Sunday, November 30, 2008

Quotation of the day

Any discussion of China always invites criticism of its anti-democratic governance. It is worth remembering that the philosophical defense of democracy lies in the proposition that it is more likely over time to serve the interests of the electorate than a system which disenfranchises the people from the determination of their leadership. If the democratically elected governments - through their appointed executives and central bankers - are free over an extended timespan to ignore the interests of the people, then how is a Western democracy superior to a Chinese bureaucracy? From looking at the policies and practices of the past year, the merits of Western democracy are not immediately apparent in ensuring that policy responses to the financial crisis are aligned with the interests of the people. Even over the past decade, it is not clear that the policies of the democratic Western governments have aimed to strengthen and broaden the economy to benefit of the electorate rather than a narrow, self-serving elite.

London Banker

[h/t to kevin]


  1. Great Quote, Mr. Bum.

    It has often seemed to me that a more honest look at democracy would be to the benefit of all, including those who are completely and honestly in love with the possibilities of democracy.

    I live in Chicago. Calling this town a democracy is, in my eyes, something of an exaggeration. Under the current regime, we have a vastly strong Executive, and an ultra-wimpy Legislative. I don't believe the City Council has ever really gone against Richard M. Daley, since he was elected in '89, over any substantive thing. Daley has actually taken to humiliating certain aldermen, perhaps out of boredom. The public just goes along with it for the most part. Perhaps the soaking we are all in for might change matters. Perhaps.

  2. And, of course, on the subject of your quote, I think a large reason that this configuration has been stable for so long is simply that many Chicagoans are more-or-less satisfied with the status quo, and the unsatisfied people are divided. It insterests me that, under Mayor Washington, the power dynamic was totally different. Washington was like sysiphus, eternally stymied by a faction in City Council which simply hated him. Maybe Chicago politics are best described as a series of stronger or weaker local racial coalitions, with a weak, overlaid democratic system.


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