The Democratic Illusion

EDITORIAL, 14 Apr 2008

#4 | Johan Galtung

Democracy is about people choosing leaders who areaccountable downward, to the people.  So, what kind of leaders do wechoose?  Not too impressive in the Western democracies.

George W. Bush obviously suffers from a mental disorder, some kind ofautism, living in his own bubble, repeating the same message offreedom–even saying that his criterion for success is success, a cleartautology–with little or no reference to the empirical world.  He wasreelected.

GordonBrown, the Tony Blair without the flare, is normal with nothing to say,as opposed to Silvio Berlusconi who has built a little pyramid in hisgarden, with a sarcophagus imitating Napoleon’s for his demise.  Aclear case of megalomania, in style, appealing to aesthetic Italians. Like Sarkozy, but he blew it, for lack of style.

3Bs.  Enters F, Fukuda, a bureaucrat, the son of his father and littleelse, like the others highly forgettable.  Enters M, Merkel, it getsbetter.  Deft, clever, but lost in her love for anti-Soviet USA and hershame for anti-Jewish Germany. Enters Z, Zapatero.  Normal, clever,himself, tackling 11M, the terrorist attack in Madrid 2004 brilliantlywhere Bush and Blair (another B) failed so miserably when 9/11 and07/07 struck.

US No. 1 is up for election.  Bush is forgotten, nobody hits a sickman, the focus is on an Old who is Bush Heavy his League of Democraciesto kill the UN for US, a Woman who is Bush Lite, and a Black who is,exactly what?  The mantra CHANGE is voiced against the reassuringrumbling that there will be none; just look at his foreign policyadvisors and occasional glimpses like his US Israel policy as usual,only more so.

They are pitted against giant non-West leaders, Putin, Singh and HuJintao; maybe less democratically chosen.  China today produces 50% ofthe clothes for humanity and soon 50% of the electronics; very powerfultexts.  Russia’s text is our gas and oil are ours.  India’s text issteel and computer software.  Their joint text is: we are out competingyou. Your time is up.

What is the US text?  Not the freedom babble from a bubble.  It iswritten in blood, Death.  (A US senator, Jay Rockefeller said theobvious the other day, “McCain was a fighter pilot who droppedlaser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when theyhit.  What happened when they got to the ground?  He doesn’t know”. Rockefeller had to apologize for “blotting McCain’s War Record, JapanTimes, 10 April 2008).  Of course, he forgot that the USA kills forEvil for the triumph of Good.

Brown’s message is “special relation” to the USA, and so areBerlusconi-Fukuda-Merkel-Sarkozy.  The only nuance is at the end,Zapatero’s dream of Spain as a community of nations.

So much for texts.  There are sub-texts, hidden to conceal their lies,like the US myths about München, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the ColdWar, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam–read John Swomley’s American Empire from1970 for skilful unveiling.

Then the deeper texts: deep culture and deep structure, sedimented inlayers in the collective mind and history.  The USA, doomed to lead theGood against the Evil, stopped the time machine at the end of World WarII war with US hegemony, trying to pick off all challengers of statusquo.   Take China, a subtle deep culture of good in evil and evil ingood, but stopping the time machine millennia ago with China as theKingdom in the Middle surrounded by Barbarians.  The USA can only jointhe world at the top, China only for itself.

Take the Russian deep culture of the sleeping giant with bursts ofenergy, or the Indian one as the cradle and crossroad of civilizations,and we have four pathologies more dangerous than some individualpresident.  Better a crazy head of state of a country that finds itsequitable place in the world as one among others than the normal leaderof a crazy nation.

Look at those Western countries orbiting like moons around a US sun,late in realizing that the sun is cooling, dying like everything elsein the universe.  So they cling to layers in the archeology of historywith French and Italian grandeur, electing some mini-Napoleons.Napoleon who lost battles, Moscow, Waterloo andEgypt-Switzerland-Spain?  Because his project was France as theuniversal nation with a universal language.  They still hang on tothat.  Talk against and your electoral chances are slim.

The more democracy, the more deep texts.  Roosevelt texted a PearlHarbor provoked by himself as an unprovoked attack of Evil againstGood, got three periods and US leadership of a UN for status quo.  AndObama?  Deep culture directs him to the bigger Evil in a War onTerrorism away from the lesser ones in Iraq, surfing on a wave calledChange.  Deep culture does not direct him to dialogue in a world ofequal partners whose Truths are born equal even if the means, like USstate terrorism, may be atrocious.  He lives some deep text layersbehind whereas George W. got lost, like Reagan, with the FoundingFathers.

Watch Hu Jintao.  He lives at a layer even antedating Bush. Introduceelectoral democracy, multi-party, and his successors will be even moreso, because the deep texts ultimately matter.  That is where the realbattle is, unveil them, challenge them.  The texts may seal more thanthey reveal.  And yet it is better if we can recall their electedauthors–in a democracy.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Apr 2008.

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