On democracy

Yesterday I became involved in a geopolitical discussion centred around the situation in the Ukraine. The discussion started on Facebook, of all unsuitable places, and it was this realisation which made me decide to move it to a more suitable medium.

The discussion started as an implied criticism of Russia for having a plan ready for the eventuality that last February’s uprising in the Ukraine and the subsequent coup d’état should lead to a deterioration of Russia’s security. It went on to consider the damage done to several countries by interference from outside by what is usually called the West, but in most cases consists of the US and its vassal states in Europe.  I challenged one of the participants to name some positive effect of said interference anywhere in the world during this young century. At this point the originator of the discussion closed it down with the following comment:

“Regardless of the truth, the argument is flawed [in] that we can not know what would have happened without the involvement of the US/Israel [or] Russia/Soviet Union.
Personally, I consider them to be birds of a feather but can naturally identify with the [constellation which stands for] human and individual rights and free elections, etc.” (translation courtesy of Google Translate modified only by the words in square brackets)

It was at this point that I decided to move the venue. There was too much to be dealt with in the relative short passages for which Facebook is more suitable.

My friend’s first statement can only with difficulty be contradicted, although there are two points of possible contention. The first is that three of the countries in question, Iraq, Libya and Syria, were stable and, in general, flourishing before they were attacked, and that now, after the attacks, they lie for the most part in rubble and civil war, there are millions dead who otherwise might not have been, and many more millions of refugees, living in tents in neighbouring countries, or at the best having been able to establish themselves in foreign countries where they do not know the language or customs and stand on the bottom rung of the ladder when it comes to employment.  The fourth of the five countries named, the Ukraine was also fairly stable, if not well run.  It was deliberately destabilised by the Western constellation. And the fifth country was Afghanistan, which had been destabilised several years earlier by the USSR and which  the effect of the new intrusion by the West has done nothing to help. 

The second point is that none of the countries asked for help from outside, and at least one of the invading constellations firmly maintains in its rhetoric if not in its actions, the sanctity of self-determination.

But it is perhaps the second paragraph which caused me to come down from a warm bed at four in the morning and prepare this post. I am beginning to realise that democracy as it is practiced these days is far from being the panacea its supporters maintain.

In the first place it has the dubious features of pitting one half of a nation’s inhabitants against the other half once every three, four or five years, coupled with the instability in policy decisions by those in power, which the need to toady to the populace in order to gain their mandate for the next period causes.

In the second place it is difficult to see what difference a change of government brings about since it is very rare that the decisions of one government are ever overthrown or even seriously modified by their opponents on coming to power.

In the third place most politicians seem so divorced from the reality experienced by the people who put them there, and so determined to impose their will on a more or less unwilling populace that it is only in name that the democracy in question does not resemble a dictatorship.

In the fourth place we have seen in the last few weeks a perfect condemnation of the democratic process in the fate of Greece, where a clear majority vote by the populace of Greece has been overthrown by the unelected dictators of the EU commission, the ECB and the IMF. One’s only hope in this context is that perhaps the last verse has not yet been sung in that song.

And in the fifth place, the very idea that democracies nowadays stand for human and individual rights is almost obscene. Since when has mass surveillance had anything to do with human or individual rights? Quite the reverse. And the mere fact that the democracies are involved in externally effected regime change in the target countries is a travesty of human and individual rights in the target countries, to say nothing of the fact that the underlying cause of the regime change is the benefit of the external country, and not the benefit of the inhabitants of the target country.  On this point I can add that, this very day, as I edit my post some ten hours after writing it, I have read a report from Amnesty International with the headline ‘Britain is leading the war against human rights’.

The thing most people want from whatever form of government they live under is stability, preferably stability which can lead to welfare improvements. They want homes, schools, hospitals, places of work and the freedom to enjoy these benefits. They do not want to spend their days in tents in neighbouring countries, faced with the loss of their jobs, their welfare, and the education and future of their children. In four of the five countries mentioned above these benefits were available. In a dictatorship they have to be available, for if they are not, there will be revolution and a new dictator will be found who will deliver.

The only difference between a dictatorship and a democracy in this respect is that in a democracy the old dictator will probably not be hanged from a lamp post or shot with a machine gun in front of the news cameras.


© James Wilde 2015