Docksey: Has Democracy Gone Missing? Or was it ever here?

Lesley Docksey writes in the Dissident Voice:

With a general election looming in the United Kingdom and Spain possibly following Greece’s revolt against austerity later this year, we need to think, not just who or what we are voting for, but why we should vote at all.

People are suffering from a deficiency which is as unbalancing as a hormone or vitamin deficiency. What we are severely lacking in is democracy. Many of those pondering on the state of politics feel unhappy and somehow depleted. They haven’t yet realised it is democracy that’s lacking because they have believed what so many politicians have told them, over and over again:

We live in a democracy. Now exercise your democratic right and vote for us.

But what is the point of voting if, no matter who you vote for, what you get is the same old, same old?

But is that concept, so blithely used by our leaders, truly what is meant by democracy?  Or is it just a word where many party-politicians are concerned, not a principle by which to live.  The ‘democratic right to vote’ is worthless if it doesn’t produce democracy, nor does having a vote necessarily mean you live in a democratic society.

Where did this all start?  The beginnings of democracy came out of Athens, an independent city-state.

Democracy comes from ‘demos’ or ‘deme’, the Greek word for ‘village’. The deme was the smallest administrative unit of the Athenian city-state. And there, essentially, is the key. Democracy belongs to the little people and their communities, not Washington or Westminster. And because there are now such large populations everywhere, the administrative area has become too large to be governed by anything other than draconian methods. The connection ‘of, by and for the people’ has been broken.

Athenians didn’t vote; they chose by lot. That did mean that sometimes they got a lousy lot of men governing, but that was balanced by occasionally getting a really good council […].

Should we chose by lot? Perhaps not. But on a purely local level there is an argument to be made for selecting our representatives rather than electing people who put themselves forward or are chosen by political parties. The Zapatistas, from the Chiapas area of Mexico, are known for reaching decisions by consensus, community by community, as well as selecting their representatives.

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