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Posts Tagged ‘democracy’

A year on, Morocco’s democracy movement founders

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/moroccos-democracy-movement-founders-113855263.html;_ylt=Am4j2RGFmuTQ_wwlLaPx5bOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNhajJzdmI5BG1pdAMEcGtnAzFmZmE4MDdhLWY1NzUtM2MwYi1iMDc4LWNiZDIzMGFkMmU2NwRwb3MDOARzZWMDbG5fQVBfZ2FsBHZlcgNlOTcyZjMyMC01YTI1LTExZTEtYmY2Yi04NzgzNjU3NmQ0Nzg-;_ylv=3

By PAUL SCHEMM | Associated Press – 1 hr 40 mins ago

RABAT, Morocco (AP)Morocco‘s pro-democracy February 20 movement spearheaded the country’s version of the Arab Springand sent the centuries-old monarchy scrambling to reform. Now, a year after its birth, the youth-led group appears to have lost its way.

And while the movement struggles for relevance, Morocco’s problems are far from solved: Social discontent and clashes between police and unemployed graduates are on the rise as the economy suffers from the effects of Europe‘s financial crisis.

Like the Occupy movements in the United States, Morocco’s pro-democracy groups now need to find out if they can keep the fight going.

On Sunday, the movement will try with countrywide anniversary demonstrations to rekindle some of the fire that at its peak in March put 800,000 people from all walks of life on the streets calling for an end to corruption, greater democracy and social justice.

The protesters shook the cities of Morocco and achieved some of the things they wanted, bringing their country a new constitutionand free elections.

Since that time, however, the numbers at the weeklydemonstrations have plummeted to a few thousand in the larger cities as ordinary people abandoned the movement, apparently satisfied with King Mohammed VI‘s reforms, including granting more powers to elected officials — or scared away by a tougher response to the protests.

Elections on Nov. 25 were won by a moderate Islamist opposition party promising many of the things once shouted at demonstrations.

Moroccan authorities have trumpeted their “third way” of dealing with the Arab Spring, steering between revolution and repression in favor of reforms with stability. Social unrest has continued though, including violent clashes between police and unemployed graduates calling for government sector jobs.

The youth-led movement has had a hard time harnessing that simmering anger.

“The problem with February 20 is that it is elitist and doesn’t have a rapport with the people,” saidMouad Belghouat, a 25-year-old rapper with February 20 whose songs excoriating the palace and social inequalities in the country became the soundtrack for the movement. The movement’s demands weren’t all realized, he said, “so we continue to go into the streets.”

Belghouat, who goes by the named El-Haqed, or the Enraged, was jailed for four months for getting into a fight with a regime supporter in the gritty, low income suburb of Casablanca where he lives. His supporters say the charges were trumped up.

“You can’t talk to people about parliamentary monarchy, they think the king is sacred, so you have to talk to them about unemployment and those stealing the wealth of the country,” he said, explaining that he and his friends in the movement now go to neighborhoods and have discussions to raise people’s consciousness.

It also helps that his rap songs appeal to the young, unemployed and disenfranchised youth that swell the crumbling slums surrounding Casablanca, Tangiers and other large cities.

The movement’s protests always had an artistic side to them, with street theater often accompanying the colorful marches through the streets.

In one Casablanca protest, a man with the mask of a hated adviser of the king dangled a baguette on a fishing rod above the grasping hands of three ragged figures representing the people.

There is no denying that in the initial months of the protests, February 20 achieved more than generations of party politics had accomplished in opening up Morocco.

“It succeeded in breaking a taboo, it brought out into the open calls against corruption and the domination of certain figures on the economy,” said Omar Bendoro, a political analyst at Rabat University. Close associates of the king from wealthy families are perceived to dominate the economy.

After years of repression, people are no longer afraid to make their discontent known, whether about lack of water, electricity or civil rights, he added.

“Social problems have always existed, but now the people explode because there is a chance that the powers-that-be will take them seriously,” Bendoro said.

The king, due either to the street rallies or fears of Egyptian- or Tunisian-style revolutions, agreed in March to amend the constitution, bowing to longtime demands from political parties.

Under the new constitution the prime minister has more powers and comes from the party that won the most votes, rather than whomever the king felt like choosing under the old system. Ultimate power, however, still rests with the monarch and his court of close advisers.

Even as the concessions, including raising public sector wages, blunted popular anger, activists say there was a second, darker, prong to the official response — one that targeted the movement itself.

Starting in May, demonstrations began to be attacked by riot police and hired thugs, and some activists started receiving late night visits from security officers.

“There were two levels at work, the institutional and the non-institutional, which was the intimidation, beatings and propaganda — particularly propaganda about the Islamists,” said activist Abadila Maaelaynine.

State media said the demonstrators were being infiltrated by radical communists and hardline Islamists from the banned Adl wal Ihsane (Justice and Charity) movement, which did have a big presence in the demonstrations.

The accusations stuck, further cooling public ardor for the movement, and soon the demonstrations became more of a weekly — later monthly — traffic nuisance than a real vehicle of political change.

“We failed to become more innovative in what we were doing and it’s time to admit that,” said Zeinab Belmkaddem, a young activist with the movement, which is now looking to start a political party and build up a lasting network tied to the people.

“We don’t want to just stay in the streets, we tried that for a year — been there done that — that’s it, but at the end of the day what happened is that others took advantage and that’s what happened with the PJD,” she said bitterly, referring to the Islamist party that won elections.

The party has been a clear beneficiary of the movement.

“The process of democratization in the country is moving in a good direction,” said Mustapha Khalfi, once the editor of the PJD’s newspaper and now the minister of communication and government spokesman. “Moroccan society has the feeling that what is happening in politics has an impact on daily life and most importantly when they participate it can make a difference.”

Khalfi is quick to praise the February 20 movement for its early efforts, but noted that it has since lost momentum and popularity and it is the new government that is now looking to satisfy people’s demands for jobs.

Activists, however, question whether the limited powers given to the new government will be enough to enact the deep reforms that the people crave — especially as daily frustrations mount.

“Now the people are waiting to see what they can do,” said the rapper Belghouat. “They will be disappointed.”

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Why We All Need to Experience Occupy Wall Street

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/why-we-all-need-experience-occupy-wall-street/1323445491

Friday 9 December 2011
by: Preston Elrod, Truthout | Op-Ed

Occupy Wall Street protesters, along with union workers, stage a demonstration on the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York, Nov. 17, 2011. (Photo: Marcus Yam / The New York Times)

One of the most remarkable things about the United States is how rarely its citizens experience democracy. We do have a right to vote, and, within limits, assemble with others and speak freely. We have other rights as well, but in our daily lives – in our families, jobs, schools and other institutions – there is often a lack of democratic participation. For much of our lives, decisions are made by others. We are rarely consulted, and we are expected to do what we are told.

Question the prevailing way of thinking at home, work, school, even in church, and there can be serious consequences. Over time, we become accustomed to believing in the authorities, of following, of allowing others to make decisions for us. Having been deprived of democracy, over time, we begin to forget what it looks and sounds like. However, the idea that each of us should have a voice in the decisions that affect our lives is a powerful concept. That concept gave birth to this country, and it has been the central idea that encouraged struggles to create social, political and economic institutions that are responsive to human needs. Moreover, participatory democracy is alive and well in the Occupy movement.

