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Absolute Democracy, the mother of mob violent

New York, USA


The message was loud and clear, “we want to retain the monarch, but have a symbolic monarchy … No one wants a revolution but it’s bound to happen if they continue to be stubborn.” No oppositions, no expressions of displeasure. The Temo has it their way. All eggs fried in the same pan.

I disagree with the Temos whole-heartedly on the fundamentals and agree with them in some of the peripherals, and on behalf of traditions, the simples, and the blinds, may I declare, “We want to retain monarchy, but have a democratic monarchy.” A king without an absolute power is not a king, but a king who rules democratically is humanly divine. Any discontent with the government has to be legally expressed, and should resistance be needed, “Non-violent Patient Resistance” would be our peaceful war cry. Here is my starting point and our dividing line.

Should we base our political reform on the Temos’ fundamental propositions - reducing our king to be like England’s monarch and using threat and tolerance of propensity to violence as our mean - then, most people and I are against such reform. We need to clarify our ultimate means and ends, because the people’s primary concern is not change but justice. Calling to change the system (implying - from monarchy to democracy) is a secondary concern which we reserve to be our last resort should injustice reaches a certain degree of evil and intolerable hopelessness. Should the monarchy change his leadership style, as he already did, and work towards justice, people would dislike any attempt to reduce him into a symbolic toy-king.

Clarifying our political positions, calling things by their names, and using words according to their ordinary meanings anchor our minds on reality. While the Temos voiced their “king-reduction” position, moderates did not (and still don’t) specify where they stand. Are we moving towards England, Nomuka, or to the new Hunga Ha’apai? When we talk about reform, we expose the peripherals (numbers of representatives etc.) and sugargoat the fundamentals (who have the ultimate power?) Perhaps, we are afraid of displeasing the king or the Temos, and using meaningless words, we play the game of trying to please everybody. But when reality hits and differs from what we wish (16/11), we decorate our language with abstractions and euphemisms like “Tongan democracy is a negotiation with hierarchy.” Unfortunately, such definition obfuscates Tonga’s democratic reality and reveals only Josephine’s democratic wishes. Usually we negotiate with a person about an idea. Now, we negotiate with an idea call “hierarchy,” perhaps, about another idea call “monarchy.” This has far removed us from reality.

Ask the man on the street “what is democracy.” Using his common sense and Plato’s definition, he would say, “It’s a rule of the mass.” Ask him again, “what is absolute democracy?” Together with Plato, he would say, “Sixteen Eleventh.” Short, sweet, stupid, un-academic, but right. Absolute democracy is not a theory but a realistic expression of the dark side of democracy. Any experiment with democracy faces the danger of drowning itself in absolute democracy and anarchy - a greater evil than absolute monarchy. For that reason, Plato rejected democracy.

Of course absolute democracy does not exist in the academics’ text books as an endorsed system of government, nor does it exist in the pro-democracy’s agenda; absolute democracy, nevertheless, exists in the collective morality of a gathering mass. So, whenever we call any political gatherings, we also call people with potentials for both good and extreme evil. Therefore, it is the moral responsibility of the political leaders to cultivate the political morality of their followers and protect the movement from degrading into absolute democracy.

Josephine and I rejoice that “the king has publicly surrendered his executive power.” But we interpret that public declaration differently. I take it as more of a delegation of responsibility and sharing of power. It does not mean that he surrendered his absolute power. I am content with that, and like Josephine, I applause the reformers for whatever they do at the moment. However, I am against any attempt to go change our king into a ceremonial king. This is the point of contention. The rest are peripherals.

If we are already satisfied with democratic monarchy as Josephine and I had already agreed upon, please clarify. But, if the reform still follows after the Temos’ original “king’s-reduction” agenda, shout it from the top of Kao and Tofua, and open the stage for more dialogues, and more confusions before we draw any conclusions.

Senituli Penitani

seni15266 [at] yahoo [dot] com [dot] au