Forum:Democracy through war

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Those Dirty westerners and their democracy[edit]

Those dirty Westerners and their agents spreading democracyimg--Mikalos209 (talk) 16:32, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

While that kind of language is laughable appearing on the front page of CP (courtesy of JoMar?), given the site's usual pro-war, anti-non-Westerners stance, the sentiment is pretty much right on. The idea that you can spread democracy at gunpoint -- or from drones thousands of feet in the sky -- is fundamentally wrong. P-Foster (talk) 16:40, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
really? Because, I'm quite happy you tried. --uhm, t! 17:09, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
If you want to see a war that was fought in great part for the benefit of the British Empire and the French Empire, (you may not be aware of this, but the vast, vast majority of people living under British and French sovereignty had very, very little say about their political and economic lives) -- not to mention the Soviet Union -- as something that brought "democracy" to the world, go right ahead. P-Foster (talk)
Of course the Soviet Union wasn't a democratic state (at least not in the liberal tradition in which our system stands), and the "democratic-ness" of Britain and France at that point are discussable at best, but Japan and two thirds of Germany (not to mention Italy) became democratic, pluralistic and secular societies right after that. So don't tell me it never worked, because as a guy from Germany I'm fucking happy that somebody tried it and it worked. --uhm, t! 17:59, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
And it worked because the Germans, Italians and Japanese wanted it to work, and worked at making it work. Also, these countries were all colonizing powers at one point, and didn't really have a history of being colonized, so it's kind of hard to compare their experiences to those of Africans. They weren't being dragged into embracing "Western democratic values" at the barrel of a gun, which is the kind of thing that the President of Equitorial Guinea, whose quote started this discussion, was talking about. Funny how the people who live in countries that were colonized tend to have different opinions about the "good intentions" of the former colonizers, eh? P-Foster (talk) 18:07, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Funny how the nuance in your thinking comes out once somebody presents you with a good counterpoint. Then you become all about qualifiers. --Phil Leotardo da Vinci (talk) 18:15, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
No qualifiers -- imposing "democracy" on people at the point of a gun doesn't work, full stop. UHM's examples of Germany, Italy and Japan aren't counterexamples, because noting was being imposed on those nations that they didn't want in the first place. P-Foster (talk) 18:20, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The Germans were also quite happy to accept dictatorship. How is your "we are imposing democracy" on people relevant to Libya? --Phil Leotardo da Vinci (talk) 18:26, 30 June 2011 (UTC)a
Yes, they were. And then -- after living under a brutal regime for a dozen years and seeing a large number of their co-citizens die or get maimed or lose everything they owned as a result of that regime's policies -- they changed their minds. Funny how people do that, eh? Libya is an interesting case. There is obviously a pretty sizeable portion of the population that is willing to risk everything for a chance at democracy, and good on them for that. But the long history of Western attempts to "civilize" and "democratize" the African continent is not something that we can, or should, expect Africans to simply lay aside. The EG-ian president is being perfectly reasonable to see NATO bombs falling on African soil as part of that long history -- after all, NATO is doing what any power bloc does, seeking an outcome that serves its own best interests. If the people of Libya get something they want out of that, all the better -- but that's not necessarily NATO's primary objective. P-Foster (talk) 18:34, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
So claiming what people "want" in any given moment isn't necessarily a good indicator, I guess. I'm not arguing for war in Libya because I'm against it, and I'm against all of our other war-mongering, but I find your logic problematic. The Libyans clearly want our help, but you are using the words of other African dictators (which is what the AU is primarily composed of, which is why it's so ineffective) to make a statement about what Libyans want. I also don't see how any of the Arab Spring uprisings "serves [NATO's] own best interests" because Qadaffi, Mubarak, et al. were far better for western interests than the uncertainty we now face. That's at the heart of Jack Martinez's criticism. I find your reasoning all over the place. --Phil Leotardo da Vinci (talk) 18:51, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
ECI said nothing about the other Arab spring uprisings. i'm using the words of African leaders -- be they dictators or no -- to point out a simple fact: formerly colonized people are going to see the actions of the former colonizers through the lens of their own colonial history. As well they should. That's really all I'm saying. And I nener mentioned the other Arab Spring uprisings, only Libya, which is different from the others precisely because it's the only case in which the West has picked a side and backed it up with military force. I have no doubt the Libyan people want democracy. What NATO wants is a stable Libya, and that's why its backing the insurgency, once it became obvious that there was no way Qadaffi could stay. I'm pretty sure NATO has limited interest in what Libya's internal politics will be like once a stable regime is in place. P-Foster (talk) 19:02, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
(EC)Sweeping statements like "The idea that you can spread democracy at gunpoint [...] is fundamentally wrong." and then somehow applying that to denigrating the huge effort to defeat fascism in WW2 are both naive and unbelievably arrogant.
