WHAT IS A DEMOCRACY? IS THERE DEMOCRACY IN OUR COUNTRY?
I quite often see statements of our politicians in newspapers that our democracy today is going after the western democracies for one reason or another.
I was astonished that these authors seriously think that we’re a democratic society. They’re probably mislead by the fact that in our country there are some outward signs of that what we call democracy: parliament chosen in free elections, a president chosen by the people, Council of ministers responsible in front of the Parliament, independent judicial authority etc. Yes, we have that beautiful façade. But we don’t have a real democracy. We don’t have it yet. Western democracies also have some negative features of their public life, which appeared in our society after the change: crime, corruption and parliament in which the majority unquestioningly imposes its will over the opposition etc. But there still exist еessential differences between our democracy and the real democracy.
For example: in our country the idea for democratic system relates in the conscious of huge number of people with the thought “I can do whatever I want, without any punishment”.
This practically means disregard (reinforced by daily practice) to the bodies of law and those of judicial authority. Maybe to certain extend they deserve this treatment. But such behavior leads quickly to chaos.
It’s well-known that the living things, including society – created а long time ago structures that resist the rapid growth of entropy – оne quantity, that shows to what stage one organized system (society) has moved to chaos according to the second law of thermodynamics. In the old democracies nevertheless the enlisted negative phenomena, the structures that are fighting chaos are acting almost effectively so that the structure not only resists the chaos but develops to the higher level of individual freedom. Most of the people of one democratic society are actively on the side of order and although the existence of different parties, having different social ideologies, among them there are certain rules of behavior which soften the conflicts on behalf of public prosperity.
Achieving such level of democracy is a result of long evolution and quite often not a peaceful one. I will let myself remind some historical facts.
For the first time in history, democratic system was established in V century BC in Athens. In order to reach to this system were necessary more than 200 years of fights between the parties – from Solon to Pericles. The last one outlines democratic system (according to Thucydides):
„For the first time in history the democratic system is established in the V century before Christ in Athens. In order to reach this there were necessary more than 200 years of fights between the parties – from Solon to Pericles. The last outlined the democracy (according to Thucydides): “We are called democracy, because the rule is in the hands of the majority and not of the minority. But while the law provides the same justice in all private disputes, the desire to elevate the individual is also recognized. When one citizen is more eminent in certain area, he is elected for public service as a retribution to his merits. Poverty is not an obstacle one person to be useful to the country without taking into account if he is оf prominent or poor origin. In public life there aren’t inaccessible things and in private relations we are not suspicious to one another, we’re not angry to the neighbour if he acts according to his will. We are not looking at him angrily until he become disagreeable. There’s a spirit of mutual respect in the public relations. We’re not doing crime because we respect the authority and law.”*
This is stated two thousand and five hundred years ago. Can we say today that our society corresponds to this definition of democracy?
Almost the same period of two centuries were necessary to the English society (from Cromwell -XVII century, to XIX century to achieve those democracy that was an example in the whole world. Similar road passed the French society (XVIII-XX century) after it experienced four revolutions and identical number dictatorships and restorations. How about us?
If we look objectively to our history, sine irae et studio, we can’t help it but find out that Bulgarian people haven’t been in democracy for more than 3-4 years. Although in the second half of the past century when our Bulgarian National Revival began, to attract larger part of the people, there were formed certain of our type of democratic structures, which have the marks of real democracy: community centers, church and school boards, municipality councils in which took part deep layers of the people. They elected the most deserving and respectable people. This process could lead to the maturing of our people but was stopped too early from the occurring liberation.
All revolutions in the last 400-500 years that burst out were leaded by people who wanted to establish fairer public order, and they ended up with dictatorships. This is a natural process. Revolution comes to destroy the old social structures and to build new ones. But the destruction happens easily and fast, and the building up is slow and painful. The Enthusiastic about the prospective of fast establishment on the ground of the promised paradise, soon understood that their condition actually became worse than before. And the leaders of the revolution are facing a dilemma – to give up, or temporarily to force people (who – partially have the right, but they judge the social system on the basis of their stomachs) to roll up their sleeves and to build the so called heaven. Some dictatorships lasted short time (Jacobin 3-4 years), others longer – depending on the level of development of population: USSR 70 years. And usually revolutions finish with restoration. After Crommwell – Chаrles II. After Robespierre– Napoleon, after Charles X and Louis XVIII. After the revolution of 1830 – Louis Philip – the king of the bourgeoisie. After 1848 – Napoleon III. After Stalin a slow process of liberalization, which due to economic reasons speeded up suddenly and reached quickly to restoration. It is not excluded in the closest future a new dictatorship to appear with obscure and mixed ideology. These processes leaded the other socialist countries to thee similar results.
