9 Responses

  1. Are you giving up on Democracy?
    Is the only answer revolution?
    Even in relatively peaceful revolutions the new regimes reinstate democracy….what else is there to turn to as a way for society to conduct its self?

    • Look around, Dixie– there’s lots of models to choose from. How about China? or India (in its various parts)? or Notagainistan, which is all parts and no whole? or Syria, or Iran, or the Faux Democracy in Israel?

      The rulers have only to avoid stumbling over that ill-defined, usually bloody bump where the rissing curve of “oppression/kleptocracy” and crosses the falling curve of “legitimacy/pain tolerance.” One-party “elections,” votes registered and tracked by voter’s name, billions in all kinds of BS “persuasion” under the guise of “free exercise” of the “right” of speech, midnight visits by goons and thugs, and as long as I can choose among 455 cable channels, an infinity of porn and proselytizing and pandering on the ‘net, 57 varieties of ketchup’n’macaroni-and-cheese, and 537 different styles of tooth brush, well, see, I am “free enough!” not to want to rock the boat, or roll the tumbrels…

    • No; I haven’t given up on Democracy; in fact I think we should try it! What I’m saying is let’s take the Enlightenment seriously. Let’s understand what Voltaire was up against: an intransigent elite (state, church, aristocracy.) Revolution, reaction and Civil War make things worse, but come about when society becomes so polarized (France, Russia, Weimar Germany, ante-bellum United States) that there is no change acceptable to both left and right. We can have democracy if we fight for it with the only weapon we have: free speech.

      • But Mr. Morrone, those examples imply that free speech isn’t the only weapon or a particular end in itself; it’s a means of aggregating like-minded people to take disruptive action against their oppressors. Talking without planning how to win a revolution gets you slaughtered like in Indonesia in ’66. We need free speech to spread the evidence that already exists on the Internet that the right-wing, as an organized movement, has been planned and led by people who do not believe in multiparty elections or the Bill of Rights or freedom of religion or, especially, the equality of humanity. Liberals are afraid to talk about this evidence because they are bullied by extremists who threaten (in their media circles) to use violence against “Un-Americans”. Either we tell the bullies that we will shut down the whole economy even if they slaughter us, or we tell them that we will fight them.

    • It is said that when Mahatma Gandhi came to Britain to talk about India’s independence, a rather overbearing English lady asked him: “Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of British Democracy?” to which Gandhi replied: “It would be a good idea”. Most of us believe that democracy is a good idea, our problem is that many nations including most Western countries have deviated from the true meaning of democracy. Elections do not make a democracy. Iran both under the Shah and under the Mullahs, Egypt under Hosni Mubarak and before, Israel under various regimes and even apartheid South Africa held regular elections. What democracy needs is true accountability of the rulers, something that is sadly lacking in most democracies, otherwise the likes of Tony Blair, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Ehud Barak, Netanyahu and many others would be at the Hague rather than sitting pretty in their fancy homes. One great American asset, which has so far remained intact but is in great danger of being lost, is the freedom of expression. Of course, even that does not mean that people like Juan Cole would be invited to write OpEds for New York Times and Washington Post on a regular basis, but at least they are tolerated to have their say outside the mainstream media.
      One major distortion of American democracy has been the growing role that tainted money has been playing in public discourse, giving rise to the remark that the American democracy is the best that money can buy. What we should demand is a limit on the power of money and lobbies over politics, genuine freedom of expression for all, the rule of law, accountability and adherence to international law. Nearly ten years ago, the late Edward Said wrote a good article for the Guardian, under the title of “Give us back our democracy” which is still worth reading. link to guardian.co.uk

  2. The idea of democracy is obviously a good thing but unfairly gives the impression that a system alone can encourage people to love and respect one another.

    That can only come from wisdom (knowledge) and the development of spirit.

    No system can fully compensate for ignorance or neglect of spirit, just as almost any system might work assuming people truly love and respect one another. I think fair government results from a fair, just, engaged society more often than the reverse.

    • The thing that increasingly bugs me about America as I’ve gotten older is the sense that American society, unlike the ones that came before it, waa a construct manufactured by the creators of the original colonies (joint-stock corporations, plantation owners). Other societies must have evolved norms of fairness and participation, which reassert themselves in revolutionary times and regenerate human feelings. But our society was engineered only to extract wealth from a continent of unclaimed resources in the quickest possible time.

      Thus the America definition of freedom seems to have hidden codicils, that restrict it to the pursuit of material wealth and power over others; the haves are granted the power to dictate to all which behaviors are liberties, and which are license, and any who feel oppressed under that setup are persecuted.

      Until now we’ve never foreseen the end of this pursuit, and it seems we’re so addicted to it as a substitute for true social relations that we will run the country off a cliff before we evolve.

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