Democracy and Life

Thinking about democracy, democracy is great because it follows so many of the principles of a happy human life. It’s also not great for the same reason.

In democracy, as in life, you win some and you lose some. A happy person is the one who accepts the inevitability of losses and doesn’t see them as a terrible injustice that has to be battled permanently. A democracy functions when everybody accepts that their side will lose and that’s fine. Unpleasant, painful but fine.

In democracy as in life, it’s all about tradeoffs, and progress happens very very slowly with a lot of setbacks. Anybody who has tried to lose weight or learn a new skill knows that. There are no instant fixes and happy pills. Everything is excruciatingly slow. Egos need to get smaller and humility bigger.

Once you lose the capacity to accept this, democracy goes to shit and so does your life.

4 thoughts on “Democracy and Life

  1. “A democracy functions when everybody accepts that their side will lose and that’s fine.”

    During the 20th century, it was commonly believed that liberal democratic societies were more efficient than rigid authoritarian/totalitarian polities because the capacity to self-correct was built into the system – freedom of speech and association ensured that failing policies could be improved or abandoned entirely through alternation of governments of different political orientations.

    With the ascendency of the wokester Red Guards in the last decade, we have seen the stifling of open expression in the liberal democratic west. Curated speech in the name of “public safety” has taken the place of free speech while the concept of ‘loyal opposition’ along with the normality/desirability of regular peaceful power transfers between rival political parties seem quite foreign to our time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OT: I just finished reading ‘Wasted Lives’ and immediately had to start reading ‘Liquid Modernity’. Thanks for the suggestions! Now I’m finally beginning to understand what you’ve been harping about on this blog. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s on my list, I’ll definitely get to it.

        About half a decade ago, as we were turning thirty, my best friend and I went through a peculiar experience. We were getting good at our respective jobs and often would find ourselves getting very emotionally involved with the projects we were doing. But this emotional involvement would always lead to heartbreak. The reasons were varied but it never paid off to get too attached to your work. Eventually we decided that being emotionally detached was the right approach to approach work. ‘A job is a job is a job’, said my friend.

        This is exactly what Bauman describes – the fluidity of career paths today preclude the possibility of feeling any attachment or commitment to what you do. I belong to the fluid generation (90s kid) and find that my life so far has been one long temporary stop after another. This book made me think that perhaps it wasn’t just me, but larger social forces we are all dealing with. Unlike many of my peers, I can’t find solace in empty consumerism either. What options does that leave for us?


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