Yes, many if not most people here would agree that forcing democracy on people at the point of a gun is both morally and practically wrong. But fighting tyranny with a gun with the aim of restoring or introducing democracy is not so easily dismissed. Perhaps democracy is not even the right word in many contexts - freedom might be better. Unfortunately the "West" has been incredibly bad at it in many cases and overuse and misuse of these words by the likes of GWB has certainly made cynics of many of us.
You make many good points above about EG's reaction and the West's appalling history in Africa. But sneeringly dismissing the roles of the French, British, Americans and all the other "democratic" nations because of your ignorant belief that they were only doing it for their Empires is stupidity and dichotomous thinking of the type that is more often seen at Conservapedia.
Every case should be judged on its merits and not all lumped together under the banner of self-interested imperialism. If only the world were that simple. Er... IMHO.
You may ignore the above. Intemperate language, bad day, etc. Apologies. Ajkgordon (talk) 19:01, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The Europeans often do jack shit when it comes to military ventures, so sneering at French and British efforts is warranted since they just lie around waiting for the Americans to do everything. --Phil Leotardo da Vinci (talk) 19:06, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Ajk, (after EC and your retraction: no apologies necessary I'm a big boy, i can take it). I do understand the idea that every case needs to be understood in its own historical context -- but I'm not sure that I can think of a case where an imperial/neoimperial state exercised the kind of power we're talking about without some degree of its own self-interest figuring in the political/moral calculus. Kosovo might be the obvious example, but it was pretty clear by 1999 that Europe could no longer afford bloody ethnic conflict to go on in its midst. Somalia can't be divorced from the larger question of the effects of instability in the Islamic world. I also can't think of a case where a democratic regime was successfully imposed from without. And I'll still maintain that the impositon of democracy by undemocratic means is always wrong, by definition. More to the point, as I've said above, what I'm thinking about here today is how the people who are at the recieving end of these interventions understand them, and the role of Western imperialism in shaping that understanding. It's pretty easy for us to see imperialism as a parentheses or a footnote to Western history; that's much less the case in the rest of the world. P-Foster (talk) 19:22, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I was refering to your statement "The idea that you can spread democracy at gunpoint -- or from drones thousands of feet in the sky -- is fundamentally wrong.", not to the statement of a dictator on the audacity of other countries liking other countries to have their system - which in most cases is also what the people of such countries want.
With the Italians that's true (guess why I put that in brackets around it!), at least they butchered their former "oppressors" on their market places... But not for Germans and absolutely not for the Japanese. The Germans at that time had picked up what is known as "looser mentality" basically the nation equivalent to a woman being gangraped: "Ok, what ever you want we'll do it!" and they were quite happy the next genocide weren't themselves (no kiding here, people actually proposed that) while at the same time being absolutely embarassed about what had happend. It was only in the 70s until the early 90s that people starting using the phrase "we were freed from the Nazis" instead of "we lost the war". Until a generation of Germans grew up in democracy (ironically, the 68'ers involved in the student protests) that point of wanting a democracy was not reached, the general public accepted democracy as the only system Germany was allowed to have, and focused on anti-communist actions. To this day many people that grew up in Nazi era remain critical to democracy and vote for a party known as CDU and another one called CSU, both of which favor an authoritative political style and place economic liberty way over civil liberty - and that is just the ruling coalition. And while we are on the issue of political parties the election for the first Bundestag saw 10+ seats for several parties including fascists, authoritarians and communists (KPD, 15 seats, 1.3 million votes). There also were several fascist organization (which often didn't exist very long, because they were immediately forbidden by the authorities) which only into the 60s slightly and slowly disappeared. Don't try to shit me on the history of the country I was born in, I know it quite well. I also have had the "honor" of talking to many people that were around 15 to 25 at the time the war ended, they are relatively open abot the fact that any other choice than democracy would not have had positive effects, no matter if wanted or not.
The Japanese are a different story but pretty much the same psychological effect: lost the war (←that is how they still call it today) and trying to implement themselves back into the ring of industialized countries, at the same time, without much talk it was clear that democracy was the only system they will be allowed to have and that was the system that was realized. The same thing happend in Japan, slowly the minority started to support democracy, but during the time that changed it was clear that the USA would let them have dictatorship again. And up to this day there is a considarably big (relative to other democracies) minority of people that favor the system Japan had before.