Over the past month, I’ve had an opportunity to visit the occupations in New York (with my youngest son), in Washington DC, and in Lexington, Kentucky, where I live. In addition, I’ve spent considerable time reading about the occupation movement and discussing it with students and others. What is so encouraging about the occupations is how sharply they contrast with the dominant institutions and practices that have brought so much pain to so many of our fellow citizens.

It is not surprising that what is happening seems so foreign to many of us. Accustomed as we are to rely on “leaders” and media pundits to explain current events, the Occupy movement is difficult to comprehend. Who are the leaders? What is the platform? What is the solution? What is so important about the Occupy movement is that it is asking fundamental questions – questions about the kind of country we want for ourselves and for our children and the opportunities that should exist for all Americans. What the Occupy movement makes evident, as most of us are painfully aware, is that the current political economy does not work for most Americans, nor does it work for our brothers and sisters around the world. Yet, it does not tell us what to think. Instead, it encourages us to think and to learn through the countless discussions that take place each day at occupation sites around the country and abroad.

It also does not tell us to follow, but to learn and lead; that our voices are valuable and deserve to be heard. It does not promise solutions, but it reminds us that, together, we can do better, much better, not only in meeting the needs of our fellow citizens, but also in being a real leader in the world – one that is respected because of its ability to live up to its ideals, rather than feared for its ability to terrorize and destroy our enemies. Moreover, it reminds us that it is we, the people, who are capable of standing up to the power and corruption of those at the top. And it connects us in a very human way to all of those who came before us who struggled to achieve a better world and unites us with all of those who struggle now around the world. It joins us with those who believe, as Ghandi said, that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

It short, the Occupy movement is a process by which we are able to develop knowledge, teach one another and take action to transform our world. If you were politically active during the 60s and 70s, you know the feeling. If you have been involved in actions designed, in some way, to help others, not because of the material reward, but because you understood it to be the right thing to do, you know the feeling. Indeed, what is so exhilarating about the Occupy movement is that it allows us to experience something that so many of us rarely experience: the right to practice democratic decisionmaking.

I encourage you to visit a nearby occupation or go to New York. And if you are a parent or educator, take your children or your students. Know in advance, however, that real democracy takes time and practice. Be patient, but be willing to engage with others, be open to differing ideas and perspectives, and consider getting involved.

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This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————
PRESTON ELROD

Preston Elrod received his PhD at Western Michigan University. He is currently a professor and coordinator of the undergraduate program in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University. He has published articles on a variety of criminal and juvenile justice topics, and he is the co-author of “Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical and Legal Perspective,” Third Edition. Dr. Elrod has worked as the site director of a model school-based delinquency reduction program, and he has worked as a juvenile court intake officer and as the supervisor of a juvenile probation department. He is involved in a variety of community activities and is the co-founder of the Madison County Delinquency Prevention Council, a child advocacy organization in Madison County, Kentucky. He is presently involved in writing projects focusing on social control and the threat to democratic decisionmaking, developing a more humane juvenile justice process, and critical pedagogy.

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Kenya and Uganda

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

“Analyse the factors behind the success or failure of the consolidation of democratic institutions in Kenya and Uganda.”

 

Introduction:

This paper examines the factors that have contributed to the success or failure of the consolidation of democratic institutions in Kenya and Uganda. The post-independence period of these two countries is the starting point for this study. In arriving at its conclusion that attempts at consolidation of democracy in these two countries have been abortive overall, this paper lists factors, both peculiar to these countries and those endemic in the larger context of African society as inhibitors of democracy. If the reign of dictators in these countries, most notably of Daniel arap Moi in Kenya and Milton Obote and later Idi Amin in Uganda were undoubtedly great factors in stalling democracy, this paper sees this phenomenon as only a symptom of the disease that has afflicted Africa –its near incompatibility with democracy. The factors that have brought about this situation are mentioned in the concluding part of this paper.

It needs mention that the scope of this paper precludes the need for a detailed examination of the chronology of events[1], because of which only events concerning the thesis topic are listed. Only actions concerning mostly Moi’s and Amin’s regimes are detailed in this paper.

 

Summary:

In the assessment of this paper, the most important outwardly factor to have acted as the stumbling block to democracy in these countries has been its dictators. Kenya’s rendezvous with democracy was also severely blunted by pathological corruption, as a result of which the country has been swinging between authoritarianism for most part of its post-independence existence, and some democracy. Kenya was placed on the road to democracy after independence, by its founding father, Jomo Kenyatta who had given the country a sample of democracy, but his successor, Daniel arap Moi chose the opposite route, and took the country toward totalitarian, one party rule. When multiparty elections did come, they were flawed. The end of his long rule paved the way for more democracy, but this was also severely affected not so much by despotic rule, as much as by corruption and compulsions of coalition politics.

 

In Uganda’s case, the role of two consecutive dictators, Milton Obote and Idi Amin were enough to keep democratic institutions in shackles for most part of its post-colonial history. The excesses of their establishment were the antithesis of any democratic attribute. If the Obote regime was going all out to kill democracy, then that of Idi Amin was brutal and abominable even by African standards. There has been some movement towards democracy in Uganda in the last two decades and in Kenya in the last few years, but this has not been in conditions that were different from those that fostered autocracy. There exists some democracy as of now on paper, but it is a fragile one, and the system can slide into its anarchic past at the slightest provocation.

 

Such brittleness of democratic institutions in these countries has been the outcome of the inward, critical reason for the stunted growth of democracy –the inability of the African political and social system to adapt this form of governance, which has been explored in the concluding part of this paper.

 

Kenya: Kenya’s tryst with democracy was full of difficulties, as a result of the fact that it was never based on serious intent. Arap Moi’s stranglehold over the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party he inherited from Kenyatta was complete. An attempted coup in 1982 was the perfect pretext for him to stifle democracy. His victory speech announced the justification for the continuance of single party rule:

There had to be a party giving people everywhere a sense of belonging and an arena of unity. The party was also to serve as an institution which the government and the people had in common — so that philosophies, policies and aspirations all sprang from the grass-roots of society. It was further visualized that the party, as a political instrument, must be appropriately involved in sustaining the countrywide momentum of nationalistic forces and feelings . . . (Ogot & Ochieng, 1995, p. 203)

 

Moi’s penchant for tyrannical rule got strengthened over time; the first multiparty elections[2] held in 1992 came about three decades after independence, and were marred by a lack of consensus or a pact among the parties. This fact made the elections a farce and rendered the opposition impotent. Coming as they did in the backdrop of increased international pressures over its human rights record and abysmally poor living conditions caused by corrupt governance, the elections of 1992 were a charade. Although they were multiparty elections held under the watchful eyes of international donors, they were won by the ruling party with skulduggery and the complicity of a pliant Election Commission and judiciary. Even after attaining a majority in parliament, the KANU led by Moi persistently refused to carry out constitutional reforms aimed at more democracy implying transparency in public administration. His term in office was marked by acts such as hounding opposition figures and the media, denying them the right of association and the carrying out of frequent arrests. The KANU’s unwillingness to relinquish power made them carry out much political stealth during the elections. (Harbeson, 1999, pp. 49-51)

