Democracy by SMS: Do we really know the best?

The Aam Admi Party in Delhi has made a virtue out of “consulting the people” whenever it has a sticky decision to make. Should Arvind Kejriwal take Congress support to form the government? Place a missed call. How should members of Parliament make laws? By asking the mohalla sabhas.

Inherent in this line of thinking is the wisdom of the crowd. That the top is uniformally rotten, compromised and far from the salt at the bottom of the earth.

Really? asks the economist Prabhat Patnaik in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The view that the top-down approach should be eschewed and the people, as they are, should be entrusted with decision-making, is based on flawed thinking. It idealizes the people as they are, and sees them as a pure and undifferentiated mass that is entirely a repository of virtue.

“In fact, however, the people in their empirical state of existence, are neither pure, nor pristine, nor homogeneous, nor free of the web of local-level power relationships.

“Consulting the people under these circumstances amounts to bowing before these power relationships; apotheosizing the people under these circumstances amounts to glorifying these relationships; and the decentralization of power and resources under these circumstances results not in an elimination of corruption, or even necessarily in a reduction in its level, but rather in a decentralization of corruption.”

Image: courtesy CNN-IBN

Read the full article: Wrong at the top