I have read in the headlines that despite having suffered a ferocious attack by President Trump, democracy has triumphed in the United States. I don’t know what to think about that. I feel a little sorry for all the people, including myself, who suffer over these things, and I feel a little angry at the lack of truth regarding this issue.
The U.S. as a government does not believe in democracy, no matter what they say. They are directly responsible for having systematically and with total impunity destroyed entire democracies in other countries, using the same arguments that have now been used to “attack their own democracy” – election irregularities, tricks, lack of transparency, voter fraud, etc. This spectacle is a real paradox, but it’s also quite sad because it exposes the falsity of the belief in U.S. superiority when it comes to democracy. As a government, as a State, I’ll say it again, the U.S. has not the remotest confidence in the democracy of other countries. In fact, the U.S. sees the ability to choose only in terms of profitability. In other words, if there’s anything to be gained from the political stability of other countries, profitability is what’s most important, not democracy in itself, not the people’s ability to choose their representatives. In general, when a country is “stable” from the extractionist perspective, then and only then will the U.S. talk about democracy and the possibility of supporting that country. To illustrate, and only because I know about it first hand, since there are many others in the same situation, the case of Chile is meaningful.
A poor third-world country with large copper reserves, governed in the 20th century by big landowners and before that by military governments, following the sequence of independences on the American continent. Until that time, the perfect alliance had been between the military and the owners of the natural resources. Between them they maintained the economic “stability” of the country for years and centuries, until the beginning of the last century, when there was an outcry for social recognition that ended in 1970 with a socialist being elected president by popular vote. To put it simply, the country elects a socialist president under the illusion that the social reforms they have so long been fighting for can become reality. The rest of the story is well known. With the direct help of the U.S., the government is destabilized by the local economic powers, and in three years a military government totally conceived and designed by North American agencies takes power through military force and stays in power with a dictator for 17 years. Curiously the North American mentality has no problem with this dispossession. Worse still, 35% of the local population prefers to look the other way and accept “the lesser of evils,” and for the umpteenth time in the 20th century, the celebrated “democracy” is trampled under by economic and military powers that are, by the way, a direct consequence of North American “aid” to the countries of the southern continent.
Interesting to note that all this corresponds to an economic interest on the part of the U.S. government because there is no other interest. Worse still, so-called “democracy” in the U.S. boils down to the ability to vote indirectly for representatives who alternate in power, a vote that rarely exceeds 57% in terms of citizen participation. Thus, as long as the “economy” is working, no one makes much fuss over democratic issues.
This time, in 2020, for reasons inexplicable to American citizens, this democratic process has been put in check in the most implausible way, but powerful enough to alter not only the present but more than ever the future of such a democracy. Suffice it to say that 73.5 million qualified voters, including 10 million more voters than in 2016, are convinced that electoral fraud is the reason their precious candidate was not reelected, and that means that the “basic pillar” of North American democracy, the voting process, has been shot down in one fell swoop. There are no more possibilities worth arguing over. If the citizens do not trust their own voting process, who else is going to? If that pillar is in question, it doesn’t matter what happens later because the process is now open to public opinion regardless of the veracity of that opinion.
Of course those who defend this process are going to be appalled at what I’m saying here, but it is unfortunately a reality that has been clearly demonstrated and that cannot be ignored just because it is painful, embarrassing and inconvenient. The candidates are not the problem. It’s much deeper and more serious than that. It has to do with people’s beliefs, and that’s something it’s better not to mess with..
I say this because to question beliefs is to question what is sacred to the people. Beliefs do not need evidence of any kind and are defended with life itself. People do not sacrifice their lives for interests, but for beliefs and convictions, even though there may be no logical basis in them and sometimes no demonstrable truth.
This is how things seem to be from the perspective of what is believed, and there is not much to say about it. Nevertheless it is important to take it into account because all human decisions and all explanations from the most incoherent to the most elegant pass through the sieve of the beliefs. Perhaps the most redeeming thing to consider – if what I say is true – is that beliefs change, evolve, transform. They are dynamic in nature as is everything else we know.
Democracy is a proposal for a form of government where citizen participation is important and true representation is even more important. Democracy is not a football game where the winners win a cup and the losers can only wait their turn. Democracy has little to do with economics even though the two are constantly confused. Books can probably be written on that subject, but what I am interested in communicating is that belief in such a democracy has been strongly shaken by recent political events in the U.S. and it has become evident how fragile and weak this form of government is in this moment. As I said before, the absolute belief of the American populace from two or three decades ago has been modified. and they no longer believe in the same way. Beliefs have changed, the characters have also changed and a very high percentage of the population no longer believes in the electoral system. They also don’t believe in government, nor in vaccines, masks, etc. The edifice of beliefs that has maintained the image of the U.S. as the defender of freedom and democracy in the world has collapsed with all the consequences of such a collapse.
I have no idea how this can be fixed – if it can be fixed – but I have the impression that we have entered a different phase in our global history, and that considering the pandemic and the economic future of the planet, we are going to have to change our beliefs, our mentality and much of what we have taken as absolute truth. One of the most absolute truths is the belief in democracy, which in reality has been only formal democracy for several decades. Real democracy has not yet manifested itself and would not really matter if it were not for the ingrained belief that it exists, a belief that like all beliefs produces suffering when it collapses.
All I can say at this point is that if these beliefs do not collapse and the illusion remains, then the people will suffer more. In some slightly twisted way, the fact that all of this is happening may be a great blessing to the human spirit. As long as we are able to accept it and understand it in depth.
December 21, 2020
These images / drawings are from a collection called “Weekly Reflection”. Most of the time the text is related to the photo or the drawing and is a “poetic” interpretation of the image. All the images and drawings are made by Rafael Edwards, all the texts are created by Fernando Aránguiz and all the English translations by Trudi Richards.
If you want to be part of this project, send me an email.