Ideas: The Most Democratic Medium

Democracy: Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege.

Oxford English Dictionary

During this period of social distancing, many events are being digitized and provided to the public for free. The Hay Festival, an annual literary festival held in the UK, opened their box office today. Normally I wouldn’t have attended such an event due to logistical considerations ( ie the location ), monetary input , and what I can summarize as cultural barriers, which from previous experiences have made me feel out of place at such gatherings. Hence when I found out I could attend for free in the comfort of my PJs I harassed my sibling with excitement.

But it got me thinking about how ideas are made so inaccessible to the masses ( the proletariat if you will indulge me). When I talk about ideas I mean concepts that make up our understanding of the world in the broadest sense- from political theory to the workings of the immune system- not packaged in the rhetoric of name dropping and highfalutin language. At first this statement may seem paradoxical as you may, rightly so, pose – well Aatqa look at all the Youtube videos, (pirated) books available online, libraries and open meetings. And to this I would say you are right, indeed these resources exist but the issue is to do with access whereby the people who can benefit the most from the active engagement with ideas feel uncomfortable approaching platforms in which they can access them or just down right alienated when they do engage in forums which are usually dominated by white, older aged, cis-gendered individuals.

‘For the most part we receive fragments of unrelated knowledge, and our education follows no logical format or pattern. It is exactly this kind of education that produces people who don’t have the ability to think for themselves and are easily manipulated’

Assata Olugbala Shakur

To expand on the idea of ‘benefiting’ that I touched we must understand that ideas are a democratic force. They place individuals on the same plane, that of subjective human perspective of the world, devoid of class divisions, gender identity, race etc. Theoretically we should all be able to sit down as equals and discuss our thoughts about the world because individual perspective cannot be negated only challenged. The nature of ideas rely on difference; mutual coexistence and respect for opposing hypotheses is the basis of engaging with new concepts and for what I’m positing -democracy . It is this right to voice your ideas, and as a result actively engage with a broader matrix of concepts, that fuels political participation. If you have an idea about how the world that you live in should be, involvement in the politics and your society should be actively sought out and engaged with. However, in the current system such a high level of social alienation due to structural issues ie classism and racism prevents those whose voices can instigate change from speaking up. Ideas, the fundamental lifeblood of a democratic mode of living and socialization, have been hierarchised and made inaccessible.

‘To emancipate the people we want the people to emancipate themselves.’

Erico Malatesta

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