Monday, 18 August 2008

Spreading Democracy?

For the past fifteen years or so, the government of the UK and, especially, that of the US have frequently talked about the concept of "spreading democracy" to every part of the world. Indeed, various covert military operations have been carried out in numerous countries to ensure that "democracy" is sowed. Books such as Guns for Hire: The Inside Story of Freelance Soldiering (by Tony Geraghty) and Veil (by Bob Woodward) provide ample evidence of the attempts made by several US and the UK administrations to instill their vision of democracy in many countries.

As a person with a very strong interest in world events and in politics, I have often asked myself: why do the UK and the US governments talk so much about democracy? Why is this word invoked so many times during countless speeches? What exactly do individuals such as Gordon Brown and George W. Bush mean when they speak almost incessantly about democracy?

Just yesterday, I was reading an article by Stephen Gowans about the demonisation of Robert Mugabe in the Western world. Whilst reading this article, I came across the following part which clarified the meaning of the term "democracy" when used by various representatives of the UK and of the US administrations: "To the US, British and European governments that back the MDC, democracy is more or less equivalent to free trade, free enterprise, free markets and above all, the sanctity of private property, within other countries’ borders. Equally, in the Anglo-American sense, democracy is an electoral competition among two or more parties committed to these values, or what Robert Dahl called polyarchy and Karl Marx called a contest to decide which representative of the bourgeoisie will oppress you for the next four years."

In the eyes of the UK and of the US governments, as long as a country allows the possibility of competition between two or more political parties of virtually any kind, there is nothing much to fear in terms of being able to spread their own business interests. This is because when such a political environment exists, it is extremely common for the UK and for the US administrations to work as follows:

1.) Identify a political party that can be used to further UK/US business interests;

2.) Provide economic and other support to help such a party win as many elections as there are in order to ensure the spread of UK/US business interests;

3.) If there is no political party that currently favours very close ties with the UK/US administrations, transfer a great deal of money to a particular group in the target country to set up a party that can try to win the elections;

4.) Once the chosen party wins an election, keep on providing all the necessary support so that this party can remain in power and so that the country is transformed into a client state.

The UK and US governments sometimes try to persuade the world's population that their desire to spread democracy is motivated by a wish to improve the human rights plight of every human being, regardless of where he/she lives. During the past few months, it has been possible to come across a number of representatives of both governments engaged in extremely heavy criticism of individuals such as Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez. The criticisms seemed to be triggered by a high level of concern about various human rights issues in Zimbabwe and in Venezuela. At this stage, it is very important to bear in mind the great opposition displayed by people such as Mugabe and Chavez when faced with a huge amount of pressure to implement countless neo-liberal economic policies in their countries.

As I listened and read the articles written by numerous representatives of the UK/US governments about several human rights issues in anti-imperialist countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, there was one question that kept cropping up in my mind: if the US and the UK governments are so concerned about improving the human rights situation for every person in the world, why is it that individuals such as George W. Bush never talk about the human rights situation in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Why is the attention of capitalist countries so selective?

In view of the above, it seems pretty clear to me that the UK and the US governments are mainly interested in spreading their economic policies to every part of the world so that a relatively small number of their citizens can continue becoming richer and richer. To conclude, every time you hear a representative of a capitalist country talk about democracy, always go beyond mere rhetoric and appearances.

1 comment:

La delirante said...

Hi Red, As always this is a fantastic, thought-provoking article.

It is a pity that so many people are self-censored and don't have the will to discuss important issues such as this. How paradoxical, isn't it? In our era of "freedom", so many decide to remain quiet because of fear of what other people might think.

Slavery and exploitation have been called "bringing democracy or trying to help others" (colonial powers in Africa, for instance, until very recently) but since it was Europe exploiting others it was all right.

It is ridiculous that super powers which claim to be pro-human rights and democracy are at the same time shaking hands with countries that so blatantly commit horrible abuses against human rights in the name of religion.

All that only shows how filthy politics really is, merely a game of convenience where the only ones that ever win are the powerful players.