Why democracy meme is a farce.

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,398
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Often times I get a little perturbed when our politicians and many posters speak of bringing democracy to places. It's very clear that states can be democratic but still illiberal, homophobic, racist, plutocratic, and soul crushing. It's not democracy that makes the Western world unique but rather liberal culture and liberty and I think Fareed Zakaria explains it well.

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:Gu6PeXc4z7wJ:bev.berkeley.edu/ipe/readings/illiberal%2520democracy.doc+The+American+diplomat+Richard+Holbrooke+pondered+a+problem+on+the+eve+of+the+September+1996+elections+in+Bosnia,+which+were+meant+to+restore+civic+life+to+that+ravaged+country.&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESi0KGWtzEqxcw_9L0zHLUWpfLSaNRY9-n3KcOZtlL2PldlDCOXrR-FoHrhLqPofXOXG9jMnC2Dq8jAp62C5Donp9cSFek4AQ8wKciNcYIk3MaHQNU63DwKIM6E_Yvtn4hSchGcV&sig=AHIEtbSzAM45EPqnPM-rVdkrFrb_zisONA&pli=1

Excerpt:

Summary:

Around the world, democratically elected regimes are routinely ignoring limits on their power and depriving citizens of basic freedoms. From Peru to the Philippines, we see the rise of a disturbing phenomenon: illiberal democracy. It has been difficult to recognize because for the last century in the West, democracy -- free and fair elections -- has gone hand in hand with constitutional liberalism -- the rule of law and basic human rights. But in the rest of the world, these two concepts are coming apart. Democracy without constitutional liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war. The international community and the United States must end their obsession with balloting and promote the gradual liberalization of societies.

Fareed Zakaria is Managing Editor of Foreign Affairs and a Contributing Editor for Newsweek.


THE NEXT WAVE

The American diplomat Richard Holbrooke pondered a problem on the eve of the September 1996 elections in Bosnia, which were meant to restore civic life to that ravaged country. "Suppose the election was declared free and fair," he said, and those elected are "racists, fascists, separatists, who are publicly opposed to [peace and reintegration]. That is the dilemma." Indeed it is, not just in the former Yugoslavia, but increasingly around the world. Democratically elected regimes, often ones that have been reelected or reaffirmed through referenda, are routinely ignoring constitutional limits on their power and depriving their citizens of basic rights and freedoms. From Peru to the Palestinian Authority, from Sierra Leone to Slovakia, from Pakistan to the Philippines, we see the rise of a disturbing phenomenon in international life -- illiberal democracy.

It has been difficult to recognize this problem because for almost a century in the West, democracy has meant liberal democracy -- a political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but also by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property. In fact, this latter bundle of freedoms -- what might be termed constitutional liberalism -- is theoretically different and historically distinct from democracy. As the political scientist Philippe Schmitter has pointed out, "Liberalism, either as a conception of political liberty, or as a doctrine about economic policy, may have coincided with the rise of democracy. But it has never been immutably or unambiguously linked to its practice." Today the two strands of liberal democracy, interwoven in the Western political fabric, are coming apart in the rest of the world. Democracy is flourishing; constitutional liberalism is not.
 
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Brigandier

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2008
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You have to at least give people the choice, so they can begin to realize it is up to them.

The alternative is magnitudes worse.
 

Zebo

Elite Member
Jul 29, 2001
39,398
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You have to at least give people the choice, so they can begin to realize it is up to them.

The alternative is magnitudes worse.

Just the opposite, in Egypt Copts would be eradicated once and for all from civic life and probably bodily where before they were a protected class by Mubarek.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,879
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You have to at least give people the illusion of choice, so they can begin to realize it is up to them.

The alternative is magnitudes worse.

I think that's more accurate in most cases. It's definitely true in the US
 

Zorkorist

Diamond Member
Apr 17, 2007
6,861
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Just the opposite, in Egypt Copts would be eradicated once and for all from civic life and probably bodily where before they were a protected class by Mubarek.
Yet they managed to survive for milleniums before;

The concentration of power is what each of us has to fight. Government, was meant to be small in the United States, but alas, our Constitution and Bill of Rights didn't hold up to the demands of the people.

