Archive for the ‘oppression’ tag
Because we here in the South have few listening options when it comes to talk radio, I tuned in to Sean Hannity’s radio program on the way to work yesterday, which is aired on one of the few talk radio stations in town, with conservative voices being the only options to which one can listen.
Anyway, he was talking about the election and specifically, about how the Republican Party had slipped off the track in seemingly losing the excitement and support of its formative years. In part, he suggested McCain and company, and the party in general, had failed to represent the most important American ideal, which was to spread democracy and freedom throughout the world.
And this is where I want to camp out for a minute. Regardless of whether he said “spread” or “promote” (“spread” carrying a more active connotation) matters less because the premise is largely the same: folks like Hannity seem to support us taking an active role in helping create as many democracies around the world as possible.
But why? Why should this be the highest calling of our country? Should not helping our own people have better lives be the highest calling? Or perhaps throwing more money into medical research? Or research into clean technologies to help quell climate change, which would truly benefit humanity since we produce 1/4 of the world’s greenhouse gases.
Historically, one can see that it’s quite ironic that many think spreading democracy should be this country’s clarion call, when this country was one of the late bloomers in abolishing slavery among the industrialized nations. (England abolished it in 1772, and in 1883 in the colonies, while France did away with it in 1793 on the mainland and 1794 in its colonies. America: 1865) That said, I don’t want to undercut the importance of the election of Barack Obama in coming closer to healing our still-lingering racial divides. Though, clearly, he’s not wholly black, it was a momentous step, one in which Britain has not yet taken. Chalk that up to another ironic twist.
But back on point, why this march to the sea for democracy? Clearly, every civilization of the world is not dead-set on obtaining democracy for itself. If those countries were, they would take the necessary steps to raise up coups and overthrow their oppressors. In nearly every case of tyranny on this planet, the oppressed always, always outnumber the oppressors (except, perhaps, in the case of Nazi Germany, where Hitler was brilliant in his attempts to propagandize the entire movement so as to enlist supporters from the bulk of society) and by vast majorities. It would take massive mobilization techniques, but no one can convince me that if the Russian people during the Communist years really wanted to overthrow the government, 100 million people (current census estimates are at 141 million) marching on Moscow couldn’t do the job. The city’s government would be laid to waste, even if the forces amounted to men with basic rifles and ball bats. Or, people unhappy with a country’s leadership could simply leave en masse. Not only would that amount of people be an impossible force to stop, but by their very absence, the infrastructure of the government would fail to sustain itself. I’m not suggesting or advocating that any of this should take place, but simply pointing out that the American government talks a lot about helping those who are oppressed in other countries out of tyrannical situations. But I argue there is much that those folks could do to help themselves (A government army would be no match for an entire country’s population rising up against it.), but they simply don’t do it, for whatever reasons. In these regards, we often give petty dictators too much credit. Against the mass of an entire country, they could be rendered obsolete.
Regardless, this notion that we are to be the beacons of freedom and democracy for the entire world is absurd because some peoples don’t want the type of democracy we enjoy. If some do, they don’t take the steps to make it happen. Moreover, our bombastic imperialism has gone a long way in eroding our favor with the rest of the world. John McCain and Sarah Palin may have described themselves as mavericks and would have supported the spread of democracy, but in world affairs, being a maverick means being a Yahoo (race of brutes), which means being the typical, gung-ho, manifest destiny American, bent on penning our signature on everything good and right with the world. When in fact, much that is bad, self-destructive and not right with the world also bears our shiny John Hancock. Who woulda thunk it?