Vicissitudes of Vox Populi

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.

– JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, FRENCH PHILOSOPHER

A political volcano erupted in a 1709 English tract Vox populi, Vox Dei (Latin: The voice of the people is the voice of God). It spewed forth a super-hot molten truth that mankind is free to choose the form of government they like best because there’s simply no natural or divine law for any form of government.

This is 494 years after the Magna Carta took its first breath as the British constitution cherishing the rights of the people, and the monarchy, although law students are told and taught that Britain never had a written constitution.

The 1709 tract as an outpouring of political ideas by people sick of political monopolies, represents the inevitability of the emerging sixth estate which will scare off the darkness that has descended upon society by organised government.

The fourth estate with the power of the news media is shaping and framing political issues sometimes with, sometimes without government support. Using the constitutional guarantees of free speech and freedom of the press proponents create uncomfortable waves to irk the Executive necessitating the judiciary and the legislature to crowd law reports and fatten Hansard.

The fifth estate’s bloggers and non-media writers impact socio-economic viewpoints. Social media has become a leviathan brimming with opinions, viewpoints, ideas and concepts that are appealing, revealing and thought-provoking. If governments listen, vox populi would become relevant and potent.

Vox populi assumed insurrection proportions on January 6 2021 when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of votes which threatened to illegally give Joseph Biden the White House for at least four years. The National Guard stepped in to cool tempers.

Super-power America detonated 32 hydrogen bombs in the Marshall Islands in 1958 as an experiment to gauge its effects on humans. The sixth estate does not forget. But America’s propaganda – a weapon of mass distraction – condemns China that does not promote, practice or propagate imperialism or experimenting with bombs.

The 1965 Paris Riots, the 1968 counter-culture in America, the 1986 ESDA revolution in the Philippines that ousted Ferdinand Marcos should put mortal fear into irresponsible governments. The Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt is vox populi taking its toll on the tried, tired, tested and tasteless forms of government.

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden gave the sixth estate a new meaning when they led the whistleblower revolution enough to embarrass Uncle Sam who was never good at keeping secrets anyway. These two individuals will live in fear for the rest of their lives.

Laws and constitutions may have to be written anew, or rewritten with impactful amendments to genuinely accommodate vox populi. As Sartre ruefully observed, “everything has been figured out, except how to live.” How does one live when Big Brother is dictating terms as if encouraging mass avoidance of organised government and civil disobedience?

America is desperately trying to create gyroscopic domestic and foreign policies with totally confused right and left-wing politics. Their hypocrisy, hype and hubris in handling vox populi is evident in the way they lock horns with the one-man-one-vote theory and the machinations of the Electoral College aimed at suppression and oppression of a dazed citizenry.

Karl Marx wrote about the sub-structure of the supreme political will supported by the super-structure of deigned and feigned politics by a select few who believed that they know better than the People. Frederick Nietzsche saw the trick in teleology and linguistics where words and phrases were spun and twisted to accommodate every wrinkle of the sub-structure and pacify every crease of the super-structure.

Sartre noted that victims who respect their executioners must be hated the most. Equally, to be loathed are those afflicted with the Stockholm syndrome that by their very nature create a bond and kinship with their captors. This is adequately propagandised as sound politics towing and leading, at the same time, a purportedly sturdy economy and a satisfied citizenry.

Problems galore await those who confuse brainwashing with brain-storming. Time for brain-droppings to oust the experimenters controlling the reins of government. The business of government is not for the feeble-minded or incompetent who win an election.

The vox populi has to be the standard bearer, not the pall-bearer, of the government that will espouse and encourage a strong symbiotic relationship to convince the unconvinced. It’s no longer a “us” versus “them” strain.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.