Tag Archive for ‘Democracy’
As is to be expected in an organization devoted to selling products, all the instincts of such men are commercial rather than political. They avoid confrontation and dogma, which would be taken by too many Americans as not nice and because they really have nothing to argue for. Debate and deliberation, which are the soul of democratic government, do not exist in national politics, largely thanks to the Republicans, for the Democrats, “the evil party,” do have a real constituency and ideology. Corporate managers do not argue with their accusers over facts and values—they launch an ad campaign to convey a likable image, insubstantial as that image may be in terms of ideas and principles.
Conservatives will say, of course, that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East.” The question whether Israel—or, for that matter, America—is a democracy is beside the point. The point is that Israel has shown that it can control not merely U.S. foreign policy but also U.S. intelligence policy.
Before going on the Eumenides , let us reflect a little on the theme. The Greeks regarded homicide with awe. Like Montenegrins and Albanians until recently, the brother or father of a murder victim felt a physical burden. The would-be avenger could not eat or sleep until revenge had been taken. The Greeks speak of agos , the pollution that affect an entire community, and the Chorus repeatedly speaks of the fear dripping like blood in the heart.
After the defeat of the Persians in 480/479 Athens was united as never before. There was little division in the social classes, and leaders of the Alcmeonid party like Aristides cooperated with rivals like Themistocles and even with Cimon, of the enemy Philaid clan, in the continuing war against Persia. The lowest class, the day-laboring thetes , was doing better than ever as rowers in the fleet. Ostracism (votes to expell prominent leaders) continued to play a part in ensuring harmony. Normally, all magistrates had to undergo a scrutiny at the end of their year of office, but the process of ostracism was more rigorous. Every year the Assembly voted on whether or not to hold an ostrakophoria, and if it decided to go ahead, 6000 votes against a citizen was enough to exile him for ten years, though he did not lose his property, as he would have in the case of a real exile. On the other hand, an ostracized Athenian was forbidden to leave the region, lest he intrigue with enemies.
Driving out from town to feed my horses the morning of November 5th, I passed a house in West Laramie with the Stars and Stripes waving from the front gate. The flag hung upside down. A fitting salute, surely, for the most radical candidate ever to become president-elect of the United States.
The election of Barack Obama is a fluke, as well as a phenomenon. No great achievement is ever attained without a strong dose of luck, but Obama’s luck throughout the 2008 campaign was exceptional. Indeed, it was nearly incredible.
Less than a month after President Bush unbosomed his latest reflections on political philosophy before the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, one of the latest victims of his administration’s crusade to foster the “global democratic revolution” in Iraq was grousing that what the administration planned for his country simply wasn’t democratic enough.