Surveying the State of Global Freedom

In 2010, the world stalled on the road to democracy

In the Coke Zero commercial, an impatient young man says, "It's 2010. Weren't we supposed to have time machines by now?" Human rights supporters have equal cause to ask, "Weren't we all supposed to have democracy by now?"

In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet empire, Francis Fukuyama wrote that "for a very large part of the world, there is now no ideology with pretensions to universality that is in a position to challenge liberal democracy, and no universal principle of legitimacy other than the sovereignty of the people." A host of despots, however, has managed just fine without a universal principle.

The world is freer and more democratic than it was then. But advances have been stymied by dozens of repressive regimes. The human rights group Freedom House said in January that the previous four years made up "the longest continuous period of deterioration" in the nearly 40 years it has kept tabs. This year brought no evident turnaround.

That is fine with the rulers of China. Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to advance democracy and free speech, which had also earned him an 11-year prison term. The December event was the first time neither the winner nor his representative was allowed to attend since 1935, when the Nobel Committee honored a dissident in Nazi Germany.

In North Korea, the ailing Kim Jong-il installed his son Kim Jong-un as heir apparent—proving that Marxism can coexist with monarchy. A former Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, was released from seven years of house arrest after her jailers won elections that were widely denounced as rigged.

A secret Pentagon cable published by WikiLeaks said Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his French counterpart that "Russian democracy has disappeared." Elections in Belarus were not free enough to deprive re-elected President Alexander Lukashenko of his claim to be the last dictator in Europe.

The American effort to spread democracy in the Middle East and Muslim world encountered fierce headwinds. Afghan President Hamid Karzai took over an election commission after it had the nerve to find rampant irregularities in the election he won last year. Unhappy with the U.S. government, he told the American ambassador, "If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban."

Iraq held elections that didn't produce a new government until nine months later, during which time authorities banned political demonstrations. In Egypt, the opposition Muslim Brotherhood went from 88 seats in parliament to one. "At least get creative in how you rig the elections," one newspaper publisher implored President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 29 years.

On the other side of the globe, 85 percent of Venezuelans said they don't want their country to resemble communist Cuba. But President Hugo Chavez nationalized hundreds of businesses, closed down the last remaining opposition TV station, and expelled a member of the European Parliament for calling him—I am not making this up—a "dictator."

Retired Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro, meanwhile, admitted the communist economic model "doesn't even work for us anymore." The number of political prisoners in Cuba fell to the lowest level since 1959.

Haiti suffered a horrendous earthquake, a cholera epidemic and a chaotic national election spoiled by violence and fraud. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega made it plain he will run for re-election in 2011 even though the Constitution forbids him from seeking another term.

In Africa, there are modest signs of progress. The number of coups on the continent fell by more than half in this decade compared to the one before, and 48 countries were scheduled to go to the polls this year.

Successful, credible votes took place this year in Tanzania and Somaliland. Guinea's military junta yielded to civilians after the country's first democratic election.

But many exercises in democracy were a sham. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, won after warning that if international poll watchers caused trouble, "we will cut off their fingers." The president of Ivory Coast lost a November election but has refused to step down, raising the specter of renewed civil war.

This year served mainly to vindicate the desires of tyrants and the fears of pessimists. To recapture the sense that the world is destined for universal democracy, you'd need a time machine.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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  • Suki||

    Good morning reason.

  • PIRS||

    Good morning Suki!

  • Q||

    Qhat qou qust qay qood qorning qndicates q qevere qack qf qnderstanding, qo quck qourself!
    Qerry Qhristmas!

  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard||

    You know, Number One, you missed something not playing with model ships. They were the source of imaginary voyages, each holding a treasure of adventures, manning the earliest spacecraft, flying an aero plane with only one propeller to keep you in the sky. Can you imagine that?

  • This Dave||

    Well Picard, whatever's holding your shuttles in the sky seems to fail every fourth episode or so.

  • Suki||

    Hi PIRS!

  • ||

    A secret Pentagon cable...Gates told his French counterpart that "Russian democracy has disappeared."

    Then Gates told him not to tell anyone, 'cause the rest of us thought things were just fine in Russia.

