Sometimes social media drag the veracity of the human thought processes out into the open and what we see is occasionally frightening. When ignorance is stated as fact and supported by numerous others who even add to the nonsensicality of the starting point of a senseless argument then face palming is far from enough. Downright despair would perhaps be better but then that is so often accompanied by resignation, the one quality that becomes an own goal. Thus it was that the misappropriated and confused concepts of democracy were dragged into a not atypical Facebook post.

It is not unknown for an effusive know-all who actually knows little or nothing about the matter they are discussing, eventually preposterously arguing, to keep going when even they must realise they have crossed the threshold between the rational and absurd. They do not realise though. Thus it was that somebody I know drew me into one of those debates that was predestined to go nowhere then beyond into the void. It began with a response to the out of the frying pan into the fire view of the poster with regard to the change of UK political leadership decided by 0.17% of the electorate. In response, somebody who clearly had no idea about what was happening threw in ‘better than a leftie’. That eventually degenerated into blaming the so-called left and soon drawing in green politics as the root of all evils. Thus, nationalisation of public services and utilities in the UK was done by lefties and greens in his view. That that is the contrary to the facts was duly debated and dismissed. Of course, good Christian conservatism was the only way to run a country, in fact all countries. When pointed out that less than a third of the world is even nominally Christian that was dismissed. Then throwing in that around 15% of the world is without religion, thus over half of all people belong to the rest of beliefs that was dismissed as wrong although well recorded in numerous population researches. Then when it was said that the vast majority of all people live secular lives at least and above 95% of the time it was rejected as atheist propaganda.

As anticipated that drifted into a well trod democracy and civilisation path. That was expressed as had democracy not been delivered to most of the world there would be no civilisation. There I asked what that had to do with privatisation of services and utilities to have explained to me that corporations and their billionaire bosses are God’s servants. I threw in the question about the Hindus, Muslims, Jews and others including non-believers among the richest and most powerful to be countered with the richest are all Christians though. Democracy before civilisation fascinates me.

The former is hard to define; we often use the definition from Socrates, expanded on by his pupil Plato, later followed by Aristotle who laid the foundations of political philosophy from which we learn that under Cleisthenes, the first example of a type of democracy at the beginning of the sixth century BCE was established in Athens. That required a long history of civilisation until the most rudimentary form of what we should see today existed. When that was explained the counter argument was that democracy really began in the USA, which is a republic founded by people who rejected either democracy or monarchy as their political system. That, as ever, drew a blank. Whatever, we were told, it all comes from God.

That was time for daggers drawn. I asked who this entity is? The response was that he is the Almighty. That, I explained, is formless and abstract, in fact God has no name even, let alone gender or other mark of identity. I was told HIS name is Jehovah. That, I explained, is a Latinisation of the Hebrew Yəhōwā, sometimes written Yahweh, the name of the God of Israel in the Torah. What it means is not a name but phrase something like ‘I am that I am’ or ‘I am the one who is.’ That is neither a name nor other mark of identity such as gender or racial origin. That was another dead end. I left the discussion.

Overnight the ignorant man persisted with my friend on her post. He said that the ‘lefties’ and greens are responsible for privatisation of utilities in the UK. Selling off electricity, water, gas, telecoms, post office and so on was in defiance of what good Christian conservatives would do! That is the opposite of the truth, but he was not having it. As for health, it has to be taken out of the state’s hands and put in those of experienced private providers. Everybody can insure themselves, just like in the USA, where about 32 million, or nearly 10%, have no cover at all.

Why these things matter and what to do about such views? They matter because where one person believes these ideas that grow out of constructions made to serve the purpose of people who wish to hold power by creating fears expressed as this man’s trepidations. There are enemies, ones he cannot identify other than as labelled by the people who control his views; he believes in bogeymen in other words. What can we do? More or less nothing if we believe in freedom of speech and thought, but at least we can push for education to better prepare people, objectively at that, for the world we all share whatever our politics and religion.

Featured image by Pixabay on Pexels.

Brian Milne
A Social anthropologist who specialises in the human rights of children. In practice Brian Milne has worked on the street with 'street children', child labour, young migrants, young people with HIV and AIDS. Brian’s work has taken him to around 40 countries, most of them developing nations; at least four of them have been in a state of conflict or war, thus taking him to the front line in two. Brian’s theoretical work began with migration; working on, written and publishing on citizenship and generally best known as an 'expert' on the human rights of children. Brian has a broad knowledge of human and civil rights for all ages, environmental issues and has been politically active most of his life. An internationalist and supporter of the principle of European federalisation.

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