Democracy – the greatest human experiment

Imagine for a moment an oasis in the middle of a desert. The oasis is a green belt with lots of greenery and fresh water streams. It’s busting with life. No one lives here yet. There is a bright beam of light shining on this little haven from the sky. The beam can be seen from a far and as such attracts groups of random people from afar to settle here.

Different groups of people slowly descend on this little patch of earth. The groups are small, speak different languages, and have different cultural norms. Some rear animals and others grow crops. Each has their own hierarchy and structure. The groups have evolved over thousands of years before they reached this oasis.

A long long time ago they were hunter gatherers and foragers. They lived off the earth and moved vast miles in search of a better life. They developed language along the way. They learnt how to domesticate some animals. They also learnt how to farm the land. They built small communities for protection. But the inclement weather and diseases pushed them to search for better lands.

As more groups arrived at the oasis there was conflict and infighting. Violence erupted and some groups were chased away and others emerged superior. The superior groups anointed themselves royals and crowned their strongest member as King. There was intermarriage and the groups learned to live peacefully with each other. The land was shared and the King looked after his people.

Different members in this group had different skills and they began to exchange goods and commodities with each other. To ease the trade they invented money. Money was just some rare shells they could exchange with each other. The oasis prospered. 

People from afar started visiting and trading with this small haven. News of the wealth and abundance of this little place spread and reached the ears of the King of a much bigger oasis far away. The mighty King sent an expedition to the little haven.

The expedition presented gifts to the King. In return the King granted them a safe stay and allowed them to build schools and temples to civilize the locals. New belief systems were introduced and modern medicine and technology emerged. In no time the King was overthrown and the new conquerors appointed their own ruler over the land. The foreign ruler established written laws and imposed taxes on the people. He set up companies to mine the gold and diamonds from the earth. He paid royalties to the royal group to gain their favor.

Many other groups felt marginalized by this arrangement and they agitated for change. Eventually the foreign ruler caved in and handed over power to a group of indigenous caretakers. The caretakers fought among themselves for power. The strongest emerged and took control of the oasis. Peace and prosperity prevailed. Industries were built and the population boomed. To legitimize their stay in power the ruling class established a high table and a low table. The low table would consist of people selected by the different groups to represent them at regular intervals. The low table would determine the law of the land. The high table was selected by the new ruler himself. They were charged with collecting taxes and governing the state. They also kept the oasis secure from intruders. They determined the rules of money and industry.

Naturally the people on the high and low tables became very wealthy while many struggled.
As time went on the population bulged. People traveled and saw better oases. The buildings and roads were better and the rulers changed frequently. So the young people started asking questions. They agitated for change. A youthful group presented themselves for a seat at the high table and the locals got excited. They said they could turn around things and gain freedom. Some conflict ensued. The ruling class had seen other oases disintegrate into chaos and they couldn’t allow it to happen on their watch. They did however allow the vote to go on.

And so democracy, the greatest human experiment, was once again put to the test. Democracy may not be perfect but it is the best alternative available at the moment.

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