In many ways human society is very similar to lion and chimpanzee societies as the males fight over ideas and resources. If we look back over thousands of years of our history there has been a continuous rise and fall of tyrants, thugs and bullies wanting to lead the world which is an illness because they were all seeking happiness outside of themselves through possession or shaping society to fit their own ideas.

By the time that democracy arrived in Greece, the patriarchy was well-established and beginning to have a negative impact on the democratic system that had existed in India for thousands of years. In India, the people understood there were finite resources and the best way to survive was to harmonise with all of life. Although few people give India the credit as is due, it is becoming increasingly accepted that the sciences in India were many thousands of years in advance of Europe but that's another subject.

We don't know exactly how long ago the Hindus developed the idea of democracy, it must have been a natural progression along with the development of sophisticated language and education. Their basic education was that we all stand equal under the sun because of we were not equal, the sun would shine more brightly on those more worthy.  The Hindus learned that they were part of life and while at an individual level cooperating with lifers fairly easy there is little that separates us from the animal. It is only when we come together as a collective that we begin to realise our potential. Of course our potential comes not through competition and combat, rather than through cooperation. So the ancient Hindus came to an understanding and consensus for the long-term survival of communities and the individuals within those communities.

With collective knowledge they were able to understand the passing of the seasons and indeed their knowledge of the universe around us was so vast, they have mapped a 26,000 year cycle and calculated the age of the universe, something that Western scientists only achieved within the past 100 years.

We must remember that the Greek idea of democracy was a collective wisdom leading to the best action for the ruling class, the common people and slaves had no say and no representation. In contrast, Hindu societies had actual democracies as we understand the meaning of the word so the opinion of every individual was taken into consideration. There are still some democratic communities in the way they function, but by and large democracy has become another tool of capitalism that is used to deceive the population. Sadly in India today, the patriarchal influence has led to some tragic decision-making and opened the door for corporate rule.

Democracy has failed today simply because the population are misinformed - in fact the educated tend to agree that the population has been lied to so much by those who control the media that when it comes to voting, the population is clueless. But they are clueless not only about the process of governance and what's really going on, they also clueless about life and that is the greatest tragedy and will ensure the continued increase in human suffering and loss of habitat around the world.

Democracy in Ancient India


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