Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Contempt for Democracy

At American Leftist, Richard Estes quotes a passage from this Tariq Ali article about the ongoing disaster in Afghanistan:
The lesson here, as in Iraq, is a basic one. It is much better for regime-change to come from below even if this means a long wait as in South Africa, Indonesia or Chile. Occupations disrupt the possibilities of organic change and create a much bigger mess than existed before. Afghanistan is but one example.
Then Richard says: "Is there anything that alarms the US more than organic change within a country or region?" I would say that the answer is "no". He goes on:
Organic change can be roughly translated as indigenous change, even as we admit that there is no pure form of it. Such change presents the prospect of people governing themselves according to social and economic systems independent of ones imposed by the US, and, potentially, even resistant to the US, as we now observe in Venezuela. Few people respond enthusiastically to being subjected to the ruthlessness of neoliberal primitive accumulation, the remorseless exploitation of their labor and resources, for the benefit of transnationals and the far away elites that control them.

Is it possible that the urgency for the invasion of Iraq was the fear that the Iraqis themselves would soon depose Saddam and the Baathists without US assistance? Was it necessary to invade Iraq to depose Saddam and destroy the country's infrastructure so that Iraqis could not chart their own course? Is there an even greater fear that the Iranians may likewise liberate themselves from the stifling constraints of the Islamic Revolution
This is one of the things that so many people refuse to recognize about the United States. Far from promoting democracy around the world, the US is the primary enemy of democracy in the world. It's often enough pointed out that this or that dictatorship is "paradoxically" closely allied with the United States, but it's only paradoxical if you attend to all of the cant about democracy. By now, the contempt American elites have for democracy should be clear. This is, of course, a point commonly made by Noam Chomsky, as in this recent interview where he says:
There was a free election in Palestine, but it came out the wrong way. So instantly, the United States and Israel with Europe tagging along, moved to punish the Palestinian people, and punish them harshly, because they voted the wrong way in a free election. That's accepted here in the West as perfectly normal. That illustrates the deep hatred and contempt for democracy among western elites, so deep-seated they can't even perceive it when it's in front of their eyes. You punish people severely if they vote the wrong way in a free election.
The last thing the United States wants is for countries to go their own way. Because if they go their own way, there's a chance the US won't get its way. This was what the Vietnam War was all about. This is what our policies in Latin America have been about for well over a century. A country that acts independently, that doesn't open its doors for American-led neo-liberal looting--this cannot be tolerated. This is why Cuba must continue to be punished. Claims that we are "spreading democracy" are appeals to our better natures, and they succeed all too often.

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