The fact that former colonies think differently about other nations involving themselves with their affairs is not foreign to me. As I study Korean Studies, that mindset is one I encounter every time the USA come up in any discussion I have with a Korean. They wan't their soldiers in the country, but if the US were to overthrow a government that wouldn't go really well. In North Korea that has distrust has been developed into outright racism against Westerners in their propaganda, and everybody that doesn't support them economically in silence will immediately be called an imperialist.
But, you stumble over your own argument, as the National Tranistional Council of Libya has issued a statement that they want free elections and pluralistic society if this is the case, and if you want the people of Libya to be free (probably like yourself) or even if you don't care about them, you have no grounds (at least that I'm aware of) not supporting military action against Ghadafi. --uhm, t! 19:44, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
So it took a while for a brand new political ideology to gain traction after a long history of authoritarian rule in Germany. Not surprising. At the end of the day though, the Germans, and not the occupying powers, created one of the strongest and most prosperous democracies in human history, which is kind of my point, that democracy is something a people has to impose on themselves and work to create and maintain. And yes, there are still fringe authoritarian/neo-Nazi parties/elements in Germany. And France. and Britain. And the USA. And Canada. and everywhere. And sometimes they get a bit of a spike and there's a crisis -- that doesn't necessarily prove the fragility of the democracy as much as it does the resilience of locally-cultivated democratic traditions given the existence of those challenges. And I never said the people of Libya didn't want freedom. In fact, I said exactly the opposite, if you actually take the time to read what I wrote. But "the people of Libya want democracy and free elections" does not necessarily lead me to support the NATO action against Qadaffi. By that reasoning, NATO should be bombing Syria and Burma and Bahrain and a dozen other places. NATO has its reasons for waging war on the Qadaffi regime. Those reasons are not necessarily the same ones of the Libyan people. That was my only point there. P-Foster (talk) 19:55, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, of course if you keep redifining what you said, then your statement really always works. --uhm, t! 20:01, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that you're not even reading my posts. Show me where I've redefined ny argument or terms. P-Foster (talk) 20:03, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
"And it worked because the Germans […] wanted it to work" + "So it took a while for a brand new political ideology to gain traction after a long history of authoritarian rule in Germany." Either the Germans at the time of the establishment wanted it or they didn't. Think about it this way: after your definition of wanting if there was today a totalitarian regime installed in any country of the world that was democratic before, and it takes a while for that regime to gain support in the people (mainly those who were born into it, read little children that always were indoctrinated with it), then with your definition of a people wanting something, those who it was established upon, wanted it. And because that definition of it BS, I linked it to not even wrong, because it mistakes the definition of "the people" too wishy-washy. A generation can count extremely much in politics. As a side along Germany was a democratic Republic before Hitler, from 1918 to 1933. (Just to make this clear, when I write Germany, I mean the West of it, that's how we do it here and it's hard to get rid off.)
Btw, those parties and movements I refered to were all inbetween 1945 and 1960. So they were in the time when the generation of "Heil Hitler!" still held the biggest part in the vote, and if roughly 20% to 30% still vote fascist, authoritarian or communist and other simply vote for their ex-Nazis now in the conservative parties, we can hardly speak of an immediate rise of democracy. Larron said it nicely, first it was a mask, then they became the mask, and during that a new generation of original democrats was raised, this new generation then really believed in democracy and did not just accept it.
It comes to mind now, that we can even see this clash of generational difference in German post-war history: the Emergency Acts of 1968 caused great protest against them, as they infringed on the rights of people, the younger generation (well, most of them) demonstrated against them, the older generation thought they were legid, the younger ones called them "Nazi laws". The Act was a making of the first Grand Coalition. --uhm, t! 21:18, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Those first two propsitions aren't exclusive. "I wanted to lose 20 kilos" and "It took me a couple of years to do it." "I wanted to learn to play the guitar" "I've been working at it all my life and can still improve. "The Germans wanted democracy." "The Germans, like every nation building a democratic tradition, took a while to figure it out." i never said it was like flicking a switch. Try again. And besides, this conversation was about the President of Equitorial Guinea and his comments on the imposition of democracy by former colonial powers. You surely don't want to argue that the liberation of Germany is the same thing as a former colonizer getting forcefully involved in the politics of a country that was a former colony, do you? P-Foster (talk) 23:06, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Fuck it. I won't play the soap argument game with you. "The Germans wanted democracy." is a false sentence, that's it. There is nothing to discuss about that.
