Ideally, in a democracy, everyone, every single person, should be one of the rulers, a member of that group which is the collective ruler of their country. In other words, in a democracy everyone should be a politician. A politician (from the Greek ancient term ‘polis’ (city-state)) is one who is concerned with and is participating in public affairs. In ancient Greece the term idiotic signifies one who is concerned only with his own private affairs, being indifferent to public concerns.
It is commonly known that one should have advisors in order to make right decisions about things he is ignorant of.It is crucial that those decisions should be wise. In a famous dialogue Socrates asked: What is the work of politicians? What is their job? If you are ill, you need a doctor. If you need a pair of shoes, you look for a good shoe maker. So you need some one with skills and science. Socrates was trying to discover what are the skills of a politician? Since everything that makes one a civilized person, a member of a society, a citizen, is to be learned and mastered, what is the way to do this? What kind of discipline is needed for this?
The idea of Democracy was born in the relatively small Greek city-states, in a time when the various regimes in most of them developed from traditional monarchy to aristocracy and tyranny and then to democracy, in a significantly short period of time. Ideally it was a transition from the regime of one single monarch or king, to a regime of many equals / kings, all together called Demos or Common. In an ancient city state there were potentially many kings (in fact all the warriors) and only one kingdom. So there were not many ways to resolve the profound contradiction. Historically the first solution was the attempted elimination of rivals, ending in the disaster of civil war. The next solution was arrangement, sharing, and Constitution.
So Democracy is a stage in political evolution where the ‘many’ as potential kings, come to an agreement of ruling together under a system of regulations. It is a system of citizenship based not any longer on supposed nobility of the blood, but plainly on the common interest of the city-state, and the sense of sharing the same destiny. It was crucial that the members of that community should be considered as of equal right to rule the city. They had to win this privilege and struggle to keep it. In fact citizens in these Democracies were inclusively all native warriors and former warriors (the old ones). All the rest of the population was not equal. They were slaves, immigrants, women and children. The conclave of these king–warriors was their parliament. The cities were small. They could all gather in one single place called the ‘agora’ (‘forum’ in Latin).
In these gatherings they had to find a way to manage and direct the affairs of state. It was crucial that they should convince other citizens of the correctness of their proposals. For that purpose they needed reason and intelligence. So alongside the martial arts, they started training themselves in the arts of eloquence/rhetoric. But being plainly eloquent is not sufficient, unless one is a knower of the subject in question. So they had to know as many things as possible. So there appeared the need for a new type of man: a synthesis of a warrior, an intellectual, a scientist, a counselor, a broad-minded person with a strong sense of the common interest and group awareness: a true politician. In human history that was literally a transmutation in evolution. A new species appeared out of the physical man of the fields and the wilderness. And here we have the link to what we might call a true democracy.
Now we know that group consciousness is the outcome of a process transforming a person from a man focused on his private affairs to a politician. A true politician is one with group consciousness. When this is missing, then a politician is some kind of businessman. He is motivated by personal interests, not the higher motivation of the public interest. Being a true politician is therefore the destiny of all. However, to enter into the world of group consciousness, the world of true politics, is a matter of personal decision and training.
Democracy and people’s representatives
In modern societies, it is impossible for everyone to gather together in person in one parliament. So several systems of representation were invented through the ages. Here again we have the same problem as in the case of ancient democracies. How many representatives are good enough? How would they be appointed to their duties? For how long? Who would be the ideal representative?
It is quite obvious that the ideal representative would be one who would be of identical interest with the represented, and more skilled, if possible, in promoting their ends. Modern political theory has accepted more or less the Marxist analysis according to which every society is divided in classes who struggle to impose their own group interests over the other groups. But here there is some kind of contradiction. If there is established some specific percentage of representation, let’s say one representative for every 50,000 or 100,000 people, one might think that the representatives of the poor would outnumber those of the rich.But this is not the case. Why?
It is not well recognized in political theory that if we consider the division in classes, and imagine it as a horizontal axis, there is also a vertical axis. That vertical axis represents the educational status or rather the spiritual achievement of people. And it is unlikely that an uneducated farmer would be elected by other farmers to represent their cause in a parliament. Here lies a major problem with modern democracies. There is no way that all classes or social groups will be represented sufficiently, unless a crucial percentage of them is sufficiently educated. This kind of education is slightly different than the average educational system of modern societies. It should be a system of producing citizens rather than skilled business workers or managers. Ultimately, a really free man, one who deserves to live in a democracy is one who has the spirit of an equal: one who has the sense of total responsibility for the condition of the whole, group consciousness, and who is willing to serve the needs of the common wealth.