Under Democracy

Democratic societies are unfit for the publication of such thunderous revelations as I am in the habit of making.

–Salvador Dali

When I tell people that I don’t believe in democracy, which is an arrangement that generally begins in slave states like ancient Greece and antebellum America, they look at me as if I had said I don’t believe in goodness, or the Red Sox.

Well, okay, it’s true, I don’t, and I don’t, but not believing in goodness is a complicated philosophical argument, and baseball is what it is, but resistance to democracy, a silly way of sending your power away from yourself and your neighborhood, is intuitively pretty appealing.  As if life isn’t hard enough, democracy urges you to tell some Joe who’s claiming to “represent” you that he can have power over you.   Why even bother?

Surely it’s obvious at a gut level that the only thing nuttier than voting for “leaders” is agreeing to live under them?

I got that word Joe from my neighbor’s lawn.  The big high-pollution plastic signs in the front yards here on the south coast of what they call Canada are a source of endless bemusement and amusement for Liam and me as we mosey around the streets.

This year we gather there’s a guy running for chief muckamuck named Ford, which is fitting in a city that sucks tailpipe with such gusto.  There was a muckamuck named that in the nation-state to the south when I was a kid.  He thought this thing called Detroit was a great idea and continued giving it lots of loot stolen from the people.  Brian Thornhill got within ten feet of that Ford muckamuck in ’76 in Vail, Colorado, with numchucks in his hand, and no one shot him.  I know, because I was with him.

In retrospect, that ’76 tableau of youths, muckamuck, and various hangers-on is kind of poignant, like there really was a golden age.  That was back in the day before the muckamucks had invented terrorism, and everyone could just calm down.  Some big SS guys kind of edged Brian out, closed shoulders in his direction, and that was the end of it.  He was just whacking shrubbery anyway, like any normal kid, and didn’t care if there was a muckamuck around or not.

Brian was showing me how to use the numbchucks, which he had just made for me out of ski poles stuffed for weight with—you have to love the metaphor—newspapers.  I carried those numchucks around with me for years, bruising my knuckles when I’d spin them on my wrist or snap them at pretend opponents.  I don’t pay attention to muckamucks, but that Ford guy didn’t seem too bad.

We’ve got a Pantalone in the race here, too.  This is a funny word in several languages.  There’s also apparently someone named Sun who has the droll icon on her sign of—wait for it—a sun!  Who knew that Chinese people could be just as dull-witted as Anglos?  We’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope she intended a setting sun.  Our favorite muckamuck name this year, and I’m not kidding, is Likourezos. Liam and I have made a serious attempt to figure out a way that this is not a hilarious name for a muckamuck.

“Liam, does that say ‘lik-“

“Yeah, lik, our, ezos.  That’s what it seems to be saying.”

“And all together, it’s saying Likourezos, right?”

“That would be right.”

Now we just yell “Likourezos” at all the Hummers speeding in the wet leaves and the poncy little two-seater cars with self-righteous leprechauns in them.  Lik our ezos!  We’re practically democratists ourselves.  Well, okay, not really.  But we love yelling lik our ezos!

The problem with democracy and common sense is that the sense we have in common concerning democracy was forged before we were ever born.  The sign on the wall of the subway today, financed by the muckamucks with money taken from the people, says simply, “Your City, Your Vote.”  It’s not like there’s any room in leaderville for the opposite opinion.  You’ll look in vain for an opposing view on an opposing wall.  “Our City, Don’t Vote” or “There’s A Reason It’s Called ‘Franchise’.”

Opposing views are not only denied equal time, it’s not even clear to people that there is any other opinion.  Voting just is.  Like air.  Praise for voting is no longer an argument, it’s a form of mindless religion.

Democracy is the political unconscious.  The leader’s a dope—long live the leader!  The reign of dopey leaders must continue in unbroken succession.

From the moment we are born, we are subjected to a massive hard-sell on the glories of democracy by people who were themselves subjected to a massive hard-sell so thorough that it never crosses their minds that sending their power to distant bureaucracies is anything but an idea formed in heaven.

Anytime groups of people get together in leaderville and something good happens, we say rapturously, “democracy now” and “thank God for democracy.”  And if something bad happens, we cluck our tongues and talk about a “lack of democracy.”  We are a superstitious people.  It’s no coincidence that the man most associated in the minds of people on the planet with the word democracy, besides God, is that ignorant and superstitious nitwit, George Bush.  Remember that guy?  Also, remember George Bush?

Democracy is just one notion amongst many, and there are many bad ones in leaderville.  Perhaps it’s no coincidence that it thrives in places where invisible gods are worshipped, as its invisibility is its greatest strength.  Like air, it’s taken for granted.  And it attracts dimwits like the Sun candidate.  Democracy, in short, is one notion, under God, invisible, with flibbertigibbets for all.

When the “leader” of the thing that squats these days on my watershed like a loathsome beast, the nation-state, spent a weekend in early summer having the goons he hired from distant provinces gleefully kick the shit out of us after having spent the previous year extracting from us the money to pay for the beating, we got together, when we at last pulled our faces out of the dirt from having been dropkicked by democracy, and called for more.  “We need more democracy,” we yelled, like we were the bravest kids on the playground and we were showing off.

Now hold on, you might say, keep your pantalones on.   Without leaders, things would just descend into anarchy.  Our response has always been that things already have descended into anarchy.  If you don’t believe this, ask yourself what the “Made in China” sticker lurking under every product in your house is standing in for, or why you lie to yourself so vociferously whenever you buy new clothing, or why 40,000 children every day die of hunger and related complications within spitting distance of 700 Battlestar-Galactica-sized military bases of the Americans, to name just the first among equals of the champions of democracy.  Or perhaps you mean, there’s no anarchy right now in your neighborhood.  Of course there isn’t—democracy’s first and most essential instinct is to send everything elsewhere, beginning with your own power.

Fascism for brown shirts.  Democracy for brown noses.  It’s all the theater of elsewhere.

You smug bastards in your voting booths are probably feeling pretty good about yourselves these days.  But there are billions of us down here under your democracy.  We’re the dark communal thing under the nation under the god, and you can’t imprison and kill all of us.  What you can do, and we mean this as sincerely as the thickness of your earwax, is Likourezos.

DAVID Ker THOMSON lives in the city of T’onto in the province of ’rio on the south coast of ’nada. He can be reached at: Dave.thomson@utoronto.ca