  • Suki||

    Assange has begun redacting the names of Chinese diplomats from documents before releasing them.

  • West Texas||

    If true, that dude's an even bigger pussy than I thought. And apparently he's also sitting on a trove of Russian stuff, too, that hasn't been released.

    Much like praising "Piss Christ" because you know that there's little risk of Oral Roberts doing much more than saying bad things about you on Sunday... and then sticking your head in the sand when you have the opportunity to praise anti-Islamic art because you know that some of those loons actually will hunt you down and hurt you.

    There's no bravery is picking your targets on the basis of whether or not you know they'll fight back.

  • Suki||

    The Guardian, Assange's media outlet of choice, redacted diplomatic names even more.

    "Where the cables have proved simply embarrassing to western diplomats, we have usually considered them "fair game" and left those in."

    Note only the western diplomats are "fair game".

  • MNG||

    "If true"

    It's ok for this to just be implicitly assumed when replying to Suki.

  • ||

    Anyone who believes anything JohnSukiBot says without ample corroboration is an idiot.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Every time you mention that chick you sound like an AOL fag crying sour grapes after being shot down for a private chat.

  • ||

    Don't project on me, you realdoll fetishist.

  • BeltwayLurker||

    Look, pudsiearch, try shutting up before neutrasweet fucks your other eye out.

  • ||

    Look, Anonypussy has gone from suck to blow! Emphasizing the aggressive in passive aggressive doesn't suit you, pussy.

  • waffles||

    I thought Suki was Johnny Longtorso's real doll? Am I way of base here? Can someone corroborate this?

  • .||

    Nobody knows anything. How's that?

  • Episiarch's Boyfriend||

    I know something...

  • cynical||

    He offered State the chance to have some say in redactions. They turned Wikileaks down. Maybe the Chinese decided it was better to mitigate the damage.

  • Suki||

    Good morning Sol!

  • ||

    In other secret news, Hillary Clinton thinks Kim Jong-il is short.

  • Suki||

    I suppose it is a given that she thinks he is stylish, since they wear the same pants-suits.

  • ||

    Can we PLEASE stop conflating democracy and freedom?
    kthxbai

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  • Suki||

    SK,
    I am more of a limited power republic gal too.

  • ||

    Huh?

  • West Texas||

    Yeah, DEMOCRACY! for the sake of DEMOCRACY! is kind of stupid.

  • anarch Spooner||

    Let's vote on it.

    Not.

  • Realist||

    When everybody votes, everybody loses.

  • Robert||

    Especially when the opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • cynical||

    The nice takeaway from democracy fetishism is that government is only legitimate based on the consent of the governed, which at least brings the concept of consent into play, even if it leaves the practical application unresolve (as irreconcilable differences make 100% consent impossible for any sufficiently large society).

    If nothing else, it's useful as a stick to beat the legitimacy of government with -- when is the last time the U.S. president, for example, managed to pull the support of even 25% of those governed by the U.S.? In the 20th and 21st century, the closest anyone came was Reagan (with 23%); in the late 19th, it was under 10%, partly due to women and the 18-20 crowd being denied the vote.

  • Mike M||

    The title of this column is out of synch with the column itself, because "Freedom" and "Democracy" are not synonymous.
    I value freedom very highly. I care less whether it is elected officials or benign dictators who leave me alone.

  • ||

    Have you noticed that some American Democrats have started calling our politico-economic system "Democratic capitalism"? What they are calling for is a kind of fascism, of course, but doesn't Democratic Capitalism have a warm and fuzzy feel? It's like a Snuggy for your soul.

  • Van||

    Neoconservatives can help implement Democracy in your country if you'd like.

  • fuzzysheep||

    Now with free paramilitary brigades to control the population!

  • Van Jones||

    I like where THIS Is headed...

  • anarch||

    Everyone gets to vote on how you invest and spend your money.

    What could go wrong?

  • ||

    We get it. You're an anarchist. Tyranny of the majority is bad! But tyranny of your majority would be good. Democratic Anarchy™ for everybody!

  • ||

    It's funny when you say "we get it" and then in the very next sentence prove that you don't. It makes you look brilliant. Really!

