Democracy a Greek innovation
KARACHI: While most people hold the institution of democracy synonymous with the US, a poster exhibition currently on at the Arts Council under the joint aegis of the Arts Council and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), sets the record straight.
One of the posters from Greece reads, “Democracy: a Greek product, 2,500 years old”, thus erasing the oft-held misconception that democracy had its origin in the US. Of course those among us who have had the privilege of university education would know that democracy had its origin in the Greek city states and the city state where it had its main inception was Sparta. There was no entity called the USA 2,500 years ago.
The exhibition, highlighting the indispensable importance of the vote and based on 100 posters from all over the world, is highly timely as it has been sponsored on the eve of the general elections in Pakistan and all the posters are a profound commentary not only on the pivotal importance of the vote in the democratic process but also acquaint the viewer with the pitfalls of rigging and manipulation.
One of the posters from Bolivia features a bowler-hated man who is supposed to be guarding against malpractices at the polling booth but actually, on the sly, is casting an illegitimate vote with an extra arm at his back. The slogan reads, “This is not democracy”.
Another poster features the Jolly Roger with the slogan “When the dead vote, democracy dies”, emblazoned across it, a direct reference to the curse of stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes which may also include votes of those who may have slipped into the past long ago.
Another highly imaginative and innovative poster from Pakistan reads, “Our country can’t grow without votes”, featuring a tree with thick, luxuriant foliage with a water tap at the bottom of the trunk.
There’s another one from Pakistan about which there could be different opinions. It shows a ballot box made up of three books and a vote being cast into it. The slogan reads, “Forty-two percent of the women in Pakistan cannot read or write. Vote for change”. While the veracity of the statement cannot be denied, it sounds a hackneyed theme. It seems we have been having an overdose of the theme of discrimination against women. We must not forget that since 1947, health, education, and social welfare, all three put together, have never been allocated more than 1.8 percent of the GDP, owing to the feudal-capitalist compact forming the edifice of our society with these two categories of people being utterly inimical to the progress of the masses. As such, men are equally affected. Most menfolk are wallowing in illiteracy and ignorance the same way as their fair sex counterparts are.
Another poster bearing the portraits of Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, reads, “Every person who changed the history of the world was, in the beginning, outvoted, outnumbered, and overruled”.
Almost all the posters come from the Third World, with most from Latin America. Perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that the people of Latin America best know the value of democracy, given the way their efforts at achieving it have fallen prey to the global ambitions of their giant neighbour to the north and it’s multinationals. Ousters of Salvador Allende in Chile and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, both of whom were working for the ushering in of democracy in right earnest, are apt examples.
Mrs Anis Haroon, caretaker Minister for Women’s Development, inaugurated the show by cutting the ribbon. The exhibition has been sponsored by the Paris-based “Posters for Tomorrow”. It will be there on Thursday, 11 am-6pm.
Source: The News