Some of the most blatantly undemocratic practices are found to be openly practiced in our society today. From the top down to the bottom, from the state legislative assembly down to the village councils, democratic norms are being thrown out the window. The reasons for this, if we take a closer look, are more than just mere corruption or opportunism. There is an element of collective consciousness binding the individuals together here, thereby normalizing these practices that are otherwise abhorrent.


Collective consciousness is the set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within society. In general, it does not refer to the specifically moral conscience, but to a shared understanding of social norms. The collective consciousness informs our sense of belonging and identity, and our behavior. Founding sociologist Émile Durkheim developed this concept to explain how unique individuals are bound together into collective units like social groups and societies.


The acceptance of these undemocratic practices as normal stem from the fact that we as a society have somehow allowed it to become an intrinsic part of our collective consciousness, so much so that we no longer are able to recognize it. The undemocratic practices do not stem from the system but from the people in the system. And because all the people have come to accept undemocratic practices as normal, we no longer can expect the individuals to own personal responsibility.


Without personal responsibility, there is no accountability for one’s actions, decisions and thoughts and the blame games begin. In such a scenario, the politicians blame the public; the voters blame the candidates; one social class blames the other; and everyone blames society or the system. How convenient! We need individuals with personal responsibility as members of the society to disturb the flawed collective consciousness that has normalized undemocratic practices. There can be no democracy without personal responsibility.

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