 

This was a great slump in the democratic credentials of a party that had for most part of the “father of independence”, Kenyatta’s presidency, been a fairly neat example of democracy in Africa. From the time of independence in 1963 till his death in 1978, Kenyatta had nurtured a polity that had been surprisingly open to opposition parties. Although the KANU held monopoly of power on the national political scene since at least 1969 and the political system was based on patronage, Kenya was not a one-party monocracy. During his presidency, elections had been held regularly. Also, in a system that was at great variance with that in most other African regimes, for most part, the press was allowed to function without fear of political reprisal. There was liberty for the people to practise any religion, the Church and trade unions were allowed to voice their say, and civil liberty was being enforced by those in the legal profession and the judiciary. As Moi’s rule progressed, civil liberties starting taking a backseat, and power now started flowing into and getting consolidated into select ethnic communities. (Throup & Hornsby, 1998, p. 26)

 

Daniel arap Moi ran the government like a personal fiefdom, with extremely high levels of corruption[3] wreaking havoc in the daily lives of people. While corruption had been a bane of Kenyan society from Kenyatta’s time, accountability, a prerequisite of democracy, plummeted to new levels during Moi’s time. The treasury was virtually emptied during this time in innumerable scandals. The Goldenberg scandal was only the most famous of these, by which billions of Kenyan shillings were emptied from government coffers by fraudulent means. (Wright, 1998, p. 108) This resulted in strictures from Kenya’s donors and the World Bank culminating in suspension of vital aid, but even this did not alter the basic fabric of governance. (Lundahl, 2001, p. 99) This is where lay the problem –the inherent venality in the Kenyan society that some see as a takeoff from the colonial times, in which the colonisers used every method possible to deplete the exchequer. (Versi, 1996, p. 6)

 

Yet another factor of critical importance to arrest graduation to democracy was that Kenya’s opposition leaders were more mired in tribalism and had greater loyalty to their kinship, and were less clear about the system they wanted to put in place in the event of Moi’s defeat. Their cohesiveness was pre-empted by ethnic loyalty, which was always at the core of African society. It was never difficult for the seasoned Moi to exploit these inherent divisions. (Bates, 1999, p. 91)

 

Kenya also has some internalised and deep-rooted social factors that have made transition to democracy difficult. If the political factors listed above were direct and concrete factors that stalled the progress of democratic forces, social divisions such as ethnicity, location, education, income and gender lie at the heart of the society. This historic lopsidedness has made the assumption of more powers by some of such groups easy, while confining others into oblivion. Among these factors, perhaps the most important are “[e]thnic hostilities (which) reflect a weakness inherent in Kenya’s civic culture; (and) primordial fears and mistrust permeate society.” (Miller & Yeager, 1984, p. 74) This last factor has been the most important, larger reason for the lack of consolidation of democratic forces in Africa, of which these two countries are only a part. A presentation of this fact has been made in the last part of this paper.

 

Returning to Moi, finally, when the time came for him to hand over the reins of power, the administration that succeeded him, led by Mwai Kibaki, has been mired in coalition constraints; this administration, which came to office amid high promise and expectations, got entangled in corruption in much the same manner as its predecessor, (Kabukuru, 2006) to the extent of attracting censure from international donors if the system did not change. (Versi, 2005, p. 13) The crux of the power struggle has revolved round his attempt to acquire more power by bypassing his coalition partners, even while the entrenched system remains basically unchanged. (Wrong, 2005, p. 22) It has always been difficult for democracy to take root and flourish in such conditions.

 

 

Uganda: As was the case with Kenya, in Uganda, too, highly fragmented tribal and ethnic loyalties produced a splintered polity that could be exploited at will by the men in power. Right at the time of independence, major differences between the country’s most prosperous region that had the most powerful ethnic group, Buganda, and the rest of the country erupted and threatened to split the nation apart. Using their bargaining power, the Buganda had obtained a special status under the constitution of 1962, the nation’s first. Early into his term in office, the country’s first Prime Minister, Milton Obote was confronted with serious differences with the Buganda. After attempts at reconciling these and other various factions, Obote went on the offensive, and by 1966 had had the constitution annulled. When the Buganda protested this act and rose in rebellion by seeking foreign aid for separatism, the Obote government decided to take this state head on.  Declaring a state of national emergency, he ordered an Army crackdown on the Buganda stronghold, the tribal chief’s palace on Mengo Hill. Even as the Buganda chieftain, the Kabaka fled and the threat from this province receded, the Prime Minister seized this initiative to accumulate absolute power, starting with making himself president. This was the start of his autocratic regime; soon, what started as a measure to control internal dissent became an instrument of absolute power. A new constitution was promulgated in 1967, ostensibly to abolish the four dominant kingdoms and create a new government of unity, but was misused to gain total control. (Ofcansky, 1996, pp. 39-41)

 

Once he had been overthrown in a coup led by Idi Amin, his once trusted aide, what followed was a virtual bloodbath that was to soak the entire country, and mark a terrible chapter in its history. Amin first accused Tanzania of backing Obote, and chose this as a reason for rounding up alleged supporters of the deposed ruler. He next targeted officers of a failed coup, butchering several of them arbitrarily; one of his first acts was to proclaim himself ‘president for life’. Among his long list of perverse acts that were undemocratic was the suppression of the Catholic Church, on grounds that it was taking part in subversive activities; he even had the Anglican archbishop of Uganda murdered.  Such egregious acts continued with impunity till he was overthrown in 1979. (E.Jessup, 1998, p. 24) These were not before he had foreign journalists killed for attempting to cover the war with Tanzania, (Hachten, 1992, p. 42) and ordered the mass deportation of Indian businessmen who earned the cream of the economy. (Sowell, 1996, p. 321)

 

In Uganda, too, like in Kenya, society was deeply fractured along ethnic and tribal affiliations. Moreover, it was a country that had been built almost entirely on the strength of its agricultural sector. Industrialisation was almost totally absent, which meant that not only was dependence on this ancient system of production attracting more tribal loyalties, there was a total absence of any form of industrial bourgeoisie. This made organisation of the masses against tyranny ever more difficult. Thus, affiliations were more on the social rather than labour-oriented lines. This led to a solidification of the forces of concentration of power. This inhibited the spread of democracy to the grassroots level. With the advent of the colonisers, the geographical imbalance of power that was tilted in favour of Buganda was further aggravated in the form of animosity between the Catholic and Protestant and Christian and Muslim. (Hansen & Twaddle, 1988, p. 29)

 

In this milieu, the growth and consolidation of democratic institutions has always been next to impossible, as the present incumbent, Yoweri Museveni has been discovering. Despite not being given to the despotism of the earlier dictators, he has been having a difficult time keeping the country together due to insurrection from the sectarian Christian movement, the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose frequent attacks, and his government’s involvement in the civil war in Sudan  (P.Scherrer, 2002, p. 56) have weakened the graduation to democracy.