-John
 
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DirkGently1

Senior member
Mar 31, 2011
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Great post OP. Democracy doesn't necessarily equate with freedom or liberty. Some countries are nothing more than democratically governed police states after all.
 

wuliheron

Diamond Member
Feb 8, 2011
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wait... what? explain. It sure seems like they are the same thing.
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A mob simply does whatever the majority wants. They don't have to listen to objections from people who aren't in the majority and they don't have to follow any rules whatsoever. In a democracy everyone has to have their day in court and the original Athenian motto was, "Strike if you must, but hear me first!" Everyone has to be able to participate in the decision making process in a meaningful way or the whole thing becomes a sham.

Thus we've evolved constitutional rights, human rights, laws, etc. as ways to guaranty the majority doesn't just stomp on the minorities at every opportunity. The minorities still get stomped on regularly, but if it happens too often they will refuse to participate in the process and you're back to mob rule.
 

cwjerome

Diamond Member
Sep 30, 2004
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I think the OP is true. So often the emphasis is on "democracy" while critical elements like individual rights and liberty are on the peripheral, if at all. Consent of the governed is an integral concept but the term democracy by itself is too broad. The simple act of voting has become the singular focus and almost a cure-all attitude that misses the bigger picture.

Any efforts at promoting democracy should be balanced with constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty.
 

xj0hnx

Diamond Member
Dec 18, 2007
9,262
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A mob simply does whatever the majority wants. They don't have to listen to objections from people who aren't in the majority and they don't have to follow any rules whatsoever. In a democracy everyone has to have their day in court and the original Athenian motto was, "Strike if you must, but hear me first!" Everyone has to be able to participate in the decision making process in a meaningful way or the whole thing becomes a sham.

Thus we've evolved constitutional rights, human rights, laws, etc. as ways to guaranty the majority doesn't just stomp on the minorities at every opportunity. The minorities still get stomped on regularly, but if it happens too often they will refuse to participate in the process and you're back to mob rule.

You can try to sugar coat it all you want, democracy is mob rule, the majority over the individual.
 

ShawnD1

Lifer
May 24, 2003
15,987
2
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A mob simply does whatever the majority wants. They don't have to listen to objections from people who aren't in the majority and they don't have to follow any rules whatsoever. In a democracy everyone has to have their day in court and the original Athenian motto was, "Strike if you must, but hear me first!" Everyone has to be able to participate in the decision making process in a meaningful way or the whole thing becomes a sham.
-normal people can't buy alcohol on sunday because it offends the majority
-gay people can't be in the military because it offends the majority
-at one time, even being gay in itself was illegal because it offended the majority
-putting hardcore porn on broadcast TV is illegal because it offends the majority

The majority do whatever the hell they want. They are the ones who write the constitution, so the constitution is basically a worthless document. Remember that alcohol prohibition in the US was a constitutional amendment; religious shitbags actually changed the rules that dictate how far the law is allowed to go. There was nothing to keep the mob in check.
 

Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
33,435
7,501
136
I think the OP is true. So often the emphasis is on "democracy" while critical elements like individual rights and liberty are on the peripheral, if at all. Consent of the governed is an integral concept but the term democracy by itself is too broad. The simple act of voting has become the singular focus and almost a cure-all attitude that misses the bigger picture.

Any efforts at promoting democracy should be balanced with constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty.

We can force occupied countries to have mock elections, but how the bloody hell do we force them to respect our idea of constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty?

This is something that needs to be on the hearts and minds of the local populace and is not something we can so easily instill by force. On the contrary, the chaotic nature stemming from the violence of our occupation is detrimental to obtaining a calm, peaceful, and constitutional seeking people.

Blood begets blood, our killing Middle Easterners does not create liberty. If we can accept this novel concept, wtf are we doing over there? Bring our troops home.

The Neocon pipe dream of bringing 'Democracy' to the Middle East is a sham, and I'm tired of seeing Democrats and Republicans championing it.
 

Infohawk

Lifer
Jan 12, 2002
17,844
1
0
Yes, there's no question that a lot of these third-world countries are still pretty far behind. Look at Egypt. Even assuming they have elections later this year they're still burning Christian churches and gang-raping women in public squares during what is supposed to be a national celebration.

