“I disagree with every word you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” I was raised believing those words were uttered by the French philosopher, Voltaire, to capture the very essence of democracy. Alas, how far we seem to have moved away from it! Today the very concept seems anathema.
On both sides of the Atlantic (where democracy has historically prevailed) there seems to be increasing intolerance, antagonism and even vitriol, towards anyone who has a different opinion or view. Popular, populist posturing prevails. And, as everyone becomes entrenched in their positions, anyone who holds a different opinion is deemed to be an idiot, deluded or the victim of “fake news.” This increases the invective and more and more the language becomes hate-filled, hateful, and hurtful. So the tension tightens and the pattern spirals.
Needless to say this is counter-productive. Ultimately democracy depends on collaboration. Thus if democracy is to survive we need to return to Voltaire’s statement, put it into practice and restore – and ensure – greater tolerance. As long as you respect and honour your fellow human beings you should be free to say whatever you think, without any fear of recrimination or victimisation. Please can we go back to that as a de facto standard? It is the only way that we will build the tolerance we need to meet the challenges we as a species – and the world as a whole – needs.
My book, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped presented ideas as to how we could change our economic and socio-political systems and attempted to promote discussion and debate around them. Now I have, however, written a new book that takes them further through what I call “The Universalist Manifesto.” Provisionally entitled. “Searching for Better: Exploring Ideas for Eliminating Conflict and Improving Quality of Life” I am currently searching for a publisher, but if you are interested in the learning more and/or would like to help in that quest please contact me.