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Democracy, Utopia or Opiate?Dr. Paul Balles Salem-News.com
The real safeguard of democracy is education. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
(MANAMA, Bahrain) - After a few hours of following the current debates between the Republican candidates for the presidency in America, I couldn't resist the thought that "democracy" had become much less than promoted.
The U.S. is touted as having a great democracy. Everything good--either real or imagined—is supposedly due to their principles of democracy. Seldom do American politicians or members of the public define or clarify what those principles include.
America’s founding fathers, who were familiar with the democracies of the classical Greeks, distrusted democracy.
John Adams, second president of the U.S. wrote "Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide."
In his book What's Wrong with Democracy, Loren J. Samons professor of classical studies provides ample justification for America's founding fathers' distrust of democracy, a form of government they scorned precisely because of their familiarity with classical Athens.
Americans have come to embrace "democracy" in its modern form, with many of the beliefs we hold dear but seldom question, like the popular idea that majority rule leads to good government.
Samons finds that "democracy has begun to function like an unacknowledged religion in our culture, immune from criticism and dissent."
How can it be a democracy when shadowy figures control events?
A classical example of this is the invasion of Iraq, cooked up and conditioned in the media by their secret rulers.
They even admit now that Iraq was a war based on false information, but so brainwashed, they are unable to ferret out the designers of the scenario and try them in criminal courts.
How is it a democracy when the public has no say over who will decide the country's fate? Either George W. Bush is responsible and ought to be punished, or others made the decision that should have been his.
If others were responsible for the deaths of 4801 Americans and over a million and a half Iraqis, they should--in a democracy--be held accountable.
Mindless mobs in Egypt have been crying for democracy. Not only are they degrading the economy of their country, but they delude themselves into believing that a democracy will cure that too.
Do Egypt's demonstrators believe for a minute that a popular democracy there would free up funds from their army's payrolls to provide funds for the general populace?
As war correspondent Eric Margolis pointed out, "It's difficult to see Egypt's plutocratic military easily giving up all of its political and economic power to a rowdy civilian parliament, particularly when the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel are all quietly backing the military regime."
Egypt's Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz noted realistically that, "In Egypt today most people are concerned with getting bread to eat. Only some of the educated understand how democracy works."
Historian Alexander Fraser Tyler reported, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.
"From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."
Thus, the utopian promise of a perfect society in a democracy turns out to be little more than a dream out of an opiate.
Throughout his life as an educator, Dr. Paul J. Balles, a retired American university professor and freelance writer, has lived and worked in the Middle East for 40 years - first as an English professor (Universities of Kuwait and Bahrain), and for the past ten years as a writer, editor and editorial consultant.
He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month. He writes a weekly op-ed column for Akbar Al Khaleej (Arabic). He has also edited seven websites, including bahrainthismonth.com, womenthismonth.com
Paul has had more than 350 articles published, focusing on companies, personality profiles, entrpreneurs, women achievers, journalists and the media, the Middle East, American politics, the Internet and the Web, consumer reports, Arabs, diplomats, dining out and travel. Paul's articles on Salem-News.com are frank and enlightening. We are very appreciative of the incredible writings Dr. Balles has generated for our readers over the years, and we are very pleased to list him among our most valued contributors.
Indulging the hard subjects that keep the world divided is our specialty at Salem-News.com, and with writers like Dr. Paul Balles on our team, we amplify our ability to meet challenges and someday, will see the effects of this exist in context with a more peaceful and generally successful world.
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