Saturday, October 27, 2012

129 - Our Civilization Under Siege

Western Civilization (Paris Classical series)
Now, that the American presidential elections are over, with the predictable outcome, the national problems are back to the front line. There are problems with the federated states, at national and at the global levels. Some states are broke, the country faces a “fiscal cliff”, the global economy and the international affairs are in a mess, the warming of the climate is causing increasingly devastating storms, revolutions are engulfing entire regions and local wars became endemic. 
Most worrisome, the rise of political, economic and social paradigms competing with the western beliefs, places our common civilization under siege. As a consequence, it makes the possible solutions for each of those problems more difficult to find.
Democracy is under attack by authoritarian or otherwise failed states, should they be former communists, faked democracies, backward theocracies, narco-states, oil-aristocracies and also extremists of all stripes. Most of them are little more than actual cleptocracies, organized gangs imposing their will to the nations under their control.  
Some states are participating in the world’s capitalist trade, although crushing their populations’ basic rights, both as humans and as workers. These regimes thrive by making their all powerful oligarchs and princelings rich but keeping their populations poor, thus exporting tradable goods cheaper than the developed countries can do or no longer want to produce. Others are oil rich medieval tribes where the rulers keep the people quiet with bribes, sinecures and free social support. Still others have valuable natural resources being appropriated by a dominating class to their exclusive benefit.
Others states are just a burden to the rest of the world. Some are clearly without much hope for catching up on meaningful progress, engaged in endemic wars in the name of religions, sects or any other excuses that stupidity and ignorance can muster. There are also the cartoonish puppets killing their people by hunger while pampering a business cum military class or militias, for local and international blackmail.
The long held creed in the inevitable progress of democracy in the world, is in doubt when dictatorial governments succeed in shackling enough of their own people for the time it takes to leverage their economic, then military and then political place in the international community. As a result, by using their trade surplus to buy massive amounts of foreign currency and bonds, they can have an influence on the issuer’s financial decisions and ultimately in its military effort and political capacity.
Democracy is under attack. The reasons are many, most are obvious, some are less apparent and others often surprising. A democratic decision-making has historically been the consequence of a commonality of interests among equals, or more or less equals, resulting in their inter-dependency. Economic and social development usually brings generalization of education and knowledge, which in turn makes desirable the participation of all in the affairs of the community.
There are several forms of democracy, although usually understood as the result of “one man one vote” decisions. The classic Greek actually excluded serfs and slaves. Other forms included only owners of property, then later those with a minimum of literacy and only recently were women included.
Secular democracies are the result of a lengthy and painful evolution away from ignorance, superstition, obscurantism and intolerance.  They should not stand inactive against the risk of being taken hostage by backward societies that want to impose anachronic rules of behavior on more developed nations. But, historically is has happen before, that more advanced societies have been conquered or otherwise undermined by less advanced beliefs of encroaching populations.
Globalization is creating an equality of economic opportunities regardless of social fairness in human rights and sustainable development. Everything on international affairs turns around American actions, beliefs, issues and interests. There are reactions to their meddling in foreign problems or for their lack of intervention in the same. Damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t, America is always the unavoidable reference and the only shield left of our common civilization. Where is Europe? Divided, crisis stricken, bickering, powerless. After all, western civilization started here. If nothing is done by the European nations, its demise will start here too.

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