Philosopher King Anyone?

Philosopher kings 2

Another election result immediately challenged based on allegations of purported hacking seemingly pulled out of the ether.  As in the case of the United States, the apparent loser in Kenya’s recent presidential election is howling foul (see

Democracy is like a fragile ecosystem severely subject to the laws of unintended consequences.  If not carefully protected it dies although its verisimilitude, like a portrait of a deceased loved one or a Roman death mask, can make it seem that it is still among us.  That’s what happened as the Roman Republic died and transitioned into the Roman Empire; all the trappings of its electoral systems were preserved but the substance of participatory governance was gone.

The memetic virus the Clintons and the Democratic Party employed in the aftermath of the last United States presidential election, i.e., refusal to accept defeat immediately blaming purported internet computer hacks, is now apparently infecting many, many other elections.  Democracy cannot function where results are tampered with either directly or indirectly nor where the information required for informed decisions is manipulated so as to make one result more likely than others.  But it also dies on the vine when participants refuse to accept the results based on unproven or unprovable suppositions.  Like marriage, our participatory electoral processes are ultimately based on trust, something in rather small supply nowadays.  Perhaps deservedly so.

We seem to be suffering from all possible kinds of attacks on democracy, not necessarily from abroad but most probably from within, in some cases perhaps inadvertently self-induced, like when the United States and Israel created the stuxnet virus and surreptitiously used it to launch a cyber-attack against Iran.  But whatever the source of its current travails, the future may prove to us that governance using mass participation of the citizenry as a primary selection factor died under our watch, died from some kind of ill-considered, spur of the moment self-induced flue.  That is, if it ever in fact existed.

So, … perhaps it’s back to the drawing board.

Philosopher king anyone?

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen).  Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at or and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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