By Mohammed Adamu
The term ‘democracy’ was originally ‘demos’ and ‘krasi’; Greek for ‘people’ and ‘rule’ -or ‘rule of the people’. But over time, it has etymologically evolved to mean different things to different people. In our own part of the world, the transformation is breathtaking.
From the Maghreb down to the Zambezi, from the westerly coast up to the horns of Africa and particularly in my dear country, Nigeria, democracy has moved from the ‘rule of the people’ to the ‘wool of the pupil’; -as in pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes. It is the new universal religion that brings caviar to the tables of Western predator nations leaving empty plates on those of their expendable counterparts.
The Americans have added a beautiful interpretative feather to this democratic peacock of Greece’s conception: They say that democracy is: “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” This interpretation admits of neither primacy of ‘name’ nor certainty of ‘destination’! ‘Whatever it is called’ and ‘no matter where it ends’, it is just as well that it is run for’ and ‘by’ the people.” Thus, to the Americans ‘All is well’ not necessarily that ‘ends well’, but ‘all is well that abides well.’ Which is un-Chinese-like! Because in China, unlike in America, although efficiency may be defined as ‘the train leaving station on time’ yet ‘the train not knowing where it is going’, is just ‘inefficient’ enough!
The Chinese, more practically, believe that whatever the system is called and ‘however’ it is run, as long as it attains the public good it is just efficient enough. Thus to them ‘All is well, `only’ that ends well’. In reply to the criticism of China’s controlled system of political economy, Denxioping once said: “it does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mouse.”
But, we are sold a practically indigestible ‘system of government’ and which we are required to gobble raw and undiluted. We are not even entitled to a glass of water by the table! We must be slaves of the due democratic process whether the ‘process’ duly serves our good end or not; and we must be hostages to the rule of law whether or not the principle itself is consistent with the law of rule! Rogues in our midst who constitute a drag on society have constitutional rights that supremely take precedence over the survival of the state.
They must not be touched except via the tedium of the ‘due democratic process’ and the ‘rule of law.’.
Only the self-imposed purveyors of ‘democracy’ – namely America and its Western allies- are entitled to set aside ‘due national and international processes’ to meet their domestic ends! All secessionist, irredentist or rebellious movements in France, Britain, Spain, Russia including aboriginal dissents in Australia, the United States and Canada and the resistance against Israeli occupation in Palestine, are to be un-interferingly dealt with by the respective oppressing ally powers themselves. But any such movements in the Middle East, Africa, Asia or Latin America deserve the interventionist support of the civilized democratic world.
And, as a universal imperative, all the ‘wretched of the earth’ must travel the thorny free-market road even if only for the glorification and adulation of capitalism and free enterprise. Yet, even behind Washington’s closed doors it has never mattered ‘whether the cat is black or white…’! Nor is the market any less tinkered with in New York than it is ‘freely’ run in Beijing. Behind Washington’s closed doors, non-democratic, covert institutions brief Presidents on what democracy is NOT -namely rule of the people; and what the free market has NEVER been –namely free; they are schooled on how America makes its living’; -away from due process; away from so called rule of law. And, they know even Presidents are expendable who try to come in the way of these sacrosancts!
Only the wretched of the earth, us, are not entitled to a utilitarian brand of democracy. We must be stuck with the sort Isaac Newton describes in physics as ‘motion without movement’ or ‘dynamic inactivity.’ Because the truth is, the ‘cat’ of our democracy catches no mouse at all.
Reason I say any system of government whether democracy, autocracy or any of the other ‘cracies’ that, in operation, recoils into an ineffectual systemic ‘cat’, catching neither rats nor roaches, is not worth the trouble. Equally, any doctrinaire economic pathway strewn with thorns and pebbles and which leads only to the celebration of ‘capitalism’ and the adulation of the ‘free market’ without putting food on the table, is not one upon which the proverbial Chinese ‘journey of a thousand steps’ should be travelled upon!
In fact, Kant, the philosopher, once said that democracy is like a pool in which it is desirable for every nation to take a plunge; but he warned: ‘stay out of it if you are sure to get drowned.’
Back to Greece’s ‘demos krasi’ which Gaddaffi once claimed was originally ‘daimomah krasi’; -Arabic for `sitting forever in chair’. And, has not that ‘cat’ been effectively catching all the Libyan mouse’?