Saturday, January 13, 2007

United Democratic Nations

In my post about the Doomsday Clock I received a comment from Gary about an organization he is promoting called United Democratic Nations. Click on the title to go there. (This, by the way, is not any Gary I know.) I don't know how these things happen, but he responded very quickly to that post. Interesting.

I went to the website to have a look. It's an organization that doesn't exist. Even though it has a sort of charter and a mission statement and a working definition and a goal. In fact, it's a dream. A big one.

As I say, I don't know this Gary. But I admire him in a way. He has this dream. A big one...and he believes in it enough to post a comment on an obscure Mental Blog that, presumably, he just happened to come across while surfing. Or maybe his surfing is more focused, looking for items that pop up related to the thing he's dreaming about. It is possible to do that now. Anyway, good for him.

As for the dream, I think that's admirable too, although I have lingering doubts, as yet too nebulous to articulate fully.

He wants either a reformed United Nations, or a new United Democratic Nations. That's all very well. And exclusive, which gives me pause. The definition excludes most of the nations on the planet, I think. Which makes me wonder how effective it could be.

Confining yourself to "democratic" nations is, perhaps, a moral choice. It assumes that democracy is some sort of panacea. Or the best form of government. Or the most equitable. Or the most likely to respond to the needs of its citizens. But I've long had doubts about the "democratic state" of most democratic states in the world. Is it possible to have a one-party democratic state? Is a two-party state democratic? What if those two parties clandestinely conspire to shut out other rising movements, a proposition which is not far-fetched in the US?

Does the fact that one may vote make a nation democratic? Or is it a multiple choice that makes the democracy? That would apply to Canada, I suppose. Except that most everyone already knows that one choice or the other hardly makes any difference, except at the margins. A little left, a little right, a mosh pit in the centre. But the common voice, or rather, the voice of the commoner, still is unheard. (The Reform Party of Canada was one of those prairie populist movements, much like Social Credit. Vox Populi! The West wants In! And when it folded itself into the Conservative Party of Canada, it spawned a Prime Minister who doesn't even let his Cabinet Ministers speak for themselves! Not to mention making and announcing policies without consulting them.)

Canadians have long been advocates (in the international arena) of quiet engagement. ie. You engage those oppositionist elements, those difficult nations, those non-democratic players, in dialogue and slowly but surely bring them around to your point of view. Sometimes you have to be tougher, sometimes not. South Africa comes to mind. I don't know whether this really works. Would it work with China? Has it ever? Perhaps we've not been tough enough? But the United Democratic Nations would not include China.

It might be good to remember that the failure of the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations, was largely due to the refusal of the United States to participate. If the major players are not involved, then it seems like a UDN standing on the outside shouting at the others.

I tend to agree with Gary, that the existence of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, each with an absolute veto, is a flaw and a recipe for deadlock. At the formation of the UN, those were the big players, the winners of a recently fought big war, and that was the price they exacted in order to play. In geopolitics, every nation wants its edge. So now, it's 60 years later. Has the US changed so much that it is willing to relinquish that edge? I think not. Even the "democratic nations" have not become so altruistic.

Nevertheless, change begins with a dream. And we know that Gary is not the only one who thinks it is time for a change in the international regime.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the analysis of the concept. As you guessed, I look for opportune news stories (of which there are a lot) which prove the UN is not getting the job done.

Just to clarify I'm not proposing an isolationist policy. I very much believe in engagement, communication, the internet, and every tool that helps people decide to want freedom.

You mentioned that the UDN would cut out China. From my perspective we're already ignoring the billion Chinese. The man behind the "CHINA" plaque at the UN represents ONLY the dictators in charge. To pretend that they represent the Chinese people is a great disservice to both democracy and a billion people.

> I've long had doubts about the
> "democratic state" of most democratic
> states

Me too. Let me know when you find a better system.


Anonymous said...

In school I could not handle eight subjects at the time. Work on one or two, manage to get reasonable Marks, six at least plumeted.

Pose a question. Get an answer. The answer brings out ten other questions. Ten answers hold a myriad questions to be answered.

A new piece of music is out. Say eight people listen to it. Say, all those eight people like that music. Question those people why they like that music, what in particular moves them about it, no answer will be the same. All like it for different reasons.

Two parents. 9 Siblings. All in the same family unit. Sharing genes.How many are alike? And if two maybe are basically alike, in how many ways are they still different? If it comes to a life decision, would they react the same?

People join a political party, a church group. They make a choice for a group that comes closest to the way they think. But no one in the group is really the same. They come with their different backgrounds, their different opinions, their different fears...

The larger a groups grows, the more differences occur. Comes a time that two or three groups of people within start to be bugged by those differences and decide to split off the main group.

