Thursday, October 25, 2012

How Democracies Die: A Lesson from History

You know the old sayings, "history repeats itself" and "everything old is new again"? Mike Lofgren over at TruthOut has a great piece entitled How Democracies Die that is well worth the read:

Picture a country at the height of its international power and prestige. It has military forces stationed around the globe. It is an intellectual leader. Its citizens are pleased to insist that the national idea, their country's way of life, is a beacon of enlightenment and human rights for the rest of the world. Indeed, they are wont to harp on the notion that the country embodies the very concept of Western Civilization.
But beneath the fa├žade of greatness there is creeping rot. The rich (who are accustomed to getting their way in all things) corrupt the system and buy the people's representatives in this venerable democracy. The country lurches towards political polarization and, predictably, the machinery of orderly governance becomes gridlocked. The politicians of the right, who take every opportunity to bellow for increased spending on the military, refuse to raise the revenues to pay for it. Why?
Sounds familiar, does it? Go ahead and read it to learn which country it really was (hint: Not the US) and the attendant warning signs that it presents to us in 21st Century America.


Nan said...

Have you read The First Salute by Barbara Tuchman? Her description of the decline of the Netherlands in the 18th century has some obvious parallels with the U.S. now, too.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks for the tip, Nan. I haven't read it although I've read other books of hers. I'll check it out for sure.
-- The F Man