Bad Faith, Media and Consent in Democracy

Is it an appropriate time to extend democratic rights to all the citizens of India? Should we impose certain reasonable restrictions against their absolute rights? Do we need an institutional apparatus to regulate democratic privileges for all? Our Constitution makers must have asked these questions themselves to facilitate a democratic culture without the severe interference of the outsiders and, most probably, the colonial demons.

We Indians have been celebrating the democratic festivals since the birth of a constitution from the womb of a Constituent Assembly. Frankly speaking, the deepness of democracy, in many parts of the world, depends upon the vibrant public consciousness rather than a mere institutional obduracy; moreover, for realizing a healthy democratic atmosphere, the pollutants such as bad faith on the democracy, overdeveloped nature of bureaucracy and brute nature of political parties should be uprooted through conscious negotiation, not by bloody revolution.

Democracy and Bad Faith

What is bad faith in democracy? It may be an unexamined recognition. Since the dawn of the British Raj, bad faith has been indoctrinated to achieve political consent from the uninformed masses; however, the electoral efficacy of our country needs to be re-examined to prevent the undemocratic performance at all the levels of government, ranging from central administration to local-self governments.

The political consent must be accustomed to the enlightened citizens, where the caricature of government and its spirit would flow from the bottom; and more generally, we should abandon the possible interventions from the third party (here the third party may be the political leaders, corrupted bureaucracy and so on).

Unfortunately, over the past few decades, common good seems to be ignored in the face of parochial and self-serving interests of our leaders, as the rule of law is often ignored or rendered irrelevant1. The best way to downsize an established democracy, like India, would be to attempt to evaluate the level of populism and over-development. Here, populism defines the commitment of political leaders to achieve their manifested destiny, and over-development signifies the organizational hypocrisy of bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, the world’s most powerful democracies are mired in seemingly intractable problems at home, including social and economic disparities, partisan fragmentation, terrorist attacks, and an influx of refugees that has strained alliances and increased fears of the “other”.2. Is it a big deal? Maybe! Democracies are dying in this century due to these bad faiths, in the U.S.A. too. The recent protest in front of Capitol Hill in the USA, over the presidential election, imposes some brainstorming questions to determine the place of democratic consent and the fairness of democratic elections.

Bad faith determines the political culture and development through a periodical election. Every democratic election opens up a path for bad faith due to constructive consent rather than genuine consent. 

Manufactured-Consent and Media 

Socrates died for democracy! Till the origin of modernity, democracy itself was bad faith because it had killed the great minds of our intellectual landscape. The imaginary creatures such as Plato’s Philosopher King, Hobbes’s Leviathan, and Nietzsche’s Superman were against democracy because they believed in the powerful social order.

It is unlikely that democracy produces a weak society and fractured institutions. The rise of technology and the industrial economy has replaced these imaginary creatures with a new one called – Technoman. From the bedroom to the legislature, these creatures are connected with invisible links such as 3G, 4G, and 5G. The hyper development in technology has revived democracy as an option, not a compulsory activity.

We know that no government can disturb the invisible links that connect the world. Can the communist government ban the internet? Absolutely not. Yet, a certain restriction could be imposed. For the media, as stated at the outset, genuine consent has been hugely distributed and designed on the basis of the ruling class.

In Ancient Greece, the people discussed their policies; in Rome, it was determined by the legislature through open participation. Now, the policies are being formed based on the media’s popularity. The mass media are under the control of the government elite, dancing for the governments and bargaining for themselves.

Noam Chomsky, an American Linguist, in his celebrated work with Herman “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy the Mass Media” defined the negative role of media under the control of governing elites.  Unfortunately, the hope of increased civic engagement, inclusivity, and connectivity brought about by a world of technology, that has allowed individuals to connect beyond borders, has instead negatively impacted our democracy3.

Citizens of democracies are now under a regime of forced consent, which does not seem to be a genuine one, but rather manufactured consent. No one can escape from the media. People’s consciousness has been captured by government-led media, where the consent flows from the people, not on their own but by their washed brains. If democracy dies, then the media would be the first to dig the grave. 

