So I am listening to the radio and President Bush is speaking to a veteran's group about the state of affairs and talking about spreading democracy around the world. That got me thinking - what if democracy isn't the natural order of things? What if we, a few western European countries, India and Japan are really the aberrations?
I know this is really waaaay off topic for Thinking Faster, but it was just sitting there. For a long time the US has supported "stability" in foreign affairs, so we backed tyrants and others who were, to say the least, unkind to their citizens but created stability and order in their respective regions. To a certain extent, we do that today where our vital interests (oil) are concerned, with the oh so pleasant poke in the eye at Venezuela ocassionally.
The view, once upon a time, was that stability and order were more important and greater goals that individual rights and democracy. With the fall of the Berlin wall, our views changed somewhat and we began to support individual rights, human rights and democracy. Now, it appears our government policy is to sponsor democracy and actively work to tear down dictatorships and other forms of government where people's individual and collective rights are put at risk.
That's all well and good, but frankly, except for a few Western European countries, Canada and the US, the experiment in popular democracy in even "advanced" democratic countries is less than 50 years old. Even western European countries like Spain and Portugal only entered the "democratic" world in the 60s and 70s. What makes us think that democracy is the norm and tyranny and oppression are the abberation? Ten thousand years of human history can't be ignored - there's been precious little democracy and focus on individual rights across human history. Why the expectation that other countries will align to our chosen political system?
I know that there are many "yearning to be free" but all too often they are simply too inexperienced to run a democratic government and in some cases (Iraq or Yugoslavia as examples) there's little binding people together as a country anyway, other than territorial lines drawn by someone else.
I wholeheartedly support the notion that people yearn to be free and want more self-determination in their lives, but quite possibly a US style democracy is simply not going to work until people are willing to subjugate their tribal, religious, cultural or other yearnings for the good of a consistent, democratic state. So far in many regions of the world, that is simply not the case.
OK, off the political soapbox. Just couldn't help but wonder if we are the aberration.