Monday, 24 February 2014

Democracy imposed by protest or necessity?



In Central African Republic as in Liberia, Iran (which also has a parliament known as the assembly or Majili despite having a supreme council), Palestine and Argentina, Democracy with a big D is enforced and strengthened through national elections involving all citizens from every walk of life. In some of these societies, referendums (like in Switzerland but unusual in US) are called for the people to make crucial decisions on constitutional reforms or leaders will occasionally publicly apologize for their corruption or mistakes. Despite being "young democracies," citizens are able to hold public forums in cafes known as Hatais in Liberia and cafe politics in Egypt. While the citizens privately and publicly criticize government policies and leaders. Its the same method in most Western countries too. However in Ukraine, Libya, Syria and Lebanon, Democracy comes via protests ranging from peaceful to violent sometimes backed directly by the West or Washington Consensus if not paid lip service. If you are Iraq through sanctions and bombings not to mention destruction of infrastructure. Ukraine has recently witnessed its successful rebirthing of democracy through overthrowing the country's democratically elected leader through a combination of Western pressure and stubborn people power inspired by Tahrir Square and the protest in Thailand. Coups seem to be the weapon of choice for the international community ie West when elections do not remove long standing enemies. Or when a hated political leader manages to hold power through switching titles or posts ie Putin moving from Prime Minister to President or Mugabe becoming President for Life. Not to mention, Central African Republic's President Bokassa transformed himself into the Emperor of CAR.

When leaders are democratically elected by their people Jean Betrand Aristide in Haiti, Patrice Lumumba in DR Congo, Salvador Allende in Chile, Manuel Zelaya in Honduras or Chavez in Venezuela, they are than overthrown or demonized for opposing neoliberal economic policies by the World Bank and IMF and pro Anglo American friendly political systems that cater to Western sensibilities but do not fit the aspiration or relate to the culture of local societies. Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is facing weeks of protests against him by anti Chavistas and anti Bolivarian revolutionaries led by Leopoldo Lopez who has become the voice of Democratic reform in Venezuela. It appears that the US, Europe and occasionally Canada are comfortable with Democracy being imposed on a country through protests no matter how violent. Western support for Democracy protests or different color revolutions are easier to justify to the public compared to military spending or NATO bombings. America and European direct monitoring of internal affairs within Ukraine, the early anti Assad protests in Syria and Libya that have been overshadowed than replaced by violent rebel groups or the ongoing violent protests in Thailand involving small grenade attacks against ordinary Thais are viewed as a necessary "concern" for the Global North. There is nothing wrong with revolutions changing society. Revolutions are necessary for transforming and developing societies in need of justice and equality. But when Democracy gets thrown around as the penultimate raison d' entre for the revolution, than society should ask why must Democracy trump the society's other pressing issues ie access to health, human rights, education or privatization of water at the expense of everyone having access to water resources. Democracy according to Western leaders is seen as the cure all for Ukraine, Syria and Libya even Russia not to mention other countries experiencing violence emerging from long standing marginalization, state abuses, lack of addressing basic needs among countless overlooked issues. Democracy is not the only factor to creating a just society it involves addressing the people's grievances and needs through creative ways that doesn't always involve impromptu elections or a coup.

Six Nations Indigenous Demcoracy: Iroquois Confederacy oldest participatory democracy on Earth

Rivalry among opposition groups oppose to Maduro in Venezuela


War on Democracy (full film) by John Pilger


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