Coffee Q4 - Who are the good guys vs the bad guys?
Tip - We're not talking about TV or games
Who do you think are
the Good Guys
the Bad Guys?
1. The whistle blowers who have informed the public about what government, government contractors, big business and big business interests have really been up to?
2. The members of government, government contractors, big business and big business interests who have:
- been involved in, or turned a blind eye to wrong-doing; and/or
- have been implicated in the reduction of democratic rights and privileges and personal privacy - either through direct action or willful inaction (and/or through law changes they have been behind that have this effect); and/or
- have been behind the change in, or creation of new laws - geared to consolidate power in a power elite, and to disempower the public?
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Some discussion around this subject
I came across a very good summary (apparently derived from US State Department references) on the principles of democracy from a most unexpected source - an online site that has articles mainly about Eritrea.
Here is a link to another thoughtful analysis of Democracy:
Eritrea is a good example of how a democracy can be easily usurped by a power elite.
Eritrea is a tiny African country. It established independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and it was internationally recognized in 1993. The People's Front for Democracy and Justice was elected in 1993 shortly after independence, but there have been no general elections since its official rise to power in 1993. The Eritrean constitution, adopted in 1997 (but never implemented), stipulates that the state is a presidential republic with a unicameral parliamentary democracy and allows for multiple parties. This has not happened.
Eritrea serves as a warning of the importance of being aware of the implications of people in power being able to change or create laws that will consolidate their power and disempower the public - and the consequences this is likely to have.
After the one election, Eritrea become firmly established by those in power as a one-party state. National legislative elections have been repeatedly postponed to maintain the status quo. The People's Front for Democracy and Justice is the "ruling" party. Other political groups are not allowed to organize.
Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association are limited in Eritrea. In Sept 2001, the government closed down all of the nation's privately owned print media. Outspoken critics of the government have been arrested and held without trial.
Those that practice "unregistered" religions or who worship secretly in a house or any other unregistered place of assembly are arrested and imprisoned without charge or trial. Religious prisoners are often tortured in Eritrea. Anyone who tries to flee the nation, or escape military duty are arrested and put into prison.
Known prisoners are usually held in underground cells and less known prisoners are usually put together in cargo containers or in very overcrowded prisons. Domestic and international human rights organizations are not allowed to function in Eritrea.
All told, despite the name of the ruling party and the fact that it was actually elected (once), and the country has a (non-implemented) constitution which suggests it is a democracy - nothing could be further from the truth.
Eritrea is a country which quickly devolved into a repressive, oppressive authoritarian regime.
All told Eritrea is unlikely to be a recommended tourist destination any time soon.
The story of Eritrea is mentioned because it shows how the desire for power and control is difficult for some people who come into power to relinquish. It shows the consequences of authoritarian, oligarchical rulership (versus democratic governance).
The recent problems in Egypt are worthy of comparison. The Egyptians elected a government (as did the Eritreans). But the new Egyptian government then proceeded to change or make laws that were undemocratic, and to act in a manner that was seen as oppressive by many of the Egyptian people. Unlike the Eritreans, many Egyptians rose up against the usurpation of power from the public and the imposition of oppressive laws.
The military has intervened in Egypt. The jury is currently out on whether democracy will really get another chance in Egypt - or whether power brokers in the military take over oligarchic rulership either directly as a military junta or through a puppet government - or whether they will actively work to broker peaceful genuine democratic reform.
Eritrea and Egypt are examples of how Democracies may start out with proper elections and law - but incumbent governments can change the fundamental nature of these - and quickly devolve into repressive and oppressive oligarchic authoritarian rule.
In authoritarian regimes, laws are routinely ignored, or broken, or new rules are made to strengthen and centralize power to the power elite and to prevent criticism and dissent from the press or public in order to protect that power.
Democracy is not something you are born with, or can pass along to your children.
It is something that must be fought for and defended.
What do you think?