Against the Bad Faith      

How to overcome bad faith? Not an easy task, though! After having a detailed Constitution, the people of India are yet to recognize themselves as the absolute sovereign; the elected government has no place to violate the inherent rights of an individual. The vital sphere of state activity begins with the help of faith-building institutions such as the Legislature, the Bureaucracy, the Judiciary, and the Military. Moreover, these institutions have the legitimate force to capture public faith by picturizing democratic consent as natural as human existence.

Consent is not natural and should not be; democracy would not require only consent; it also expects a public morality that is supposed to be a powerful instrument above the Constitution and its laws.

Everything is bad until and unless that is workable for a harmonious society. Military and bureaucracy would not change our community; rather, they can extract our consent through state apparatus, policies, and in the name of national security.

To destroy the bad faith, one has to overcome the dependency on the State, starting from the Birth registration to the Death Certificate. Personal judgment on political activities must undermine the paid media and follow the impartial evaluation of Civil Societies. Neither the State nor Constitution would recover the complex human qualities. It can only be done through a deliberate negotiation among the interior social institutions other than the Constitutional bodies and institutional enslaved people.

One could claim they’re in good faith without an intense revision about the bad faith. Good faith gives enough space for public debate, consensual decision-making, and consciousness over consent. An individual having good faith will surely overcome the disease of democratic underdevelopment and establish their own strategy of development and prosperity.

Another important way to break the bad faith is to make the media accountable to civil societies rather than to the government. This is not only the role of the mass media, but of NGOs which can provide forums for debating public policies and disseminating information about issues before parliament that affect the interests of different groups, or of society at large4. In the words of John Stuart Mill, an English philosopher, that connects our consciousness with liberty – “Internal vigilance is the price of Liberty.” With such inspiring words, a conscious attempt should be made to generate good faith among the people, not for deliberate decision-making but to enhance the democratic spirit. 

If we look at the Constitution of India, the essence of bad faith have vanished. Still, generally, we ignore that blueprint of a people’s democracy to which our Constitution is committed. Our Constitution starts with – “We the People of India”, which upholds the sovereignty of the people rather than any established institutions.

Over the years, the regulating institutions have been managing the state power in favour of consent; moreover, these institutions work to produce policies and drive public opinions. The bad faith for democratic omnipotence requires a revision to produce a self-conscious civil society rather than supreme constitutionalism. The people of India should recognize themselves as the centre of their political system and develop a new faith based on discussion, disagreements, and consensus. No political system is perfect, but some are more vibrant and praiseworthy. 


The excessive use of sedition laws has damaged good faith and led people to believe that any viewpoint against the State would lead to instability and violence. This kind of constructive truth comes from the side of the powerful elites; more specifically, the ruling class has come up with a strategy to suppress the voices of good faith and force the masses to support the political regime without any civil disobedience.

The supreme power of the individual constitutes the State, government, military, and bureaucracy; however, the greatness of individuality and consciousness are the two pillars of a political regime. No matter the type of government, maybe democracy or autocracy, the ultimate efficiency comes from the people instead of a powerful government.

  1. Sinha, D. (2018, December 17). When Democracy is not enough . Retrieved from Observer Research Foundation :  

  2. Abramowitz, M. J. (2018). Democracy in Crisis. Retrieved from Freedom House :  

  3. J, M. (2021, April 6). Social Media as a Threat to Democracy . Retrieved from Democratic Erosion :  

  4. Diamond, L. (2004). What Civil Society Can do to Develop Democracy . Stanford University .  

About Subrat Kumar Ratha

Subrat Kumar Ratha is a MPhil student of Political Science at the Department of Politics at the department of Political Science, Utkal University, Odisha. Hailing from the Indian State of Odisha, his areas of interest include political philosophy and political theory. Stimulated by Ideological debates, Mr Ratha is a "self-claimed" defender of Karl Marx and what he represents.

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