Posts tagged ‘democracy’

November 10, 2011

How To: Democracy

by nkwilczy

A Professor today, towards the end of a class which had predominantly featured the Frontline Special “The Long Walk of Nelson Mandella” asked us how democracy could be “taught” to people inexperienced in its practice.

The words, though I know he did not mean them in such an abrasive way, struck me as thick in Western thoughts of cultural superiority; I had this vision of unwashed masses beseeching the wisdom of a “more experienced” people. I saw Kipling, and he asked me to share his burden.

But I know my Rousseau, so I tried to explain that a government of any sort, and especially a democracy, if it is to succeed it has to be tailored to the needs and customs of the people who practice it. Greek democracy did not look like German democracy, does not look like American democracy, and none of these look like Japanese, Brazilian, or Swedish democracy.

So I tried to go into details, about how you have to know the nuances of a culture, that the concepts must be translated into their intellectual pantheon building on what these hypothetical unwashed masses already know and believe. Most of all, that if what you seek to impose on these masses is an idea formulated by foreign academics without popular support, then what does democracy even really mean? It must build on the democratic tendencies of the culture and seek to combat the harmful civic tendencies, or else it fails to incorporate the ideas of the governed and fails primae facie to be a democracy.

Like many things I say, no one seemed to understand.

So, after a few moments of awkward silence he ended the class with the question, “Well, who would want the job of teaching these emerging countries about democracy.”

No one raised their hand and I was not surprised, it is hard enough to teach people in the United States about democracy.

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January 31, 2011

The Situation in Egypt in America…

by nkwilczy

Shout out in the streets,
“You cannot hold us for long!”
Sandstorms join the cry.

A couple of weeks ago I felt the need to change my background. Just a casual, maintenance of my computer thing, but I did not realize the butterfly effect.

You see, I chose a simple default background that came with windows, the Pyramids. It seemed like an innocent choice at first, but as time progressed I came to see its colossal ramifications.

I’m not saying that I predicted the events in Egypt last week and over the weekend. No, nobody would dare claim anything that crazy. What I’m saying is that I caused them.

Further support for this thesis can be found from the fact that I can find Egypt on a map. It’s right next to Israel, I know where Israel is, sometimes I fly off the handle with anti-Zionist rhetoric, yes, I am certainly the main party responsible.

Now, some might say, “Nick, this philosophy is extremely self centered on the scope of a serious, undiagnosed, egomania”

Fair enough, but I would argue that it is no less egomaniacal than trying to claim that Obama’s Cairo speech was the real turning point, or when the newscasters try frantically to explain the lack of anti-US sentiment, when people try to claim that a democratic Egypt will be the equivalent of Afghanistan or the Gaza strip, will suddenly throw off its ties to America and dissolve the peace with Israel.

Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with America or Israel… maybe it’s something Egyptian, some real life problems they faced that required a more representative government. Maybe it had nothing to do with us at all, maybe it’s Egypt’s matter and has nothing to do with us, is nothing more complicated than a power fight in a foreign state. Maybe we should let the Egyptian people just have their moment; maybe it’s not all about us…

Nahhh……. That’s crazy…

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