Thursday, February 24, 2011
Democracy is coming ...
Democracy is the mother of all buzzwords. From totalitarian regimes calling themselves the real democrats (German Democratic Republic, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) to the so called advanced democracies such as US, where the wealthy are simply rewriting rules for themselves (1), or Germany, where the state recklessly lets the police attack peaceful protesters who are protesting the construction in their own city(2), the word democracy is used to whitewash practices that are directly contrary to what the democracy supposed to mean.
Add to this the dangerous Western (mostly American) international relations rhetoric, that democracy is a panacea that would magically cure all the worlds problems. Although it is not logical, and perhaps not ethical, to choose any other form of government over democracy, it is certainly not realistic to believe democracy is a solution to any problem. In my humble opinion, it is only a tool, or a mere set of practices, that lets people solve problems. It is also a slow tool, yet the most respectful to humans and their rights.
The media frenzy over the overthrowing of the dictators in the Arabic states is in full blow. I have no way of judging if the protesters share the western conception of "democracy as a solution". But if they do, I fear we might be in for a ride, and the ride might not be a pleasant one.
As Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (3) summarizes, the real cause of the problems affecting the Arabian countries are not the dictatorships, although they certainly make it feel worse for a larger portion of the population. Increasing -young- population, global warming and accompanying water shortages and a possible end to cheap oil exploration era pose a triple crisis.
My fear is that if the population sees democracy as the solution, and the politicians use this conception of the population to cover up the more fundamental problems, the democracy attempts may fail, and end up in a turmoil and bloodshed, similar to what happened to Weirmar republic.
As Cohen said, democracy is still on its way (to the U. S. A. ...)
Links in this post:
(1) Rolling Stone article: Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216?print=true
(2) Iconic photo of Police violence in Stuttgart: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-60015-7.html
(3) Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's article: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nmahmed1/English