  • Wind Rider||

    Is there a name for the phenomena by which the more the jingle label for some politi-whatever seems designed to evoke images of kittens and puppies, the harder and the more savage the fucking that will result from its implementation will be?

  • Rhywun||

    Bait and switch...?

  • Wind Rider||

    Nah, I was kinda thinking of some easily deployable phrase, along the line of Godwinized in scope. By nature it'd probably have a limited shelf life, as it would no doubt be appropriated for use against things that weren't merely labeled warm and fuzzy, just to confuse the inattentive plurality of voters. But at least useful enough to serve as an alert that some sort of shennanigans were lurking, like all the happy kittens and puppies likely had worms and ear mites or something, so it'd be a good idea to check this shit out before taking it home to throw up on the new carpet.

  • anarch||

    Cameouflage?

    Sunny, please don't vote for me.

  • Robert||

    Sorry, but I think Michael Novak has dibs on the phrase, having written this book & all, you know:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....Capitalism

    Hint: It doesn't mean what you think.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Democratic Capitalism

    Socialism by any other name would smell just as shitty.

    Workers. Means of production. All that good shit.

  • Fearless Leader #1||

    I get to say what you keep.

  • Realist||

    Very good. Benign dictators are hard to find, but intelligent electorate are even harder to find.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    So true. The sad truth is that, more important than the outcome of any one election, people need to willingly change the way they think. That is way harder than getting people to vote.

  • Van||

    I'm reading a book right now which explains all, including why there is a Tea Party.

    The True Believer by Eric Hoffer.

    According to Hoffer the subject populations will only start a mass movement against those in power after they begin to see the government as as weak and inefficient.

  • Matrix||

    Hans, you're breakin' my bawrs here. You're breakin' my bawrs!

  • Uncle Rebus||

    Democracy? Dem all crazy!

  • ¢||

    Have you noticed that some American Democrats have started calling our politico-economic system "Democratic capitalism"? What they are calling for is a kind of fascism, of course, but doesn't Democratic Capitalism have a warm and fuzzy feel?

    Sometime in the '90s, the whole European left suddenly changed the name of the thing it wants—which is fascism, of course, but they used to say "socialism"—to "economic democracy." "Democratic capitalism" is an Americanization of that. It's been around, annoying non-fascists of all sorts, for a long time.

    Its huge rhetorical advantage over "economic democracy" is that it seems like a face-value description of the U.S. gov't as Constitutionally authorized, so any form of opposition to the actually existing gov't, even the wussy-ass budget-balancing Toryism of the GOP, can be cast as radically unpatriotic, in a way that will mysteriously, considering what obvious bullshit's being slung, stick. And it does.
    Because good is dumb.

  • MNG||

    "Sometime in the '90s, the whole European left suddenly changed the name of the thing it wants—which is fascism, of course,"

    That's kind of amusing since the European left at the time fought the fascists in the streets from their very inception while the conservative Junkers, military and clergical castes made alliances with them...

    This is the Beckian fallacy: you take some element of fascism among many, such as it's idea of coercive class cooperation (which was nearly almost always pushed under the goal of nationalism) and act as if it alone were the defining element. Shutting your eyes to other major elements (militarism, hyper-nationalism, anti-liberalism, etc.), and choosing one element of modern liberalism (coercive economic regulation), and closing your eyes to other conflicting elements of that movement (anti-militariasm and nationalism for example), you can then equate the two.

  • creech||

    It is economic fascism. Other elements of traditional fascism are absent (but doesn't make it better, of course.)

  • Mr Whipple||

    That would be Corporatism.

    an alternative to socialism which would emphasize "social justice" without the radical solution of the abolition of private property.

  • XR4L||

    Democratic capitalism and Corporatism? I thought they were Regulatory capitalism and Mercantilism.

  • Van||

    FYI

    Eric Hoffer does a fantastic job of describing what mass movements like Fascism and Communism have in common, and how they differ. If you understand what he is saying, you can understand the popularity of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.

