Monday, July 17, 2006

Something I've been thinking about

Are we witnessing the high water mark for democracy? While democracy is wonderful at eliminating corruption, it seems to be belligerent, contentious, and spendthrift.

And let me be clear, I am talking about the process of legitimating societal mores by collective expression of assent, not “freedom of expression” or other such inalienable rights. Democracy is not a very good guarantor of such rights.

Indeed, it seems that America, as a (somewhat) stable and successful “democracy,” was a novelty for quite some time before Britain and France finally also began to self identify as democracies. However, as I have stated previously, I believe that the success of our system is due mainly to its anti-democratic aspects (I could also add that the success of the British system may also be attributable to similar anti-democratic components).

However, it seems like democracy may be manifesting one of its flaws in the US currently, in the form of a massive government budget deficit. I am not entirely certain that democracy can deal with this problem. Saving money means spending political capital, and successful politicians tend to prefer saving the latter by spending the former. The problem of our growing debt could eventually fester into a serious threat to global stability.

More immediate is the situation in Israel. There, the will of the majority of Palestinians seems to be acceding to the idea of war with Israel. Does this assent legitimate that belligerence?

Less immediate is China. Would they be correct to allow the hundreds of millions of poor dissatisfied peasants in their country to express that dissatisfaction? In other words, would they be correct to put the operation of the largest political-military entity in the world into the hands of angry people with a 5th grade education? In all likelihood, the Chinese elites will direct that anger and resentment at an external foe (probably Japan) in order to protect their own position in society.

So for now, I leave the solution as an exercise for the reader.


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