Many reporters to bring the world news to folks. None of those reporters is exactly the same. they report the news according to their own perception of what is going on. Their perception is formed from their own experiences, background, believe system, anxieties...

Democracy. An exercise in giving everyone equal choices. A small group may pull it off. Not so hard to give and take. You want this, he wants that, I not fully agree, but let's make a choice everyone can live with.

The party grows. Some decisions are made, you cannot agree with, not even partly consent to, without violating your on believes...

The party grows and grows and grows. In it those who are only out for their own gain. In it those who forget to think for themselves and accept theories blindly. In it those who truly want the best for everyone. But among those who want the best for everyone, are also the weaker ones, who when it comes down to it still choose for their own comfort...

The universe is complex. The world is complex. Individual people are complex.

I look at those subjects offered at university, losted in this blog. I think about subjects offered in discussion groups. I like debate. But very often more than not, I see how people are charmed with their own theories, how they expand the field of theories, based on details. And, how does that idiom go, not seeing the woods from the trees?

I've alays been pretty good at taking care of a small garden. work together with nature. Major gardening in a large field, is too complex for me. I let nature decide. She does pretty good in my eyes. Excellent, actually. But ho agrees with that?

The United Nations was a good concept. But it is a gathering of many chosen people of many chosen countries. The differences within must be multiple.

Life is bigger than all of us humans put together. I agree with Paul Tillichs' concept that it depends more on our individual decision making, our own insight and will, even if we remain a minority, to bring about that change Gary/Larry dreams about.

A web really can get tangled.

Anonymous said...

Did it again. Forgot to sign more significantly than anonymous.

Wild Thing!!!

Anonymous said...

Wild Thing: I have no idea what you're talking about...can you summarize in, say, a sentance or two?


Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm, precis have always been my worst subject in school. And I don't even know how to spell that word.It's when they present you with a long piece of writing and ask you to take out more than half and still keep the essential meaning.

Larry, I am trying to understand how the world full of humans works. Reading your latest blogs,I feel incomprehension. Not that you are not clear. I grasp the smaller concepts. The whole politcal scene to me is unoverseeable.

I don't know how we got where we are. Why seemingly good systems get corrupted.

When I observe masses of people. Car after car with one or more thinking creatures in it. High rise apartments with so many different thinking creatures in it. In towns. In cities. In metropalis'. In small countries and big countries, all over the world... all these people!

What is the common denomenator?

I feel frustrated by incomprehension.

If living peacefully in one family fails, almost everyhere, like make it work like a unit, how can peace work for the world?

See, I already am way over two sentences.

Why does democracy keep on failing?

When I was a kid there was, (after the war) a good democratic system developing and there were accomplishments of decent living for most people. Maybe it was like that in Canad,at one point. But other powers take over. Are the other powers capitalism and conservatism?

If I need to understand systems, do I need to understand people first? If I need to understand people, do I have to thoroughly understand myself and the people nearest to me in connection, first?

Big task. As induviduals we keep on changing.

Can we change things without such understanding?

I guess. Larry, I just started philosophying to myself. My paragraphs may seem unconnected. May seem to have nothing to do with the posted subject. All have as centre thought how in in more and more extensive deliberations, what's essential may get lost.

So, me, I can only try to help realise the dream within the small range of my limited understanding.

Sometimes words I really need to say something clear won't surface. A momentary handicap.

Before things got much better in Holland, I remember from what my parents told me, there was this democratic, socialistic leader, Koos Vorrink, who made a speech, and as he was described to me, I compare him to the civil right leader who's name won't pop in now. Koos Vorrink shouted out, "The rudder must be turned around! (Het roer moet om) and had his audiance, the common people, in tears.

Well, so much for the two sentences you asked for, Larry.

Anonymous said...

Naturally after clicking 'publish', the name Martin Luther King jr. pops in.

wild thing

Anonymous said...

My apologies to Gary, who I thought was made up by Larry to challence his own theories. Or just to get a conversation going. I do that sometimes. But Gary you are a real other person entering the conversations. Cool.

I am not much of a political beast, Gary. You may have noticed that allready. I have philosophies.
I am not surprised that a large organisation like the United Nations stops (or maybe never was?)being effective. As effective as we would want it to be. So many people, so many influences, good ones and evil ones. Evil ones can be the wolf that stuck his paw into the white flour and showed it under the door to the lambs, pretending to be the save mother. The lambs hadn't learned to be suspicious yet and voila, they fell for it.

Ever notice how old myths and very tales tell a truth?

There was in the news a report on how on a prime piece of land a community of people had a pleasant living. Beautiful nature. They were poor in assets but rich emotionally. So developers come around and offer them a large amount of money to go live somewhere else. Only a minority of people living there refused, valued what they had, more than money. The news treated it as a success story, showed those happy people with their money and plans of what to do with it. The minority lost out.

