Thursday, April 17, 2003

This is What Democracy Looks Like

To be fair to the US, they said they would bring democracy to Iraq and they are in the process of doing just that; democracy western style aka democracy-lite or I-can't-believe-its-not-democracy. This means that the population can do all the chanting and moaning they want, provided they don't interfere with the business of...well, business.

How does this work on a local level? Here in Bristol, you can march in the streets and chant 'No War' but if you try to enter a building you pay for with your taxes (e.g. the Council House, Army Recruiting Centre etc.) you are stopped, with as much force as is necessary and often a bit more for good measure. Ah! You might argue, in a democracy both sides must be heard; the army has a right to recruit and you have a right to protest it. Ok, do anti-war protests have a multi-million dollar budget to put adverts in Bristol cinemas encouraging people not to join the army? No. Not that balanced then is it? Do the state protect the rights of it’s citizens? Only if you’re not a threat. Ask Pat Finucane, murdered by the state. The military can and do ignore the laws of the democracy they claim to uphold. Look at how many people have been brought to justice for the direction of terrorist action of Northern Ireland. None, and don't hold your breath waiting. Locally, the police can ignore the laws of a democracy to protect the status-quo (not the band!?) as we've seen at anti-war demos where the police did the all rioting; how many cops have been brought to justice for this? None, and don't hold your breath waiting.

In a parallel of stunning irony, the US meets with chosen Iraqi 'leaders' to carve up Iraq's resources protected by a ring of soldiers. The Iraqis can protest outside (democracy) and chant 'No to Saddam, no to America' but they can't go into the meeting (democracy-lite) ie. they can't change anything meaningful. At the same time, the EU leaders meet in Athens to rubber stamp another super-state with chosen 'leaders' protected by a ring of cops and soldiers. The citizens of the EU can protest outside (democracy) and chant but they can't go into the meeting (democracy-lite) so that they can't change anything meaningful.

Ah, you say, but these leaders are elected! In part; I'd love to hear a convincing argument of how Italy's Berlusconi, with a personal media empire was 'democratically' elected. The difference between Tony Blair other Tory alternative is to elect another goon with different spin machine who'll do the same free-market neo-liberal policies. You choose elect Pinky or Perky to the parliament of democarcy-lite.

The idea of a representative democracy is for the voters to weigh up the candidates and choose the one they most identify with. But if the media ignore anyone but the business-as-usual candidate (as locally has been the case with the Bristolain Party, the Greens, the Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Labour Party) then how can people even be aware of alternatives, let alone vote for them? So far the only 'fringe' party to get any serious coverage has been the BNP, which are being used by the Labour Party as a stick to beat voters; "...the Bristolian lumbers on increasing the chances of a BNP victory every day." It has echoes with the words of the anarchist Buenaventura Durruti; "No government in the world fights fascism to the death. When the bourgeosie sees power slipping from its grasp, it has recourse to fascism to maintain itself..." Democracy-lite, enforced down the barrel of a gun.

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