Monday, August 23, 2004

Is Democracy Still Democratic?

Arhundati Roy

Arundhati Roy, speaking in San Francisco, California on August 16th, 2004.
>>> The audio, video, and text here.
... If you think about it, the logic that underlies the war on terrorism and the logic that underlies terrorism is exactly the same. Both make ordinary citizens pay for the actions of their government. Al-Qaeda made the people of the United States pay with their lives for the actions of their government in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The U.S government has made the people of Afghanistan pay in their thousands for the actions of the Taliban and the people of Iraq pay in their hundreds of thousands for the actions of Saddam Hussein.

The crucial difference is that nobody really elected al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or Saddam Hussein. But the president of the United States was elected (well ... in a manner of speaking).

The prime ministers of Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom were elected. Could it then be argued that citizens of these countries are more responsible for the actions of their government than Iraqis are for the actions of Saddam Hussein or Afghans for the Taliban?

Whose God decides which is a "just war" and which isn't? George Bush senior once said: "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are." When the president of the most powerful country in the world doesn't need to care what the facts are, then we can at least be sure we have entered the Age of Empire.

So what does public power mean in the Age of Empire? Does it mean anything at all? Does it actually exist?

>>> Complete text here

1 comment:

  1. I'm curious how we could determine moral responsibility for someone else's actions. I would suppose it has to do with how much the person A (who is in some way connected to actor B) was responsible for
    - the position actor B is in to have the ability to act
    - the foreknowledge person A might have had about the course of events
    - the ability of person A to prevent actor B to act (and at what point? in a democracy, preventing election? or intervening? through other elected offials?)

    And yes, what does "public power" mean, given the above questions?

    I may use the Arundhati Roy text (which I haven't read entirely yet) as a supplement to my next blog post, which is about the philosophy of action. I think that some of the questions over lap, at least in the ethical sphere.