Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Arabs Need Us

That's supposed to be a deliberately provocative title. But I do mean it a little bit. The revolutions in the Middle East have shown (to all the nit-wits out there who deny the reality that the democratic impulse is common to all people) that the Arabs don't need us to teach them how to be democratic.

But what they do need from us is for us to restrain our governments and to change the system of political-economy that is built on plunder and destruction. I've thought about this for about a decade now. If blood-thirsty imperialists continue to rule the roost, then the revolutions of the world will continue to go the way of revolutions of the past. They will by necessity become violent. This violence will brutalize the leadership and the people. They will be expensive and will force spending on weapons rather than national development. The imperialists will make them paranoid by always attempting to subvert them. They will be straight-jacketed into failed economic models. And on and on.

All of this makes someone like stephen harper all the more dangerous. As limited and compromised as our political system is, we do have certain rights and freedoms that allow us to advocate for change. We are allowed to criticize and challenge our leaders. Because of elite control of political power and the media, we can only penetrate the miasma of capitalist junk culture to a tiny degree (witness the propaganda coup of the boorish Rod Ford victory in Toronto and the way that Book of Genesis is Truth - Climate Change is bunk psychopaths get to parade around as if they're serious thinkers).

But if we're unable to experiment with saner political-economic models here in Canada with all of our rights and all of our resources, how can we expect rebels in the weaker, poorer countries to be able to pull-off something lasting? (Which is not to say that their societies are incapable of producing anything. It is to say that whatever they accomplish will probably not last if it offends or threatens the imperialists.)

When harper (and McGuinty and David Miller and Bill Blair and Rob Ford and Chris Bentley and etc.,) attack protesters, our rights are diminished. When harper celebrates lying to Parliament, our culture of democracy is debased. When harper tells his subordinates to ignore summonses from Parliamentary committees, the principle of democratic oversight of executive power is gravely weakened. When he refuses to let Parliament see spending projections he is basically saying that he should spend taxpayers' dollars as he sees fit with no challenges. When he subverts elections and petulantly attacks the courts when they rule against him, he is attacking the one slender reed of democratic power that we have. The right to choose our quasi-dictators freely and fairly.

Before we commit do "doing something" for Libya or anywhere else we should first get our own sorry house in order. And the very first thing that must be done is to punish the man who spits on our democracy on a daily basis but who still, bizarrely, expects that his own laws be obeyed.


900ft Jesus said...

"But what they do need from us is for us to restrain our governments and to change the system of political-economy that is built on plunder and destruction."

that's it. I have a friend who is very informed, background in history and poli-sci and he still won't acknowledge that. He won't acknowledge the damage we cause in struggling countries and thinks they look on us as shining examples of perfect democracy.

thwap said...


Even if some of them do, it doesn't make that view correct.

Some say that food prices had a lot to do with the explosions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Part of the cause of that is global warming. Part of the cause is using food crops for bio-fuels. And some of it is Wall Street speculati8on. (Another sign, by the way, that the financial sector has more money than it knows what to do with.)