‘Democracy’ as the right to kill

08 04 2005

Democracy is a universally recognized, yet differently conceived symbol. Like ‘god’. Bush is by no means the first, who utilizes the word ‘democracy’ as a universal magic word capable of justifying any possible crime.

Millions have already been killed for the sake of democracy


Pronouncing of which word justifies murdering an unarmed person best?




 no difference

Bush is not original when he justifies imperial wars and mass murders of armless people with ‘fight for democracy’. The US government, army and special services had been officially utilizing ‘democracy’ as a justification of their various criminal actions since 1947, when the US Congress adopted the Truman Doctrine. The famous ‘fight for democracy’ has already been exploited by many extremist organizations the world over.

Since the Great French Revolution of 1789, when the Jacobins started the traditions of democratic terror, millions of innocent people have already died for the sake of democracy. Therefore, by numbers of its victims, democracy is successfully catching up not only with most ruthless ideologies in human history – Nazism and Communism, but also with Christianity and other religions, which spread over the world mostly by conquering and enslaving or physically exterminating everybody who did not agree with their ‘divine truths’.

Democracy is a universally recognised symbol, yet it is conceived in many different ways

Barely anybody dare question the advantages of democracy in public; even the most controversial states formally declare their adherence to its principles. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge, who murdered one and a half million people (a quarter of all Cambodians), Cambodia was formally called Democratic Kampuchea; the true official name of Northern Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…

In Stalin’s epoch, while the communists murdered tens of millions of people either in gulags or by confiscating all their food and leaving them doomed to die from starvation, the Soviet Union was declaring itself the only ‘true democracy’ in the world.

The myth that ‘the US is the most democratic country in the world’

In the English-speaking media and in the great majority of English-written academic papers, it is usually presupposed that the US is the ideal of democracy, the standard, by which democracy of all the other states should be judged. Indeed, elections have been taking place in the US for more than two centuries, yet it does not seem to be the true reason for the glorification of the US. Control of the media and financing of academic research are the things that really matter.

Glorifying the US usually pays off very well for the media.

Americans control the great part of international media channels, yet their influence over local media companies all over the world is much more important. The US corporations are often the major buyers of advertising; therefore, even moderate criticism of the US can prove extremely costly for a great part of local commercial media. In addition, the US has established numbers of various foundations for media promotion throughout the world. Therefore, glorifying the US usually pays off very well for the media.

For a long time the US government has been sponsoring various democracy related academic researches via special foundations, if not directly. Therefore, across the world only few democracy pundits do not depend on their personal relations with the US. Any scientist, who criticizes the US, could hardly count on good funding; their prospects for academic career would also look vague. Therefore, it is virtually ‘predestined’, that most influential and ‘well-audible’ scholars consider the US and its most faithful followers, like the United Kingdom, to be the ideals of democracy, as if Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries did not exist at all.

Therefore, the identification of democracy with the US most often reflects the economic (also political and military) dominance of the US. However, if the US exercises only minimal influence over a given state, then ‘perfect democracy’ is defined there according to the local political regime. A local political system is glorified not only in the US, the People’s Republic of China, France or Zimbabwe; but also in Belgium, Iran, Germany and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The conception of democracy changes over time

The word ‘democracy’ (‘rule of people’ in Greek) came into use in ancient Greece. Although we conceive it now as formation of basic state institutions by means of free universal election, in ancient Athens democracy meant participation of all (male) citizens participating in the governing process of the state, in terms of most important decisions, nominating state officials and adopting laws in popular assemblies.

The current concept of democracy became popular only in the 17th century. At first, most democratically ruled states did not survive long. Sooner or later, autocracy was restored there, or neighbouring monarchies conquered the democrats torn by internal rifts. An experiment with democracy ended in disaster for the Lithuanian - Polish Commonwealth. Having been one of the mightiest states in the world in the 16th century, in 1795 it was finally divided among Russia, Prussia and Austria.

It is difficult to forecast, what democracy will mean in a hundred years or even in some decades.

The very conception of representative democracy has also been changing. For a very long time, the vote was an exceptional privilege of prosperous men; political rights of women and workers became part of public debate only in the second half of the 19th century. Suffragist organizations and trade unions had to fight hard to make political rights truly universal. It is not clear yet, if they would have succeeded in case the governments of ‘western’ states had found another way of persuading them to abstain from organizing something like Russian revolution of 1917 – thus Swiss women obtained the vote as late as in 1971.

The black citizens of US Southern states had no real political rights and they were practically prevented from occupying public positions for almost two centuries. Therefore, until the Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965, the US democracy had exactly corresponded to the criteria of what we usually call racism.

Thus, every state or even every person conceives democracy in their own way, depending on the place and time of their birth, cultural environment and traditions. Personal convictions seem to be decisive, therefore, attitudes towards democracy mostly resemble religion – In both cases, it is virtually a question of habit and faith. Therefore, it is difficult to forecast, what democracy will mean in a hundred years or even in some decades.

Perfect democracy does not exist

Understanding democracy literally – as the rule of people, it should be such a political system where the government would carry out the will of the majority of the citizens in every single case. By now, none of the existing political regimes has succeeded in this, even when the public opinion is evident.