Another beautiful piece of nature lost. And that is treated as a success story? Getting further and further removed from natural environments?

And I thought of Hansel and Gretel. They were hungry enough to be lured with a house made of candy. Didn't see the trap.

I could go on. but I am not. You got the idea.

Hey, I am a dovetalewriter blogger. I see best through stories Larry knows. Right Larry? He do dovetalewriting too.

So, Gary, I introduced myself. Welcome to Larry's mental blog, where I also am only a guest.

Wild Thing

Anonymous said...

I guess that answers the question.


Larry Keiler said...

WT, one of the questions you raise is how we solve the problem of democracies getting too large, too diverse. This is one of the problems with a democratic model. It always works best in smaller groups. And I think the reason it works best that way is simply because it's easier to communicate, and much much easier to reach a consensus. I've always found that in small groups, you hardly ever have to really vote because through discussion everybody can agree.

In most democracies the problem is addressed by having representative government. We vote for somebody and they're supposed to represent our interests. Right away, you can see difficulties. Your interest is already once removed. And people being people, the representative can be swayed, or persuaded, or bought, or borrowed. We have to trust that they are honest. Too often, this gets abused.

Gary's right, however. There doesn't seem to be a better system available at the moment. What's the best way to determine the will of the people? A vote every four years? Government by plebiscite, where everybody votes on everything? This is possible now, what with internet & rapid mass communication. But is it really any good? The will of the majority is not necessarily the right thing to do. (Even Jean Chretien knew that!) What if the majority voted in a referendum that all Muslims should be tarred & feathered?

I understand your frustration, WT. This political and economic stuff is way too complex to understand without spending all your time studying it. And maybe not even then. There's so much going on under the surface that we don't know about.

I've had this idea for some time that it's too complex for any single person to grasp. There is no possibility anymore of a Renaissance man/woman...someone who can really grab the big picture and make sense of it all and work with it. Now, everybody has their own little piece of it, and a big job to master even that. many ways, you're right to tend your own garden. I forget who said it...All politics is local. If your own garden is in order, you're in order (as long as you don't decide you have to put everyone else's garden in order too...which is how you get disputes and wars.) And your orderly garden is a model for the other gardeners.

Of course, Nature Woman WT, your garden is undoubtedly a riot, since nature loves order in the guise of chaos!

Larry Keiler said...

Koos Vorrink could have been a country singer: Give me forty acres, and I'll turn this truck around!

Anonymous said...

Larry, here's one of my favorite quotes I'll contribute to the discussion...

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time”
E. B. White (American writer 1899-1985)


Anonymous said...

I do believe that in spite of the many flaws in the system that democracy is the best choice. I've always voted for it.

Sometimes I wonder if it is because I am conditioned that way. I grew up in a democratic family & surroundings. Naturally this didn't get expression until after the war, when there was no choice. Had to be all Hitler.

I remember friends of my parents who were communists. And friends of neighbours, we often saw, who were communists. That was in the time of Stalin. I remember a communist person arguing for the good of dictatorship. I think this argument was based on situations in Spain. Wasn't Tito the ruler there? He, (not Tito) explained that to have a viable system for the welvare of the country, you need educated people with a knowhow of economics and so. (I may not have that totally right, but close enough.) He thought that the majority of people in that time,without education, needed people to lead them the right way.

That made a little bit of sense to me. Since I needed the wisdom of my parents to help me make the right choices.

Of course now I know that to do it right, you have to educate those people so they too can make educated choices. Not repress them.

Wasn't the original idea Karl Marx had, a good one?

I have even heard that in the field of religion, Calvin, who's leadership led to Calvinism, a dictatorshop of sorts, he himself would not have tolerated the situations that grew from his ideas. That was not what he meant it to be.

I guess all systems go astray. It is up to the people to be alert, to not blindly follow, and help the system stay on track with room for change.

War is not the way to do it. That I am sure of.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine in New Brunswick, an artist, was a communist in thinking. He grew up in the States. He was a communist in the way that he believed in the grassroots beginnings of it. He thought that every one, all people should be on welvare, meaning that we all should have equal income, enough for shelter, food and comfortable living. Each should have time to be creative. There is enough for all.

He and his Japanese wife,lived that way. Both artists. (He died recently high in his eighties). When I, living in the cabin, rented a room from them to store many of my belongings, they set a really decent price. One time I payed, and Isoa, the woman, handed me back the money and said, "I don't need it this month." They did their own gardenin, had enough food that way, had their art and lived frugally. Didn't want more than they needed. Nowadays their children, two boys, teach in other countries, seeing to the needs of people, living simple.

Wild Thing. Previous comment too. (smile)

Help! I've written and I can't get up!