Thoughts on the glorification of rioting and rebellion and the problem of the concept of ‘people’ in democratic thinking

There is a common misconception in democratic thinking.  Basically, it’s this idea that if the ‘people’ rebel or riot it’s for always for a good cause and because the people are right.  In democracy there is this mistaken notion that governments are always bad and the people are good.  And so if the people do something (like rebel or riot) then it’s almost always because it’s right.  Under democratic thinking people are always ‘oppressed’ by the government.  The people are also always fighting for their ‘freedom’. 

The problem is that the people don’t act this way.  The people aren’t always acting in a ‘high noble cause’, nor are they necessarily right.  Seldom, too, are they fighting for their ‘freedom’, as is generally claimed.  Often, the people are the worst people to ask when it comes to what the country needs.  Riots and rebellions by the people are notoriously erroneous and unwise in their manifestations.  But yet the democracies think it’s a result of a ‘high noble cause’.  Every time the people do something they glorify it like its some act of God or something.  I’ve seen people actually treat the ‘will of the people’ as if it was a command from God himself.

How ridiculous.

My observation is that anything the ‘people’ do must be looked at cautiously.  In fact, the historic record shows the ‘will of the people’ is nothing to rely upon or glorify.  This is particularly true when people do something in a mass like a riot or rebellion.  It’s particularly hazy if there isn’t even any leadership for what the people are doing.

For one thing, when the ‘people’ do something in a mass then it’s usually a mob mentality.  Things get quickly out of control.  Rumors, myths, and misunderstandings run rampant like some disease.  They are often quick to violence and quick to reaction.  Seldom is displayed any forethought, wisdom, or practicality.  It often has the quality of sheep following sheep, one person does something, so the rest follow suit.  This is not the best of situations.  Therefore, things like riots or rebellions has more a quality of a wildfire than anything else.  The chances these actions are being done with ‘high noble cause’ is low.

Typically, when the ‘people’ do something in a mass there is no one in control.  It’s true that someone may of started it but, with the mass mob mind of the ‘people’, it often gets out of control where no one is leading at all.  It’s like a flock of birds flying wherever the mass goes.  This no-one-in-control quality is often masked by the rumors and myths about ‘principles’, what they’re fighting for, and such that change depending on who you talk to and when.  What that means is that what the people think their doing and for what cause is often not correct.

Often, when people rebel or riot it is not for the glorious reasons people make it out as.  Generally, when people do riot or rebel it’s not for ‘principles’ or ideas, though some more intellectual people may see it in their actions.  Democracy has this mistaken notion that people think about things and have principles.  Actually, that’s seldom true.  The people, themselves, usually are reacting to a situation, often without any principles or ideas on their minds at all.  In general, people are ‘reactive’ not ‘principled’, as democracy thinks.  All societies have tensions.  They are always there somewhere.  Many times, all people are doing is reacting to these tensions.  But, oftentimes, these tensions are nobodies fault, not even the governments.  In fact, ironically enough, the tensions in a society are often created by the people themselves, usually as a result of the conditions caused by overpopulation.  The government is often blamed for that.

More often than not, it seems, people are just ‘swept up’ into the affairs of things.  The situation just pulls them in and they go along with it.  That’s normal, really, for most people.  If the situation is apathy then people are apathetic.  If there’s rioting then people riot.  Many people are ‘going along with the flow’ with things, not making conscious decisions.  Not only does this ‘going along with the flow’ influence their actions and behaviour but also how they think and their feelings.  People who were normally calm and quiet may find themselves angry and destroying things, often without their control or knowing why.  In a way, it becomes like a drug, an intoxication, particularly when the situation gets very involved (such as in a riot). 

Many times the commotion and emotion of a riot or rebellion brings out many other tensions in society.  Often, a riot or rebellion is nothing but all the tension of a society being released at once.  With all the tensions there are normally in society there are often a million different emotions and feelings floating around. 

People often find scapegoats, people to blame their bad feelings on.  The endless blind condemnation of government that is so common in democratic countries is an example of this.  It’s not uncommon that rebellions and riots are nothing but this:  an attack on the scapegoat. 

As I said above, democracy always seems to assume the government is at fault for the societies problems.  The whole philosophy is based on this premise.  As a result, they always assume this to be the case.  The problem is that there are a million other reasons why things happen, most of which does not involve the government at all.  

All this seems to show that the ‘people’ are not the great people democracy claims.  They are not always working with their right mind or even in their own best interests.  Their behaviour doesn’t necessarily mean that they are acting in the right nor for the right reasons.  I’ve learned to be sceptical about any actions done by the ‘people’.  I do not immediately assume they are right until I’ve looked at it closer, even though it may appear so at first glance.

My observation of the ‘people’ tend to show that there are usually other reasons why things like riots happen than what democracy normally claims.  It’s seldom because ‘people are just pissed with the government’ or that they are ‘fighting for a principle’.  Two common traits I see are:

–         Reacting to a tension.  Often people are reacting to what they think is the cause of the tension.  This, of course, depends on how they think and their point of view in life.  Often, the explanations that surround a riot or rebellion reveal more about how the people view life and their mentality than what the problem is. 

–         Being swept up in things.  To live in history, in a sense, is to be swept up in things, as we all participate in the events.  Many things in life, though, develop a life of their own and we are swept into it.  This is normal.  It’s not uncommon that when we are swept into it we contribute to it, often without our knowing.  Sometimes all this contribution by many people, alone, brings out a conflict of some sort, by the nature of contribution. 

None of these entail ‘principles’ or ideas of right.  It seems that the ‘explanation’ is often what comes after the fact, almost as if to justify what they did.  It might be true on reflection, in an abstract way, but it’s not necessarily what instigated the conflict. 

Often, the rioting or rebellion seldom seems to relieve the tension.  It’s good in that it was an ‘outlet’.  In some ways, after a riot or rebellion there is often a time of ‘recuperation’ as if to recover from their tantrum.  But the tension usually just comes back again and the cycle continues. 

There are times, though, when riots or rebellion are motivated for good reasons.  To me, these are not normal though but they do happen.  Sometimes, the unrest of the people can lead to governments changing things which may be beneficial (but not necessarily).  This further shows how a lot of rebellion and riots are just something like a tantrum of a three year old.  By the tantrum they force the government to react, much like a parent reacting to a child having a tantrum.  But just like a parent, it is the government official’s who chooses what to do as a result of the situation.  Even then, they change things to their understanding of the problems.   But determining what the ‘people’ want is not as easy as it sounds.

In many ways, that is the problem.  How does one know the ‘mind’ of a mob, a riot, or a rebellion?  More importantly, is there a mind in the mob?  Does a mob have a motive? 

The ‘people’, as a concept, sounds good and seems to make sense.  But, in the real world, it’s not so easy.  Who are the ‘people’ exactly?  How can you say that the ‘people’ think this or that?  How can you say that there is a ‘will of the people’?  How can you say you know what the ‘people’ want?  If the people behave a certain way, does it really reflect how they feel as individuals?  These questions are not as easy to answer as it sounds.  In fact, it’s really impossible to say.  This is because the ‘people’ is not a unified whole.  In addition, when they do work together they are really in a different state of mind. 

It’s true that the ‘people’ is a beast altogether different than the individual persons that make up that beast.  The ‘people’ are not always unified as it may seem.  They seldom reflect one will.  This is because the ‘people’ is not like a person with a mind, principles, and causes.  As a result of this, the ‘people’ cannot know what they want as they are not a unified entity in mind and wants.  What this means is that the concept of a ‘people’ in the sense that they are in control and know what they want is not really correct.  This misconception has created great flaws in democratic thinking.

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