Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Loving Democracy

I love Democracy. Government of the people, for the people, selected by the people. When a Government is accountable to its citizenry, it is forced to make decisions on the basis of improving the lives of its people. When they fail or do a poor job, they can be ousted in a peaceful means that does not require a military coup. Chairman Mao (who I believe never ran in a single election) once said “Politics is war without bloodshed. War is politics with bloodshed.”

There are flaws in the democratic process to be sure, and it is a continuous battle to ensure that the best interests of the people are served. Sadly fundraising has a disproportionate effect over policy on the ability to get elected, and corporate sponsorship can skew policy away from the greater good. Occasionally the miraculously gifted public speakers such as Adolf Hitler and Barak Obama are able to seduce the masses into a hypnosis like the Pied Piper swooning rodents. The good news is that even the most gifted public speaker has to deliver quality of life to his electorate, because failure of government is a very strong smelling salt to snap supporters out of their political coma. I don’t care how gifted you are at performing that speech on your teleprompter; I just want to see if your policies work.

What really chaps my ass is when elections are held, people go through the process of voting believing that their opinion matters; but it doesn’t because the process is rigged and the election itself is nothing more than a fictitious ceremony to convince the populace that they support the dictator, whether they do or not. You see these charades in Putin’s Russia, Saddam’s Iraq, Myanmar, and a slew of other dictatorships masquerading as democracies. That repressive Knights of the Roundtable in Burma held an election in 1990 and lost in convincing fashion to one of my heroes Aung San Suu Kyi. They decided that they did not want to give up power and proceeded to arrest most of the people that had just defeated them in free and fair elections. (as an aside, if you have not seen Rambo 4, I strongly recommend it)

Then there are examples like Robert Mugabe, who was once truly popular with his people and was even knighted by the British. Whether he was corrupted by power or overdosed on “Marxtasy” (a word I just invented combining Marxism with ecstasy), he decided to strip the successful farmers of their land entitlements and redistribute them to poor unsuccessful farmers in the name of post colonial social justice. At the time Zimbabwe was one of the top food exporters in Africa, and they relied on agriculture for most of the country’s wealth and prosperity. While many of us may fawn over the noble deeds of Robinhood stealing from the rich to give to the poor, what may flourish in fairy tales can indeed be disastrous in reality. So what happened in Zimbabwe when they deposed the productive and elevated the inexperienced? You guessed it, massive catastrophic failure leading to the collapse of their national economy and eventually their currency. Today it costs something like 10 billion Zimbabwe dollars to buy a loaf of bread.

His policies were directly responsible for a catastrophic economic collapse, and when he held an election last year he promptly lost. For a megalomaniac running the electoral machinery to lose by 5%, likely means that his opponent realistically won by more than 30%. Did Mugabe do the honourable thing and step down? Not at all. This righteous man of the people decided to hold a new election, except this time he would improve his odds by jailing, torturing, and killing hundreds of the opposition party members and supporters. His police forces were busy little bees, ensuring that on his second attempt things would be as they ought to be in the world of the tyrant. His opponent was forced to drop out of the run-off race, lest all his political colleagues be killed or imprisoned before Election Day. It makes me sick to see a lunatic who is a disgrace to Democracy, who tarnishes the dignified concept of representative government.

I’m not sure why Marx was against democracy, I’ll have to look it up. He probably thought that people are too stupid to make an intelligent choice, which seems to be the basis for most of his theories.

And then there is Iran, but that rant will have to wait for another day…


  1. With due respect for Marx, there wasn't a great deal of democracy to go around in his day and age, what little there was he did advocate and campaign in favour of, and sought to extend. By and large autocracy ruled the European continent, no universal suffrage or civil rights as we know it, there were property qualifications for those entitled to vote, no universal public education, and so forth. What were termed "radicals" such as Marx campaigned for a Ministry of Labour, universal suffrage with no restrictions ( race, sex or property qualifications), health and safety laws, universal public education. The autocrats who ruled Europe, Hohenzollern, hapsburg, Romanoff, believed common man could not be trusted to govern himself, to make intelligent choices.

    Lenin reinvented Marx as some Bolshevik conspirator plotting the overthrow of the state, the downfall of law, order, responsible government, but to do him justice place him back in his 19th century context as chief organizer and architect of parliamentary European social democracy.

  2. I have never read anything where Marx advocated democracy, which is not to say that he never discussed it. I just look at the 20th century applications of Marxism, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Cambodia, etc, etc, and none of them allow people to vote. Infact, in cases such as Tienanman Square, far left countries go to violent lengths to supress the desire of the people for a representative government.

    I just tacted on that comment about Marx and democracy at the end of a rant about democracy because the modern application of his theories discourages voting. I did indicate that I would have to look into it. Smith's The Wealth of Nations was a debunking of feudalism, Marx was an attempt to debunk Smith. Whether or not people have the right to select their government didn't really have much of an effect on Marx's view of the role of the state.