Monday, March 27, 2006

Note to 'anti-imperialists'

"Democracy is not Western"

Amartya Sen in the Wall Street Journal:

"When it is asked whether Western countries can "impose" democracy on the non-Western world, even the language reflects a confusion centering on the idea of "imposition," since it implies a proprietary belief that democracy "belongs" to the West, taking it to be a quintessentially "Western" idea which has originated and flourished exclusively in the West. This is a thoroughly misleading way of understanding the history and the contemporary prospects of democracy."

(via An Insomniac signposted indirectly by HakMao).

A few weeks ago, the good Prof Norm had this to say, having read Madeline Bunting in The Groan:

Bunting: 'This callow arrogance about the political cultures of other countries, more than any other issue, prompted my opposition to both wars.'

That's an indirect way of saying (since it's a tough number to actually say it) that, in relation to Afghanistan and Iraq, projects of regime change and democratization were inevitably doomed because the indigenous cultures aren't receptive to democracy. No word about the millions in both countries who have come out to vote, under threat of violence against them if they did, showing every sign of a hunger for democracy. No word about the forces in those countries, trade unionists, women's groups, civic organizations, battling as best they can in desperate circumstances. No word. From someone as quick as Bunting is to impute Islamophobia to others, her 'political cultures' allusion might be thought in any case to make an incongruous theme.

I wonder if Ms Bunting reads the Wall St Journal?

Update: 28th March: Democracy is not everyone's cup of tea. And more Maddy in a similar vein (via Comrade R).

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