DEMOCRACY IS SELF-GOVERNMENT
Harold W. Percival
THE DICTATOR AND THE PEOPLE
All forms of government of human beings have been tried on this earth, except—a real democracy.
A people allow themselves to be governed by a ruler or rulers such as monarchs, aristocrats, plutocrats, until it is thought expedient to “let the people rule,” knowing from the past that what are called the people may not or would not govern. Then they have a democracy, in name only.
The difference between other forms of government and a real democracy is that the rulers in other governments rule the people and are themselves ruled by external self-interest or brute force; whereas, to have a real democracy, the voters who elect representatives from among themselves to govern must themselves be self-governed by the conscious power of rightness and reason from within. Then only will voters know enough to select and elect representatives who are qualified with the knowledge of justice, to govern in the interest of all the people. So in the course of civilization attempts are made to let the people rule. But the majority of the people, though eager for their own “rights,” have always refused to consider or allow rights to others, and have refused to take responsibilities which would entitle them to rights. The people have wanted rights and advantages without responsibilities. Their self-interest blinds them to rights for others and renders them easy victims to impostors. During the try-outs of democracy astute and power-loving pretenders have beguiled the people by promising them what they could not give or would not do. A demagogue would appear. Sensing his opportunity in time of crisis the would-be dictator attracts the lawless and undiscriminating among the masses. They are the fertile field in which the disturber sows his seeds of discontent, bitterness and hatred. They give attention and applause to the shouting demagogue. He works himself into a fury. He shakes his head and his fist and makes the air tremble with his sympathies for the poor long suffering and abused people. He condones and explains their passions. He rages in righteous indignation at the cruel injustices which their brutal and hard-hearted employers and masters in government have inflicted on them. He paints alluring word-pictures and describes what he will do for them when he delivers them from the misery and bondage they are in.
If he should tell them what he is willing to do until they put him in power, he might say: “My Friends! Neighbors! and Fellow Countrymen! For your own sake and for the sake of our beloved country, I pledge myself to give you what you want. (I will mingle with you and fondle your pets and kiss your babies.) I am your Friend! And I will do everything to benefit you and to be a blessing to you; and all you have to do to receive these benefits is to elect me and so give me the authority and the power to get them for you.”
But if he were also to tell what he intends to do, he would say: “But when I have authority and power over you, my will shall be your law. I will then compel you to do and force you to be what I will that you must do and be.”
Of course the people do not understand what their noble benefactor and self-appointed liberator thinks; they hear only what he says. Has he not pledged himself to relieve them from doing and to do for them what they should know that they ought to do for themselves! They elect him. And so it goes—in the mockery of democracy, a make-believe democracy.
Their protector and deliverer becomes their dictator. He demoralizes and reduces them to be beggars of his bounty, or else he imprisons or kills them. Another dictator rises. Dictator overcomes or succeeds dictator, until dictators and people return to savagery or oblivion.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.