“We the people…” – Slavoj Zizek

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…in a democracy, every ordinary citizen is effectively a President – but a President in a constitutional democracy, a President who only formally decides, whose function is to sign measures proposed by an executive administration. This is why the problem of democratic rituals is homologous to that of constitutional democracy: how do we protect the dignity of the President? How do we maintain the appearance that the President effectively decides, when we all know this is not true? What we call a ‘crisis of democracy’ does not occur when people stop believing in their own power but, on the contrary, when they stop trusting the elites, those who are supposed to know for them and provide their guidelines, when they experience the anxiety signalling that ‘the (true) throne is empty’, that the decision is now really theirs.

—Like A Thief In Broad Daylight: Power in the Era of Post-Humanity – Slavoj Zizek

The vast majority of citizens in a democracy do not really care who is in power – rather, what they care about is that their private lives are not affected beyond a certain tipping point by the fake powers behind the throne. We all go along with the fantasies of government, knowing full well that power is not some substantial commodity but is a sort of game of thrones played out by would-be entrepreneurs of power – the small elite of rich cadres that select for us the actor of the day to play out the games of power all the while letting the real power brokers get on with their real work hidden and away. Democracies in the so-called free world have become mockeries of their intended political structures. There is no actual real democracy in the world only the stagecraft of mediaspaces where the semblance of freedom is a given rather than its substance. If people truly had power we’d be in a war without end for the people is and has always been the designation for this empty throne behind which power is not only hidden but can never enact its designs. For if the people could truly take over and proved worthy of power they would kill each other off forthwith. People don’t want the power of change, they don’t want change at all – they want only its semblance and dramatic irreality. To live a life in which one was truly free would be for the vast majority the scariest thing on earth. What would they do with such freedom?

2 thoughts on ““We the people…” – Slavoj Zizek

  1. Democracy and capitalism and mutually exclusive ideologies. You can never have an equitable system when people wield vastly different amounts of power.
    Ultimately, moral development is the key, as political systems and legal frameworks will always be subordinate to the prevailing moral calibre of the constituents. This is amply demonstrated in Arabia and South America, where tribal codes of practice continually undermine attempts for civilised governance.
    Unfortunately the United States is slipping into a third world paradigm where the elite have forgotten their duty toward the proletariat in ever increasing cycles of greed. Ultimately the system will collapse but its going to be some tough years ahead before that fateful day, and whether the world will survive its dissolution remains to be seen.


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