15 March 2024 in Dossier The Challenges of the European Union, First Home, History

DEMOCRATICALLY ABROGATING DEMOCRACY?

We cannot pretend to be blind. Putin is winning the war and enjoys a consensus comparable to that of Hitler and Mussolini at the start of World War II. In all western democracies, the violent and barbaric right grows with every election result. In the United States, an avowed gangster will presumably be elected president again this autumn. One who incited the mob to attack the symbol of democracy (Capitol Hill), and who calls for less justice, less control and more violence.

Once this process has been completed, the planet will experience a new dark age of horrors, humiliation, and massacres similar to those already taking place today. Thanks to the development of technologies, the laws of individual control will be so efficient that they will prevent even the emergence of revenge in individuals – as predicted in the dystopia of Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film ‘Brazil’[1] , which went beyond the pessimistic predictions of Francisco Goya[2] and George Orwell[3] .

The utopia of totalitarianism will be realised: to conceive of mankind as a single organism, whose well-being is to be protected (if it is useful) against the dreams, aspirations, passions, and will of individuals. A paternalistic society, in which one denies the right to individual thought and accepts to be eliminated if one dissents. A fascinating ideology, as shown by the public reaction to the famous Nuremberg speech on 5 September 1934[4] , the anniversary of Mussolini’s seizure of power[5] or the attitude of the population of North Korea to the public speeches of dictator Kim Jong-Un.

A massive portion of humanity is willing to do anything as long as the responsibility for their actions is taken out of their hands. No matter in the name of what, this growing proportion of people, when confronted with free choice, calls for dictatorship, religious imposition, or the psychotic dystopia of Beppe Grillo and Casaleggio: the clueless and imbeciles in power, because only they are pure in spirit. An uprising of the ‘uncovered tuna can’ that has given way to a small organisation of pure reactionary opportunism.

This, as analysed in an insightful TV programme by Corrado Augias[6] , has various roots and explanations, but it is happening before our eyes. People hate responsibility, and feel justified in shirking it – one of the foundations of the US culture[7] , and which in Italy is called ‘saputellismo’ (German ‘Besserwisserei’, English ‘know-it-all attitude’). Everyone is convinced to be right because everyone believes to have no direct responsibility for the effects of the own acts and refers to a cosmic law (which does not exist), somewhere between divinity and police imposition, to justify himself.

Terry Gilliam, ‘Brazil’, 1985: the interrogation of the individualist[8]

Democracy is unattractive, not only because it forces us to take into our own hands the effects on others of our actions, but because it is easy to discredit. Athenian democracy was based on slavery, just like that of the Enlightenment. The US policy of armed exportation of democracy, which has been practised for almost a century, is just boorish imperialism – and inefficient at that. At the same time, education, eclecticism, intellectualism and democratic passion have become insults, as sociological studies, especially in Germany[9] have shown for decades.

Political parties are no longer asked for ideas and programmes, but leaders. And it is the political parties themselves that have promoted this change. The consciousness-raising of the proletariat (in today’s words: of the entire population) is no longer a goal, as first the Enlightenment and then the socialists dreamed of, but a nuisance to be avoided. The increase in purchasing power of the money distributed to the masses, and even more so the fact that (not only in the West) the amount of time available to the individual is growing, has not created the flourishing of the arts, but of boredom and, as a consequence of it, brutality and depression. As for individual responsibility, this must be reset from childhood[10] .

I have long since stopped following well-made programmes like ‘Propaganda Live’, Maurizio Crozza’s satire, or Oliver Welke’s wonderful ‘Heute Show’[11] . The stupidity of power is not funny antmore, it scares me. It frightens me that anyone in the political arena should be measured by propaganda nonsense, instead of dealing with the issues, because the former have more audience than the latter. We are democratically abrogating democracy. This has been going on forever, I’m afraid. Like Giorgio Gaber, ‘it ends up that I, if I were God, would retire to the country, as I did’. Rhetorically speaking, my ‘pars destruens’ is not matched by the necessary ‘pars construens’. I am old and ill, and these lines of venting are unfair, because they do not take into account the thousands of wonderful people who, every day, without expectations and without grand speeches, dedicate their lives (democratically) to the good of others.

ITA041


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_(1985_film)

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20161019051211/http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/25/nyregion/art-goya-s-disasters-of-war-grisly-indictment-of-humanity.html

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sk6lTLSZcA

[4] https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6uajey

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIjAWToSoyk

[6] https://www.la7.it/la-torre-di-babele/rivedila7/serve-ancora-la-democrazia-la-torre-di-babele-puntata-del-1132024-11-03-2024-530823

[7] https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/all-about-addiction/201905/diffusion-responsibility-and-the-danger-addiction ; Kassin, Fein; Markus, Burke (2013). Social Psychology. Toronto: Nelson Education; https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/108279/ets200956.pdf;jsessionid=C9AC0B628573766F23CD41EC22925A3B?sequence=1

[8] https://www.dga.org/Craft/DGAQ/All-Articles/0603-Fall-2006/Shot-to-Remember-Brazil.aspx

[9] https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/alexander-gallus-intellektuelle-in-ihrer-zeit-100.html

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxNXIBHAsJc

[11] https://www.zdf.de/comedy/heute-show




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