10/27/2006

Social Change

Camille Paglia is, by her own definition, "a feminist bisexual egomaniac." I enjoy reading her pieces from time to time, and Salon is carrying a full interview with her right now. While I obviously do not agree with everything she says, I found interesting this observation about the difficulties we face in inculcating democracy in the middle east:

The majority of Iraqis and Iranians want peace and modernization, so let's impose democracy at the barrel of a gun. But what ignorance of history: The mass of the population always want to live their own lives; change is always driven by small, committed groups of ideologues and fanatics -- even in our own revolution. Representative democracy is a great ideal, but major shifts are rarely achieved by majority rule, which prefers the status quo.
Assuming she is correct, then, our success lies in finding and supporting a (hyper) committed group of leaders to press democracy's case in Iraq and elsewhere. No small task in a muslim society given that Islam, at least as practiced thus far, seems to be a totalitarian religion (totalitarian in the religious sense, not necessarily in the political sense).

2 comments:

Worried said...

Interesting point, it raises also the moral question, what right do we Americans have to find and support any partucular small group who will then make significant changes for a majority of the muslims affected? How can we assure ourselves and the world that we are doing the best thing for the people affected and not the best thing for ourselves? Who is to say that we are somehow better at choosing whom to support than the Chinese or the North Koreans or perhaps the Austrailians?

GeeGuy said...

And your post raises another good question: Do we act in the way that is the "best thing for the people affected," or should we act in our own self-interest?