Alan Hamilton’s “From Blue Shirts to Brown” is a great article which gets a lot of things right but has one major weakness and ironically it is similar to what the author is accusing the group of doctors which authored the letter to the Premier: misconception of reality.
This weakness, unfortunately, is a common misconception in democratically sensitive commentators in our modern world which really needs to be addressed in its fundamentals.
Calling the right to protest “democratic” implies, as the whole article does – take the Thucydides reference for example – that the Australian regime is democratic but corrupt.
I hate being the bearer of bad news but no representative/electoral system is democratic in any way; and the ancient Athenian democracy, to take the most well-documented example of a real democracy, was light years different from today’s “democracies”.
These are republican systems modelled after the Roman one, which was anything but democratic. Actually, the Roman regime was intentionally non-democratic, but oligarchic/plutocratic and by definition corrupt, exactly like today’s western regimes are.
It is worth noting that historically pretty much all the western regimes owe their existence to the US system, which was established by the Founding Fathers after debates which unequivocally rejected the democratic system of governance for the republican one, no surprise there by a group of super-wealthy privileged members of the elite. The major parties of the current two-party US political power landscape historically owe their names to this debate.
Don’t get me wrong here. The current systems are obviously a great progress from the previous authoritative and arbitrary super-hierarchical ones, but they are certainly not democracies and this should be clear.
Now you may wonder how come that almost everyone believes that our current regimes are democratic. This misconception is another clear victory of the elite’s propaganda machine through the centuries and if you look a little bit to the history of the relevant debates, these distinctions were very clear among the commentators of the times, mostly until about 100 years ago.
At some point people must realize that elections are not democratic, lot is. Elections, as everyone knows, are bought by money. In a democracy there are no professional politicians, professional judges or professional lawmakers. A true democratic citizen would despise even the notion of this.
In a real democracy citizens do all these directly or elected-by-lot bodies do it. Also there is always the possibility to recall any public official at any time. Terms in public offices are strictly limited in time and frequency. Democracy is the regime where all explicit powers, legislative, executive and judicial are exercised directly by the citizenry, or by allotted bodies, which is the only democratic and just compromise when practicalities make direct participation of everyone not feasible.
No citizen of any ancient democracy would be fool enough to think that representation by an elected-by-elections person who decides and legislates for them with carte blanche for four years is democratic in any way.
Most importantly now, in a democracy there are no “rights” as we mean them, because these were established to protect the “citizen” (subject is the correct word) from the arbitrariness of the separate government/state. In a true democracy the citizens are the government/state.
Ask yourself. Were there protests in ancient Athens? No, because they had no meaning. Where there in ancient Rome? A lot, because they had.
Similarly, were there parties with institutionally recognized power, legislative protection etc in ancient Athens? No, because they had no meaning, same reasons. What are parties? Do they represent actual essential ideological differences or are they just groups of interests?
I think nowadays the answer is pretty clear. And that is because the only ideological debate which has actual meaning and essence is always democracy vs other non-democratic stuff. The current fetishization around economics which dominates the left vs right modern debates, practically since Marx, is just a secondary issue which naturally follows the essential.
For example can you imagine any real democracy which would allow such an unequal distribution of wealth? How would that be possible when the 90% of the decisive bodies would be the poor?
To conclude, there is a huge difference between a democracy and our modern oligarchies and there is no way to change them but radically, bottom-up. But first people really need to see things clearly about what is and what is not so that they are clear about what they want.
Continuing to call modern western regimes “democracies” just propagates the confusion and hinders true reform.
Lets call them for what they are, liberal oligarchies and the liberal part is being stripped away pretty rapidly now that the masters don’t feel much resistance. It is up to us, but we first we must have things clear in our minds.
 For the same reasons the use of terms such as “direct democracy” serve no democratic purpose. There are not many versions of democracy, but just one, and the use of adjectives just propagates the confusion.
Sorry for the insistence on details but words are a very powerful thing, and our masters know this pretty well. I believe Orwell has made this abundantly clear.
Take for example the use of the newly introduced by the elites term “social distancing” instead of the preexisting and scientifically correct term “physical distancing”. No accident there.
 For a really good philosophical analysis of the real essence of democracy and the elitist principles of our current regimes I strongly recommend the article Plato and Castoriadis: the concealment and the unravelling of democracy by Yorgos Oikonomou which can be found here [PDF].
Original: Tryfon Farmakakis – OFF GUARDIAN
Header: Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato and Aristotle