Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Shoving democracy down people's throats

Democracy is supposed to reflect the will of the people. What if the people get together and vote on it, and decide that they want a dictatorship. Does some greater power have the right to come in and say "No, the people have a right to a democracy, so we're going to shove one down everyone's throat, whether they want it or not?

Isn't this a description of American foreign policy in many cases? 

6 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

While our foreign policy has historically sucked, this gets into questions of moral relativity. If it can be objectively shown that there is less human misery in a democracy, then is it any more right to ignore a dictatorship which oppresses its people than it is to ignore if my neighbor abuses her young children? (Practicality and cost of intervention aside.)

Starhopper said...

It should by now be obvious that a society (read: nation) has to be culturally ready for democracy for it to have a chance of succeeding. Post-WWII Germany, despite its 12 year detour into totalitarianism, retained its centuries old tradition of democracy, so the system flourished in West Germany from the 50's until reunification. In contrast, East Germany is even today having a harder time of adjusting, having suffered under 55 years of tyranny. Basically, everyone there who remembered the last time their country was a democracy (1932) was dead. In fact, all of post Communist Eastern Europe is having similar difficulties, with varying success. Putin should come as no surprise - the Russians have never known anything but strongman rule for millennia.

Iraq and Afghanistan had no prior experience of democracy whatsoever, and are failing miserably in their attempts to adopt it.

The United States had a long history of local democracy (at the village, town, and county level) in colonial times, prior to the Revolutionary War, so there was a smooth transition into our current form of government.

Bottom line: Democracy cannot be (successfully) imposed from the outside. It has to arise organically from within.

Of course, every generalization has its exceptions. In this case, Japan - a wildly successful democracy after the Second World War. Go figure. Perhaps it's the result of a beneficent, enlightened occupation under MacArthur, and the total absence of any resistance to the occupation regime.

Joe Hinman said...

we do assume we need to intervene in suicide. Y.S, foreign policy is not analogous because its sully hypocritical and the regimes we prop up are not democratic.

bmiller said...

and the regimes we prop up are not democratic.

This is mostly true. Lately we have been trying to invent democratic regimes (and failing) whereas before that we really didn't care so much as long as they supported US interests.

The interesting question is "Is democracy the best form of government?"

Starhopper said...

"The interesting question is "Is democracy the best form of government?""

Maybe they haven't been around for long enough to have a sufficiently large database by which to measure this, but democracies appear to be less likely to wage war against each other. But this is countered by the fact that interstate war on a whole is declining worldwide. "War" as we now understand it, usually involves at least one non-state participant - either as a separatist movement within a democracy (such as "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, or the Basque terrorist movement in Spain), or as an international, ideologically motivated (usually terrorist) movement (e.g., the Red Brigades in the 1970 or the contemporary Islamist organizations such as ISIS).

I could make a good case for feudalism being the best form of government, were it not for that system's propensity for the various feudal lords to wage nearly perpetual war against each other.

Joe Hinman said...

Christianity and Western civ

Atheists have of late been harping on the slavery in the Bile issue. I just got through dealing with the post of an unusually ignorant one who claimed that Christianity contributed nothing to the progress of Western Civilization! I can't believe people are so ignorant they are still saying tripe. This person tried to make an argument, with no backing, that the direction of social progress is away form religion!