  • Robert||

    But since Michael Novak's The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism came out in 1982, it could not have been an Americaniz'n of a phrase the European "left" took up in the 1990s. I know of no American fascists who use that coupling.

    But meantime, the other coupling, "economic democracy", was being used by American "leftists" 30 yrs. ago, so if that term migrated, it was in the opposite direction from what you suggest. I remember a funny ditty the Promethean Theater Co. had on it -- probably written by Dan Roentsch -- that described it as "brute fascism made all American".

    That was preceded by about a quarter century by "industrial democracy", as in the League for Industrial Democracy, of which SDS was an offshoot. That referred most directly to syndicalism, but could be applied to some other forms of socialism.

  • MNG||

    Funny comments here. Just like paleos and R-leaning libertarians can be counted on to not give a hoot about equal protection as a value, they seem to feel the same about democracy too. No value other than liberty can be valued by the really, really pure! Valuing substantive goods to the exclusion of procedural goods is often a failing of fundamentalists me-thinks.

  • Jerry||

    Don't you just love it how democracy always brings the best in people out to the surface?

  • Steve||

    Which is more important: equal protection or liberty? You can't always have both ie... equal protection = suppression of liberty. I'm OK with that in certain instances, but don't put your head in the sand and act like you can have it all.

    Of the two, liberty is more precious.

  • Realist||

    Liberty, hands down!

  • Rhywun||

    "Equal protection" sounds warm and fuzzy too, until it turns into "some are more equal than others" as it is wont to do.

  • omg||

    If 51% of the country voted on a law that said it was OK to hunt and kill redheads for pleasure and nourishment, would you think that is OK? If you think that is OK, you value democracy over the liberty of the redheads. If you don't think that is OK, you value the liberty of the redheads over democracy.

    I'm more of a "liberty" guy myself.

  • Robert||

    But redheads being killed is obviously not equal protection. The 2nd word in "equal protection" is significant too, ya know.

  • ||

    Democracy is a tool, not a system.

    Ask Venuzeula and Bolivia how that democracy thing is working out.

  • fuzzysheep||

    Latinobarómetro.

  • Spoil Sport||

    BREAKING NEWS!

    Peaceful anarchists send Christmas bombs to Rome embassies.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/.....index.html

  • PIRS||

    "Anarchists" who use bombs in Europe today are pissed off because of governments reducing or cutting off their favorite government programs. These are certainly not "anachists" who belong to anything even remotely resembling a libertarian tradition. I challenge you to find a follower of either Rothbard or Thoreau who through a bomb at anyone.

  • PIRS||

    make that threw a bomb

  • ||

    "Fuckin' right I'm an anarchist! Free state funded education now!!!"

  • ||

    It seems today that many individuals who call themselves anarchists are actually nothing more than socialists. But hey, they stole the word liberal too.

  • cynical||

    The original anarchists were also socialists.

  • Henry David Thoreau||

    Hmmm, are your SURE about that????

  • Pierre-Joseph Proudhon||

    Yes, quite.

  • Mikhail Bakunin||

    I agree with Proudhon.

  • Emma Goldman||

    Don't worry, I still believe you were the greatest American anarchist. But then, I was a socialist...

  • Etienne de la Boetie||

    I predate all of you above. I was a Capitalist Anarchist and I lived between 1530 and 1563.

    http://mises.org/daily/4139

  • 老子||

    Suck it, youngster.

  • ||

    老子, could you give us the Pin-yin transliteration so we can google you?

  • 老子||

    Try Laosi and remember, 'wu wei er zhi.'

  • ||

    Socialism is an archism, so socialism cannot be anarchism. See?

  • Cytotoxic||

    They are both forms of collectivism.

  • Spoil Sport||

    These are certainly not "anarchists" who belong to anything even remotely resembling a libertarian tradition.

    And they would be happy to tell you to stuff your "libertarian anarchy" up your ass. They don't need your approval. Anarchists don't have rules, remember?

  • PIRS||

    "And they would be happy to tell you to stuff your "libertarian anarchy" up your ass. They don't need your approval. Anarchists don't have rules, remember?"

    You are confused. Anarchists do not have RULERS. There is a difference.

