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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Monday, 5 January 2004

Topic: Iraq

Democracy: Necessary and Sufficient Conditions

Those libertarian guys over at the Cato Institute are tons of fun.

See Can Iraq Be Democratic?
by Patrick Basham, January 5, 2004
Patrick Basham is a senior fellow with the Center for Representative Government of the Cato Institute.

Here's the core of what Pat says:
Is Iraq capable of moving smoothly from dictatorship to democracy? This paper contends that the White House will be gravely disappointed with the result of its effort to establish a stable liberal democracy in Iraq, or any other nation home to a large population of Muslims or Arabs, at least in the short to medium term.
Not good.
The building blocks of a modern democratic political culture are not institutional in nature. The building blocks are not elections, parties, and legislatures. Rather, the building blocks of democracy are supportive cultural values - the long-term survival of democratic institutions requires a particular political culture.

Four cultural factors play an essential, collective role in stimulating and reinforcing a stable democratic political system. The first is political trust. The second factor is social tolerance. The third is a widespread recognition of the importance of basic political liberties. The fourth is popular support for gender equality.
It seems getting a secular, free-market capitalist representative democracy up and running by mid-summer over in those parts might be a stretch.

Heck, it's a getting to be a stretch over here.

Political trust? Not a whole lot of that going around these days here at home.

Social tolerance? We say pretty things about that. And, we really will accept you - heck, we're tolerant of all kinds of folks like you - if you accept Jesus as your personal savior, and you think Britney Spears' twelve-hour marriage was far more moral than any "gay marriage" ever could be, and you think abortion is murder and assassinating doctors who perform them is justified, and you think everyone who uses illegal drugs should be executed, except for Rush Limbaugh, and that Bill Bennett knows how we all should act - just as Martha Stewart knows which chafing dish is correct. Yeah, we're tolerant. As long as you don't talk down George. He knows best.

Basic political liberties? Here? As long as you watch what you say, and where you say it. And as long as you don't get all uppity about you so-called "right to privacy." There's a war on, remember?

Gender equality? As Phyllis Schlafly. Gender equality is code for those anti-Christian New York types who flaunt God's law about women's holy obedience to their male sovereign. She knows about happy marriages. Ask her.

Yep, we're doing fine.

Posted by Alan at 20:55 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

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