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Do we live in a democracy?


John Simkin
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Right, size is one of the problems. Small communities make it better. In Spain we only have three levels: municipality, state and central government. We miss neighborhood. According to Betham electoral districs (neighborhood in this case) should be aproximately of the same size for general elections. Most important decisions about welfare, education and social security should be manage at this level.

About having two chambers I agree, but the second chamber should be elected on regional basis to ensure representations of minorities

I am 46 years old and like a million other people throughout history, I cannot believe what we all are living through. I believe one of the problems we have in America is one of education and the negative effect the media has on our culture. I live in Texas, Dallas as a matter of fact, so I get to see first hand the bulwark of Republican sentiment in daily life. It make mw want to get sick. We have a President who continue's to stumble through Iraq, a "phony war" if I ever saw one. He and his minions uses the terrorism issue to basically keep everybody afraid while the raping of civil liberties continues at breakneck speed. I personally do not feel we "really live in a democracy," when the Commander-In-Chief can simply issue a Presidential Executive Order to do basically whatever "he" wants to (including going to war) and everyone yawns asw if watching re-runs of American Idol. I hate to say it but I feel like the London papers had it right after the last election i.e. the headline (How can 280 million people be so stupid?). George H.W. Bush has the distinction of being the only President (as of now, anyway) that has the records of his administration hidden away where they are not perusable even through the F.O.I.A. which I hear some Bush administration officials would like to roll that back as well. You might be surprised to know that I am a traditional conservative, at least, in theory. Nowadays nothing ever surprises me about the depths of lunacy our country has plunged to. I am sorry but after reading John's thoughts on this post I couldn't agree more. I also feel there is a "area" somewhere in our government that has been in the process of destroying the Democratic Party ever since 1963. Oligarchy seems to be the wave of the future in the "land of the free."

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I do not intend to reflect on the original debate question here in this posting, namely whether we live in democracy or not. Hungary's electoral system can be seen here: http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2141_B.htm

I would just like to join those posters who emphasised the importance of education in democratic societies.

I firmly believe that only educated people, educated masses can guarantee/safeguard the proper operation of democracy. They are the ones who can correct the flaws.

It is well-known fact that just having the right to vote is meaningless if a citizen is disabled by illiteracy or semiliteracy. History has taught us that illiterate and semiliterate people are condemned to being exposed to all kinds of manipulations.

If people do not understand the issues properly they just can easily fall prey to manipulative oversimplifications and they cannot make good use of such democratic power as voting. These people fail to master their citizenship rights due to illiteracy.

Following this line of reasoning I must say that in my view democracy is inseparable from literacy.

To be truly literate, I think citizens must be able to grasp the meaning of any piece of writing addressed to the general reader, and to be critical to the writings. I also believe that a literate person is also one that has the mindset of being open to the events happening around him. This person is curious towards new things and is in the habit of reading newspapers and keeping up with the news. (see below Note 1)

Thomas Jefferson made the following famous remark:

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."

This last sentence is a crucial one for a really democratic society is founded on a society with high literacy, common basic moral values and on active citizenship.

I do believe that the EU will achieve Martin Luther King's dream of a society which is founded not on race or class but on personal virtue.

And while referring to Martin Luther King I must mention his great text about the importance of good education:

Martin Luther King: The Purpose of Education.

Note 1

Let me give an example. The reasoning of the Bush-led government for going into war against Iraq was WMD. Government officials spread the news in the media that Saddam Hussein is a crazy despot who is ready to use chemical and biological weapons -as he actually did in 1988 against his own people- and who is harbouring terrorists. This kind of justification was challenged by those educated people like for instance Noam Chomsky who pointed out that interestingly enough after Saddam Hussein launched a large-scale chemical weapons attack against Iraq's Kurdish population killing thousands, the American government did not cut support to the Saddam regime but even increased it.

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I do not intend to reflect on the original debate question, namely whether we live in democracy or not. Hungary's electoral system can be seen here:

http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2141_B.htm

I would just like to join those posters who emphasised the importance of education in democratic societies.

I firmly believe that only educated people, educated masses can guarantee/safeguard the proper operation of democracy they are the ones who can correct the flaws.

It is well-known fact that just having the right to vote is meaningless if a citizen is disabled by illiteracy or semiliteracy. History has taught us that illiterate and semiliterate people are condemned to being exposed to all kinds of manipulations.

If people do not understand the issues properly they just can easily fall prey to manipulative oversimplifications and they cannot make good use of such democratic power as voting. These people fail to master their citizenship rights due to illiteracy.

Following this line of reasoning I must say that in my view democracy is inseparable from literacy.

To be truly literate, I think citizens must be able to grasp the meaning of any piece of writing addressed to the general reader, and to be critical to the writings. I also believe that a literate person is also one that has the mindset of being open to the events happening around him. This person is curious towards new things and is in the habit of reading newspapers and keeping up with the news. (see below Note 1)

Thomas Jefferson made the following famous remark:

"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."

This last sentence is a crucial one for a really democratic society is founded on a society with high literacy, common basic moral values and on active citizenship.

I do believe that the EU will achieve Martin Luther King's dream of a society which is founded not on race or class but on personal virtue. And referring to MLK I cannot help mentioning one of his great piece of writing on education.

Martin Luther King: The Purpose of Education

Note 1

The reasoning of the Bush-led government for going into war against Iraq was WMD. Government officials spread the news in the media that Saddam Hussein is a crazy despot who is ready to use chemical and biological weapons against the world -as he actually did in 1988 against his own people- and who is harbouring terrorists. This kind of justification was challenged by those educated people like for instance Noam Chomsky who pointed out that interestingly enough after Saddam Hussein launched a large-scale chemical weapons attack against Iraq's Kurdish population killing thousands the American government did not cut support to the Saddam regime but even increased it.

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The reasoning of the Bush-led government for going into war against Iraq was WMD. Government officials spread the news in the media that Saddam Hussein is a crazy despot who is ready to use chemical and biological weapons against the world -as he actually did in 1988 against his own people- and who is harbouring terrorists. This kind of justification was challenged by those educated people like for instance Noam Chomsky who pointed out that interestingly enough after Saddam Hussein launched a large-scale chemical weapons attack against Iraq's Kurdish population  killing thousands the American government did not cut support to the Saddam regime but even increased it.

Janos' post is outstanding.

I agree. Going by your other posts I am not sure you fully understood Janos' post.

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