Sunday, February 27, 2011

Western Democracy

Just listened to the radio segment "Sunset of the West" on the NPR radio program  
The Brian Lehrer Show.
Author Dambisa Moyo argues that through short-sightedness and folly the West has 
contributed to its decline.
Some thoughts:
For Western style democracy to work it needs a majority of the people to be educated 
and to have a certain level of morality. 
None of the longest lasting empires in history were democratic. The Greeks 
experimented with some democratic ideas, but only in a very limited way. And of 
course most of Greek society was excluded, unless they were a powerful Senator. 
The Greeks believed in essentially top-down rule. They had slavery and women were 
treated as outright property in Greek society. Their plight bettered somewhat 
during Roman rule. There was still slavery and minority groups like Jews and 
Christians were expected to tow the line and submit to Caesar. If minority groups 
pushed for any degree of autonomy they would be ruthlessly crushed. Look at the 
Jewish revolt in 69 AD. It's interesting to note that slavery was the norm for 
thousands of years and even in modern times it still exists. 
The neoconservatives talk about democracy as if it is a sort of magical all 
powerful elixir. Just sprinkle it on any problematic country and overnight you 
will see a moral and economically vibrant society emerge! What rubbish. 
It is sheer folly for us to be pushing democracy in the Middle East. I agree that 
we are doing it to advance corporate interests. However some writers, particularly
in The Economist, seem to think this is somehow a unique American phenomenon and 
it isn't. Every country acts selfishly for its own interests. Islamic law (sharia)
is simply not compatible with a progressive liberal (in the classical sense) 
Western democracy. The two examples held up as the greatest Islamic democracies 
were Egypt and Turkey. Egypt looks like it very well may fall into Islamist rule 
when elections are held and the Muslim Brotherhood takes power. And both countries
have horrible human rights abuses against non-Muslim minority groups. In countries
like Turkey such abuses are even codified into law. It is a crime in Turkey to 
mention the Turkish genocide of the Christian Arminians in 1915. America is in the 
Middle East for oil interests and other corporate interests period. 
Our own republic is not in great shape either with respect to our lauded 
democratic society. The wealth gap is significant and accelerating Warren Buffet 
has warned against this. Through apathy and ignorance the American electorate 
keeps choosing politicians who put their own selfish interests first. Rather than 
advance the pressing interests of the electorate they seek to enrich their own 
personal wealth and power and bow to corporate interests. We have a dysfunctional 
democracy. No matter that America is still the world's #1 economy and military 
superpower and all of the money that was generated in the past decades has done 
little to alleviate poverty or to increase the quality of life for the average 
American. We have less purchasing power now than our parents or grandparents 
generation. Personal debt is a serious problem. The government now has an 
astronomical level of debt and a huge trade deficit. During the last 25 years as 
globalism and free trade expanded we saw America lose 20 million jobs. The housing 
market is still in shambles and will take decades to recover, over half of all 
residential mortgage holders owe more than their home is worth; foreclosures are 
at an all time high. Over 40 million Americans are on foodstamps. Child hunger is 
a real issue in the US. And knowing all this, does the government seek to help the
lower middle class and the poor? No. Instead the Fed pursues what I would consider
a criminal policy of pumping trillions of dollars into the economy and raising 
interest rates, thus causing inflation to soar and the value of the US Dollar to 
further decline. Now oil prices are back to $100+ per barrel and with the Middle 
East blowing up will probably only get worse. This will also drive up the costs of
goods, particularly food at the worst possible time. 
And morally America is in many ways very similar to the Roman Empire in her final 
days as debauchery and hedonism took over. Only a massive spiritual awakening can 
save America. This wicked nation must turn away from its sin and seek Christ. 
Also I disagree with Mr. Moyo that the US should stop all foreign aid. We need to 
be smarted in how we handle aid, it should be targeted and go to grassroots 
organizations and NGOs that have proven they are able to get the job done. We need
to immediately halt our $25 billion per year to Egypt. We should pull back our 
military presence from Europe significantly. Pull out of Japan and South Korea. 
Trade wise we should stay open and not become isolationists, but we simply cannot 
afford to keep policing the world, and what good has it done for us? The people 
we've helped almost universally fail to appreciate our help, they are ungrateful and
come to resent our presence. 

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