 

Conclusion: It is generally easy to point the difficulty in establishing democracy on a handful of dictators that ruled these two countries. While prima facie it is true that these men were responsible for this process as shown in this paper, a deeper understanding needs to be made of the conditions which enabled these men to assume absolute power and unleash such highly dictatorial regimes in these countries.

 

Discerning analysts and commentators have pointed out to systemic problems lying at the heart of African society as being the chief impediments to the fertilisation of democracy. This has been analysed thread bare with amazing clarity by Smith Hempstone (1995). The nub of this highly perspicacious analysis is that the genus of democracy was never present in Africa. This was a continent that had been blissfully insulated from all major events that shook the world –the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, explorations and political revolutions. The manure necessary for the sapling of democracy to sprout –openness, innovation and enterprise, was alien to African society. The institutional units that comprised society were the tribes, absolute and unquestioning obedience to whose leaders were the highest hallmarks of sacrosanct piety. All the dictators produced by Africa, Kenya and Uganda included, were people who made the best of this core of African life and society. The idea of accountability, rule of law and checks and balances were unknown to Africa. In a society that was light years away from the consciousness of nationhood, the parliamentary institutions that Britain put in place turned out to be seeds planted in an arid area. It is only natural that the only yield this continent threw up was dictators, the modern day avatar of tribal chiefs. (Hempstone, 1995) A Moi and an Idi Amin were the manifestations of this highly entrenched malaise that Africa has lived with. The democracy that has been seen in the last two decades has sprung out of the same conditions; hence, it should not be surprising if it breaks up on account of a consolidation of these primeval forces.

This being the core reason for the failure of democracy in Africa, it is not possible to understand or explain how Kenya or Uganda could have been exempt from this nature of governance in Africa. This, in the real and holistic sense, has been Africa’s story, and sums up the fulcrum of factors behind the failure of the consolidation of democratic institutions in Kenya and Uganda.

Written By Ravindra G Rao

 

References

 

 

Bates, R. H., (1999), 5 “The Economic Bases of Democratization”, in State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa, Joseph, R., (Ed.), (pp. 83-93), Lynne Rienner, Boulder, CO.

 

E.Jessup, J., (1998), An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

 

Hachten, W., (1992), 4 “African Censorship and American Correspondents” in Africa’s Media Image, Hawk, B. G., (Ed.), (pp. 38-47), Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT.

 

Hansen, H. B. & Twaddle, M., (Eds.), (1988), Uganda Now: Between Decay & Development, James Currey, London.

 

Harbeson, J. W., (1999), 3 “Rethinking Democratic Transitions: Lessons from Eastern and Southern Africa”, in State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa, Joseph, R. (Ed.), (pp. 39-54), Lynne Rienner, Boulder, CO.

 

Hempstone, S., (1995, Winter), “Kenya: A Tarnished Jewel”, The National Interest, 50+. Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/

 

Kabukuru, W., (2006, March), “Kenya: Has Kibaki Delivered? on 27 December 2002, Kenyans Elected a New Government, Headed by President Mwai Kibaki, Amidst Euphoria and Optimism. Three Years on, What Is the Score? Has Kibaki’s Government Fulfilled Its Electoral Promises? or Has It Been More of the Same? from Nairobi, Wanjohi Kabukuru Takes an Indepth Look”, New African 10+, Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/

 

Lundahl, M., (Ed.), (2001), From Crisis to Growth in Africa?. London: Routledge. Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=107366356

 

Miller, N., & Yeager, R. (1984). The Quest for Prosperity The Quest for Prosperity, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Ofcansky, T. P., (1996), Uganda: Tarnished Pearl of Africa, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Ogot, B. A., & Ochieng, W. R., (1995), Decolonization & Independence in Kenya, 1940-93, James Currey, London.

 

P.Scherrer, C., (2002), Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa : Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War, Praeger, Westport, CT.

 

Sowell, T., (1996), Migrations and Cultures: A World View, BasicBooks, New York.

 

Throup, D. W., & Hornsby, C., (1998), Multi-Party Politics in Kenya: The Kenyatta & Moi States & the Triumph of the System in the 1992 Election, James Currey, Oxford.

 

Versi, A., (1996, February) “The Culture of Sleaze”, African Business, 6. Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/

 

Versi, A., (2005, March), “The Burr of Corruption”, African Business, 13. Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/

 

Wright, S. (Ed.), (1998), African Foreign Policies, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Wrong, M., (2005, September 5), “World View: African Voters Are Naive about Their Constitutions. Ruthless, Corrupt Elites Will Not Suddenly Start Sharing Power Just Because a Legal Document Says They Must” New Statesman, Vol. 134, p. 22. Retrieved May 20, 2007, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/


[1] For a more structured chronology of events about Kenya, the following links from BBC are a good reference: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1026884.stm and http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1069166.stm

A chronological history of Uganda is very well documented on the sites of the US Library of Congress. This site is particularly important for this study:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ugtoc.html and http://lcweb2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?frd/cstdy:@field(DOCID+ug0017)

[2] A good article for the run-up to these elections can be found on http://www.accord.org.za/ct/2002-4/CT4_2002_pg28-35.pdf

[3] The all-pervasiveness of this malaise has been well documented in a World Bank study authored by Anwar Shah in the report “Corruption and Decentralized Public Governance”. This report is aimed essentially at trying to find out if decentralization is a panacea to endemic corruption; yet, it gives a good account of this subject as a whole. Critical issues relating to corruption in Kenya find some mention in this report. It can be accessed on http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2006/01/13/000016406_20060113145401/Rendered/PDF/wps3824.pdf

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DEMOCRACY IN 19TH CENTURY WESTERN EUROPE

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

“How democratic were France, Germany and Britain by 1900?”

Table of contents:

Part I: Summary;

Part II: Outline;

Part III: Limitation of this study;

Part IV: Democracy in France;

Part V: Democracy in Germany;

Part VI: Democracy in Britain;

Part VII: Conclusion.

Part I:

Summary: Just over a century ago, the kind of government that existed in these frontline western European states was a far cry from what is seen today. The political earthquake called the French Revolution had its epicentre in France, but its rumblings were felt through most of the continent, as well as in faraway colonies, leaving the politics of most European countries in a state of flux. But the intended harvest of this revolution, an obliteration of monarchy and the rule of law, the indispensable elements of a democracy, took its time to get ingrained in the political systems of these countries, and evolved as a form of government very differently in each of the three countries taken up in this paper. If the advent of Napoleon affected these three countries, and the Vienna Congress stunted France and Germany’s graduation to democracy, the internal political dynamics in all these countries were different from each other’s. In Britain, whose brand of democracy was mixed, the Reform Acts turned out to be milestones on the road to democracy. Such serious and well-intended steps to democracy were not taken in the other two countries. This is mainly because France kept seesawing between monarchy and autocracy through most of the 19th century, while Germany was a disparate state for most of that century. In sum, in Britain, by the end of the 19th century, a parliamentary democracy, which the nation had been having for a long time, was fairly well established, although under a monarchy. The same was not the case with the other two; in all, Germany enjoyed the least democracy. The reasons for this discrepancy form the backbone of this paper.

