Sunday, January 23, 2005

Oh Shit Here Comes Democracy

I was very excited over the holidays to read a comment on my blog - my very first comment! I couldn't wait to respond. Or so I thought. But then I did wait, and wait, and wait, and here we are a month later before I find the time to write again. So it goes.

The response was interesting and fairly well reasoned. But there was this assumption there that democracy is best, that it's the inevitable, ultimate phase in the evolution of political systems. Which it isn't. It is arguably the best we've done in the past 10,000 years or so. Arguably. Sometimes when I read the newspaper I long to be a feudal serf, but maybe that's just my own perversion.

The response I got also talked about certain countries having evolved naturally toward democracy, like Palestine and Turkey. Eh?

At around the same time I read that response I was reading a great book called 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man', by John Perkins, who used to work for a large American Engineering Consulting firm called MAIN. His official job title was 'Senior Economist'. His actual job was to convince governments of developing countries to take on humungous loans from the likes of the World Bank, the IMF (international mother fuckers), and the US government. I mean loans so humungous that no developing country could ever realistically hope to pay them off. Once lent, this money would be paid to companies like MAIN (now defunct) and Haliburton, big American Engineering Consultants. These companies would install infrastructure (like electricity grids) in the developing countries (like Indonesia and Ecuador). So, the countries are hugely in debt, and the American companies are hugely rich. But when the debt comes due, the developing countries can't pay. So the US, WB, and dirty international mother fuckers, call in a favour. Like, "hey, that's some nice looking oil you got underneath your protected rainforest. Let's say we get rid of all those pesky indiginous folks on top of it, clear the mofo, drill for oil, and we'll even throw in some cattle that can graze on what's left of the land when we're done."

This is how countries develop, and evolve, toward 'democracy', which is a system where people choose whether they will be ruled by America's puppet or someone else's puppet (like in the Ukraine it was Russia's puppet). Let's not kid ourselves by saying this is a natural evolutionary process, or that results are rosy and fragrant. It would be nice if this hands off approach (to the non-US world) was real, but alas, it's a fantasy, and the world of "hate and mistrust" is where we live.

As for whether cultural differences are real or imagined: I work with newcomers to Canada on a regular basis and, though everyone I work with (whether Canadian or New Canadian) wants to be well and healthy (and the same for their loved ones), there are what I believe are fundamental differences among cultures. The differences are in expected behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions. Some cultures are more based on hierarchy than others. Some cultures are more contextual (i.e. trust is harder to come by, familial ties are stronger). These differences are fundamental because they cause confusion when people communicate and work across cultures. People from different cultural groups have different expectations, and this is where conflict can occur.

But I agree that people like Huntington over-state the significance of cultural differences. Or, perhaps they understate the importance of other sources of conflict, such as competition over resources.

Oh, one other thing. My friend C-Mac asked me to revise his statement about Japanese culture. Here's the revision:

"Much of mainstream Japanese Pornography seems to me to be far more violent than N American porn - and often seems to not be catagorized as porn at all. Therefore it is my opinion that at least this part of Japanese culture is fucked up.


He still hasn't told me what 'pbtbhtbthbthbth' means.

Happy January folks, only 9 days till suicide month.


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