Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bush, Democracy and Democratization

Hi Everyone,

Bush is very fond of saying that elections in Iraq are an important milestone because "free people never choose tyranny." Well, as a political scientist my first reaction to this statement is always, "WHA!?" I found a neat little website that gives some entertaining factoids about democracy.

Among other things it gives a little list of democratic regimes that have been replaced by dictators. Note especially the following:

Spain 1923 and 1936: a democratic government was overthrown first by a coup d'etat and then, after a brief democratic restoration, by Franco who had widespread support in many regions of Spain.
Italy 1926: Mussolini was elected
Poland 1926: Polish general and dictator, Pilsudski was elected before taking dictatorial power.
Germany 1933: Adolf Hitler was elected
Argentina 1843, 1966: Like many Latin American countries Argentina has had the pattern of election-coup-election-coup.
Chile 1973: Pinochet installed with US support.
India 1975: elected PM, Indira Ghandi declares martial law and rules by decree for two years

The list is longer but I think this points to the idiocy of Bush's statement about democracy and tyranny. Many democracies have slipped back into dictatorships, especially if they have not been democracies for very long. The website has a GREAT page here that gives a little map showing the transitions from democracy to dictatorship in Europe during the interwar period. Note: these transitions DO NOT INCLUDE INVASIONS BY GERMANY OR ITALY!

What does all this show? It shows how the Bush/Neo-con view of democracy and democratization is superficial and largely incorrect.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The word you're looking for is "disingenuous" not "incorrect." Neocons say "democracy" but they really mean any government run by the corporate elite. It is a vision of "democracy" that is extraordinarily cynical about the values and desires of ordinary people. The idea is that, when properly educated through "economics" classes about the so-called free market and free trade, the public will learn to be pro-business and support pro-business government policies.

Raised By Republicans said...

You're probably right about the image they have in their head when they think about "democracy." But I was trying to take them at their word...and they are STILL wrong.

As for pro-market versus pro-business. They are NOT the same thing. And usually are in conflict. I think that market forces often produce progressive results and should be allowed to do so when they can. But our government distorts copmpetitive market forces to benefit the rich so much that it is disgusting.

Agricultural subsidies are the worst economic evil put forward by conservatives. They make food more expensive for the urban poor, put agricultural workers in the developing world out of work and subsidize incentives to those people to enter the US illegally to find work (often at great risk to their lives). Simply by allowing market forces to dictate the profitability of agricultural enterprises in the United States we could improve the lot of hundreds of millions of the world's poor!

Failing to enforce anti-trust legislation is another way they distort the competitive market to the detriment of the "common people." For example: the California energy fiasco - which was the creation not of Grey Davis who got blamed for it but of Enron and other Texas based energy companies with close ties to the Republican party.

Pro-corporate is NOT pro-market. The right wing has managed to convince too many people that they are the same. The anti-market/anti-trade left are their biggest doops. Railing against capitalism and the market just allows the right to point to the left and say, "see they're dangerous communists and anarchists!" We are neither. But when we use rhetoric that appears to buy into the false assertions of the right, we make their job easier.

Anonymous said...

Pilsudski was never a dictator and never held an office.In fact he refused calls for him to run for president. 

// posted by Anonymous