07. Dez. 2012

Ukrainien Week

«Oligarchic Democracies» and
«Democratic Oligarchies» can not survive

From Andi Gross (St.Ursanne/Switzerland)

One of the best recent studies about Ukraine’s political situation I know has an impossible title, «The Oligarchic Democracy». It was written by Slawomir Matuszak and published in Warsaw by the polish Centre for eastern studies. This title is as impossible as the feeling of many Ukrainian citizens during the last elections: Mainly oligarchic interest groups with their TV-channels, newspapers, company-bosses and state-sector-affiliates were asking for their votes and not political parties run by citizens who organised each other around common political visions, social programs and interests.

Oligarchy and democracy are alternatives, as water and steam, two different ways of organising the society and it’s citizens. Oligarchs and elections are contradictions like fire and water, not possible to merge without loosing both. Either you want democracy, or then, you have to overcome oligarchy. Or you give in to the oligarchs and forget democracy. But you cannot want both to live beside each other with each other. One kills the other. You have to decide.

In order to explain this antagonism and to consider, how to separate again what never will fit together you have to go back to the roots of modern democracy, the French Revolution 223 years ago. In this historic moment and in a bloody fight the King, until then the absolute Sovereign with absolute power on every French man and woman, lost all his power to the people. The people became the only source of legitimate political power. That was the end of the aristocracy and the beginning of democracy, a never-ending societal effort and process.

The programmatic and philosophic master piece of the French Revolution and the key to understand the essence of modern democracy is the declaration of human rights from 1789. It’s main essentials expressed in today’s words to be understood by everybody:

1. Every human being is born free and equal. Nothing, no heritage, no family-background, no money gives anybody more political rights over others.

2. Freedom means, that life is no more a destiny. Together with likeminded others citizens have the right to organise their life themselves. No God, no religion, no party, no boss, no billionaire controls the society and it’s human beings. Only the citizens themselves can choose their way of living together. These choices are made by a referenda on the constitution – the basic document where the design of the society and the state is defined and where all agree how the political power is to be organised in the interest of all and who has when how much to say if and how a decision in the interest of all has to be done.

3. The constitution defines, creates and protects Democracy. It creates all the rules, institutions, proceedings and rights Democracy needs to give all a fair life chance, to prevent the natural conflicts of free citizens to deteriorate into violence and to guarantee to every citizens that he has not to obey any norm or law which was not directly or indirectly been decided by him- or herself too.

4. The constitution also sets the rules for economic actors; the capital, the companies and their managers have to obey them in order to prevent the human beings and the nature to be exploited and that the promise of a fair distribution of the life chances can be realised.

These essentials illustrate who is the focal point of any democracy: The citizen, the men and the women, who all together form the Nation without anybody should be forgotten and left alone and powerless. Their freedom, their wellbeing, their future and the protection of all what they need for this is the core of a democracy.

An oligarchy is something rather different. In an oligarchy a few men or women or small groups of them have much too much and most citizens have not enough to make a decent living. In an oligarchy the power is money. Those who have more money have more power; those who have no extra money have no power at all. They have to follow, obey and work for those who have the money and control the business-sectors, which guarantee their profits. In an oligarchy the state is controlled and misused by the oligarchs in the interest of the maximisation of their profit. The citizens are helpless and have no power to defend their interests. The core of an oligarchy is the money and its basic question is how to make more money. The human beings are only instruments for this and the methods used scrupulous.

These two small pictures illustrate that you cannot live in a democratic oligarchy or in an oligarchic democracy. These systems are based on antagonistic values and principles. They are incompatible with each other. You have to decide which way you want to go.

Nobody else will make this decision for you. And nobody else has the power to make the choice than the people themselves. But no citizen can delegate the care the way chosen needs to keep track with the values and principles chosen with him. This is true in Ukraine as well as anywhere else. Specific are only the ways the Ukrainians have to take after they made their basic choice.

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