I have been seeing this image a few times today with the caption “mobilizing masses doesn’t mean democracy.” This is highly misinformed. Democracy is simply rule of the majority. Democracy in itself does not presuppose ethical reasoning or rationality, nor assumes that the majority are always in the right and will make the best choice for the collective good. It is simply the majority ruling; (this is why Aristotle thought that democracy was the worst form of governance because the masses were ignorant and illiterate at the time) and in these instances where the majority have been convinced of adhering to violent ideologies of hate and racism then the danger in ‘democracy’ become apparent. This is why the dominant ideas and values held and produced within a society is just as important as the political mechanisms and institutions. In Nazi Germany and now in AKP Turkey- like many other so called Western democracies- the dominant ideas of these societies is one of violent, genocidal exclusion of minorities and anyone that does not toe the dominant identity ideology. This is the danger in unethical democracy. In democracy devoid of humane values; in democracy based on backward, brainwashed, ignorant, racist, and uninformed majority rule.
In contrast, the radical democracy being proposed in Rojava and Bakur of Kurdistan is one that focuses on changing the oppressive, statist, patriarchal and capitalist mentality of society collectively. It first attempts to lay a foundation of humanity, by encouraging addressing long held ethno-religious grievances and injustices and encouraging people on the grass-root levels to solve their problems so that it does not escalate; further, it is educated, informed social engineering that acknowledges historical realities and attempts to learn from them so as to not repeat mistakes; this system is strongly based on the idea that all injustices are interconnected and that one cannot live in a truly free and ethically democratic society if society does not collectively address other forms of injustices such as sexism or racism. For this reason, multiple layers of civil society groups and organisations are encouraged to develop to promote the democratization and educational process; this is why the Kongreya star, for instance is so important because they literally go house to house speaking to the community and neighborhoods, introducing the new civil laws, and institutions such as women’s house, people’s house, etc that support the community along with consistent efforts at educational seminars that teach society about civic responsibility, the ideal free life, democracy, etc. Is there any other system that makes such an effort to enlighten the people about what true freedom is? that you are only free so long as others around you are also equally free?
The lesson is both systems are democratic, but not all democracies are equal. You can have oppressive, violent, illiberal democracy, or you can have ethics based society founded on a solid base of humanity and multiculturalism, tolerance and forgiveness.