"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion." ~ Thomas Jefferson
"The Wizard of Id" is a popular and sometimes enlightening comic strip. In one episode, one of the king's servants approaches him frantically screaming, "The peasants are revolting!", to which the king (who has misinterpreted the meaning of revolting) calmly replies, "I agree." Is this really just comic relief, or is there some validity to the comic strip king's belief that the "peasants (i.e., masses) are revolting?"
The leaders of what is assumed to be the free world are constantly praising democracy and encouraging nations across the globe to adopt this method of popular rule. But does democracy truly free the individual from the evils of the state, or simply replace a tyranny of a few with a tyranny of the many? If history and the present state of humanity are any indication, then democracy is grossly overrated and doomed to fail (if it hasn't already).
In Cuba, shortly after Fidel Castro triumphantly entered Havana (1959) amongst the cheering throngs, trials were held to adjudicate those with ties to the previous regime. The Trial of Jesus Sosa Blanco was one such trail, it was held in a stadium and about 15,000 curious Cubans were in attendance. During the trial, concessions were sold, giving the trail a carnival atmosphere, even though a man's life was at stake. Witnesses sometimes had trouble identifying the accused (even though he was handcuffed to his chair), but the multitudes present helped the witness by playing a macabre game of hot and cold as the accusers scanned the crowd in search of Mr. Sosa-Blanco. Occasionally the crowds would break out into chants of "PAREDON, PAREDON!" (death by firing squad). Unfortunately for Mr. Sosa-Blanco and many others (including some of the very folks chanting heartily), their new ruler was more than happy to oblige.
One-time Buddhist monk and avowed communist Pol Pot entered Phnom Penh victoriously in 1975. Though some were weary of the Khmer Rouge, many Cambodians followed their new leader and allowed him to directly or indirectly kill an estimated two million human beings in four short years. The homicidal sociopath's deeds were made easier not only by those who directly killed their fellow Cambodians, but by the multitudes that obeyed absurd orders and watched complacently as genocide unfolded before their eyes. Not surprisingly, Pol Pot himself died peacefully in his old age.
During four months in 1994, Rwandans who identified themselves as Hutus murdered approximately 500,000 of their fellow countrymen who they identified as Tutsis. The Hutu-controlled government could never have accomplished such a feat without the help of thousands of common citizens, which were easily whipped into a mindless and murderous frenzy. The most disconcerting part of this tragedy is how the genocide was actually carried out. The majority of the half million human beings that were killed left this world in the most horrific ways, either hacked by machetes, beaten or stoned (literally).
Some may argue that these atrocities were carried out by indigenous people under governments that had democratic credentials that were non-existent. Adolf Hitler came to power via democratic elections in the heart of Europe in the Twentieth Century. Surely all those reading this are well acquainted with the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany.
But of course the population of the United States is incapable of such barbaric atrocities. Really? The masses in America are educated and know how to use democracy wisely. Or do they? Americans will not sit idly by and allow injustices and atrocities to be committed against innocent people. Or will they?
Are Americans as a population capable of genocide? During World War II, the US military noticed that only 25 percent of its soldiers were actually shooting at the "enemy" effectively. In order to raise the efficiency of its combat soldiers, they changed the marksmanship training. Instead of shooting at round standing targets, new recruits shot at human silhouettes that popped up from the ground. This elicited a Pavlovian response from the soldiers (the dogs of war?), improving the number of soldiers actually shooting at the enemy to 90 percent by the time the Vietnam War got into full swing. We can conclude from this that with the proper psychological treatment and indoctrination, the majority of the US population can be trained to kill "effectively."
Are US voters really more educated? The best way to answer this is to follow the voting patterns of Floridians. Florida's constitution can be amended by a majority of the popular vote. Just over the past six years, a majority of Florida voters have cast their ballots in favor of a publicly funded "bullet train," making education a paramount duty of the state, making already restrictive firearms purchases even more difficult, preserving the death penalty, banning smoking on private property, funding for universal Pre-K four education program, limiting the number of students in government school classrooms, and ending the inhumane treatment of pigs on farms. Need any more proof as to the sorry state of the American electorate?
Can Americans be counted on to stand up and fight oppression against themselves or their neighbors? When it comes to answering this question, the evidence is clear and insurmountable. The federal income tax instituted in 1913 absconds productive citizens' earnings, redistributing their money on slothful and connected persons. Social Security forces the American masses into the world's largest Ponzi scheme, and property taxes turn most Americans into the equivalent of serfs. In recent times, Americans have failed to react effectively to restrictions of their individual rights. They have actually cheered the violation of the rights of those who have done nothing wrong except perhaps cause envy amongst the majority. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" rings on dead ears in today's America.
The proof that the masses in America and around the world have learned little if anything from history continues to mount. In Venezuela aspiring communist dictator Hugo Chavez has been elected president twice; in Spain, Spaniards elected their own socialist (Zapatero); despite numerous elections, Robert Mugabe has held on to power in Zimbabwe, and the despotic Vladimir Putin has twice been elected President of Russia.
In the US--the so-called leader of the "free" world--many Americans are disappointed at the fact that George W. Bush is their president. Many people complain that the 2000 election was decided by a biased Supreme Court or that Al Gore actually obtained more popular votes than Mr. Bush, but those are the least of the problems associated with the 2000 election. The really disappointing thing about the 2000 election is that Bush, Gore and Nader combined obtained 99 percent of the popular vote. Unfortunately the 2004 elections will more than likely yield similarly disappointing results. The Masses are revolting--long live the king!