Who's listening?

This is from a Salon article on the current feel of the street in Iraq:

When I ask these men whether they can see today's deprivations as a tradeoff for the new freedoms they have, especially the ability to openly criticize the current situation, I often get the same answer: "Yes, now we can talk," they'll say. "But what does it matter if no one is listening?"

I've never heard a more poignant and cutting condemnation of the theory of democracy. That short statement captures much of what I think is completely missing from the naively optimistic attitudes about "making the world safe for democracy."

So many institutions are simply not listening. Corporations are not listening. Politicians are listening in only a very limited and constrained manner largely driven by money. The rest of the population is not listening when life is fundamentally okay, or if they've gotten fed up with the process.

An open democratic process is meaningless unless someone is listening. Legitimacy is not produced by simply adding a vote. Legitimacy is produced by making life better for people in a tangible way, and not only is that not the exclusive territory of democracies, democracies don't somehow magically do this. Neither does capitalism -- ask the "illegal" aliens currently being rounded up and deported, most likely back to miserable economic conditions, after having been cheated and exploited by Walmart or its subcontractors.

Do you think we're actually building a government in Iraq that will listen, and giving the population of Iraq the means and background to be able to listen to each other?

I'm pretty skeptical. But hey, Haliburton is making a ton of money. Go us.

Posted: 2003-11-04 22:57 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04