The Story of Democraczy: Prologue

by Martin Gantman

For my next art project, though I have actually been working on it for about a year, I have decided to portray the story of democracy – as best I can. I am curious about democracy. What is it really? Why is it a goal for so many? Does it really work? Or is it a façade: disseminated to us when we were really young, a veil? Is it soma created to distract us from thinking about how things otherwise work?

Before I begin it is important to set a stage, not so much a rant (hopefully), but more of a release. A statement about how I got here. Not from the beginning, of course. I won’t bore you with family history, but from a life of observing – tracking – if you will. Or as Derrida suggested, becoming aware of trace.

Buckminster Fuller said that universities were created by kings to give intellectuals something to think about beside what was going on politically. I want to clarify that I am not opposed to this form that gives most people at least some voice in the matters of their governance, particularly on a local level, but one has to give thought to circumstances on a higher level. It is said that government is created by people to accomplish tasks that individuals, or multiple entities, would find cumbersome to complete. That, of course, begs the questions: who did create this government? And who controls it?

I voted for a president, I still support, who promised to roll back provisions of the Patriot Act when he came into office – not to mention Guantanamo. Why, then, has the Patriot Act actually become more onerous during his tenure? Why does there seem to be a tendency to provide corporations with more “rights” than individual humans?

When I was young people did not think about locking their home or car doors. Since then this country, in particular, seems to have become a more violent place. There are more pressures: population density, pace, economy, job security, greed. In the past, income from one family member was enough for a respectable existence; now it is not. But we have never seriously questioned our (population’s) ability, through voting, to eventually steer things in a direction beneficial to our common purpose. Generally, when speaking about a democracy, the purposes listed as basic are the access to personal rights and freedoms, safety, and the uninhibited ability to personally progress. This seems to be a time when we have to question whether we are actually accomplishing those purposes.

If democracy is really a vehicle for putting ourselves in a position to gain these rights and freedoms, it is still very much a work in progress. The story of this progress begins 2,500,000 years ago – with homo habilis.

Totem 2012