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Do political decisions need rationalism or the citizens’ acceptance?

By Demosthenes Kyriazis


In order to provide an understandable answer to the above question, we must first agree on a generally accepted definition of the terms rationalism and acceptance of decisions;   we need to know exactly what we are talking about. Otherwise, contradictory and irrational conclusions are created, since everyone understands his own for these two terms.


Acceptance of decisions
By acceptance of decisions we mean in legal science the resignation of the interested parties for overturn the decision with the existing legal remedies

In politics we mean the resignation of the majority of the citizens’ set from seeking to overturn the decision by all legal means; appeals,  protests, strikes, squats. An important and crucial element of this definition is that acceptance refers to the total of citizens and not to the class of citizens directly concerned by the decision. It goes without saying that the class of those who are directly concerned will, as a rule; struggle to overturn a decision that damages her interests.   In order the decision to be accepted by the effected class of people, basic prerequisite is to convince them that it expresses the will of the citizens’ set and not the will of the one or the few men of power.


Rationalism of decisions

By the term rationalism in science - for example in the economy, in business administration, in politics, in military operations - we mean the estimation (calculation) of: (1) the results of this decision and (2) of the probability of achieving these results.  For example, the rationalism of the mid-term plan decision is the credible estimation that its realization will result in: a reduction in debt to X%, unemployment in Y%, and that the probability of achieving these results is Z%. It follows from this definition that the rationalism of decisions is a project of experts rather than "opinions" of politicians, of media’s men, or of ordinary citizens.

It may be useful to recall that rationalism in philosophy means something more general and more fundamental[1] than what today means in applied sciences.


The value and credibility of rationalism

The abovementioned estimates of experts are based on certain assumptions, which we believe will be very likely to happen, with almost certainty. Such assumptions, for example, are that there will be no natural disasters or wars. But the most important and crucial assumption is the acceptance of the decision by the citizens. If this assumption does not apply then the rationalism of the experts goes for a walk;   then the rationality of the greatest experts also has the value of "exercise on paper" and not the value of a reliable estimate of future events. What is true of the "rationalism" of self-proclaimed experts is self-evident.  It follows from the above that rationality without acceptance has only theoretical value. It also appears that a decision with moderate rationalism but great acceptance is more effective than a decision with great rationalism but negative or low acceptance.

This conclusion has obvious logic because acceptance is the most critical element of rationalism.  In normal practice, however, acceptance is not the responsibility of the experts but of the politicians. Addressing rationality and acceptance not as a single issue, but as two autonomous issues, has led to the following unreasonable effect; has led to profit from the rationalism eg. 100 Euros and, at the same time, damage 120 Euros from non-acceptance. Consequently rationalism without acceptance is not rationalism, but is absurdity.


How the acceptance of decisions is made.

The acceptance of political decisions depends on the basic characteristics of the political system and not on those of political leaders and of the citizens, as the majority of people believe.  In the Direct Democracies where the major decisions are taken by citizens’ set, maximum acceptance is ensured. But in Representative Democracies where decisions are taken by the majority of delegates how is the acceptance of decisions made? Who are the people responsible for it?

The answer is both obvious and historically documented: Acceptance is created by the example of decision-makers; of the leaders. Therefore the elected representatives of the citizens are responsible for the creation of acceptance.

In the Ancient Greek Democracy, the few major decisions were taken by the Citizens’ set (Ecclesia of Demos), while the many and minor ones, were taken by the leaders.  In this way the political decisions have high acceptance regardless of their rationalism.

The wars of the Greeks against the Persians are examples of decisions of great acceptance and moderate rationalism due to the superior enemy forces. Similar cases exist in the history of the Greeks, such as the Revolution of 1821 and the war against the Mussolini’s  Italy  of 1940. The results of such decisions are the wonders of the History of the Greeks, where the great acceptance prevailed over the small rationalism.


Acceptance in today's Democracies

In the present democracies, where all the power of the citizens has been transferred to the elected representatives, the acceptance of decisions is not safeguarded by the regime since: (1) the citizens have no involvement in the taking of the major decisions and (2) the rights and mentality of representatives are closer to those of Princes, than to those of the Leaders (Άρχοντες) of ancient Greek Democracy.

Many examples show that our MPs’ perception for their mission to be the first citizens inspiring by his example,  is not considered as the top one.  The well-known recent fact that two/three MPs were characterized by the others MPs as ... populists because they attempted to give the example of economic sacrifices to overrun the economic crisis, says a lot; it clearly describes their perception for their mission and duty.

In today's Democracies, the lords/ representatives believe that the acceptance of their decisions is not created by their example, but by the proper information of the citizens, by their communication policy. They declare, without inhibition and shame, that the non-acceptance of decisions is due to their communication policy and not to their policy. They basically believe that their responsibility and aim is not to exercise a proper policy but to exercise a good communication policy; that the problem is not what we say, but how we say it.   The citizens, however, experienced and understood it. Their conclusions became the slogans: "Who asked us?”,  “Direct Democracy", who were crying on the Syntagma Square of Athens.

Greece is now at war; in a peculiar war at which the enemy is not only some strangers, but mainly we ourselves.  Our great enemies in today's war are the mentality and morality, primarily of the politicians/leaders, but also of many citizens that politicians gave them discreet privileges as a reward for their valuable help in the conquest of power. 

Today's "Democracy" does not have citizens and Leaders as in ancient Athens, but “Plebs, Patricius and Hipatus”, as in ancient Rome.  Sooner or later, this political system will change.

I wish, this change to be done by the representatives, who have the institutional right and the obligation for such a change and not after a revolution of the citizens.

I wish,  our representatives to believe that the Goddess Need is ordering : The representatives /MPs to  became again  Άρχοντες (Real  Leaders)  and the today followers society to become citizens’ society; as it was 2,500 years ago in this place;  at the Cradle of Democracy.


[1] Rationalism in philosophy is the doctrine according to which the source of all knowledge is the logic not the experience or the theological views of a genuine messiah. What is valid for  the "rationalism" of “Messiah” of politics and media,  is self-evident




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