The theory of democracy brings together two powerful
needs: individual freedom and collective cohesiveness, a paradox that it tries
The word ubuntu, “I am because we are,” acknowledges
both the individual and the collective and points to the intimate connection of
both – they are mutually dependent and each is the progenitor of the
other. In other words, a society is made
up of individuals and the individual develops a unique personality through
interaction with others.
A government based on democratic principles seeks to
protect the uniqueness of the individual and at the same time safeguard the
conditions for the development of that uniqueness. That means ensuring that the society that it
governs is safe, is growing and developing.
And if you understand karma in the way I do, i.e.
that existence is paradoxical, you will immediately
see that individual freedom is both a threat to and the most powerful agent of
social development. Some individuals
become criminals; others become scientists (Scientists are my heroes.) Both the scientist and
the criminal are opportunists; the criminal sees opportunities for
exploitation; the scientist sees opportunities for exploration (advancing existence into new
and more profound understandings).
Both the criminal and the scientist need an open
society; a society that allows a great deal of individual freedom. We have seen how when countries that were
once totalitarian begin to adopt democratic principles and allow more
individual freedom, they give rise to a mafia of some sort. And in all protests and demonstrations for
greater freedom, there is always the criminal element that loots, destroys and
even rapes and murders. In karma there is no
dichotomy of good and evil; human beings are both good and evil. Look how quickly freedom fighters become
corrupt politicians. They seize opportunities provided by so-called democratic
governance. When criminals take over
government, there is very little individual freedom other than their own.
In societies where there is little individual
freedom, there is little progress.
Evolution and development depend on the encouragement of individual
initiative. In those societies, where
individual initiative is valued, fostered and subsidised, all kinds of new
developments arise and in this global world, they spread even into
conservative, traditional societies in which there is little individual
freedom. And new technologies carry with
them the message of individual freedom. And revolutions are happening because
the downtrodden, in countries that suppress individual initiative in favour of
conformity, are beginning to break out of confining traditions, spurred on by the subliminal message of individual frredom inherent in technology.
Where populations place the collective ahead of the
individual, where individual initiative is stifled because people cannot see
that it is individual enterprise that drives progress, we generally have
autocratic governments. And autocrats,
because they have a conforming society, become criminals. Progress in African
countries is slow because we are bound by tradition and seem not to understand
the importance of individual freedom and initiative in driving progress.