People who are past a certain age tend to see everything around them more critically, leading to the (in)famous old age adage “This is not the way things were done in my time”, usually dismissed by claiming people are most likely to be defining any “Golden Age” when they actually reach “the age in which they need to get golden teeth”.
However, looking at the society we live in, there are more and more indications that, after a few decades – or even centuries – of constant technical and material progress, things on the part of our planet we like to call “civilized” have been stagnating. Some places have even started to slip backwards.
The additionally worrying fact is that this trend of moronization is not exclusive to the technological and scientific areas of human ventures, but also stretches over many others, such as human rights, workers’ rights, civil society, participation in politics, to name a few.
Surprisingly, the trend is not a consequence of anyone trying to control or squeeze people. Mainly The People seem to be less and less informed, less interested and less willing to take their destiny into their own hands. (And when they do, it’s not always for a good cause).
To someone who tends to look at things from a slightly wider point of view (sometimes so wide that it actually falls off the map and needs extra effort to return home), all of this does seem appalling, but hardly surprising. Indolence, ignorance and intolerance are mutually intertwined in a cause-and-consequence relationship, but the main cause for all of them gaining such a firm foothold and actually gaining momentum is a system called “democracy”.
Democracy is said to be the worst possible system of government, but only if you exclude all others, so simply abolishing it “in order to make things better” is not an option. What remains is trying to repair it or, rather, patch it up, and not necessarily with every patch being a perfect fit for every situation. So, let’s see exactly what the problem is.
Democracy can be described as the “rule of the people”. Everyone has the equal rights, everyone has a say in things and so on. The main problem with this has been known since the whole thing started, although each age approached it from a slightly different angle: not all people are the same, not everybody is equally informed, not every citizen is equally educated…
It all boils down to one thing: the vote of an Ignorant Fool will always carry equal weight as the vote of a Science Genius. In theory, this was to be fixed by the expectation that the Science Genius, if really right, would be able to support their view by arguments, which would enable their opinion prevail in the end.
In other words, the presumption for a functioning democracy is, if you’ll pardon my French, an educated and informed citizenry. This research however as well as some rules of behaviour point to the reasons why this will never happen.