In the US, where two similar parties share the power, small groups of influential people who control the parties can easily neutralize the public opinion. During the Vietnam War, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans bothered about general anti-war demonstrations. The politicians were simply quoting the results of various opinion polls, most often paid for by their colleagues; and the US army was defending the hopelessly corrupt regime of South Vietnam for so many years.

The two-party problem is not so acute in Western Europe, yet governments there do not hesitate to ignore public opinion either. No real action has been taken against Israel although most EU citizens perceived it as the major threat to peace in the world. Similarly, many states sent troops to support the Iraq occupation despite the complete disapproval of their citizens.

The great part of Marxists thought (like the Freemasons), that the rule of one ‘ideologically correct’ party is the best means of carrying out people’s will. This way, pointless rifts among political parties could be avoided; and the party could concern itself with satisfying people’s needs. By now nobody has managed to create so-called socialism; and most communist states collapsed because of violence and corruption. However, Lenin’s idea of democratic centralism is still influential in developing countries and can regain its former popularity in case of China’s further economic success or a failure by the US and Western Europe. Even before the occupation of Iraq, ‘western democracy’ had compromised itself considerably.

The failure of western democracy in Africa

The US and the countries of Western Europe are examples of enviable economic and, perhaps, political performance. Often their success is explained as an inevitable outcome of the constitutional order of ‘western democracy’. When both Western Germany and Japan – states democratized by military force – had achieved so impressive economic results after the Second World War, some influential people began to think that every country can be easily made ‘democratic’ by writing for it a ‘democratic’ constitution and establishing appropriate political and public institutions.

Perhaps the US, the UN and the former colonizers that had decided to impose their own views about democracy on the whole world, should first of all admit their direct responsibility for what has been happening in Africa for the last several decades: poverty, diseases, despair and first and foremost - the wars and millions of murdered innocent people.

The experience of the democratization of Germany was applied to constructing independent states to replace former colonies in Africa. Former colonisers, intending to keep maximal control of the former colonies, sought to preserve their borders and to form new state institutions according to the structures of the colonial governments. Former masters also ‘assisted’ in writing constitutions for most African states.

However, democracy prescribed by the US, the United Nations and Western Europe turned into an overall tragedy in Africa. Colonizers had not succeeded in completely eradicating African culture; and every single tribe wanted to live according to the traditions of their ancestors. The absurd requirement by the UN and former colonizers to preserve centralized colonial structures created perfect conditions for ethnic clashes. Therefore, democracy in Africa rapidly developed into armed conflicts and later – into long lasting inter-tribal wars and genocide.

Monarchies and even dictatorships have been more effective, longer lasting and, therefore, more peaceful than democracies. Therefore, perhaps the US, the UN and the former colonizers, which had decided to impose their own views about democracy on the whole world, should first of all admit their direct responsibility for what has been happening in Africa for the last several decades: poverty, diseases, despair and first and foremost - the wars and millions of murdered innocent people.

The failing myth of ‘western democracy’

China avoided the fate of Africa. It has become the most successful state in the world, thus refuting all the predictions about ‘the death of communism’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, it is difficult to even imagine how many Chinese would there be in China, if they decided to introduce the model of ‘western democracy’ so much recommended by the US and Western Europe. The parties supporting the one child policy would not be able to enter the government; and the world would be facing a humanitarian catastrophe of enormous proportions.

In the same way as ‘the will of god’ in the epoch of Jesuits, in the epoch of Bush, the word ‘democracy’ often sounds as unrestricted rights of the strong to do anything against the weak.

Despite the abundant compliments, the post-Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe hardly have any of the people’s rule. Their constitutions were also written following their counterparts from ‘the West’; however, the majority of the citizens there still exercise no real influence on the governments. The majority of the people in Central and Eastern Europe are so poor, that many years ahead they will have no chance to create such trade unions, political parties or media that would represent their interests. Therefore, still for a long time most people there will not participate in elections, as there will be no party to vote for; corruption will flourish – catching up with most corrupt African countries; and social inequality will further grow rapidly. Even by now, in some regions only huge amounts of humanitarian aid from Western Europe have kept a social catastrophe off.

Therefore, the value of the ‘western’ model of democracy is by no means universal. Exporting such democracy via insurgency or occupation can end up in oligarchy and uncontrolled corruption concealed under ‘ideologically correct’ slogans, if not in civil war or genocide. Furthermore, there is one more issue, the experts in democracy usually prefer not to speak about - newly democratized countries can be easily controlled and exploited by their patrons.

Right to murder

To sum up, democracy, in spite of its general recognition, is still nothing but a vague idea differently understood by everyone. It brings riches to some people, whereas poverty to others. The same model of democracy, which makes some countries prosperous and mighty, can turn disaster in others. Thus, in this context ‘democracy’ is very much like all the other symbols exploited by various ideologies the world over.

It makes no difference, which slogans are chanted while murdering an unarmed person - either about the superior race, the dictatorship of the proletariat or democracy. In the same way as "the will of god" in the epoch of Jesuits, in the epoch of Bush, the word ‘democracy’ often sounds as unrestricted rights of the strong to do anything against the weak. Including a right to murder them.

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We rarely think people have good sense unless they agree with us.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld – en

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©  Giedrius // 2005 - 2022