What are finally the referendums? The foundation or the illusion of Democracy?
By Demosthenes Kyriazis
On the occasion of the recent referendum in England, owing to which this country is going to leave the EU, many contradictory opinions have been expressed.
The faith in logic and ethics of the institution of referendums has been expressed, because it constitutes proof of the validity of the doctrine: "master is the citizen." Recall that this doctrine is adopted and supported orally from every single political party, however in reality is rejected or is distorted so much, that from vehicle of power of citizens, becomes a vehicle of power of the representatives of citizens, of the politicians. Really, at the last referendum held in Greece, the government said clearly that the referendum "will be a bargaining tool" in the hands of the government rather than the irrevocable command of the citizens to their representatives.
The logic and ethics of the institution have been questioned, with the argument that ordinary citizens, have neither the logical and moral forces, nor information and experience to take major decisions. These should therefore be taken by their representatives who dispose these abilities!! Ordinary citizens should not be involved in taking decisions but have to rely on their representatives who have the wisdom and morality!! The principle that the “cost of any wrong decision should be paid by those who take the decision”, which applies in the case of referendums, is ignored. Instead of this is applied the principle: “politicians have to take the decisions and citizens have to pay”.
It is not our intention to argue in favor of the first or the second aspect because we believe that each citizen can and must form his own view of what ultimately referendums are.
Our intention is to present a different approach to the original question based on the law of entropy at the Social Systems.
In the logic of the Social Entropy Referendums constitute institution of negative entropy production; constitute an institution aiming at reducing the deterministically inevitable increase of Entropy, the inevitable course to the degradation of systems. Some basic data about Entropy at different systems, there are in the article, Direct Democracy, the regime of low Entropy. http://www.dd-democracy.gr/article.asp?Id=92
Based on determinism of Entropy, referendums constitute the foundation of true democracy; they constitute the foundation of Low Entropy Regime.
Institutions which reduce the entropy at social systems have long been created from thinkers of the science of Law, Policy and Sociology, but with reasoning different from that of entropy. Such a fundamental institution, on which rests the political system of representative democracy, is the separation of powers into three independent powers: the Legislative, the Executive and the judicial one. This institution deep down is a reduction of entropy institution, because does not allow over-concentration of power and ensure the transparency of the system. This institution was considered so basic, that the Article16 of the French Declaration of 1789 declares: “A state without separation of powers neither Democracy is nor Constitution has”.
Referendums are the most genuine institution of social entropy reduction and therefore any deterioration or questioning of their value, constitute personal opinions. Opinions of the form: "referendums divide the People” or “referendums are the illusion of the Democracy", are incompatible with the determinism of entropy, which applies to all systems and, in our opinion, to social ones too.
The discriminatory treatment of problems in institutions
In the functioning of the various institutions many serious problems appear always. But these problems do not usually lead to the abolition of institutions, but to the creation of mechanisms of neutralization or of reduction of the problems. For example, the institution of the powers separation, presents problems like those, which last came to publicity. But neither thinker nor politician, nor a citizen questioned the value of this institution. For the referendums that have the same objective as that of powers separation, why are there so many controversies and why don’t we try to neutralize the problems?
Why in the institution of referendums is suggested the application of the doctrine “hurts head, cutting head" and to the powers separation not?
I think all ordinary citizens understand the answer.
The real cause of referendums’ problems
Most believe that the institution of referendums is based on logical and ethical principles, but ordinary people do not have the necessary logical and moral forces to serve it. However they de facto accept that these forces are disposed from the elected representatives, whom, on the other side, citizens control for their reduced logical and moral powers. This is not a logical contradiction?
I think this argument / assumption is wrong because politicians are a sample of the citizens’ set, which even operates under physical determinism, that our people has summarized in the maxim: "The priest blesses first his beard."
The referendums problems therefore are not intrinsic, but are created from the politicians exercising the power, which: (a) Distort the query of the referendum and manipulate its response. (b) Deprive from the citizens the familiarity and experience in taking collective decisions.
In Greece for example, where democracy and referendum were born, from the 1831 to 2010, only 7 referendums have been proclaimed, which correspond to a frequency of 1 referendum per 25 years. If the sexual act of the Greeks had the same frequency, the Greeks would have lost the strongest human ability; the ability of perpetuation of the species!!
I do not know the frequency of referendums in England but I think it will be similar to that of Greece. But in England the referendum question was clear and the Prime Minister faced the decision of the British people as the top and uncompromising command to exit the country out of the EU.
In Greece, the cradle of democracy, in the last referendum the question was neither clear, nor used as the superior and the uncompromising command of the citizens. It was used as a tool at the hands of politicians for the optimization of the negotiations!!
The referendum of the British created two distinct questions: (a) Where the institution of the referendum is responsible for taking wrong decision and (b) whether the decision was correct for the interests of the British.
In question (a) the opinion of a citizen, whose knowledge and experience not belong to the legal or political sciences, is that the institution of referendums is the most important one of a democratic regime, because only this will transform today's fans parties in rulers and ruled citizens; citizens with power and responsibility.
In question (b) the answer is probably that the decision was wrong, but “Ουδέν κακόν αμιγές καλού"(none pure evil without good). Citizens and politicians of England from this referendum would increase the expertise and responsibility for their participation in making major decisions. Still, let us not forget that experience is gained from our mistakes rather than from our successes.