I brought up WW2 because one can't deny that there was something good through war, of course what one (you) can do is define the argument into the discussion (and mostly after the fact) so that it works. Your point of democracy at gunpoint being fundemantally wrong is bullshit, if it were, WW2 would be just another unjust war. I reject that. I see the pacificism in it, but it's inpractical, as I would probably be a Nazis if somebody wouldn't have acted against it. It's that easy for me. --uhm, t! 23:25, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
uhm, I was born in Germany and spent much of my childhood there. My father and all his colleagues (British military officers) were convinced that Germans as a nation like order, discipline, rules, etc. They are authoritarian as a culture - if it isn't expressly allowed then it is forbidden, etc. Further they were convinced that because of this trait, they are at risk of supporting a totalitarian regime like the Nazis (or the Communists in the East with their Stasi) more so than many other countries. Indeed it was this tendency that allowed the rise of the Nazis, even accounting for their resentment of the Treaty of Versailles and so on. As a Kra German, do you agree with this? (This was back in the 70s/80s BTW.) Ajkgordon (talk) 21:38, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I would like to post a simple answer but I really can't on this topic. Yes, it is true that Germans generally are in favor of discipline, order and so on, but over the time less and less. The generation of my grandparents (now about 70) very much, my grandmother for example can go really up the wall for small missbehaviours. My parents generation (now about 40 to 50) less, but they still value punctuallity and dependability very much but order only if it is the right kind of order. My generation (20 to roughly 35) is a different one, we value these things but we often don't follow them ourselves. I for example like punctuallity very much, and when I want to meet with a newly arrived Korean (I say newly arrived because they pick up some stuff over the time they are here), who are known to just come 2 hours late some times, and they really need longer than 15 minutes over the time, I get really angry - they are then wasting my time, allthough I regularly oversleep myself. I would guess that the generation coming after mine, from those little children right now to the children I hope to have one day, probably even less. So over a few generations this tradition goes away, and it is very hard to pin down why - although I would say the high influence of American pop-culutre and globalization that makes that happen. And many of us think that is good. The same goes for all native of a German culture in Europe (Austria, German Switzland, German Belgium (those few small villages), South Tyrol and a bit Luxemburg), but off course in different "rates" (it's not measurable, but everything else looked wrong).
Thinking about it, there is a weird mixture of democracy and totalitarian attributes in Germany. Now that sounds awefully like CP, but let me explain. All political philosophies that don't explicitly ally themselves with civil liberty (property is an exception), are automatically discredited. If a person allies itself with an ideology that does not do that, the person pretty much becomes a persona non grata. I have actually seen that people say something in the way of nationalism and have to apologize for it immediatly or they will loose their job and maybe even their wifes (or husbands) and many people wont talk to them anymore. Democracy, secularism, pluralism have weirdly become a totalitarian system in Germany - and it is not that this is that heavily driven by the state, but by the people itself. That is, if people that know German read this, is why Germans are very fast with stating that something is not as it just sounded. Maybe this is the best we ever had, but it still gives me a weird feeling. I think the "de-nazification" process might have had the political impact of a purge as in a communist state.
But I don't think this is the worst case in the world. I would actually say that all countries in which confucianism is very influecial (generally East Asia) it is much easier for such ideas to get a foot in the door. I say this as somebody who has met a few dozen East Asians and has gotten a feeling for their, completely different, way of thinking. --uhm, t! 22:34, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

I just realized, if a rep. takes over in 2012, and continues the war, the war in afgan. becomes good again!--Mikalos209 (talk) 16:44, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

@Ullhateme: My take of the Western German history was always that the first generation staged to be democrats so convincingly that their children believed them. Then when these children grew up they found all the skeletons in the cupboards (all to literally), at least some of the older generation got called out! But being forced to show a certain behavior to the point you believe it to be your own idea takes you only half the way: there has to be a reward. That's the difference to Eastern Germany: in the 1950s, the inhabitants of the GDR were as good socialists as the inhabitants of the FRG were democrats. But when the living standards of the GDR kept felling behind those of the FRG, the common illusion was shattered. Just my zwei Pfennig... larronsicut fur in nocte 20:02, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Exactly. Although, it's cents today here too. --uhm, t! 20:04, 30 June 2011 (UTC)