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21 September, 2012

Voting Wrong…

Finally, someone has uttered the sacramental words I have been waiting for so long. “This country needs censored democracy” a leading Ukrainian economist said in an interview. Below, I will explain what “censored democracy” is, but now I sadly admit: after a good laugh at sarcastic appeals for grandchildren to hide their grannies’ passports to keep them from voting in elections or posters of an old woman saying that her cat will inherit her house after she found out that her grandson voted for the Party of Regions, the public and some opinion leaders have begun to think that democracy, as it is, does not work in Ukraine.

Doubt about democracy as a universal tool to organize a state and society is nothing new. The last time it arose was in the 20th century when the most terrible political regimes in the world ascended to power democratically. Leo Strauss, a German-American political philosopher and the father of neo-conservatism, offered a cynical diagnosis of democracy: people are not equal, not all people can be responsible for the future of their country, therefore the chosen ones, who understand supreme interests of the nation and humanity, are entitled to making decisions under the guise of liberal democracy. Numerous attempts to make his words sound politically correct and interpret them so that they would not hurt liberals’ noble feelings followed.

However, research has found that voters become reasonable after their annual income per person exceeds USD 5,000, while those who earn less are willing to choose a Lukashenka and tolerate political police and “ministries of truth.” Hence the concept of returning to mandates for participation in indirect ruling of a country, such as entitlement to vote based on residence (to remove immigrants from the scene) or property ownership like in medieval England, which is not far from the antique division into voting citizens, idiots (which literally stands for someone not entitled to vote in Latin), and slaves.

The ultimate blow came recently from Slavoj Žižek, Slovenian philosopher considered the flagman of leftist liberals. “Society should be ruled by a special class whose interests do not come down to its narrow class interests,” he wrote in the article that astonished the user community. According to Žižek, this special class should possess the knowledge that will allow it to “overcome the initial deficiency of democracy which is the non-existent ideal image of a well-rounded citizen.” In other words, average voters are not capable of taking reasonable decisions. They lack the necessary knowledge and competence as well as the habit to think and reflect.

The modern intellectual struggling to save himself from ultimate cynicism under the pressure of mounting entropy of life is hardly someone to judge and condemn. The question is how reasonable it is to use his pains as the ground for general conclusions. Frankly, I am not happy with the preferences of the mob, lumpenproletariat, the crowd… negative words to refer to the “wrong Ukrainians” are aplenty. Yet, what are the criteria by which the right ones are distinguished from the wrong? A long proven fact is that ethnic purity is a myth and nationality resides in one’s mind, not in his genetic code.
Is it money? In that case, all rights to vote should immediately go to the “smart” ones in their luxury cars. Is it residency, then? But we know how those who have lived in their hamlets for three to four generations keep voting for every new Yanukovych. Perhaps, we should come up with a voter-eligibility test?

I fear that the search for criteria to distinguish the right voters and isolate the wrong is moral and intellectual capitulation from the very beginning – tempting, yet erroneous in its foundation. Not because this runs counter to John Locke’s natural and unalienable title, but because this exempts people who think and reflect from the need to reach understanding and social dialogue – in fact, from any communication at all. All they need to do is keep performing their useful, highly-intellectual acts.

Somehow, I still believe that Ukrainians are not dumb. Their repeatedly embarrassing choices are a result of the crowds’ limits as much as it is the result of the lack of a trustworthy supply from the elites. This is what the indifferent must realize in place of looking for excuses in intellectual techniques.

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