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Posts Tagged ‘Democracy

In 1940 Hitler and Stalin were doing their very best to destroy Poland

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One of the mass graves at Katyn.
Image via Wikipedia

I just viewed Andreaj Wajda’s film about the Katyn Forest Massacre. This event characterized Stalin’s paranoid politics as no other event could. We have the basic human honesty of the Poles to thank for that. They seemed beaten down by Hitler, Stalin and their own Communist politicians, but they survived and now they are telling their stories.

This morning I read that the conflict in Kashmir has taken the lives of over 70,000 over the last 40+ years. The title of this post by Arundhati Roy, an Indian writer, is titled “Is Democracy melting?”

I can recall too many reminders that India is the oldest and largest democracy in the world that works! And there is little doubt that if you need to find evidence of how messy democracy can be, there is no better democracy than India’s.

In the dirty thirties and bloody forties of the 20th century it was all about Hitler and Stalin. Now there is a leaky virulent strain of political violence that nests very effectively in SE Asia.

SRINAGAR, INDIA - OCTOBER 6: Indian security f...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Wajda’s movie gave me the creeps with it’s forthright truth telling. The story revealed by Ms. Roy gives me the shivers, especially because so many new Canadians are from SE Asia. Will the virulent strain of political violence leak from Kashmir to India to Canada?

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/09/30 at 09:53

The debate about what Tom Friedman said or wanted to say about one party autocracy in China

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Image via Wikipedia

One thing about the Internet in China stands out more and more. And that is the evident transparency of quite a bit of ongoing debate about China, what Western journalists say about it and the CW emanating from the usual suspects in the US punditaucracy. It’s illuminating to consider this discussion about Tom Friedman’s contrasting of one party democracy in the US and its drawbacks VS. one party autocracy in China and its advantages, political and otherwise.

Of course one must never forget that however many times Tom Friedman visits China, he usually gets the limo to boardroom experience which doesn’t jibe very authentically with the ugly realities of ordinary life in China for the 700 million+ who live in relative poverty or even grim dis-enheartening brutish and nasty poverty.

Here’s an excerpt that leaves a taste of the discussion:

So why does stating something that is obvious attract so much American resentment and accusations of communist betrayal? Aside from the fact that it brings in pageviews, it’s — at least partially — due to the fact that some Americans and Westerners can be every bit as biased and insecure as the Chinese they ridicule. The mere suggestion by Friedman that there is something enviable about China, regardless of what it is explicitly limited to, brings out genuine disbelief and shock as people demand: “Yeah, but how dare you! What about…”

This is bias and insecurity. Unintelligent but for the shrill clicks it earns.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/09/24 at 11:11

The practical value of democracy in South Asia

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The World's Largest Democracy
Image by premasagar via Flickr

Nothing is simple in this world where power of $$$$ holds sway more often than we care to openly admit. The message from the current state of democracy in middle class India doesn’t bode well for the future of democratic participation there. Here are words from Nareesh Fernandes writing from South Mumbai:

This contradicts India’s perception of itself as a deeply rooted democracy. Democracy is the superior virtue we claim as we smugly survey the chaos that military dictators have visited upon Pakistan. Democracy is our defense against China’s superior record of alleviating poverty and raising standards of health and literacy.

And yet our inability to protect religious minorities is obvious to the thousands of Muslim victims of the Gujarat riots of 2002. Our most famous painter, M. F. Husain, who lives in exile under threats from extremists for daring to paint Hindu deities in the nude, knows that we have yet to secure the right to free expression. And the brutality against ethnic separatist movements in the northeast and Kashmir demonstrates our unwillingness to make pragmatic compromises.

Our experiment with democracy has been far more successful than some others, but despite regular elections, it has failed many Indians. After all, in South Mumbai the government responds to its residents — whether they stand in the sun for that purple streak or not.

Naresh Fernandes is the editor of Time Out India.

Is it really surprising that the weight of MONEY POWER and Religion seems to be holding sway in Democratic India?

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/05/04 at 07:17