June 20th, 2024

Democracy a better political system than others


By Lethbridge Herald on December 28, 2022.

m sure that many people are troubled by the way party politics is practised in Alberta, like me. It’s like tribal warfare. Other party is an enemy. The NDP is seen like a bunch of evil communists, remnants of some long gone Soviet era. Justin Trudeau is compared to a fascist dictator. Calling names that surely end conversations and burnt the bridge between people. Why? 

I believe that democracy is the civilized way we have learned to create the best government for all people, not just for a party. It’s like some never-ending conversations between different ideas to reach a workable compromise.

 Too slow? Yes. Messy? Yes. Democracy is clumsy but better than many other systems humans have tried. Surely it’s better than one charismatic leader dictating everything. I believe that politics is an art of compromise and is the only way we know to create a good government for all people, not just for a party. 

An inflexible and uncompromising position of one strong leader is dangerous. The trouble is wise people are full of doubt, and stupid people are absolutely convinced of their correctness. I wonder what causes such conundrums.

Recently I found a gem of wisdom in an old book I never thought I had kept. It’s an old text book “The History of Western Philosophy” written and published in 1902 in Japanese by Prof. Seiichi Hatano. It teaches me how to change my mind without compromising the traditions and values we hold dear. It was a textbook for the first-year university students like me in 1950. It was written in the elegant 19th century classic Japanese, with quotations with translations from different European sources. Western culture was never forced on Japanese people. They chose to learn from everyone but on their own terms. It was a unique way in Asia. 

 In Japan learning from Europe was voluntary, never forced. Meanwhile they kept their own culture, values and traditions intact. I’m sure they chose and picked whatever they liked, and ignored what they didn’t like. In Japan therefore, East and West co-exist and both thrive.

The chapter on Francis Bacon, (1561 – 1626) in particular drew my attention in relation to the advice I was searching. It gives some answer to the question of what prevents civilized dialogue. Bacon pointed out that they were delusions and prejudices that close minds shut. 

 He called them “Four Idols”: Of cave, theatre, market, and tribe. 

(1) If you are convinced what you already know is everything there is to know, you are like a person who has lived whole life in a cave and thinks there is no other world. 

(2) If you believe that the idea held by the person you admire is the only truth you need to know, you worship the idol of the theatre. 

(3) If everybody buys it, you believe that’s a real thing: that is the idol of the market. 

(4) “All my family and friends think in the same way. So it must be the right way.” So you blindly follow and run with the crowd like stampeding cows. That’s the idol of the tribe. 

I can see Bacon criticizing the way we are conducting politics. Idolatry of the fixed ideas and intolerance of difference destroy democracy. That’s how Hitler was elected into power, and the whole of Japan was misled into disaster by the power hungry military. History shows political parties are fluid like a river. When the American Constitution was drafted, the Founding Fathers never thought about political parties. The natures of the parties have changed many times. For many years, the southern United States were dominated by the Democratic Party whose members included many former slave owners. They were against Civil Rights laws. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. When I came to Canada in 1957 to work for the United Church of Canada, many of my Protestant friends in B.C. were English-speaking Conservatives. Liberals were seen as Catholic and French. CCF was joined by trade unions and transformed into the NDP. It had been a party of prairie farmers, and leadership included Baptist and United Church ministers. 

I don’t see anybody seriously trying to build one party state or dictatorship. We all cherish democracy regardless of party affiliation. Am I too optimistic? Why call them names? Just argue the best you can, never lose humour, and go out for a drink after. Let’s hope 2023 will bring sanity back to our political discourse. Remember no one’s an enemy: we love the same country and the same people.

Happy New Year!

Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui

Lethbridge

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biff

much to think about, thank you tad. the question remains for me, is what do we do when democracy consistently returns to us the net equivalent of one, several, or all of the four idols. in our system of democracy, the so-called constitutional monarchy, we have been giving ourselves some or all of the four idols with watered-down votes that are worth a good bit less than a full vote, whilst electing “majorities” that have garnered a good bit less than over 50% of the popular vote; then, those “majorities” shove through sundry laws that were never given a mandate during election campaigns, and quite routinely they do so via the likes of omnibus bills that are hardly democratic.

gs172

Your letter reminded me of what PM Winston Chuchill said after being voted out after WW2 “democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried”. I’m grateful to live in Canada and politics can be the most divisive and at the same time unifying force.

Roberto

Why every time a person talks about democracy, brings up the word communism. My wild guess Is because ignorance That term doesn’t exist any more. Be real. There is no Democracy in Alberta with Daniele’s dictatorship; There is not communism. is only a person who defends the wealthy’s interest by punishing the hard worker. You talk to much trying to confuse people’s mind. You use a lot of past events. In many words you said nothing. The NDP is the only solution we have here. No more rich guys protectors.