Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Democracy works

DD has posted something that concludes with the  above line. I tend to think it does as well, but why?

Most probably because in Britain (and in the 'West') it has evolved and been refined over time. The freedoms of the citizenry of England were hard fought and won over the course of many centuries. The freedom that they enjoy is freedom from the King, once all powerful, now reduced to a mere figurehead, sometimes an object of ridicule. The concept is now in their bones and the king dare not reassert his authority.

When Britain abandoned its empire in haste, democracy, the only form of governance they knew, was transplanted. In the wilting heat of the tropics the flower only took root in a handful of places. It flowered wherever the gardeners left the plant in its pot and did not prune it too harshly, until it became a part of the natural way of life, its processes beyond question.

In places where, post-independence it was tinkered with, it withered.

The various kings who evolved over eons to lead the many tribes of mankind did so because they offered their tribesmen protection from external enemies and as an arbiter of internal disputes. Later minimal public services were offered. The king was the most powerful, he came to run the militia, so he made the rules. Naturally there were costs associated with this, so the king extracted money from the tribe to pay for these costs-this was taxation.

The problem was that eventually the King tended to start misusing the proceeds of taxes for his own benefit and otherwise abusing power. As the King had the army with him, doing anything about an exploitative ruler was a difficult struggle.

The fruit of that struggle was democracy. In Sri Lanka with two new constitutions and almost a score of amendments to the last one; the tree has been dug up at the very roots. A feudal kingdom is in the ascendent. "We shall reclaim our glorious history", cry the courtiers. The population, blinded by their hatred of the decadent West, applaud.

Our rulers claim to offer protection; from enemies without and terrorists within, just as the kings of old did. Sure, they will save us from our enemies but who will save us from them?

LBO has an excellent article on a related aspect.  

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