Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Silverplatter Democracy

Nation building, fill the blank constitutions, fighting evil, spreading freedom, or what ever you want to call it, has been a major part of modern America. After WW2, we occupied Germany and Japan. Patton said we should drop a nuke on North Korea or we would be in south Korea for 50 years, we did not do that and we were there for 50 years. In some cases, our efforts have yielded outstanding results. Japan, South Korea, and Germany are three prime examples. Iraq is not a failure, and could indeed be a success.

What of these countries which have had democracy handed to them on a silverplatter? If you received a gift that brought you a tremendous amount of personal freedom and wealth, what would you do? Would you be like the early Christians who converted the world and shared their gift, or would you be like the modern Japanese who refuse to give their gift to others?

Under normal circumstances giving away a gift you own removes your ability to use that gift. If you are given one million dollars and you give it all away to a charity, you lose the utility of the money. In other words, the money cannot be owned by more than one person. It is understandable in this case, a person would not give the money away.

What if that person had a gift that could be replicated? Like a ever replicating cookie? A person can make as many copy cookies as they want and, as long as they never eat the original, they will never lose the ability to eat copied cookies. If that person would not give you a cookie when you asked, what would you think of them? If that person gave you a cookie, what would you think of them?

I fail to understand why other countries are unwilling to share the freedom given to them, and I resent them . I fail to understand why other countries do not want the freedom we have, and I want to help them.

cube

3 comments:

Andrew said...

If you received a gift that brought you a tremendous amount of personal freedom and wealth, what would you do? Well... That was the Marxist pitch, too, you know. In fact, that was the pitch of most every revolutionary movement of the modern era. The problem eventually boils down to how well you can demonstrate those principles. Whether or not you think the depictions are flawed, America's example is one that is very easy for people to criticize. Those who are afraid of American-dominated democracy can demonstrate inequity, racism, poverty, insecurity, and anxiety that exceeds that of many other nations--democratic and not.

Personal freedom is not a cure-all, at least not in the short or medium term. It certainly doesn't translate to wealth in any guaranteed way. If you forcibly 'share' democracy, but do so improperly or with insufficient consent or interest, you can wreak havoc on what was a relatively well-functioning non-democratic system. Without due caution, you can go from a corrupt socialist dictatorship to a corrupt corporatist owned-democracy. Which is better for the people? It isn't obvious.

To follow your metaphor of the ever-replicating cookie, you need to ask if sharing the cookie is as kind when nobody's sure what to make of it yet. Is the cookie poisoned? Will it make me fat and lazy? Will it give me diabetes or heart disease? And if I have these concerns, is it okay for someone to force feed me one anyway?

I fail to understand why other countries are unwilling to share the freedom given to them, and I resent them .They aren't. They're afraid of doing it hastily or improperly; they're afraid of destroying themselves in the process; they're afraid of making a bad example*.

I fail to understand why other countries do not want the freedom we have, and I want to help them.They may see that we still haven't worked the kinks out of some big problems in the system. They may see incompatiblities between their traditional values and those we seek to impose. They may suspect our motives in trying to help them. They may not yet be prepared to sacrifice tangible security for a longshot promise.


*And on the subject of being a 'bad example'. Imposing democracy on an unwilling populace isn't obviously democratic. It may be well-meaning; it may be effective; it may be necessary... but it isn't democratic. It's authoritarian: "We will sit here and kill resistors until the only people left are the ones who want to participate in [my kind of] democracy and [my kind of] global economy."

Maybe that needs to happen--but imagine being on the other side of that. Imagine the Canadians invading the U.S. and promising us a "real" multi-party parliamentary democracy rather than this corrupt two-party system with its indirect elections and shitty social service coverage. They may have a point, but when they're forcibly demanding that you accept it, you too might be a little hesitant. Why are they doing this? How do they benefit? Is their system really better?

It's a complicated issue, and I fear you may have missed the other half of it.

Cubicle said...

i admitted to missing the other side.

Though i was not really talking about pitting our kind of democracy against someone else's. Because democracy can take many forms (eg canada and america). I was talking about clear dictatorships and some form of democarcy.

Though i think you missed the next step in imposing a demoracy. While it is authoritan to impose democarcy the people control the goverment and can always change it if they want.

For example if Iraq elected a dictator to rule them (some think that is happening in Russia) and refuse to check his power, then as long as they are not touching us i don't care.

So i look at it kinda like, we will make you give it a try, and if they don't like it they can give it back by voting away their freedom

Cubicle said...

/sarcsm
so japan is not helping use because they are afriad?

dang, next time we destory a country we will try to be a little more gentle.