Monday, March 8, 2010

We Don't Need No Stenking Democracy

I argue with this guy down at the gas station about the dangers of government. He's of the view that government is always at risk of becoming too powerful, that we should be perpetually vigilant about that tendency, and nip it in the bud (to quote Barney) frequently, by nearbouts any means necessary--certainly voting among other things. I keep saying the problem we all have isn't government, but just power, and how people with power, in government or out, wield it frequently for their own self-interest, or institutional interest.

An example of this (examples abound, like mushrooms after a rain--hell, like mud after a rain in Chatham County) is surely why Mr. Greenspan shook his head sadly before Congress and admitted, after 40 years, "I was wrong." Another example--in government this time--would be the whitewashing of the John Yoo legal underpinnings of the Bush Administration's torture and generally extra legal approach to 9/11 by the current Justice Department. The institution does not want to be looking too closely at its former constituents, and Mr. Yoo was just doing his job.

My point with this gas station character--all I know about him is he's a fan of #88--is that this endless right wing radio propaganda assault on "government" is a red herring aimed at keeping a lot of folks stirred up and reacting against policies which are often in their own best interests, economic and otherwise. So I was saying the other day, democratic government is our own lever to power, dude. It might be a rotten two by four levering an oak stump, but it's all we've got. The people with real power always have better tools. But in non-democratic systems, we the people don't really have any tools at all.

And we had always better keep in mind that democracy is at best a fairly fragile reed. We're always talking about how Pakistan is a democracy--at least when the generals haven't explicitly taken over. But look how quick a democratic alternative, Ms Bhuto, was slapped down permanently. Or, to take another example--look how hard it has been for our supposedly monstrously powerful government to actually get any sort of health care reform enacted, even when everyone knows that there's a big big problem with the system we now live with.

I gotta go pick up some rocks now.

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