Part II:

Outline: This paper takes up separately the extent to which democracy was ushered in into these three countries. In each of these cases, a narration is made of how democracy developed. Since the nature of this paper is analytical, too much detail is not made of this aspect; this explanation is given only to reinforce the thesis question. The starting point for the evolution of democracy in each of these countries is taken up separately. This is for the simple reason that while the French Revolution happened in France, such an event did not take place in the other two countries. For these, appropriate historically important dates or events are taken up.

Part III:

Limitation of this study: While 1789 may be termed a signal event for modern democracy, no event of such importance concerning democracy happened in 1900, the cut off date for this paper. However, since this is the period up to which this paper is concerned, it restricts itself to developments in most parts of the 19th century, in which the major themes were unification for Germany, political uncertainty for France, and the reform of the parliamentary system in the Victorian Era for Britain.

Part IV:

Democracy in France:

France was home to one of the watershed political events of modern Europe, the French Revolution, in which the people rose in revolt with the slogan, war to the châteaux, peace to the cottages. The gravity and repercussions of this event are far too great to bear banal repetition; however, while the essential aim of the Revolution was to bring an end to the autocratic and inept regimes that misruled the nation, (Frey & Frey, 2004, p. 57) the result it sought to instil, democracy, did not have a smooth inception or development, either, suffering from several long and enduring birth pangs.

Strangely, for most part of the 19th century, it seemed as if the great revolution had turned out to be no more than an isolated, standalone event. The dividend the Revolution sought to pay, democracy, had to wait for a seemingly interminable period of time to fructify and get implanted in the nation’s political system, because the succession of governments it brought were anything but democratic. Leading political figures of the day, such as Robespierre feared that the system the revolution put in place was one which had a penchant for forgetting “the interests of the people”, would “lapse into the hands of corrupt individuals”, and worst of all, “reestablish the old tyranny” (Cohen, 1997, p. 130) Later decades showed that his prognosis was not far off the mark.

The decades following the Revolution saw a chain of events, none of which took the country anywhere near democracy, the avowed aim of the Revolution. The years from the Revolution to the Franco-Prussian War saw political fissures of one or another kind, which had no semblance of democracy, starting with the ascent of Napoleon, perhaps the most powerful dictator the country had ever produced. His defeat was followed by the Restoration of the monarchy; this gave rise to the Revolution of 1830, and the rule of Louis Philippe, till 1848. It took another revolution to bring down his regime, this time in 1848. Finally, this heralded the era of the Second Republic, and the tenure of the fickle Napoleon III, leading to another event of seminal importance for the nation, the Franco-Prussian war, to be followed by yet another Republic, the Third. (Haine, 2000, p. 97) This regime, too heavily weighed down by palace intrigues, scandals, wars and renewed national pride in the wake of a highly recharged and resurgent neighbour, Prussia, (Wright, 1916, pp. 2-4) was left with little room or time for democracy. Nothing of import happened in the period till the end of the 19th century to necessitate the emergence of a democracy.

Part V:

Democracy in Germany:

Germany’s tryst with democracy in the 19th century needs to be seen in circumstances that were peculiar and unique to the nation’s history. This was when the German people united as a nation for the first time.  They had been a loosely knit confederation of princely states that owed its allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire by the time of the French Revolution; yet, in about a century of this event, they had been cobbled together almost magically under the Prussian banner. A series of moves replete with uninhibited daredevilry, gamble, deceit and sheer diplomatic astuteness on the part of its Chancellor, Otto Von Bismarck had united the German people, ridding them of the yoke of Austrian domination of its peoples. (Snell, 1976, pp. 3, 4) However, Germany had only been united, resulting in the realisation of a long-lasting and cherished dream of a German nation; this did not in any way mean that a democracy had been put in place. The arrangements the Congress of Vienna made for Europe in 1815 undid Bismarck’s work, setting the clock back on democracy. Even so, the newly-knit entity did not have the prerequisite groundwork for democracy, suffering from a basic flaw –it “was constructed by its princes, not by its people. That important fact distinguished Germany from nations like England, France, and the United States, where the constitutions were designed “with the consent of the governed.” The German Empire was a federation of sovereign states, its constitution created by a treaty among the hereditary rulers of those states. The “wars of unification” were not revolutionary popular movements; they were narrowly focused international conflicts designed by Bismarck to help Prussia eliminate Austrian power within Germany and to create a new Prussian-led German nation within Europe.”  (Turk, 1999, pp. xvii-null22) Whatever spattering of democracy the nation had towards the fag end of the century was limited to social democracy, in which it was confined to labour unions. (Berghahn, 1994, p. 160)

Part VI:

Democracy in Britain: The year 1815 is considered a benchmark for the politics of Britain, as it was for several other European countries, for the simple reason that this year saw the end of the power and influence of one of the greatest nemeses it ever saw, Napoleon. However, while this was the major issue for the nation externally, Britain had its share of internal problems, as well, during this century. The Industrial Revolution brought in its wake dramatic changes which the nation had to ingest, with both the promises and the pitfalls it spawned. Among the most important social effects the Industrial Revolution had on the nation was a near-explosion in population, and the drawbacks of nascent industrialisation, at which it had no forerunners from any part of the world. Thus, the greatest priority at that time was a set of policies that gave the country social solidity and some element of peace. (McCord, 1991, p. 1) With the high rates of population growth and their attendant problems such as high infant mortality being great priorities during the early part of the 19th century, (Brown, 1991, p. 30) the air of politics was abuzz with the question of which of the institutions the British had so assiduously built up over the previous centuries was best suited to give coherence to the society that was changing at a feverish pace. In this milieu, the emphasis for British politics was more over what kind of reform was suited and needed for the society, polity and the economy, rather than which form of government was best suited to carry these changes out. Opinion was sharply divided among the Conservatives and the Liberals about which of its institutions could carry the day for Britain. The unshakable British faith in the monarchy was as firm as ever, not diluting or eroding even slightly on account of these changes. (Park, 1950, pp. 3-5) In essence, the 19th century, during whose most part Britain was under the rule of one of its longest-reigning monarchs, Queen Victoria, saw the emergence of a peculiarly hybridised, yet often contradictory system of governance. Quintessential democratic institutions, such as the parliament, the judiciary, the cabinet and the local government were alive and well, but functioned under a monarchy. On the one hand, fair and free elections, the ultimate identifier of a democracy, were being held with amazing regularity; on the other, it could not be denied that participation in these elections was limited to the handful of rich and powerful. It was to correct this set of imbalances and to draw more people into the electorate that the Reform Acts were passed. The basic intent of these sets of legislation was the promotion of greater democracy, by drawing the excluded and marginalised sections of society into the electorate. (Pugh, 1999, p. 20) The nation went through three Reform Acts, passed in 1832, 1867 and 1884, whose central aim was increasing the numbers of the electorate. (Hammond & Foot, 1952, pp. 212-214) At about the time these Acts were passed, a parallel social and political reform movement, Chartism, was very active. The basic demand of this radical, unionised movement was greater political participation for the working classes, so that the fruits of the Industrial Revolution percolated down to the labour class, too. (Maccoby, 1935, p. 33) However, in the light of the needs of the day, and the priority these Acts had, they met with little success in actually bringing in democracy to the country. What has been said about the Reform Act of 1832, perhaps holds good for the other Acts, too –that they were “…an excellent example of the British skill of muddling through. An aristocracy muddled through to a democracy, taking many of the aristocratic virtues with them; and they muddled through from an age of privilege to an age of numbers. The democratic implications of the act(s) were not in fact revealed for more than a generation…” (Smellie, 1962, p. 164) As a result, through most of the Victorian Era, although efforts were made haltingly towards bringing in more democracy, there was no more than a sprinkling of democracy; even this happened at the grassroots level, being restricted to the municipal level, as a series of Acts were passed at the local government level. (Harrison, 1996, p. 20)