This processes in our countries were happening through “gentle revolutions”. Some parts of public opinion (even in our country) matured for changes. The example of prospering western democracies was tempting. It promised to our people who suffered material and spiritual poverty and lack of main human rights, that almost in 2-3 years, they we’ll have this gentle revolution and we’ll become one prospering country of western type. That should be achieved through the release of private initiative and with the promised help of some western countries.
The way Marxism, that represents one almost perfect theoretical construction, failed, because it didn’t consider the most important – the human factor who needs to realize in life this structure, the same it is now, the human hasn’t been taken into account, the human, his habits, his requirements, and the inherited features over 50-years past. It hasn’t been taken into account the thing which I mentioned above: the absolute inability to recognise the spirit of the real democracy. Is it surprising after all, that many people understand the freedom as anarchy, sometimes even as crime and the private initiative which larger and smaller businesses, kept with “free” resources, leaded ordinary people to nostalgia to the past, when there was at least one thing, some kind of equality even in poverty and a kind of security in the everyday life.
This truly justified nostalgia brought the result of the last elections.** The same process developed in other former socialist countries (excluding the Czech Republic); for the same reasons after 1922 Poland lived under the dictatorship of Marshal Pilsudski (till 1935), Hungary – under that of Аdmiral Horthy (from 1920 to 1944), Romania, first under royal dictatorship and after that Nazi dictatorship. Obviously in these countries the idea of democratic society binds to the idea of ‘freedom without borders’. Тhence – the withdrawal of the ordinary people from the “new” and after that to one “counter-restoration”, but on the other hand the socialist parties which came into power, honestly or no, were forced to accept certain elements of the newly-build system of market economy typical for the capitalist society. There’s nothing bad in that, exactly the opposite. But the majority of the population, according to one recently published survey prefers bread instead of freedom, and they realized that now the bread is not enough, again, and the freedom is limited due to different reasons; and in the next elections they can redirect themselves again to “different political horizons”, in other words: to continue destabilization, and it means that establishment of real democracy in our country resemble more and more to the line of the horizon. Specifically, our society will turn into one, in which the wealth belongs to 5-6% of people and about 10% of their helpers. The rest of the people will live on the border of poverty, without being interested in such theoretical questions like “democracy”, “freedom”, etc. The prospective is not pleasant, but quite possible. In order to avoid this, it’s not surprising that lately, the governing party (it’s about BSP – ed. note) моves more and more towards “parliamentary” dictatorship. Тhat wouldn’t be so tragic if the people who rule had “pure hands”.
I’m firmly convinced that real democracy could be established in one society only then when the majority of people are sure about tomorrow. That they would be able to have the necessary.
And so for real democracy in our country is not possible to speak. We can just say that it was set a distant beginning. The road to democracy is difficult and many year will have to pass, full of half-dictatorships, half-restorations, new re-restorations, until after all these years in the mind of people matures the thought, that if they really want to live in democratic country, they must realize:
`1) the capital should be from usurious – productive
2) If we want to live in democratic country, we need to understand that in order to be free in society, we need to give up part of our freedom in favour of society;
3) If we want to live in real democracy, people who have a lot must give up part of their selfishness in favour of the others.
The real freedom and relative well-being could happen only then, when each one of us understands, we could be free and live relatively prosperous only if the others have the same freedom and relative well-being which we have. And taking into account the current chaos, all this is a long process. But if it’s not influenced by everybody, who might influence to other people in that direction, we’ll continue to go round the vicious circle of half-dictatorships, half-democracies until the vital forces of our patient people are exhausted to the end.
In order to achieve this aim – the establishment of one real democratic society its necessary the union of all people with good will. The question is to be created one objective social opinion which to have such weight so that it can’t be neglected by either politicians or capitalists (while they’re not unified). To turn into fashion, if you wish, the powerful to give up willingly the excess to respect freedom to other people within the law.
Тhe way Pericle defined it 25 centuries ago.
Otherwise will be judged to riots and dictatorships and restorations, to wars, chaos or destruction. These are not empty threats. Remember: give up part of the freedom and part of the wealth on behalf of society, or we’ll have chaos.
* – From the funeral speech pronounced by Pericles (431/430 B.C) Christ) in honor of the Athenians who fell in the Peloponnesian War, Bul. transl. The full text translated in Bulgarian by Svetlana Yanakieva
**- the question is about BSP winning the elections in December 1994
Newspaper “DEMOCRACY”, N 100, 26th April 2002