  • Realist||

    That's just what the world need....democracy, so every country can elect a sack of shit with big ears.

  • Realist||

    ...should read "need(s)".

  • Robert||

    Is it the sack of shit that has the big ears, or do you mean big ears are the instrument by which one elects a sack of shit?

  • PIRS||

    "Successful, credible votes took place this year in Tanzania and Somaliland. Guinea's military junta yielded to civilians after the country's first democratic election."

    Excuse me if I don't consider voting to be a sign of freedom. It *can* be but only if most of the people doing the voting both understand and desire freedom.

  • Realist||

    "It *can* be but only if most of the people doing the voting both understand and desire freedom."
    It *can* be, but only if most of the people doing the voting are reasonable intelligent.

  • PIRS||

    True, and the one leads to the other.

  • Realist||

    Yes.

  • Realist||

    Should be reasonably

  • Robert||

    Most observers consider fair voting a sign of freedom, because they associate democracy with the speech necessary to make meaningful choices about gov't policy. Unfortunately that ass'n cuts both ways, inasmmuch as supporters of campaign finance restrictions and/or subsidies fear that such communication will lead to untoward results in elections.

    Little thought experiment: In Restaurant 1 your menu is randomly ordered and may have sparse, even foreign descriptions if dishes, you don't get to confer with others as to what to select, you only get to point at the item on the menu for the waiter to see. In Restaurant 2 you can confer all you want, your waiter will listen patiently and answer questions, but the waiters have no communication with other staff, so the food you get and the bill you pay is determined without your input. Which restaurant do you prefer?

  • Realist||

    Our "democracy" isn't even 100 years old and it is going down the shitter!

  • PIRS||

    I would rather live in a relatively benign absolute monarchy than in a socialist "democracy". What I care about is liberty, not who chooses the politicians.

  • Robert||

    However, there are very few examples of what you prefer. Closest thing I can think of was Hong Kong as a colony.

  • MWG||

    Does Singapore count? I know it has its crazy nanny state rules against gum chewing and the like, but overall I would probably say it's as close to Hong Kong as any other place in the world.

  • Chad||

    Democracy is overrated. What we REALLY need is one big, global government, telling everyone what to do from one central source.

  • PIRS||

    What we really need is to get rid of government altogether. There was a period of time in college when I seriously thought about joining the Baha'i Faith. It is beautiful in many ways. Its commitment to peace, tolerance, love etc. What bothered me was their belief in “global government”. I would have no problem with “global unity” in many other senses of the term but “government” I don’t like whether it is local, national or “global”.

  • ||

    Its like that 'I am a citizen of the world' crap. I certainly don't consider myself a citizen of the world considering that much of the world is comprised of absolute shit holes. I view myself as a sovereign individual, I choose a place to be a citizen of based on how they respect my individual sovereignty. Once the world actually gets a U.S style constitution with Jeffersonian ideas on individual liberty, then I would be down for some global government, but only then.

  • Liberal Douchebag||

    No sane person claims to be a "sovereign individual", which is just code for "straight racist white male capitalist misogynist gay-hating piece of shit selfish bastard".

  • Van||

    Is this Spoof Chad or real Chad?

  • PIRS||

    I thought it was real Chad but being sarcastic. Am I wrong?

  • Van||

    I'm suspicious. I haven't heard from real Chad in a long time and he's never brief or tactful.

  • Jen||

    Is there really much of a difference?

  • Van||

    Both are grandiose and snotty.

  • Van||

    Would Spoof Chad pass the Turing test?

  • ||

    Would real Chad?

  • Van||

    Possibly, his responses are pretty close to linear. Depends on whether he can considered human or intelligent in a scientifically definable sense

  • ||

    Would "hanging chad"?

  • ||

    We you empower the people, you may find out they want the power of government to act against things they don't like. Such as the freedom of others.

  • Van||

    According to Hoffer, they sometimes seek freedom from freedom.

  • ||

    In 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy lamented how the world was literally half-slave and half-free. It seems even more true today.

  • anarch||

    How can it be more true today that the world is literally half-slave and half-free?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    And a bit later on he made an impassioned and much beloved speech in which he suggested that the highest ideal going was for people to ask what they could do for their governments.

