Monday, July 17, 2006

The Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Round Four

Welcome to Round Four of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of DemocracyRegular contributor, Ashok, has submitted Interlude #3: Auden on Tyranny - "Tyranny is very closely linked to populism. In what ways can self-expression occur to keep us from wanting to dominate, and allow that which is beautiful in humanity to flourish?" True, many tyrants use populism as a tool to gain control, but that's not their means of coming to power. If we're to take this post in the context of the "decline of democracy," is Ashok warning us against any politician with populist leanings? Still, an interesting interpretation of Auden's Epitaph On A Tyrant.

Dan Harris sends us China IP - Major Crackdown On CD/DVD Production And Avoiding The Sudden Incident - "China is proposing new laws requiring governmental consent to report on an 'emergency' or 'sudden incident.'" In an example of how un-democratic and un-free the Chinese press is, Harris points out a July 5 article in the official press about a raid on illegal DVD and CD manufacturing. But the raid took place back in March! That the press, in July, has nothing more recent to report on than events that occurred in March, reveals a lot more than the latest crackdown on DVD piracy.

"Disenchanted Dave," a.k.a. David Harris (any relation to Dan?), gives us Bush, totalitarianism, and "No Longer Enemy Combatants" - "Bush's doctrine of executive infallibility and how it's destroying what the country is supposed to stand for. The military doesn't have a word for 'innocent.' You're either an 'enemy combatant' or a 'no longer enemy combatant.'" In the Orwellian world of Guantanamo Bay, the government makes no mistakes. The lucky few to have been released from Gitmo still bear the mark of being accused of terrorist complicity, and have not been officially cleared of any crimes. So, are we releasing terrorists? "Just trust us," the government tells us. This, says Harris, should scare all - left and right - because totalitarianism should be offensive to all Americans.

"Hell's Handmaiden" (John) is back this week with Shooting the cat? yet again - "Our founders feared unchecked government, and I think rightfully so. And they built a government that to some extent checks itself, but they also realized something else - that for government to work, for elections to work, the people have to be informed... An ignorant people cannot make good decisions at the ballot box." In the battle over whether or not the NY Times went too far in publishing details of anti-terrorism activities, John comes in on the side of the people's right to know what their government is up to. We can either have absolute security and no escape from an intruding government, or we can stand up for the rights our founders fought for. As he summarizes, "Free people do not have the luxury of absolute safety."

Thank you for joining us on our bi-weekly look at the decline of democracy (and hopeful attempts at fixing it). The next edition of the Carnival will be posted on Monday, July 31st, with entries requested by Saturday, July 29th, at midnight.

Submit your blog post for the next edition of the carnival of the decline of democracy using our carnival submission form. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

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  1. I don't know that I'm warning against populism per se. It's more about where we want our ideals to emerge. The tyrant contrasts rather sharply with another sort of individual, who can express himself in other ways.

    If the tyrant is conceived, further, as not merely one person but one sort of person, then you can take the poem to be a critique of the "tyranny of the majority," something both those of us on the Right & Left dread, even as we want people to be treated justly and empowered.

  2. I don't know of any Dan Harris that I'm related to. It's a pretty common last name.



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