Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Problem With Democracy

The recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict has for me highlighted a problem with democracy. We have Hamas, on one side firing ineffectual rockets at Israel and we have Israel fighting back with ruthless brutality with seemingly no to care for the lives lost.

Something does not quite add, up neither side wants this to happen, Israeli people do not want rockets fired at them and Gaza does not want to be bombed, the simple solution for anyone is to simply stop. But why isn’t this happening? I think the simple reason for this is the competitive nature of democracy, you may think this sounds ridiculous, but please hear me out.

Think about a criminal investigation, when a murder is committed, the first thing an investigator looks for is who benefits from this crime, if the victim has a large life insurance policy your immediate suspect would be the beneficiary’s ie. husband or wife. Now think about the Israel-Palestine conflict, who benefits? I would suggest the only group that gets any kind of benefit from this conflict is political parties that have power in the Gaza Strip and Israel. When a conflict first occurs the incumbent government always gets a popularity boost, think about George W Bush after September 11. If the conflict continues for too long the incumbent government will lose popularity, think Vietnam War. So short wars seemingly well justified are a good thing for a government’s popularity.

A sickness has spread in almost all democracies around the world and it is to win elections for winnings sake, politicians treat it like a game. We have seen it here with Tony Abbott’s 3 word slogans “stop the boats”, “scrap the tax”. Election campaigns are run like advertising campaigns, don’t say anything controversial, use catchy slogans, demonise minorities (boat people) and the best thing, make your product sound way better than it actually is. They use the most abhorrent of marketing tactics, manufacturing a problem and then offering the miracle solution. For example Tony Abbott's "budget emergency" (30% of GDP Japan is 200% USA 72%) and his promised miraculous ability to make money out of nothing. Tony Abbott lied about the budget emergency and then lied about being able to fix it - and he calls Julia Gillard a liar. Australians are about as satisfied with the Abbott government as those who purchased a NutriBullet.

I do not think it is even the politicians fault that this is happening. I think it is a fundamental weakness in a how parliamentary democracies work, it is human nature to try to win and it is also human nature to take the easiest path to victory. Couple this to an increasingly complex society, chuck in the 24 hour news cycle and you have 21st century democracy. It is far easier to develop an effective marketing campaign to sell your government than to develop real policies and win votes the old-fashioned way. As the world gets more complicated year by year policies become that much harder to develop, which makes running a marketing campaign instead of developing real policies increasingly tempting.

This is also the main reason why a conflict like the Israel-Palestine conflict continues, peace making is very risky politically, so politicians have very little to gain from peace negotiations and a lot to lose. There is no thought for what the country might lose or what other countries might lose, politicians are simply looking for their next victory not what is best for their people however unpopular it might be.

The politicians of the Gaza Strip and Israel are taking the easy path to victory and in the process screwing people they are meant to protect.

No comments:

Post a Comment