In many countries, growing numbers of people are losing trust in elections, parliaments, and politicians. Said differently, they lose trust in the so-called democratic political systems in their countries.
But it is not only about politics. Perhaps present-day politicians are not worse than in the past.
Democratically elected governments have always allowed big companies to exploit cheap labor and natural resources in ruthless manners.
In the late 1940s, the Dutch government sent a complete army to South East Asia, trying to subject the Indonesian people for the purpose of colonial exploitation. Present-day Dutch governments don’t do that.
Sure, it is possible that Donald Trump and Boris Johnson start a massive invasion in West Asia, resulting in millions of casualties. But so far they did not, whereas George Bush Jr. and Tony Blair did commit that mass murder in 2003.
Also present-day communist dictatorial politicians are less cruel and economically more constructive than in the past. Compare Xi Jinping to Mao Zedung, or Vladimir Putin to Leonid Brezhnev. Yes, Putin occupied Crimea. But do you know about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and a similar invasion of Hungary in 1956? Taking Crimea was nothing compared to those two large-scale, mass murdering operations.
Yet, a strong discontent is on the rise. On the one hand, it derives from a loss of social boundaries such as close family ties or national borders. And we will have to learn how to build feelings of safety within ourselves. The psychological tools are increasingly available.
On the other hand, the rising discontent comes more education, information, free time that make citizens realize more about the damages inflicted on behalf of governments to people and nature.
Also here, we will have to learn how we ourselves inflicted damages on other people and the physical environment. But we can also reorient our thinking about governmental systems.
Many hope improvements will come from within these systems: “The politicians will feel the loss of trust by voters and change themselves.” But they don’t. They are investing much effort to get ahead within the present political system, and will try to maintain that system at all cost.
True improvements will have to come from the citizens. They can turn the energy of their discontent into positive action. And this is truly what we see emerging: more and more people engage in discussions about better organizing our societies.
In those attempts, talks about personal qualities of ruling or potential politicians only derive from discussions about better systems. So, don’t let the political establishment, or routine thinking within ourselves, pull us back into conforming to outdated politics.
Let us use discontent as fertilizer for innovative thinking.