    Actually he said "country", but you rarely meet anyone who doesn't interpret it is as "government".

    ::sigh::

    Of course, today we (spekaing as I am from an American perspective) have a chief executive who has claimed the power to detain anyone at the King's President's pleasure without even the grace to pretend that a Star Chamber is a trial.

    That's shameful.

  • Al Franken||

    Who needs democracy when you could just have a Secretary of State chosen by George Soros choose your leaders for you?

  • Rhywun||

    "Somaliland"?! Party like it's 1960!

  • Realist||

    Here are some types of government...pick the ones you like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....government
    Meritocracy and Noocracy look interesting.

  • Van||

    I like the idea of a Constitutional Republic that operates as a Confederation, for example, the Swiss Confederation.

  • Trespassers W||

    You forgot to mention Hoffer.

  • Van||

    Hoffer was born in Alsace and wound up in San Francisco.

    I don't get paid for promoting him. I just want to make sure libertarians understand his work if they are not already familiar with it.

    Thanks to him I now know why I come here to blog. Boredom.

  • Progressive Guy||

    Oh, so you want to bring back slavery, huh?

  • Realist||

    I take it you are tongue in cheek.

  • Chony to the Max||

    It is impossible to have a true Democracy. The corporations and the rich just buy the election, and put in people who will continue to oppress the poor and put money in the pockets of the rich. Occasionally, though, like in 2008 in the US, someone will get elected who genuinely cares about the people. In Venezuela, they have someone who champions the poor, and has rightfully kept the office even if the means weren't "democratic." Zelaya tried to do that in Honduras in 2009. It's worth considering how much of a democracy we have, and if it will be worth preserving in 2012, if that means giving up a genuinely capable, compassionate leader in exchange for someone bought by the corporations.

  • Tim||

    Komrade!

  • Van||

    Your genuinely capable, compassionate leader has galvanized a genuine mass movement in opposition to him. Heard of the Tea Party?

    The mass movement that got him elected has already peaked and dispersed since they have realized that he lied to them.

  • Chony to the Max||

    You are proving my point for me. The corporations have funded the tea party and the opposition in order to undermine our leader. If he loses in 2012, and it is business as usual, then, it is not really a democracy. It is a country where the rich corporations rule.

  • Van||

    The corporations can induce people to vote contrary to their own free will?

    Did you miss the results of the last election? Take some surveys and run some focus groups. Obama is not popular, the majority is clearly against him.

  • Rhywun||

    I think your sarcasmometer is broken.

  • Van||

    I sometimes relax to save up sarcastic energy. But then are you implying that Chony is the sarcastic one?

  • fuzzysheep||

    Yes, he is.

  • Chony to the Max||

    That's only because you 'tarditarians hang out with one another and assume that no one can be serious when they disagree with you.

  • fuzzysheep||

    One but has google Chony.

  • fuzzysheep||

    +to

  • Van||

    Ah, learned some nomenclature today.

  • Chony to the Max||

    Yes, but 'tarditarians only google people they agree with.

  • Van||

    I don't know any tarditarians, but I met a Tea Party chick the other day at the cigar shop I go to. She told me that she was a missionary, so I took the opportunity to use my active listening skills, sensing that I might get laid. So I said,"What country?" Hoping for Eastern Europe or something fun. She said, "I'm an anti abortion activist in the Housing Projects" Some tard stepped in and cock blocked me at that point, but I was happy to get away from her, since the more she spoke to us guys in the smoking room, the more of a flake she revealed herself to be.

    Plus she admitted to being 42. I'm 75 and women who are 42 are way too old for me to date.

  • Chony to the Max||

    How gauche.

  • Van||

    I plan to unleash another burst of sarcasm later on when a sufficiently absurd story shows up on H&R.

    Is there an I'm being sarcastic emoticon I could use?

  • Chony to the Max||

    Have you noticed how our replies in this thread don't come after one another, judging by the times they were posted? And the free-market produced this. Go figure.

  • Chony to the Max||

    They weren't induced to vote against their own will. They've been lied to, manipulated and brainwashed into thinking that our leader isn't concerned their best interest, making it harder for him to do what is necessary to get the country on the right track.