They really haven't accomplished much yet, but it's probably a step (or stumble) in the right direction.
 

ShawnD1

Lifer
May 24, 2003
15,987
2
81
We can force occupied countries to have mock elections, but how the bloody hell do we force them to respect our idea of constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty?

Remember, Hitler was elected ;)

You can't make people suddenly not retards just by giving them democracy. They'll elect retards.
 

Macamus Prime

Diamond Member
Feb 24, 2011
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Fareed is the most intelligent man I have ever listened to.

However, he notes; "promote the gradual liberalization of societies". With what? American social culture and order?

Americans are foul mouthed whores (self included). We throw fetuses in the trash during our prom, scream about decency and morals while our slut daughters are railed and impregnated before marriage. We elect leaders who are known drug users. We pin the fault of a gang rape on the victim. We post youtube videos of us watching two sick women get all disgusting and foul with each other - and label it as entertainment.

How are we, the US, going to lead other nations and people into a morally correct mindset, when we ourselves are just as bad as "them"?

We need to stop placing cum dumpsters like Snookie on pedastools and start honoring and respecting the soul of this nation. No one will follow us, if we choose to worship and praise Charlie Sheen.
 

wuliheron

Diamond Member
Feb 8, 2011
3,536
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-normal people can't buy alcohol on sunday because it offends the majority
-gay people can't be in the military because it offends the majority
-at one time, even being gay in itself was illegal because it offended the majority
-putting hardcore porn on broadcast TV is illegal because it offends the majority

The majority do whatever the hell they want. They are the ones who write the constitution, so the constitution is basically a worthless document. Remember that alcohol prohibition in the US was a constitutional amendment; religious shitbags actually changed the rules that dictate how far the law is allowed to go. There was nothing to keep the mob in check.

Ultimately what keeps the mob in check is the threat of the system breaking down completely like it did in the civil war. Even the majority of Northerner's didn't want the slaves freed, but Lincoln freed them anyway and they're still free to this day. When it comes to the little shit like prohibition the mob rules because no one is willing to push the issue that hard. However, that doesn't stop people from pushing the issues and it hasn't stopped us from continuing to make progress.
 
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woolfe9999

Diamond Member
Mar 28, 2005
7,164
0
0
I think the OP is true. So often the emphasis is on "democracy" while critical elements like individual rights and liberty are on the peripheral, if at all. Consent of the governed is an integral concept but the term democracy by itself is too broad. The simple act of voting has become the singular focus and almost a cure-all attitude that misses the bigger picture.

Any efforts at promoting democracy should be balanced with constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty.

I think the modern definition of "democracy," particularly the American definition, involves both the component of voting and that of protected individual rights which cannot be usurped by a simple majority vote. When one says "democracy alone is not enough," the truth of that statement probably rests on how the word is defined.
 

ShawnD1

Lifer
May 24, 2003
15,987
2
81
Ultimately what keeps the mob in check is the threat of the system breaking down completely like it did in the civil war.

This is exactly why democracy won't help shitty countries. They would vote for insane laws like legalized honor killings or giving the death penalty to anyone who questions the local religion, and it would not have any risk of system breakdown because everyone in the country thinks honor killings and heretic witch burning is ok.
 

cwjerome

Diamond Member
Sep 30, 2004
4,346
26
81
We can force occupied countries to have mock elections, but how the bloody hell do we force them to respect our idea of constitutionalism/rule-of-law to secure liberty?

This is something that needs to be on the hearts and minds of the local populace and is not something we can so easily instill by force. On the contrary, the chaotic nature stemming from the violence of our occupation is detrimental to obtaining a calm, peaceful, and constitutional seeking people.

Blood begets blood, our killing Middle Easterners does not create liberty. If we can accept this novel concept, wtf are we doing over there? Bring our troops home.

The Neocon pipe dream of bringing 'Democracy' to the Middle East is a sham, and I'm tired of seeing Democrats and Republicans championing it.

Well I didn't say we should go around the globe and do forced nation building. If I was dictator I would leave Afghanistan tomorrow. But I do believe we have a moral duty to promote our values in the international arena.