Friday, January 20, 2017

Decline in democratic ideals? My thoughts on the world today

So 2017 has started and I am increasingly concerned about the global milieu in which the world seem less into the fundamental democratic values that I hold dear: which is the freedom of information and expression. It seems to me an era where democracies are selectively adopting from authoritarian regimes and authoritarian regimes are adopting some of the veneers of democracy selectively. In this world, I cannot tell the difference between China and Germany, Russia and the West.

There is in the current climate and atmosphere the expressed view that ideas are not equal and that not all ideas and information should be expressed and disseminated. I am increasingly seeing the frightening notion being expressed that not all views and perspectives must be given a platform for expression.

In the past, in a neo-liberally dominated democracy, the argument was that market mechanisms should guide society in sifting out the best ideas by rewarding them financially and even politically. Today, I am concerned when I see journalistic articles in the democratic and liberal West that argue that we need educated elite gatekeepers and experts to take over from market mechanisms (including Facebook and Google algorithms) in determining access to ideas and information. For me, we need the perspectives of experts and expertise but most importantly, we also need empowered users and consumer of information to do the work of determining their access to information themselves. Educated elites and experts are not always right. And political systems run by the rule of educated elite (the Platonic Republic) has historically led to Soviet Union like Communism with an intelligentsia that repress minorities and others with dissenting or alternative perspectives and viewpoints. Such political systems give power to an educated elite to dictate and determine what people should feel, say or think.

While I personally do not find all perspectives equal and have found some types of ideas too distasteful to read or consume, I value people's freedom to create, disseminate, and access those ideas. God created a world [I know some of us disagree about this] with different types of human beings with different flavours of perspectives and experiences. All such flavours of perspectives are important. No human being should feel that the entire world does not value their uniqueness or their unique perspective, voice or story.

I personally value perspectives from both the left and right wing political spectrum. I also value the need to access both perspectives in order for balanced and good decision decision making for all human beings. Let us hear from all angles and then compromise so that together we can have a just society.