  • Van||

    You should actually talk to some Tea Party members. You have much more in common with them than you realize.

    Do you also realize that you have admitted that Obama is an ineffective leader who cannot communicate well enough with the public to keep them voting Democrat? Why can't our leader combat the propaganda?

  • Chony to the Max||

    He can't communicate well enough with the people because he is using honest means to talk with them, whereas his opponents are using lies, manipulation and billions of dollars to combat him. If we had stronger methods of combating such lies and using such money for political means, then Obama would be able to communicate his ideas.

  • Leslie Nielsen||

    Shirley, you can't be serious!

  • PIRS||

    Chony,

    What is it you actually mean when you use the word "democracy"?

  • Chony to the Max||

    Exactly. The point of democracy is supposed to be the people elect leaders who carry out their wishes. Obama is that leader, but the corporations and the rich have convinced people Obama does not care about their best interest and last November, had his ability to help people impaired, and will likely lose office in 2012. This hardly seems like a democracy to me.

  • PIRS||

    I repeat:

    Chony,

    What is it you actually mean when you use the word "democracy"?

  • Chony to the Max||

    What do YOU mean by democracy?

  • PIRS||

    By democracy I mean mob rule. It can be great if you have a nice, polite and well educated mob. Not otherwise however.

  • ||

    Yes because George Bush is a reptoid and he is going to steal your soul. Chrony, did you know that a CEO of a window making company from the great lakes area gave an introduction for our current president? Or the fact that this CEOs company was the only window making company in the area to receive any sort of 'stimulus' money? Think about that.

  • Chony to the Max||

    I saw that episode of Stossel, too. And, if it's on Fox, it MUST be true.

  • ||

    Do you have any proof that contradicts Stossel's claim, Chony?

  • This Dave||

    This has to be trolling.

  • paloma||

    This is hilarious.

  • ||

    "That would be Corporatism.

    an alternative to socialism which would emphasize "social justice" without the radical solution of the abolition of private property."

    LOL! Don't you know that Corporatism is the CORE economic system for Fascism?? So what you really want is Fascism!?! Well, it is a Leftist ideology for all the protestations of the Left that it must be Right Wing. Btw, in the context of the promotion of Democracy most people understand that when advocating this it means promoting Liberal Democracy based on a Republican/Federal system with checks and balances, protections for the minority, etc. Nobody wants Democracy of the "One Man, One Vote, One Time" style.

  • ||

    But do most individuals know this? I've come to wonder that myself. It seems people are all for the republican mode when they are in some sort of group that would benefit from its protections and at the same time are totally content with enforcing their will on others using the words 'democracy' when they are in the majority. Look at anti-smoking laws.

  • ||

    And one last thing. Why have we seen a resurgence of totalitarian and autocratic regimes in the last two years?? Perhaps because the US is led by a Euro-Socialist who values neither Democracy nor Freedom for others and has no interest in really championing it. Witness his silence and tacit support for the Mullahs in Iran who butchered pro-Democracy protesters in the streets, his bizarre support for the Honduran socialist would-be Chavez, and his appeasing ways in general towards despots and dictators of all kinds. Elections matter, eh?

  • Van||

    Mr. Hoffer explains all. It's TMI for a blog post and I don't want to sound didactic.

  • Finchy||

    You know who else didn't have Morning Links?

  • Almanian||

    Huff Po?

  • Draco||

    Apparently, Democracy means other people telling me how big my toilet tank can be. Yay.

  • Realist||

    You mean Dragons use toilets? I thought you guys could just shit anywhere.

  • ||

    No, that's what happens when Government accrues too much power and people keep electing corruptocrats to vote them goodies and perks -- you end up with a growing bureaucracy that makes up more and more stuff to do to keep itself in growth mode. Once the toilet tank regs were passed I'd bet there's a department and group that regulates and monitors toilet tank size compliance, and they have all sorts of drones making a living at it.

  • No||

    The choice: mob-rule or a dictator. Man, offing myself has never looked so good.