Part VII:

Conclusion: A study of the thesis question throws up a mixed picture. Overall, democracy, so essential a feature of these countries today, had had to make a bumpy and potholed journey. In all these countries, democracy was nebulous and uncertain in the 19th century, albeit in varying degrees. In Britain, a parliamentary democracy was very much in full bloom, but the inherent love and pride of the British people for their monarchy pre-empted a switch to a full-fledged democratic form of government. As a result, these democratic institutions functioned under a monarchy that controlled the largest empire of the day.

In France, the scene was different. In the absence of democratic institutions of the kind Britain had nurtured, the governance the French Revolution brought about vacillated between various kinds, with the result that democracy took a backseat.

In Germany, the struggles inherent in a newly unified nation, coupled with its naivety in running its newly developing imperialism resulted in too many squabbles and bottlenecks for democracy. The nation that Bismarck had welded together had the ingenuity to only work under a newly consolidated empire, not having been inculcated the necessary mindset for a democracy. It was never going to be easy for these fissiparous peoples to be administered a sudden dose of democracy, as by definition they had been inured to centuries of localism. By the end of that century, democracy was nowhere registered in the average German psyche.

Of all these nations taken up for this study, it can be said that Britain had the highest form of democracy by the end of the 19th century; yet, here too, despite the Reform Acts, which could not be termed a great harbinger of democracy, it was nowhere near what may be termed a pure democracy, something that came so naturally to some of its colonies, principally America.

Written By Ravindra G Rao

 

References

 

Berghahn, V. R., (1994), Imperial Germany, 1871-1914: Economy, Society, Culture, and Politics, Berghahn Books, Providence, RI.

 

Brown, R., (1991), Society and Economy in Modern Britain, 1700-1850, Routledge, New York.

Cohen, P. M., (1997), Freedom’s Moment: An Essay on the French Idea of Liberty from Rousseau to Foucault, University Of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Frey, L. S., & Frey, M. L. (2004). The French Revolution /, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

 

Haine, W. S., (2000), The History of France (F. W. Thackeray & J. E. Findling, Ed.), Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

 

Hammond, J. L., & Foot, M. R., (1952), Gladstone and Liberalism, English Universities Press, London.

 

Harrison, B., (1996), The Transformation of British Politics, 1860-1995, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

 

Maccoby, S., (1935), English Radicalism, Allen & Unwin, London.

 

McCord, N., (1991), British History, 1815-1906, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

 

Park, J. H., (1950), British Prime Ministers of the Nineteenth Century, New York University Press, New York.

 

Pugh, M., (1999), State and Society: A Social and Political History of Britain, 1870-1997, Arnold, London.

 

Smellie, K. B., (1962), Great Britain since 1688: A Modern Histor, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI.

 

Snell, J. L., (1976), The Democratic Movement in Germany, 1789-1914 (H. A. Schmitt, Ed.), University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Turk, E. L., (1999), The History of Germany, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.

 

Wright, C. H., (1916), A History of the Third French Republic, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

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DEMOCRACY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

“Can democracy survive in the Third World? Can it succeed?”

 

Table of contents:

Part I: Introduction;

Part II: Key words;

Part III: Problem aspect of this paper;

Part IV: Case study;

Part V: Conclusion.

________________________________________________________________________

Part I:

Introduction:

This paper is an attempt to understand if democracy can survive and succeed in the Third World. The methodology adopted, as well as the roadblocks attendant to this narrative are mentioned in the ensuing paragraphs. This paper takes the case of secular democracy in India as a model for Third World countries in arriving at the thesis proposition. The rationale and justification for this selection, and the pitfalls associated with it are made in Part III of this paper.

Part II:

Key words: Democracy, Third World, Secular Democracy, Christian, Protestantism, India, colonial rule, Independence, Minority, Appeasement, Muslim, Hindu Nationalism.

Part III:

Problem aspects of this paper: By far, the core problem for this paper concerns its very nature –that of having to explain the nature of democracy in Third World countries in the space given to it. The broad term ‘Third World’ encompasses several of the world’s countries, and the transition to democracy, or prospects for success or otherwise in these few dozen countries, is too generic and seamless to be described in a few hundred words. This is because if one were to bunch together all developing countries, as Third World countries are also known, the case of each is unique and is moulded by the peculiar circumstance of its history. For instance, if some South European states started having doses of democracy in stages in the 1970’s, Latin American nations saw a wave towards democratisation in the 80’s. However, there was little to suggest that there was a common, binding factor in these cases; moreover, it was a trend that was not really sustained. No clear patterns can be discerned regarding the reasons and direction towards democratisation in most Third World countries. (Haynes, 2001, pp.1- 3) Some have argued that if there is a common thread running through Third World countries, it is that of having been colonies of some or another European power, and inheriting at least some of their systems of governance. (Clapham, 1990, p. 39) [1]Yet, this position, while a truism on the surface, hides more than it reveals –the simple reason being that not all these nations were colonised by the same power, and even when some of these did come under the same colonial rule, democracy was never the necessary fruit of decolonisation in these countries. Thus, forecasting the democratic prospects of a few of these countries may not be an appropriate representation or sample of the whole. This is because of the reasons just stated, which is that there is very little in common, except of being herded into the group that is conveniently labelled a “Third World” country. [2]

These countries have been located anywhere in the globe, and their democracies, when present, either as an inheritance from their former colonial masters immediately after independence, or its adaptation at a later date have been dictated by the need of the day, and are unique. (Haynes, 2001, p. 3) Another couple of critical facts need to be underscored when talking about democracy in developing countries: first, when democracies have functioned, they have been almost certainly different from that perceived and practised in the West, and more importantly, several Third World democracies are in a process of transition, and will, in all likeliness, continue to remain so. (Forje, 1997, p. 315) Even if these and other Third World countries may have a few commonalities as regards their economies, the democratic linkage is extremely brittle. Hence, in answering the thesis question, the researcher is left with little option to go about this paper other than to take select one Third World country, and making a study of its democratic prospects. India is an obvious choice simply because of its being the world’s most populous democracy, and because this country has shown remarkable resilience in preserving its democratic system, despite the innumerable odds against it. Having said this, it needs to be reemphasised that this is not a true reflection of the state of democracy in all Third World countries, but can only be used as an exemplar. Since some benchmark has to be used in arriving at a conclusion, this example is chosen.

