by bhakta Eric Johanson
“Nowadays it is the days of vote. Any rascal, if he gets vote somehow or other, then he acquires the exalted post. That is also written in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that in the Kali-yuga there will be no consideration who is fit to occupy the exalted post of presidentship or royal throne. Simply somehow or other, by hook and crook, he’ll occupy the seat. Therefore people are suffering. It is not… Nowadays, in democratic days, the government by the people, government for the people. So if the government is by the people, yes, you select your representative. If you are a fool, then you will select another fool. So Bhagavata says, sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh. Anyone who is not a devotee, Krsna conscious devotee of God, then he may be in a exalted post, but he is praised by some people who are exactly like sva. Sva means dog, and vid-varaha means pigs who eat stool. Sva-vid-varaha. Vid-varaha. And ustra, ustra means camel. And ustra-kharaih. Khara means ass. Sva-vid-varahostra-kharaih. If a person who is not a devotee, he is praised or he is exalted, then the praisers, the persons who is praising him, he must be among these animals: dog, camel, pig and ass. So the whole population is like that, like dog, like camel, like ass and like vid-varaha, pig, the stool-eater, the whole population, at the present moment. So he must elect another big animal who is also in this category. Because he has no knowledge.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.37 — Los Angeles, December 15, 1973
Here Srila Prabhupada is describing the fundamental flaw of what is called democracy – people trained only in bodily sense gratification are incapable of electing someone who will see to their material and spiritual well being. This means that the problems facing such a society will rarely be improved. This is now fully on display in what is lauded as the world’s greatest democracy, the United States, in regard to the Coronavirus pandemic. This is not to say that all democracies have failed in regard to this plague, it is just that the factors just described by Srila Prabhupada are now wreaking havoc in the US. The same reasons are also found in the lack of a practical US solution to the climate change crisis.
People solely motivated by bodily pleasure are, as described above, little more than animals with two legs.
yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
“Go means cow, and khara means ass. So anyone who accepts this body as self, he is animal, he is not human being. That is the beginning of knowledge. People are accepting knowledge from a school, college, university, but at the present moment at least, how many people know that he is not body? Unless we understand this first principle of knowledge, there is no question of spiritual advancement of life.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.11, Mexico City, 2/11/1975
Such human beings can very easily be lured with promises of making their sense gratification and pride great again, as well as manipulated by fears that “others” will take or withhold those things from them. In this regard, these people already generally identify themselves on the basis of their race, age group and gender, all bodily designations. Independent of which politician may be playing on these desires and phobias, however, these same things, as well as individual weaknesses such as being overweight, are constantly being used by commercial interests to get them to buy products they often don’t need or an entire raft of materialistic values, often in the name of spirituality. In this way, much of such populations find themselves living in a commercially created mental environment of constant confusion and insecurity. When societal economic difficulties, war or epidemics are added, large numbers of people are prone to easy manipulation through TV, social media and “news” programming.
This has indeed been the case in the US for a number of decades.
“Now, you have created so many horseless carriages, now the problem is where to get petrol. In your country it has become a problem. Brahmananda was speaking to me yesterday. There are so many problems. Simply unnecessarily we have created so many artificial wants. Kama-karmabhih. This is called kama. So everyone, because of that unlimited desire, one after another… This desire, when this desire fulfilled, another desire, another desire, another desire. In this way you are simply creating problems. And when the desires are not fulfilled, then we become frustrated, confused. The frustration is there.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.35 — Los Angeles, April 27, 1973
It is this constant state of confusion and frustration that makes the system of democracy particularly unstable in commercially damaged societies like that of the US. Ideally the citizens are supposed to keep themselves objectively informed on current events before they go to vote, but in reality most are too busy working to do so, what to speak of being in the aforementioned confusion, insecurity and frustration. In such an atmosphere it is very easy for wealthy news network and website owners and social media ad campaign buyers to channel these people en-mass with a toxic mix of misinformation, cherry-picked statistics and censorship by omission of any truths that don’t suit the desired response they want from listeners, readers and viewers.
Of particular notoriety in this regard is the FOX news network owned by the Australian Murdock family. FOX and a handful of other outlets are particularly able to create doubt in a sizable portion of the US population, especially that which votes Republican, around any public policies that threaten the financial domination of the extremely wealthy. Even something as self-evident as the Coronavirus, which is on its way to killing over 100,000 Americans, isn’t an issue which such outlets find worthy of uniting around to solve, what to speak of climate change. It is networks and other media outlets controlled by a small group of wealthy people that have currently neutered and rendered democracy in the US impotent and captured. The root reason, as described above by Srila Prabhupada, is that the voting public is composed of people with animal mentality.
etāṁ dṛṣṭim avaṣṭabhya
kṣayāya jagato ‘hitāḥ
“Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world.” Bhagavad-gita 16.9