Saturday, June 22, 2013

the 'worst' form of government

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once observed that "democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried."

The intellectual deliciousness of this bon mot has a sharp, real-time edge. Democracy can shape and guide a country ... and has every bit the potential to be dumber than a box of rocks ... and mean into the bargain. There are dictatorships and there are dictatorships, each finding its foundation in a desire for a bit of stability, the time to change the kids' diapers, the peace in which to go to work.

In Brazil, what started as a protest against a small increase in bus fares has escalated into millions of people taking to the streets. Brazil, the democracy, is under siege. Complaints range from spending on luxury what might have been spent on schools or health care, to despair at a lolling willingness to be corrupt.

In Turkey, a protest over plans to create a mall where there is currently green space in building-dense Istanbul has blossomed into a government-questioning surge.

In Afghanistan, the hardline Taliban, a group that favors a twisted rigidity which is nonetheless rigid and thus offers an imagined stability, is jockeying for power against the current government ... which of course wants to keep its hold on power.

And in the United States ... well, I haven't got the energy to look up all the links that might underline the governmental dysfunction of which so many are, for different reasons, suspicious.

All of which, and more like it, makes me wonder, "what if there were a government and nobody believed it?"

Teenagers not yet out of diapers might delight in the notion. But those who change diapers and go to work and provide the comfort in which diapered teenagers might exercise their right to delight may not be so sanguine. Unshaped social systems may look good ... right up until the moment anyone tries it. That's the point at which the Taliban and their ilk may start looking pretty good, pretty consoling, pretty annealing.

And still I wonder: Without doing a victory dance to 'freedom' or wringing the hands in the despair of anarchy ... what if there were a government and nobody believed it?

Might ask the same question of any deity, I suppose.

Gotta change some metaphorical diapers now.

No comments:

Post a Comment