  • cynical||

    Who brought ochlocracy into this?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The Iranians had four candidates for president in their last election.

    Democracy is alive and well in Iran.

  • ||

    LOL! Really?? All four candidates are vetted and approved by the Supreme Council of Clerics before they can get on the ballot. No free choice of candidates, and the Mullahs can invalidate whomever they choose. There is no system of checks and balances against the Clerics' power, no legal rights and protections against government power for the people. It is a theocracy. Interesting, though, that the concept of liberal democracy is so strong that even the worst dictatorships feel they must have the veneer of democratic validation from the people they oppress.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I was being waggish.

  • ||

    Didn't the Palestinians vote Hamas into power? Democracy is democracy - GWB.

    Didn't Americans vote a nihilist anti-American goober in as their Prez?

    Things will improve if the masses embrace individual freedom.

  • ||

    Select our reps by lot

  • TallDave||

    A nice summary, but you're too pessimistic, Steve. An optimist might have noted the world has never been more free, and posited the notion that further movement is slow because there's no more low-hanging fruit.

    And while there wasn't a whole lot of movement towards political freedom, but economic liberalization did see significant progress, which probably matters just as much in the long run.

  • ||

    The prevailing philosophy of a society determines its government. A culture that understands and values individual rights will have a democracy. But democracy must mean more than just majority rule. In the West we properly use the term democracy to mean a representative and limited government chosen by a majority that protects individual rights under a constitution.

    Even in the US individual rights are not well understood and are often disparaged. Abroad they are hardly understood at all.

    Some say individual rights are a selfish idea--and that's right! Ayn Rand showed us how rational self-interest is a good thing. More importantly she showed that Egoism (properly understood) is a necessary precondition for a proper government. The road to democracy is longer than you think but it is now achievable.

  • ||

    I'M NOT SURE WHERE I NEED TO START BECAUSE I'M NOT QUITE SURE WHERE THE INSANITY IN THIS COUNTRY, AMERICA, ENDS.. IT SEEMS THAT THERE IS NO END WHEN YOU READ THE PAPERS OR WATCH MAIN STREAM TV.
    YOU HAVE TO WONDER WHERE THIS HATRED OF AMERICA COMES FROM....HAVE WE BEEN SO WRONG IN LIBERATING MUSLIMS FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE LIKES OF MILASOVICH, IN ALBANIA OR WERE WE WRONG IN FREEING EUROPE FROM THE CLUTCHES OF HITLER, OR MAYBE WE WERE WRONG IN TRYING TO FREE SOUTH KOREA FROM THE "ENLIGHTENMENT" OF THE BRILLIANT STEWARDSHIP OF NORTH KOREA.
    THEN THERE WAS WAS THE EGOTISTICAL THINKING OF OUR ELITE ON THE SUBJECT OF ISLAM.
    I WILL NOT SPEND ONE SECOND ON THE IDEA THAT ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE.
    ISLAM IS A POLITICAL BELIEF BECAUSE WHEN CONFRONTED WITH A PHYSICAL CHALLENGE, MUSLIMS ARE PERMITTED TO EXERCISE "TAQQIYA"", THERE ARE VARIANTS IN THE SPELLING, BUT WHAT IT DOES IS ALLOW ANY MUSLIM CAUGHT IN A TRAP TO DENY OR REJECT HIS RELIGION TO ESCAPE ANY PENALTY FOR HIS BELIEF.
    THAT IS TO SAY THAT ANY MUSLIM, CAUGHT IN A COMPROMISING SITUATION CAN SAY ANY THING HE LIKES TO EVADE STANDING UP FOR HIS "RELIGION", IN OTHER WORDS, HE IS A FRAUD AND A PHONY.
    CHRISTIANS CANNOT DO THAT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE WITHOUT LOSING ETERNAL LIFE, BUT A MUSLIM, LIKE A COCKROACH, CAN DO IT SIMPLY TO SAVE HIS SKIN AT ANY MOMENT.........WHAT FRAUDS, THESE FOLLOWERS OF MUHAMMAD ARE.
    THEY NEED TO BE KILLED MORE EFFICIENTLY THAN WE ARE DOING AT THIS TIME.

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