By Justice Agan, wrote from Port Harcourt.
If communism and democracy are two parallel lines, can youthocracy become the meeting point? Communism as an ideology emphasizes an economic and government system that establishes a classless society where everyone contributes according to his abilities and the government provides for the citizens according to their needs. A communist society advocates the total and complete ownership of means of production and distribution by the state where private ownership of property is forbidden. Though communism had existed for a long time but it was the publication of the “Communist Manifesto” in 1848 by Karl Marx and Fridrich Engels that gave credence to modern communism theory and practice. On the other hand, modern democracy began in the ancient Greek city states like Athens where citizens gathered to make decisions on how the affairs of the state should be piloted. But the increase in population gave rise to representative democracy where citizens get to elect people who will represent them in the decision making process. Over the years, democracy and democratic principles have evolved with every nation adopting it in such a way that best suits her needs. ‘Remember, one man’s’ food is another man’s’ poison”; yeah! They told us so.
The twentieth century was dominated by supremacy battle between the communist states (Eastern blocs) and the capitalist states (Western democracies) which largely culminated into the ‘cold war’ between the two ‘ring leaders’ of USA and Russia. How this battle was fought, won and lost is needless at this point because the twenty first century is here and it has given birth to a new ideology; youthocracy. We have our own headache so let’s not take Paracetamol on behalf of others.
Youthocracy as a political ideology originated in the early year of 2000 largely from the writings of a political scientist, Tunde Eso who coined the word and popularized it. According to Tunde Eso, Youthocracy is ‘government of the people, by the youths and for the people’.
This form of government emphasizes the dominance of youths in the political decision making process. The world’s population is dominated by youths hence the need for them to get fully involved in their political process. Youthocracy is also an advocacy for youths to aspire to leadership positions in the society and contribute their quota in making the world a better place to live in. The conversation recently has been on finding the best system of government that will help in taking us to the ‘promise land’. Whenever that conversation pops up, there is always this question: of these three systems of government, Communism, Youthocracy and Democracy which is the ideal concept for us?
Adopting a system or concept of government for a nation is like placing a bed in your bedroom. The type and position of the bed should be chosen based on your peculiar needs, size of your bedroom as well as your financial muscle and not how every other person has done it or is doing it. Over the years, democracy has continued to evolve with every nation infusing some distinct features that best solve her problems. However, communism which seeks to establish a classless society has largely remained static with the few nations still pretending to operate the Vladmir Lenin and Joseph Stalin styled communism which is somehow perceived as a totalitarian system that does not permit opposing views. While democracy permits a free market economy, communism forbids that and insists on a controlled economy. While democracy gives freedom to ownership, production and consumption, it also gives room for the exploitation of the vulnerable in the society in the name of making profit at all cost. These two contradicting ideas have led to public debates over the years as to which system would better meet the needs of the society.
Democracy which gives freedom for individuals to accumulate wealth has helped nations to build powerful economies that can fund development in all facets of life. However, this has been accompanied by exploitation of the masses for selfish gain. Communism on the other hand has been perceived as a mere laboratory idea that is not practicable in a modern society. This argument is supported by the fact that most communist nations have jettisoned the ideology and even those who are still pretending to be communist states have smuggled in some capitalist principles in order to help their economy grow. Most of the arguments I have presented here so far were only major talking points in the twentieth century; the twenty first century came with its own major issues like the World Wide Web (WWW), youthocracy, climate change, globalization and international migration. Of all the concepts mentioned above, youthocracy remains the focal point because it has become the driving force of world politics in this century.
Unlike communism and democracy that are at variance with each other, Youthocracy is a concept that is in a league of its own. The idea here is not to create room for exploitation of the masses in the name of a market economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Neither is it a wild goose chase to create a society without poor people. Rather, youthocracy emphasizes the most good for majority of the population, injection of new ideals and ideas, industrial revolution and educational growth for a pragmatic society. i.e what has the most advantage for majority of the people. We can’t continue to use obsolete twentieth century solutions to solve twenty first century problems. We need to stop importing archaic foreign solutions for our local problems. There are different strokes for different folks. If truly we are as educated as we believe, why have we continued to hold tight to political philosophies that were developed by American and European philosophers many centuries ago? Why have we failed to develop our concepts that best suit our prevalent needs and challenges? Must we copy everything?
Let’s take a look at our entertainment industry which is dominated by the youths for example. Our movies carry the story lines that are derived from our daily lives here in Africa and not unnecessarily trying to imitate the Hollywood yet they Nigerian movies are reckoned with globally. Our music industry which is predominantly Afro pop genre has now become a global trend. Our youths have successfully produced songs in our local languages that went on to break the billboard’s chart record. Our youths have founded technology start-ups that can be compared with those at the Silicon Valley. So why are we still shying away from the truth? Youthocracy as opined by Tunde Eso is a result driven philosophy that is dynamic and progressive in nature. It’s about putting our feet on the global stage; and that’s what you’ll get when the youths become the driving force in today’s world. We can’t continue to walk when others are running. And we can’t continue to jump when others are flying. Though it was a Nigerian who popularized the concept, youthocracy, but other nations especially in Europe have since adopted it while here in Nigeria and other African countries, we are still insisting on electing those who were already drinking beer even before Nigeria gained independence in 1960.
This is the twenty first century. Welcome to the jet age; the era of ideas where wars are won not with the barrel of the gun but with superior arguments. Let’s change the status quo by injecting young and energetic leaders into our system; those who will give us a breath of fresh air. It appears like we are entangled with the web of nineteenth century communist and democratic ideas; maybe it’s time to allow youthocracy to come to the rescue.