Lately I've discovered that voting is mandatory in Brazil. But did you know Socrates was skeptical about Democracy? He thought most citizens never did their 'thinking' homework before voting. And I'm often reminded of that when I see "The X Factor" (or equivalents) taking off in non-democratic countries. As if 'voting' for your favorite candidate was a proxy or a consolation for not being able to choose your country's political direction. David Runciman writes in The Guardian:
"Tocqueville's analysis is the best guide to the workings of modern democracy (...). The democratic mindset is to be despairing and blithely confident all at the same time. Just look at the behaviour of America's current crop of political desperadoes. Surely you would only shut down the government if you thought that the system was working so badly that it is almost beyond repair. (...) On the other hand, it is also true that you would only shut down the government if you thought the system worked well enough to survive whatever you could throw at it."
The action hides the fact that however strong the disagreement, and even if the government shuts down, we all still believe in democracy, this is a polite play in favor of the agreed system. Like one of these ceremonial dances where one of the dancers is symbolically sacrificed. Under the surface however, we all have a strange admiration for dictatorship. Look at how effective Poutine is. Look how things "get done" in Chile. De Botton attributes the ugliness of London compared to Paris, Rome and Prague "lack of dictatorship" and central planning. Charles II vs Louis XIV.
In the same article, David Runciman writes "The best citizens are near schizophrenic citizens". But Democracy is recent in the story of our evolution. I feel not being able to find a system that surfaces a society's best values is a failure of our imagination. I'd love to hear your morning thoughts :D