Democracy supposedly goes hand in hand with government ideals. You can rarely talk about democracy without politics of some sort of some country getting in the way. The politics differ depending on which country we’re on about, as does the perception of the power through the democracy within it. Thus, to keep things simple, we shall do this in a quintessentially ‘British’ manner, and make this post from a British perspective.
Assumptions of democracy vary depending on which side you’re batting for. Any government will naturally make the assumption that they have total power over democracy in their given country, and that they can control the perceptions of the masses through the power of the media. The government may also assume passivity within the masses, and that since they have been elected into power through democratic channels (i.e. fair voted into power), that the masses will be trusting of them, despite the enormous power they wield.
For the public under the rule of the government, passive audiences will surely believe without question that the choice between Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour is the only choice they need, and that whoever is elected into power acts on behalf of the country’s best interest. Nowadays though, as social revolt has become more popular, one could argue that less-passive audiences make the assumption that the entire government is corrupt, every politician is guilty, and the only way to resolve the failure of democracy is to completely destroy it, and then rebuild it from scratch.
It’s is fair to say that people fear the government, when technically the idea of democracy should mean that this is the other way around. Governments are supposed to be all-powerful, yet the ability to control the internet is almost impossible. Word of mouth, discourse and language are what the government no longer seem to have complete control over – since these are the basic foundations that build democracy, surely the democratic power lies with the mass public at this current moment in time.
The internet has often been accused of being the antithesis of social interaction, but it is in fact bringing people together in more meaningful ways. Unite The Resistance is just one example of how various opposing forces of the government are uniting together.
What is interesting is that despite the power shift, there does not seem to be one individual leader fronting the revolution. For them, the enemy are the Tories and David Cameron. But there isn’t a face to the revolution – there is no representative. Julian Assange is perhaps the closest thing that this generation of internet-users has to a symbol of the change in the power of discourse structure. As there is no one leader calling the shots, it will be interesting to see what happens with the current revolutions.
The government has responded to anti-capitalist threats by making examples of those who stand up to their authority. Some people made a Facebook page at home one night as a drunken joke, and has since been sent to jail for four years (the article for which can be found here). However, the internet is now making the masses aware of such actions, which only strengthens their resolve. Thus, the government needs to move carefully to avoid turning their whole country against them.
To summarise, democratic power is based around the power of words and communication. The government have always been able to control these channels, but the internet nowadays will be difficult to control, at least enough to stop the information flow unfairly or illegally without the whole public knowing about it.