Monday, January 24, 2005

Representative government and patriotism

Representative government can function efficiently only in those countries where the people are themselves imbued with the democratic spirit,
where they are willing to abide by the decision of the majority.
So long as powerful minority groups exist that will draw the sword and attempt to rule by force whenever they are beaten, or likely to be beaten, at the polis there can be no stable government
[Nations’s name] is a land where every prospect pleases, but where the majority of the citizens have not yet attained that degree of education, patriotism – that degree of temperamental poise which representative government demands.
Democracy is more than a form of government; it is a state of mind. For such a government to function the people must learn to practice restraint. They must learn that
principles are more important than individuals, laws than men.
More than ten years ago the [nationality] farmers and those of mixed race rebelled against a government that, while nominally democratic in form, was in reality a dictatorship. The hardships they endured seemed to them to have passed beyond the point of endurance. Revolts in the different states took a revolutionary form; and the revolutionists won.
Since that time other revolutions have developed; one which is still in progress. The reason for this last revolt is not the be found in the oppression of the masses, but in a dispute among individuals and groups as to what leader and party shall be elevated to the Presidency. It assumes a personal rather than a patriotic aspect.
The spirit of revenge plays a greater part than devotion to country.
Such a revolution is made possible by the fact that the great mass of the people undervalue the importance of the elective franchise.
Ambitious politicians look upon revolt as a great adventure. They are more concerned with gaining supreme power than with the methods by which that power is secured. To them success carries its own vindication. They regard government as a means to their individual ends.
The [nationals] have yet to learn that higher devotion to the public welfare. They permit personal animosities and the spirit if revenge to take precedence over national patriotism.
In a country where the people find no moral obloquy in rebelling against a government of their own creation the task of those who attempt to govern by constitutionals means becomes extremely difficult, at times impossible. However wise, energetic and patriotic the President of such a republic may be, he cannot govern according to the law unless a respect for the law exists in the hearts of the people.
Whoever is at the head of the [nationality] government occupies a difficult, a hazardous position. Education along patriotic lines is the only remedy; and education is a plant of tardy growth. Steps must be hewn in the granite walls of ignorance and prejudice before they can be surmounted.
That is a work that cannot be accomplished in four years; it is a labor of generations.
The first and most important duty of those at the head of the [nationality] government is to promote education, patriotism: promote devotion to principles, putting it above personalities. Until this can be done the position of the President of [nation’s name] is almost untenable. The tendency of such a government is to degenerate into military dictatorships.

The one lesson the [nationality] people have yet to learn is that degree of patriotism which enables one to put aside personal disappointment and to abide by the decision of the majority until the time arrives for the next national election.
[Nation’s name]’s development along progressive democratic lines must come from within. The people of the United States wish [nation’s name] only well. […] Perhaps we can render a service, however, by bringing to the attention of the [nationality] people the means which has enabled this country to avoid disastrous revolutions. We have had agitators and disappointed politicians among us who have sought to foster revolutionary movements, but they have failed miserably, and for the reason that the great mass of the people will not take part in any activity which would tend to overthrow constitutional government by force.
Whom the people have elected the people must support. Strict adherence to that principle is an absolute essential to constitutional government under representative forms.

I was reading through the Los Angeles Times archives and found this, and couldn't help notice but how it mirrored the current situation in Iraq, and for that matter, many other countries plagued with civil strife. The article is entitled "Mexico's Dilemma" and was published on Dec. 30th, 1923.


Blogger Abdusalaam said...

Quote:"The one lesson the [nationality] people have yet to learn is that degree of patriotism which enables one to put aside personal disappointment and to abide by the decision of the majority until the time arrives for the next national election."

And if it's the same majority in the next election, then, does there ever come a time for the "disappointed" minority when they should not, "put aside their personal disappointment and abide by the decision of the majority?"

4:06 AM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

This is your pet topic, Abusalaam.

Okay…there will always be disagreements between the goals and wants of a country’s citizens. I mean, Ralph Nader and his handful of supporters have probably felt disappointed in the majority since at least the 1970’s. As well as Jerry Falwell followers. But those two groups represent the extremes of the spectrum.

And I think this is the case in most countries. You have differences, but the common goals are bigger than those differences.

But you are talking of the example where a minority is oppressed by the will of the majority. And this minority doesn’t find that there are enough benefits in continuing to work together with the will of the majority. They obviously aren’t going to convince the majority to join them, so we come to your suggestion: starting a new country. You have situations where something like this can work well, i.e. the Kurds in northern Iraq are practically autonomous, and then you have royal messes, like Israel.

I am interested in hearing the mechanics of such a suggestion. The ball is in your court.

9:34 AM  

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