Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Egocentrisim and Democracy

So there I was in class today. We were discussing world history and culture and "typical American college students" came up. As I widely believe, Americans in general are a bit lacking when it comes to an understanding of... well... the world, world politics, world governments and culture, etc. As brought forward by my colleague from LA, American culture and language is so pervasive that in order for us to pay attention to anyone they have to meet us (or come down to) our level. I agreed with this statement, and it relates back to an editorial I wrote the other day.

In the local college student newspaper there was an editorial recently that described that the US effort in Iraq was essentially pointless. The author wrote that the Iraqis are not ready for such a "mature" form of government as Democracy, as they are "uneducated and lack an industrial base." I of course wrote a rebuttal to this argument for the next edition of the paper, which was printed and explained that only an egocentric American college student would claim that a form of government was too "mature" for our "lowly" Iraqi friends.

I brought up this situation in the course of the discussion, and was quickly attacked. I was asked whether I thought that imposing an American form of government on another nation was egocentric as well.

Is it?

Well, it all goes back to this idea of Democracy. What is it? What does it mean? In the case of Iraq, all it means is that we are working towards allowing the Iraqis to form their own style of representative government. In this description, the categorization of the new Iraqi government as a "Democracy" and their governmental document being a "constitution" is egocentric. Their government will be a representative republic whose characteristics will be laid out by a formal document, yes, but our descriptions of "Democracy" and "constitution" are simply Americans forcing governmental characteristics of other nations into terminology we can relate to.

In this way, we are not "forcing" anything on the Iraqis. We are not "imposing" our egocentric will on them. We are merely giving them the right to have a free and representative government.

Also, this government will succeed. There is no reason to think that the Iraqis will not continue with their action of government-building with the developments of a ratified constitution, as well as previously violent factions laying down their arms and joining the political process (once they realized it would be the only way for them to participate in the future of Iraq.)

Furthermore, this particular person's point was to claim that a form of government cannot be imposed upon another nation. Although this is not what we're doing in Iraq, it would do anyone who has this mindset good if they were to look up some history of World War II (see Germany, Italy, and Japan). You know those American college students...

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