Friday, February 18, 2011

Democracy is not public opinion...

   I will believe the demonstrators in Egypt are after Democracy when they scream to open the libraries.
Democracies are hard fought for and hard won and and come down to really one issue:  what is the best way to govern a people?  We have had Kings and Dictators and Tyrants all with their secret police and palace guards to defend their rule.  Egypt is attempting to rebuild their government and it will be quite a challenge.
It is an opportunity to steal the best from governments around the world and nothing is better than "the rule of law".  This rule of law is what protects us from public opinion, protects us from ourselves, and defends the
minorities, the weak, the unrepresented, the individual.  At its best it is a slow process and designed to be that way.  I don't believe one can have a democracy without studying the likes of John Stewart Mill, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, other classical theorists and even Machiavelli.  When people want the libraries open I will know they are serious.
   What they are after is "a piece of the pie" and I don't blame them.  They want jobs and flat screen television sets and there is a huge problem with this.  Hitler offered the Autobahns and a better economy.
The road to wealth is more often paved with fascism, dictatorial powers and its own police state.  If most people are well paid it becomes easy to leave those struggling behind..
     There are, maybe, a lot of ways to a good economy and certainly Hitler found one.  If you weren't a Jew, or old, or infirm, or a Gypsy, or homosexual, or of a different political persuasion, well then, you did pretty well in Nazi Germany.  Hitler was voted into power. That is a potential problem to "power to the people".
A lot of bad guys get voted into power.
     In the best of governments there are "checks and balances", a Congress, a Senate, a House, a Supreme Court, and a Veto Power, and the "fifth government" body, the power of the press and free speech.  The best governments are governed by the consent of the people. AND, even if, maybe especially if, I disagree with you!  There needs to be inalienable rights.  For everyone.  Even if we dislike them.  If there are exceptions to this rule eventually they will come for us and we too will lose.
     Democracy is a slow process and we didn't learn this very fast and still every day we have to relearn it again.  At first only land owners could vote, then people who were educated, then, well much later, we included black people and only after a great deal of time had past, women! And we changed it again! If you were old enough to go fight and die for your country, then maybe you should be able to vote also!  Only 100
years ago children were tied to the machines where they had to work!  Changes are slow.
    I wish all Egyptians had flat screen televisions and good jobs but I also wish they read books and wanted to open their libraries.   Actually, I wish we would open our libraries or at least frequent them.  We are doomed to repeat history if we don't learn from it.
     I have set a goal for myself to read at least one classical book a month.  Maybe "classical" is the wrong word.  I don't want to say intellectual book because I would be laughed right out of here, but some kind of
meaningful book, to discover why we got to where we are and the perils fought and I hope, the damsils saved!  I am hunting for good books.


Kay said...

Jerry such a thoughtful post. I agree.. We should all be reading and educating ourselves. I have been reading a lot of art books..books about artists' lives. The historical and emotional surroundings that made them do their art. I am getting art history with world history and gaining perspective and knowledge that helps me make sense of the artists I like.

Constance Stanza Extravaganza Extraordinaire said...

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, NOT the movie which was a pathetic travesty, but the book!

Barbra Joan said...

I'm running out of time Jerry and so much to still learn., I will get to the library this coming week ... YES!

AutumnLeaves said...

Hell Jerry. I wish all Americans had flat screen tvs and good jobs.

Angel-Star said...

o my gosh, i am so glad for the chance to reccommend Wendel Berry's "Jayber Crow" and David Almond's "The Fire Eaters." i love redemptive, poetic, magical books, and these epitomise those standards.
Also, at the risk of self promotion, my 1st novel, "you Wake Dreaming" is just now published on Barnes and Noble ebooks.

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