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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Reasons to Despair

Democratic forms of government are based upon an irrational idea. "We should have faith in the wisdom of the common man" More correctly," faith in the collective wisdom of the common man." Democracy means "rule by the masses". Only in recent times has democracy been viewed in a positive light. Even in the United States, which likes to think of itself these days as the defender and promoter of democracy around the World did not speak much of democracy before the 20th Century. Until then, the best government was thought to be a form of autocaracy or meritocracy, in which only the worthy should rule. At the beginning, of the 20 century this did not include women or most African-Americans. (In Canada, Chinese could not vote until 1948.) Even now, the form of most democracies around the World, have limits, checks and balances , on any "rule by the masses". No wonder the marxist call of Karl Marx. "Workers of the world Unite!" scared the established order in many countries. After all, we all saw what the masses did in the French Revolution.

I am commited to this democratic principle, (in spite of not being able to rationally defend it) upon which congregational polity in my church is based and is still widely practiced in the New England Town Meeting. ( I like to think this is why the wisdom of impeaching Bush and Cheney is being widely promoted in the town meetings of the wonderful New England state of Vermont).

Below is a video made by Australians interviewing American "common man" in the streets.

Canadians would be familiar with Rick Mercer's "Talking to Americans". Somehow the video below is not as light hearted. It left me with of a sense of despair: for America, Americans, Democratic government, the educational system. Luckily, most of the people in this video probably do not care enough to vote. (I hope that is the case). And yet, some of the things I hear American politicians say is not much more enlightened.

(To turn of the music go to the Sonific widget in the sidebar)


At 11:14 p.m., Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You're right. Not lighthearted at all. Very scary. You wonder how many interviews it took to get this kind of result -- how many they threw away?

At 3:33 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

Ohmyohmyohmy ! I had seen that already somewhere ! It's unfortunately so true (but fortunately there are also some others) I could tell so many examples of this unbelievable ignorance of the american people in general, they are living on another planet. I have been there many times and experienced it.

Now I am so afraid and waiting that France and Italy will be attacked ! Lol !

As the Europeans say, Americans are like little children, they didn't grow up.

At 9:25 a.m., Blogger Glenn said...

While I support your sediments, one has to be careful watching these types of videos. “Enlightenment” (for lack of a better term here) is a human characteristic. Like all other characteristics, when one looks at a large population, you are going to see a distribution similar to a bell curve. These types of videos often only show you the responses from the very low end of the bell curve – they are the most entertaining and they often make the point the filmmakers wish to convey. What you don’t see in these is the hundreds of other clips where people have given ‘reasonable’ answers.

Micheal Moore (although I agree with much of his politics…well he is a little too far left for me sometimes…) claims that he makes documentaries, however I dispute the fact that he can call his films documentaries. They are very entertaining, but unfortunately, like the youtube clip above, he edits his films only to support his points of view. A good example of this can be found in his film ‘Bowling for Columbine’. At one point he comes up here to Canada to demonstrate that Canadians (Torontonians to be precise) do not leave their doors locked. He then shows about a dozen clips of him walking up to houses and opening their doors and saying hi to the often befuddled but amused inhabitants inside. Gimmie a break, I lived in Toronto for many years! I would ask, how many doors did he go up to where they were locked, or how many doors did they open where the inhabitants reacted negatively (I might do so if someone walked into my house unannounced and uninvited!). The point here is that he edited out all those sequences to misleadingly make the point that *all* Canadians leave their doors unlocked. This is why when I watch documentaries (which I love), I watch real ones such as ‘The Fifth Estate’ or the American ‘Frontline’. These are high quality programs that work to show all points of view on a subject and tend not to resort to ‘gimmickry’ to abnormally stress a point.

That all being said, I have traveled and worked extensively in the US as part of my job as a business consultant and I have run into a lot of different types of Americans. I have run into some similar to the ones portrayed in the video above, however I have also run into a lot of very reasonable and thoughtful people too. Sadly I have run into some Canadians who are similar to those portrayed in the video too (as I am sure we all have). If I was to make a generalization (and I hate making these), it would be that I do find many Americans have this sense of superiority over the world (similar to the guy how said ‘we should do what we want.. we are the superpower’). They may not be extreme as that, but they do consider themselves the ‘big’ country, and all other countries – such as Canada – are secondary and ‘amusing’.

I really liked your point regarding democracy. In our culture, that word is spilled around so much and put on such a pedestal, that many believe it is a divine right. The whole concept of democracy did not even exist prior to the last several hundred years of humankind existence. This is why I get very irritated when leaders such as Bush push the fact that they need to invade these countries and instill ‘democracy’ (as if it was a divine present that is sanctioned by 'God'). Some of these countries may not be ready for structured for democracy yet. And history has shown us that if democracy is forced on a people too soon or two fast, much violence often ensues.

Just my 2 cents. I really enjoy your blog.I found it as a result of your postings to “Mimico Musings”. I am a long time reader of that blog, but I have found it too acerbic lately as the author seems to have an all consuming and obsessive hatred of his employer and business in general. I enjoy your moderate and thoughtful views.

At 10:23 a.m., Blogger Navigator said...

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." - Mencken

"Democracy is a form of government where you can say what you think even if you don't think." - Anon

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for al the other forms that have already been tried." - Winston Churchill

If you want an eyeopening look at democracy you should read the book by Fareeka Zakaria, The Future of Freedom.

Like Glenn, I too like your "sediments", even if they have environmental consequences. As to your "moderate" views, Glenn doesn't know you that well.

Enough fun.

I share his dislike of highly slanted videos. In fact I no longer watch television news or public affairs shows (like W5 or 60 Minutes) because I don't trust the objectivity. The only one I have time for is "The Agenda" on the public network, TV Ontario.

I am quite confident that you could go out and do street interviews with any number of Canadians and find that they are as ignorant as Americans about John Howard of Australia, or any other public figure, with the possible exception of George Bush.


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