Part V:

Case study:

India: India is chosen because it is both a typical and untypical Third World democracy in varying degrees. It opted for democracy since independence, despite internal contradictions of the term between the main founding fathers, Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. (The Washington Times, May 31st, 2004, p. A23) [3] Nehru’s viewpoint prevailed, to the effect that in India, democracy has often meant secular democracy. This is a paradox, in that secularism implies separation of state from the Church, while in India, its sole connotation was the appeasement of the minorities, especially the Muslim community, which makes up a substantial proportion of the population. This, in the eyes of the world and to Indian politicians, was what Indian democracy was really like. Things seemed to change with the destruction of a mosque in northern India in 1992. It was perceived, at least in the West that India was on the path to abandoning its cherished secular democratic values when it was feared that this event would mark the start of aggressive Hindu nationalism, which with its supposed anti-minority ideology, would set the clock back on democracy. However, the issue needs to be seen in perspective. First, Hindu nationalism, if it did really take shape, was in retaliation to two major phenomena –the marginalisation of the majority Hindu community at the hands of successive governments led by the Congress party since independence, and two, a succession of separatist movements, led by a Muslim-majority and a Sikh-majority state,[4] that threatened to tear the very heart of India in the 1980’s. The rise of this pan-Hindu nationalism needs to be seen as a reaction to this. (Varshney, 1993) These aberrations notwithstanding, having India exist and flourish as a democracy seems to be in everyone’s interest, including America’s. Being one of the states that do not depend on the US for the sustenance of its democracy, economy or security, India is one of the Third World’s champions in advocating and practising secular democracy, a product of European enlightenment. There may have been occasional hiccups, but these are few and far between. It has moved from being a champion among anti-imperial nations at the time of its independence to being leader of the Non Aligned Movement during the Cold War to being the beacon of democracy today in a region in which this seems more an exception than a rule. It has the potential to be an economic powerhouse in the years to come, and is now in a position to seek democracy at such global institutions as the UN Security Council. (Khanna & Mohan, 2006)

Part VI: Conclusion: In drawing a conclusion, it has to be said that democracy can indeed not only survive, but also succeed in Third World countries. If a country like India, with its mind-boggling diversity and social complexities can achieve democracy, there is no reason for other countries not to follow suit. Two major points need mention, however, in assessing if other Third World countries can replicate Indian democracy. First, Third World democracies may not look like the exact twin of western democracy. This distinction needs to be both understood and conceded, for the reason that there is no one, universal type of democracy. (Forje, 1997, p. 315) Secondly, the only obstacle to democracy in Third World countries can be a lack of willingness on the part of the governments in these countries to implement the system. If India has succeeded, it has been because of its willingness more than anything else. It surmounted serious obstacles to its democratic nature on at least two major occasions since independence –the imposition of emergency under Indira Gandhi in 1975 (Carras, 1979, p. 154), and the rise of the Hindu Right some years later, again a takeoff from where the Congress had left off. (Hansen, 1999, p. 150)[5] Of these, undoubtedly, the graver threat to democracy was the earlier instance. However, these were not powerful enough to override India’s strongly rooted framework and ability to making democracy a success. If this is an example the world’s most populous democracy can set, other countries can easily take the cue. In sum, democracy can indeed survive and succeed in a Third World country, but the will and need for it has to come from within.

Written By Ravindra G Rao

 

References

 

 

Carras, M. C., 1979, Indira Gandhi: In the Crucible of Leadership, Beacon Press, Boston.

Clapham, C.,1990, Third World Politics: An Introduction, Routledge, London.

Doorenspleet, R., 2002, 3. “Development, Class and Democracy”, in Development and Democracy:  What Have We Learned and How?, Elgström, O. & Hyden, G. (Eds.) (pp. 48-61), Routledge, London.

Forje, J. W., 1997, 9. “Some Observations on Prospects of Democracy in the Contemporary World” in Prospects of Democracy: A Study of 172 Countries (pp. 315-331), Routledge, London.

Haynes, J., (Ed.), 2001, Democracy and Political Change in the “Third World”, Routledge, London.

2004. “In India, Parties Overlap; Hindu Nationalism Secularism Converge”, The Washington Times, (Washington, US), May 31, 2004, p. A23.

 

Khanna, P., & Mohan, C. R., 2006, “Getting India Right”, Policy Review, Vol.135, p. 43. Retrieved December 13, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com

 

Lakoff, S. A., 1996, History, Theory, Practice, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Strong, J., 1885, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Its Present Crisis, The American Home Missionary Society, New York.

Varshney, A., 1993, “Contested Meanings: India’s National Identity, Hindu Nationalism, and the Politics of Anxiety”, Daedalus, Vol.122,  No.3, p.227, retrieved December 13, 2006, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com


[1] An interesting point here would be to analyse the linkage between democracy and Christianity. Some blatantly racist writers as Josiah Strong, writing in the period of American Reconstruction,  boasted that democracy found its highest actualisation in Christianity, since no other race was as superior or well-suited to respect freedom as Christianity. (Strong, 1885, pp. 171-180) While this is one extreme argument, more balanced and recent critics of democratic systems, too, nevertheless, seem to draw a relationship between the two. Some like Lakoff (1996) draw a parallel between democratisation and not Christianity per se, but more specifically, Protestantism. In particular, look at page 276 of this book, in which the main point is that “democratization of politics [came about] after bloody wars of religion led to toleration and the weakening if not the complete dissolution of ties between church and state. Political pluralism was modeled upon (and legitimated by) Protestant sectarianism.” (Lakoff, 1996, p. 276)

[2] Another link that has been made is between democracy and development. Seymour Martin Lipset, who pioneered this linkage, substantiated this position by demonstrating a trickle-down effect model of democracy and development. In this line of thinking, social conditions become the cornerstone of democracy; when social conditions of workers improved on account of democracy, there was less social conflict, since the working class had greater outlet for improvement of their creative skills, and this made extremist tendencies less enticing than development. The root of the prevention of these extreme ideologies is in the way democracy “is able to reward moderate and democratic parties and penalise extremist groups.” (Doorenspleet, 2002, p. 49)

[3] Gandhi’s idea of democracy was rooted in the Hindu ideal of Ram Rajya, or the kingdom of Lord Ram, which may be termed, in a sense, a forerunner of the Utilitarian theory of Jeremy Bentham, whose core ideal was the maximum happiness of maximum numbers.

Gandhi derived this ideal from a religious, spiritual perspective, by which he implied the equal respect to all religions. Nehru’s idea of democracy was secular in the real sense of the word, by which religion was to be severed totally from administration, although in practice, as mentioned elsewhere in this paper, this had a very constricted view. (The Washington Times, May 31st, 2004, p. A23)

[4] Obviously, the two states being referred to here are Kashmir and Punjab, in the heart of northern India. Kashmir, like Punjab, borders Pakistan and is claimed by the latter on the basis of its Muslim majority, because of which, so claim successive Indian governments since independence, it has been supporting separatist, Islamic terrorism to destabilise India. Although this has been the bone of contention between the two neighbours since independence, terrorism took a decisive upswing in the late 1980’s. Punjab, on the other hand, had been turned into a terrorist state since separatist Sikh militant groups made demands for a separate nation in the 1980’s.

