Saturday, March 19, 2005


It is good once in a while to examine the may be crumbling...grin! In this case, Robert Conquest's article on Democracy. His point is quite simple...that "Democracy" tends to get used by a lot of different people to mean different things...and that perhaps one of these special interest groups may be misleading the rest of us. I have a very fine bull shit detector, and far from this article being bull shit, it is actually one of the sharper knives in the drawer. As a former peace keeper, THIS is what I mean when I tell people to THINK! Here is the link to the whole article...pleasant reading....

And below is a snippet of his writing, just to give you a taste.

The countries without at least a particle of that background or evolution cannot be expected to become instant democracies; and if they do not live up to it, they will unavoidably be, with their Western sponsors, denounced as failures. Democracy in any Western sense is not easily constructed or imposed. The experience of Haiti should be enough comment.

What we can hope for and work for is the emergence, in former rogue or ideomaniac states, of a beginning, a minimum. The new orders must be non-militant, non-expansionist, non-fanatical. And that goes with, or tends to go with, some level of internal tolerance, of plural order, with some real prospect of settling into habit or tradition.

Democracy cannot work without a fair level of political and social stability. This implies a certain amount of political apathy. Anything resembling fanaticism, a domination of the normal internal debate by "activists" is plainly to be deplored. And democracy must accept anomalies. As John Paul Jones, the American naval hero, sensibly put it in 1775, "True as may be the political principles for which we are now contending, . . . the ships themselves must be ruled under a system of absolute despotism." The navy, indeed, is an extreme case; no democratization in any real degree makes sense, any more than it does in, say, a university, at the other end of the spectrum.

Democratization of undemocratizable institutions is sometimes doubtless the expression of a genuine utopian ideal, as when the Jacobins by these means destroyed the French navy. But more often it is (in the minds of the leading activists, at least) a conscious attempt to ruin the institutions in question, as when the Bolsheviks used the idea to destroy the old Russian army. When this, among other things, enabled them to take power themselves, they were the first to insist on a discipline even more vigorous.

In its most important aspect, civic order is that which has created a strong state while still maintaining the principle of consensus that existed in primitive society. Such an aim involves the articulation of a complex political and social order. The strains cannot be eliminated but can be continually adjusted. Political civilization is thus not primarily a matter of the goodwill of leadership or of ideal constitutions. It is, above all, a matter of time in custom.

All the major troubles we have had in the last half century have been caused by people who have let politics become a mania. The politician should be a servant and should play a limited role. For what our political culture has stood for (as against the principles of total theorists and abstractionists) is the view of society as a developing and broadening of established liberties and responsibilities, and the belief, founded on experience, that in political and social matters, long-term predictions, however exciting and visionary, seldom work out.

No comments: