[FoRK] Democracy Re: America, F*ck yea...

Dr. Ernie Prabhakar drernie at radicalcentrism.org
Mon Jan 31 09:11:11 PST 2011

Hi John,

On Jan 31, 2011, at 8:52 AM, John Parsons wrote:
> --- On Sun, 1/30/11, Gary Stock <gstock at nexcerpt.com> wrote:
> I would contend that no person -- not Dick Cheney or Joe
>> Biden, not Michael Moore or Michele Bachmann -- will speak
>> seriously about changing the horrifying status quo until a
>> statement ~something~ like this is widely published,
>> promoted, and accepted:
>>    "America deserved what we got on 11 Sep
>> 2001.  And more of the same."
> Slight semantic quibble:
> No one "deserved" what they got on 9-11, just as the Afghans and Iraqis didn't deserve what they got both before and since that date.

Well said. Of course, you could equally say everyone -- America, Palestinians, Egyptians, Israelis -- deserves what they got.  I don't know anyone whose hands are clean.  Myself included. :-(

> However, the inconsistency and hypocrisy of the foreign policy of "the nation that presumes to lead the world" will always have consequences, and those consequences cannot be indefinitely held in check by bluster or mock outrage. Indeed, more of the same is highly likely. These results are not unforeseeable, nor should ever be unexpected.

Yeah, I'm totally fine with holding America to a higher standard than everyone else, because we hold ourselves higher.  But to deny that other actors also have power and responsibility -- and thus share in the guilt and blame -- is horribly condescending.  And a gross oversimplification, which makes it harder to analyze the situation rationally.

> Question: if democracy is so damned desirable, why is it that it cannot effect better outcomes of foreign policy?

Or policy in general.

> If the average voter is "clueless" about foreign policy and it's implications, can they be expected to vote rationally to make positive changes? It's already apparent that current foreign policy is largely independent of the democratic process, so in a global society (which is what it is increasingly all about), what good is democracy?

As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others. 

Answers.com - Who said democracy is the worst form of government

That's actually the thing I disagreed with most about Kragen's analysis: an implicit faith that democracy will magically produce better government for Egypt.  I certainly hope so, but Mubarak's fears are not entirely irrational and self-serving. Remember the French Revolution?  And wasn't Hitler (yes, I'm invoking Godwin's Law :-) democratically elected?  

Specifically, under what circumstances can we rationally hope that the Egyptian Revolution will in the medium term (10-20 years) lead to a better quality of life for its citizens, instead of an Iranian-style theocracy?  If we could reliably answer that question, then we could convincingly show exactly how and why America's policy of supporting friendly thugs is wrong.  It is easy to say that it *is* wrong, but not at all clear (at least to me) what is the realistic superior alternative.

Democracy certainly does have value, in that it is arguably the only stable form of government in a information-rich society.  And democracies do tend to not make war on other democracies, even if they aren't particularly scrupulous in how they treat non-democracies.

Democratic peace theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The hard question, I think, is how does one get a democracy -- or an individual, for that matter -- to act in a way that does not focus on immediate self-gratification,  but on longer-term and other-centered values?  

If I knew that, I'd probably only weigh 150 pounds. :-/

-- Ernie P.

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