[5] This author makes the claim that it was the Congress party Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi’s balancing act of appeasing both Hindus and Muslims that created the platform for the Right. On the one hand, he had the gates of the abandoned Hindu Temple at Ayodhya, which existed side by side with the mosque that was brought down in 1992, unlocked after it had remained locked since 1949. On the other, he had the legislature overturn a Supreme Court judgement in a case involving conjugal rights of a Muslim woman citing minority rights. Both these happened in the mid 1980’s, during his tenure. (Hansen, 1999, p. 150)

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A Plague Upon The World: The USA is a “Failed State”

Posted by Admin on June 8, 2010

Interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, June 2, 2010
– 2010-06-01

Interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary US Treasury, Associate Editor Wall Street Journal, Professor of Political Economy Center for Strategic and International Studies Georgetown University Washington DC.

Question:  Dr. Roberts,  the United States is regarded as the most successful state in the world today. What is responsible for American success?

Dr. Roberts:  Propaganda. If truth be known, the US is a failed state. More about that later. The US owes its image of success to: (1) the vast lands and mineral resources that the US “liberated” with violence from the native inhabitants, (2) Europe’s, especially Great Britain’s, self-destruction in World War I and World War II, and (3) the economic destruction of Russia and most of Asia by communism or socialism.

After World War II, the US took the reserve currency role from Great Britain. This made the US dollar the world money and permitted the US to pay its import bills in its own currency. World War II’s destruction of the other industrialized countries left the US as the only country capable of supplying products to world markets. This historical happenstance created among Americans the impression that they were a favored people. Today the militarist neoconservatives speak of the United States as “the indispensable nation.”  In other words, Americans are above all others, except, of course, Israelis.

To American eyes a vague “terrorist threat,” a creation of their own government, is sufficient justification for naked aggression against Muslim peoples and for an agenda of world hegemony.

This hubristic attitude explains why among most Americans there is no remorse over the one million Iraqis killed and the four million Iraqis displaced by a US invasion and occupation that were based entirely on lies and deception. It explains why there is no remorse among most Americans for the countless numbers of Afghans who have been cavalierly murdered by the US military, or for the Pakistani civilians murdered by US drones and “soldiers” sitting in front of video screens. It explains why there is no outrage among Americans when the Israelis bomb Lebanese civilians and Gaza civilians.  No one in the world will believe that Israel’s latest act of barbarity, the murderous attack onthe international aid flotilla to Gaza, was not cleared with Israel’s American enabler.

Question:  You said that the US was a failed state. How can that be? What do you mean?

Roberts:  The war on terror, invented by the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime, destroyed the US Constitution and the civil liberties that the Constitution embodies. The Bill of Rights has been eviscerated. The Obama regime has institutionalized the Bush/Cheney assault on American liberty. Today, no American has any rights if he or she is accused of “terrorist” activity. The Obama regime has expanded the vague definition of “terrorist activity” to include “domestic extremist,” another undefined and vague category subject to the government’s discretion.  In short, a “terrorist” or a “domestic extremist” is anyone who dissents from a policy or a practice that the US government regards as necessary for its agenda of world hegemony.

Unlike some countries, the US is not an ethic group. It is a collection of diverse peoples united under the Constitution. When the Constitution was destroyed, the US ceased to exist. What exists today are power centers that are unaccountable. Elections mean nothing, as both parties are dependent on the same powerful interest groups for campaign funds. The most powerful interest groups are the military/security complex, which includes the Pentagon, the CIA, and the corporations that service them, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the oil industry that is destroying the Gulf of Mexico, Wall Street (investment banks and hedge funds), the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the agri-companies that produce food of questionable content.

These corporate powers comprise an oligarchy that cannot be dislodged by voting. Ever since “globalism” was enacted into law, the Democrats have been dependent on the same corporate sources of income as the Republicans, because globalism destroyed the labor unions. Consequently, there is no difference between  the Republicans and Democrats, or no meaningful difference.

The “war on terror” completed the constitutional/legal failure of the US. The US has also failed economically. Under Wall Street pressure for short-term profits, US corporations have moved offshore their production for US consumer markets. The result has been to move US GDP and millions of well-paid US jobs to countries, such asChina and India, where labor and professional expertise are cheap. This practice has been going on since about 1990.

After 20 years of offshoring US production, which destroyed American jobs and federal, state and local tax base, the US unemployment rate, as measured by US government methodology in 1980, is over 20 percent. The ladders of upward mobility have been dismantled. Millions of young Americans with university degrees are employed as waitresses and bartenders. Foreign enrollment comprises a larger and larger percentage of US universities as the American population finds that a university degree has been negated by the offshoring of the jobs that the graduates expected.

When US offshored production re-enters the US as imports, the trade balance deteriorates. Foreigners use their surplus dollars to purchase existing US assets.

Consequently, dividends, interest, capital gains, tolls from toll roads, rents, and profits, now flow abroad to foreign owners, thus increasing the pressure on the US dollar. The US has been able to survive the mounting claims of foreigners against US GDP because the US dollar is the reserve currency. However, the large US budget and trade deficits will put pressures on the dollar that will become too extreme for the dollar to be able to sustain this role. When the dollar fails, the US population will be impoverished.

The US is heavily indebted, both the government and the citizens. Over the last decade there has been no growth in family income. The US economy was kept going through the expansion of consumer debt. Now consumers are so heavily indebted that they cannot borrow more. This means that the main driving force of the US economy, consumer demand, cannot increase. As consumer demand comprises 70% of the economy, when consumer demand cannot increase, there can be no economic recovery.

The US is a failed state also because there is no accountability to the people by corporations or by government at any level, whether state, local, or federal. British Petroleum is destroying the Gulf of Mexico. The US government has done nothing. The Obama regime’s response to the crisis is more irresponsible than the Bush regime’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Wetlands and fisheries are being destroyed by unregulated capitalist greed and by a government that treats the environment with contempt. The tourist economy of Florida is being destroyed. The external costs of drilling in deep waters exceeds the net worth of the oil industry. As a result of the failure of the American state, the oil industry is destroying one of the world’s most valuable ecological systems.

Question:  What can be done?

Roberts:  The American people are lost in la-la land. They have no idea that their civil liberties have been forfeited. They are only gradually learning that their economic futureis compromised. They have little idea of the world’s growing hatred of Americans for their destruction of other peoples. In short, Americans are full of themselves. They have no idea of the disasters that their ignorance and inhumanity have brought upon themselves and upon the world.

Much of the world, looking at a country that appears both stupid and inhumane, wonders at Americans’ fine opinion of themselves. Is America the virtuous “indispensable nation” of neoconservative propaganda, or is America a plague upon the world? 2

Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

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