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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Authoritarianism vs democracy

Bernie Sanders has published a piece on foreign policy proposing to unite "progressives" under the banner of democracy, and find common ground against  our "authoritarian" adversaries, including Trump, and would-be Trumps, Putin, China, and others, left and right.

sounds good. Very similar to Hillary's policy speech of a week ago, too.

I have my doubts..I am not in the mood to attack China for its democratic failures. That nation  has raised its peoples, and the worlds poor, standard of living faster than any nation in history, . While I am not comfortable with a single party regime, the truth is there is an ocean more I do not know about it than I do. How do I KNOW that a single party cannot be responsive to its people? Some "democracies" are arguably no less, indeed more, corrupt than China. 

Also not interested in going to war of any kind with Vietnam, India, Russia.,EGypt, Israel.  By the way, our Russian guides in  St Petersburg adventure were young and lively and very funny about the foibles of Russian society, but pointed at the great art of the Hermitage depicting the Napoleonic, Viking, and German and American invasions of Russia, and asked: "What is the real meaning of this art?" Nobody, she said, gave the correct answer, which was: "Do not wage war against Russia"

Nor am I interested in overthrowing or undermining regimes that resist domination by foreign billionaire interests. I say simply, in the spirit of internationalism: Lets follow the golden rule of international relations to the extent possible: "Do not demand of your partner concessions you wood not accept in your partner's position".

Further I note a domestic problem with Bernie's "unite against authoritarianism". The most authoritarian episodes in my recollections of US History are: The Revolution, the Civil War, and the New Deal-War Against Fascism eras. I submit, without including, for the moment, the civil rights era, these were also the most progressive eras of our history.

I am not dissing democracy. It has greater power to correct mistakes of ruling classes. But democracy requires 1)security, and 2) values that  define national unity while permitting open contests for power. When both of  those requirements fail, and paralysis persists for generations,  revolutionary means are all that remain. And revolutions are -- at least for their duration -- authoritarian.

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John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV
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