No, the apocalypse hasn’t started because Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States of America. The apocalypse has been mushrooming right outside your doorstep for years now; you’ve just been too busy smiling at cat videos, sharing inspirational quotes and hashtagging #OMG #QueenBeyonce to notice it.
The criticism of Democracy has existed and has been active in philosophers and thinkers’ and scholars’ circles for over two thousand years – since Plato, to my knowledge, and possibly since even earlier. Yet, it is only today, in the end of 2016, that it is finally being tolerated, even welcomed, into the mainstream press and people’s debates and tweets and Facebook statuses and blog posts.
And this may very well be the only positive outcome of this whole circus.
We look down on our history that consists of genocides perpetrated in the name of the Church and of wars raged in the name of the King. Dark times when speaking against the Church lead you to being burnt at the stake, when questioning the Monarch’s competence earned you a nice, clean decapitation. But have things really changed since?
For years, the advocates of Democracy have acted almost as bad as the very regimes and institutions they built their intellectual careers on denouncing. Today, millions of people are still being killed in the name of Democracy. Lands and countries are still being invaded and pillaged in the name of Freedom. And when we dared raising a finger to dispute a system under which the only things that really thrive are demagogy, populism, misinformation, ideology and manipulation – under the umbrella of freedom, we were accused of being disgusting fascists, of being ruthless pro-dictatorship, and so on. For years and years and years, it was democracy’s way or the highway. A system where freedom of speech was only valid as long as it didn’t touch upon the system itself. The irony.
Of course, Trump’s election is a disaster, especially to the millions of people living in the United States who will be immediately affected by it. But the reaction of the international community is nothing short of hypocritical, because these elections have been a disaster way before the final results, for the election of Hilary Clinton would have been just as disastrous, at least when it comes to international politics. Of course, Donald Trump has made islamophobic remarks, but Hilary Clinton has been a very active agent in an islamophobic establishment that’s been bombing random muslim countries and innocents for over two decades. Of course, Donald Trump claims he will build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from coming to the USA, but Hilary Clinton’s criminal record in South America is one of the worst in history. And of course, Donald Trump wants to “grab ‘em by the pussy,” but Hilary Clinton’s closest allies and military clients and campaign funders are countries where Women Rights are not only disrespected, they are close to inexistent.
So really, what is the big deal? When after the whole world has cheered for Obama – first black president and of Muslim descent – and portrayed him as Hope itself, only to realize, by the end of his two terms, that he actually dropped more bombs on Muslim countries than George W. Bush, who are we kidding? Why do we still believe any of the pseudo-information we read? Why do we still hang on to any of these slogans and symbols? And really, why does everyone act so fucking shocked all the time?
Shocked, devastated, outraged, in disbelief. Get out of here. Because as long as we have the naivety of a toddler, and the intellectual curiosity of a four year old, and that our source of information and political inclination is a sketch of Conan O’Brian, an interview with Jennifer Lawrence, or a video of Amy Schumer and Lil’ Wayne bullying us into voting for someone, then we better get used to this feeling – because it is far from being over: we’re just going to keep on being shocked, devastated, outraged, in disbelief. Until we decide to wake up.
Because ultimately, George Orwell was wrong. Big Brother is not silently watching us. He is constantly telling us what to think, what to say, how to feel, who to judge, who to love, who to hate, who to support, what’s good for us, what’s bad for us, what we need, what to stay away from. And all we ever do is repeat after him. All in the name of freedom, baby. Freedom and Democracy.
But maybe it’s not too late. Maybe the time has finally come for the public to come forward with legitimate questions about the system we’ve been living in and brainwashed to defend and idealize since the day we were born. How is democracy different from tyranny when it’s nothing but a tyranny of the majority? How do we produce a majority of informed and politically aware and responsible citizens? How do we raise children so that their long-term vision of the greater good is just as important as their immediate selfish and communitarian needs? How do we prevent people from being seduced by demagogic, charismatic figures? How do we get out of a system in which the candidate’s concern is to convince the voter by all means possible – mainly, through lies and manipulation and misinformation and ideological brainwash? How do we prevent voters from being tricked into making a choice based on a financial need, a short-term emergency, an unfair promise of advantage over another fraction of the population?
Through my eight years of studying Philosophy to my now six years of practice and teaching, the most recurrent question I get asked is: what’s the use of Philosophy? The problem with philosophers is not that they’re useless, it’s just that no one really cares to hear what they have to say.
Let’s start with the basics. Let’s go back to the Ancient Greeks. Because our whole past, present, and future has already been written.