The Traveling Democratic Circus
Democracy has become a sordid side- show, an "incidental diversion ". In the rich countries it is performed by a vast array of political party advisors made up of spin- doctors, PR firms and their corporate clients. Grass roots participatory politics is effectively dead as we knew it decades ago. In the poor by a host of able and adept performers knows a "non- state actors" or NGOs, or peacekeepers. Elections like those we had in Germany show how the circus performs in a rich state. They were really a fine spectacle meant to entertain the masses who watch the showmanship asleep in their living rooms while waiting for the dole payments to arrive in the mail. It was not a political process. It was a circus act. The electorate is no longer engaged in Germany. It has become a morass of enraged fanatics on the left and right with apathetic absentees in the middle. In Germany, the circus like election campaign all was fluff and fun like a fairground or a street festival. Both main party's SPD and CDU candidates concentrated on attracting voters with superficial posturing; deftly simulating debates that substituted for real exchanges on the issues such as Germany's record 5 million unemployment, the rising right wing, rising living expenses and dwindling savings, which recall the ill fated Weimar republic. Neither Schroeder nor Merkel have or had real policy solutions not even ideas on how to get a Germanys still divided 15 years after reunification out of its deep seated scio political angst. So despite the stalemate it matters ditto who forms the next government.But the show must go on... The societal division and the malaise are profound but everything about the Federal elections was extraordinary light weight for the ponderous Germans. The Huns have learned well from their American cousins how to conduct an election campaign in the best sense of an American showmanship like production. This was a two ring circus. But where was the third act? The former communist party or PDS was almost completely absent from the campaign; nearly ignored by the mass media. The PDS although not being a major political force in German politics is too important to be sidelined in the Merkel and Schroeder duo's performance extraordinaire. And on foreign policy, where was the discussion about a permanent German seat on the Security Council? perhaps that is still too taboo to even mention in public yet...or about the future of Turkey in the EU or even inside the EUROZONE... . If there were some mutterings on these matters in between sound bites and toasts , then they must have been muted by all the beer hall festivities and discussion about Merkel's irresistible sex appeal with Bavarian farmers.
The other traveling political big top is the Afghan elections. The "international community" brought the democratic circus there to perform one of their greatest acts ever: to try and install a functioning pluralistic "Western style" system in a feudalistic theocratic society. This side show is meant to create the illusion in the minds of Afghans and spectators world-wide that this war -torn, bombed, occupied and warlord ridden country is firmly in the democratic camp. This just in: the Pope is pregnant. If you believe this newsflash then Afghanistan constitutional democracy is indeed a dream come true .
All you need is a few ballot boxes flown in from Europe or the U.S a few NGO clowns dressed as election overseers to give this elaborate farce legitimacy . Step right up folks and get you ballots, while we have some still left!
It would be easier and more credible for these overpaid under -worked, slightly intoxicated circus performers called in the international jargon "election monitors" to go to Mars and monitor elections there. But Martians are too clever to fall for that act. They know a phony performance when they see it. Afghanistan for those of us in right wing policy think tanks who have no notion of its history was never and never will be a democracy. It is too poor, too unstable, and too backward. Furthermore it was overrun too many times by foreign armies then occupied and run by too many tyrants and puppets including the current one Karzai to be truly democratic. Even I, Dr.Pangloss famous for my unbounded optimism have some sincere doubts about a democratic Afghanistan ever seeing the rising sun. American feminists and their phalanxes of cultural warriors waging war in the name of emancipation and equality for Afghan Women do not understand this reality either , neither do the NATO troops puttering about in their barracks looking for cold beer and a can of beans nor the policy wonks in Washington and other prospective founding fathers of Afghan democracy. The birth of Afghan democracy is already aborted by the violence and military operations on the ground But the Democratic circus keeps traveling the globe with all its performers and the act get better and better and we the spectators get deluded into thinking this is supposed be democracy in a rich Germany and like wise in poor Afghanistan when it is a circus show gone amok. Maybe its time to stop clowning around with democracy and actually rethink how to restore credibility in the system with the voters, the people and forget the sideshow in front of the world's weary spectators . And for all those polticians, NGOers,spin- doctors looking for an audience to mesmerize there is always Le Cirque du Soliel that is still hiring....
Posted by: at Sep 19, 2005 8:31:22 PM