The dictatorship of ignorance


Few days ago as we were discussing about the nature of the three Bill of Rights, I took this chance to analyse the concept of universal suffrage and provocatively asked them whether it was actually right that everybody could vote or if they saw some faults in the system. Stupor and amazement was their first reaction, how can it be possible to discuss such a great achievement of modern history? Therefore, I decided to refresh what democracy means to add other elements to the discussion: Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or indirectly through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”

What makes a citizen eligible? Age? Profession? In my opinion education makes citizens eligible. I want to make myself clear. Few weeks ago I read on a newspaper the result of a survey about the quality of education here in Italy and the outcome was really disastrous. The survey states that 80 % of our population are “analfabeti di ritorno” that in English could be more or less: those who have” relapsed into illiteracy”. 80 people out of 100 may be able to write and read, but they don’t fully understand what they read, graduated included. This happens because we don’t read much in this country, in fact in the many years I spent in England, if there is one thing that really surprised me at first glance, apart from the habit of queuing, was the great number of people I saw reading everywhere.

Certainly my students, who are 18/19 and are going to vote soon, placed themselves in the 20% of the cultivated, therefore I asked them to explain the meaning of the expression  “welfare state“. No-one was able to produce a decent answer. The question is, if you don’t know the meaning of a common topic such “welfare stare“, upon what ground are you going to give your vote? Politicians know that survey well, that’s why their speeches have become a sequence of catch-phrases in time, they talk to that 80% of people who don’t take the trouble to inform themselves and believe any given promise . 80 is more than 20 after all.

Has modern democracy become the dictatorship of ignorance?

Democracy in the USA

conncticut A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
This is  Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and is the part of the United States BIll of Rights  that protects the right of people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights. Well, it was 1791, but after more than two centuries, exactly  in 2008  the Supreme Court issued two Second Amendment decisions which confirmed  the legitimacy of keeping weapons purposes, such as –” the Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful defense within the home“. For the Americans this right is equivalent to the freedom of opinion or of vote. Just the same. Till you wake up one day and you watch on tv that a young guy of 20 massacred 20 young children and his mother who worked in that school. This is not the first time. We’ve read again that this is America’s worst school shooting- as if school shooting were a habit! Bah! The boy was allowed into the building because the head teacher recognised him and buzzed him through security. Adam Lanza, armed with two semi-automatic handguns which were legally registered to his mother(!!!!!), shot dead children in two classrooms and also killed six adults, including head teacher Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach…… may read the rest in every newspaper. But I would  like to ask you, how can it be that the freedom of keeping weapons might be a basic principle of democracy? You’ve seen Obama in tears, but I’m sure nothing will change, because as I told you before, it hasn’t been the first time. In a few days everything will calm down. Few years ago also a student of our school in an exchange program in the United States was wounded in a shooting while she was in a disco. It took her months and months of medical treatments to be back to normal life. It was four years ago. Who will be the next?