Citizen to be More Active as a Consumer

I. Political Democracy is Unable to Deliver

         Political democracy is not a complete democracy, though we have taken up ordering political relations among human beings as the most pressing problem since human security and the security of the groups has been dependent upon it from times immemorial. Political democracy has been, essentially, devised to avoid the bad experiences of the arbitrary rule of the kings and dictators in ancient, medieval and early modern societies i.e. till the 20th century. Though it has been accepted as a universal norm, still, in its practice it has not been entirely satisfactory, since it was a uni-dimensional approach of viewing all human relations through the prism of politics. Though we have not yet found a permanent solution to existential insecurity, violence, conflicts and wars among various groups among us, we have certainly made great progress over the past ten thousand years of free human movements and peaceful co-existence among various groups across the planet. Meanwhile, the personal and social evolution of the human being has advanced very fast thanks to the stimulation given by the Renaissance movement in modern Europe and after several later bloody revolutions and many wars, including the two world wars. 

        Now, we are passing through a worldwide Digital Revolution that augmented the pace of social transformations manifold. At the same time, the development of the individual has become the primordial objective of all human relations. Human aspirations have become too complex and too sophisticated to be left to a political class in the society. Modern Europe had dominated and influenced the rest of the world so much as no other civilisation before in the history of mankind and favoured fundamental human rights, liberties, humanism and social welfare. Internationally also, the United Nations institutions recognise no purpose for the existence of a state and its governments other than that of protecting the freedoms of the individuals and groups within. During this evolution, it is found that democracy is not complete only as a system of political relations between the government and the people, and that too, by way of governance by the Representatives. They are unable to bring in a social democracy, where economic, social and cultural relations among all the residents are to be inspired by values of liberty, equality and solidarity. Thus, complete democracy is valued as a dialogue or governance process among all those residents who live together in a community with mutual respect. Among all relations, economic relations have proved to be not only determining but also a pre-condition to human development, justice and peaceful human relations. Hence, economic democracy became a prerequisite for all further improvement in human relations.


          Theoretically and practically also, it is proved that we cannot depend upon the governments to usher in economic democracy, since in the past, many governments have tried to bring in a new economic culture in the name of socialism and failed. Even in liberal democracies, so long as the state has the monopoly of absolute power, whether it is a king or a dictator or a political party, they try to hold on to power perpetually and exclusively in their vested interest. Among the developing countries, the governments claimed to be a 'welfare state' and act on behalf of the people, but never allow people to act. The bureaucracy, political representatives and judiciary carved out exclusive domains to share and wield power and make themselves indispensable and irreplaceable. Within each group, they establish a very rigid hierarchy and at each step, there is a superior and an inferior, so as to enjoy power over each other.

          We see from history that the entity called the State has not been formed rationally and the  foreign policy, for example, is viewed as a game of respecting and accommodating the Sovereign Power of each state by the career diplomats, rather than for promoting friendship and cooperation among the people in those states, who have, mostly by historical accidents found themselves within the borders of a state. Latest example is the wars between the states of Russia, Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, Donetsk, Luhansk, etc. A few months ago, it is about the tribes living in between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian states. Ever since, the Colonial Powers formed political states in Southern Africa and North Africa, different tribes separated into several political states never stopped fighting against each other. A major portion of human and material resources in a country is devoted to the upkeep and glory of the state machinery and its agents. The Power within the state is wielded by the political parties and they indulge in permanent power-struggle within the party and among the parties. In China, the unique Communist Party is still struggling to be such a sole transforming agent of the entire nation, not without catastrophic consequences upon India and other countries. The lesson we should draw from our relations with Pakistan, China and Russia or Ukraine is that we should not yield to the temptation of being a more strong state but a more democratic state in the long term interests. 


          The Representatives are not willing to decentralise Power to the point of empowering each individual. Right now, some states in Indian Union are claiming the transfer of Power to them in the name of federalism, rather than further asking for decentralisation of powers, functions, functionaries and funds, in which case, they might have to further decentralise within the state and devolve them to the local bodies, upto the Resident Welfare Associations.

II.      The People Themselves have to Act, and Act Directly since They Can.

          Since we have failed, so far, to achieve any socio-economic transformation towards more democratic values by the contemporary political parties, what is the alternative left to the people? Active citizens, in their capacity both as consumers and as producers, have to negotiate by forming associations or non-governmental organisations for various economic activities for mutual benefit at various levels. Since the producers who are creating wealth in the society, nourishing the governments with their tax money and are creating employments to others, are not yet sufficiently respected, it is as consumers that the citizens should act, more than as voters to introduce and nurture gradually a new economic culture, in which social responsibility is most important. At a time in this country, when objective intellectuals, able managers and subject-experts are not involved in the governance, when their professions have no role in decision making by the governments, and when the passing ministers are not competent enough to watch over and guide the performance of the entrenched Administration, the citizen has no option but to watch over all of those who produce services and products. There are many other civil society organisations that would collaborate.

          Ultimately, when a new economic culture of mutual enrichment by inter-dependence would grow and succeed in completely democratising the entire society, then only, there would be no room for absolute political power. In an ideal democracy, Power Politics would be transformed into a soft power of ‘influence’ or consensus to promote better human understanding and decision-making. And, one day, the political state with its absolute power would have to get dissolved or de-concentrated into peoples' power. This stage of 'dissolution' of the State can be compared to the description of the 'withering away of the state according to Karl Marx and Engels. The economy instead of remaining a state economy or a private economy would become a social economy, where economic growth takes place through mechanisms of dialogue and collaboration of associations of producers and consumers to the benefit of the entire society. The Resident Welfare Associations as micro-urban communities would function as cooperative societies producing services needed by their members and doing collective bargaining and shopping from outside. As we move on, a day would come when everybody would produce according to his or her ability and takes from the society according to his or her needs, as it has been ardently hoped by many anarchists and other philosophers, who wanted to create a paradise or a Plato's Republic or an El Dorado on this earth itself.

( contd.)

Post a Comment