The incompleteness theorem of Kurt Godel, a mathematician, proved, using logic, a branch of maths, that (1) All systems with rules are either incomplete or contain contradictions, and (2) a system cannot correctly assess itself. I use these 2 mathematical axioms to discuss the state of representative democracy globally.
Firstly, the state of the political dilemma of the United States (US), the world’s most powerful democracy, is a validation of those principles. Most of the world is taken aback by US President Donald Trump’s “America first and don’t worry about no one else” political philosophy. A country that claims to be land of the free elected a man with authoritarian tendencies. He is brutal to anyone who opposes him and said the press is the enemy of the people.
The second axiom suggests that the US cannot properly assess herself (axiom 2). The US believes they are the good guy and those who oppose them are bad. That is the antithesis of a free world, and is the philosophy of a dictator, which supports axiom 1 — the contradiction. The US has abandoned multilateralism and employs bilateralism, which is less democratic.
Secondly, let’s examine Brexit. The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has suspended parliament so that a law cannot be passed that would prevent a no-deal Brexit. The contradiction is that a democratically elected leader is preventing debate, an integral part of democracy. It is legal under the UK system, hence reinforcing axiom 2.
These two leaders have emerged out of the two countries regarded as the paragons of democracy, and both are more focused on political agenda than the health of their country’s democracy, and care far less about the global democratic order.
Looking at Belize, a country known globally as a democracy, we have a riot act which states, “Any magistrate, or in the absence of any commissioned officer in Her Majesty’s naval, military or air force service, or any police officer above the rank of inspector, in whose view a riot is being committed or about to be committed by persons being assembled within his view, may make or cause to be made, a proclamation in the Queen’s name, in such form as he thinks fit, commanding the rioters or persons assembled to disperse peaceably.”
Yet, in the Belize Constitution, you have a right to life, except in a riot, insurrection or mutiny, a direct contradiction of axiom 1.
Axiom 2 is that it is constitutionally permitted that a person be killed for protesting once the riot act has been read. This occurred in Orange Walk in 2009, when cane farmers were protesting against the introduction of a machine that determined the quality of their cane. This meant lower payment for their cane.
In 2009, during an alleged riot, a cane farmer was killed (shot in the head, according to the attorney for the cane farmers), with virtually no accountability — axiom 2. The system cannot police itself.
You become by doing, and globally and locally, democratic norms are being bent. As a mathematician, the incompleteness theorem explains these phenomena. Whether capitalism, communism, democracy or dictatorship, they all obey the incompleteness theorem. That is why I believe every system must evolve, or become irrelevant or obsolete.
Brian E. Plummer