International Studies Political Conflict and Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The definition of democracy intensifies the ideals of the individual, as it regards the individual as a very important cog in the wheel of representation. In fact as the work points out the collective idea of social unrest lies not in individualism but in the fact that the individual ideal was to strong for third world political institutions to bear up under. (30) Yet, the individualistic ideals of today's society, are incongruent with true representation. We as members of "democratic" nation are taught to celebrate our differences and yet the human ability to celebrate any differences but our own is inherently flawed as individuals cannot recognize value in an "other" without much exposure and ideological challenge to themselves as a valuable individual defined by their differences. The self is, by its very nature associated with the ideal of better than, simply by the virtue of its separateness.

The stanch democratic proponent would say that the weakness of the individual (collectively) leaves a whole group at a disadvantage, one that is likely to lead to realization of authoritarian rule (31) yet how is this possible as the needs of all individuals are subverted by the idea of individualism itself. Nationalism is a more likely cause for the inherent seed of authoritative rule as the fear (of those in power) of the oppression of the whole of a nation overrides their fear of the collective individual and they therefore feel the need to force the collective individual into a protective or proprietary stance to bolster the whole of the nation, for the good of all (in the minds of the leaders) some will have to be sacrificed, be they a perceived internal or external threat.

Not so long ago many third world leaders insisted that not only would it be difficult to establish democracy in their countries, but that it was not even desirable at that stage of their development. In Africa, many first generation, postcolonial leaders created single-party systems, banning or restricting opposition political parties. They often argued that ethnic tensions in their country made competitive elections too risky because they would prompt different political parties to represent contending tribes or clans, further polarizing the country.

Though the idea of a polarized nation based on ethnic differences is what a democratic proponent would call undesirable it is often the realization of the oppression of the "other" by those in power. Postcolonial governments, be they native or nonnative are almost exclusively ruled by those who retained a certain amount of power within the colonial system and often this seemingly economic determinant was actually the realization of ethnic identity.

The ethnicity of an "other" population often determined their relative ability to succeed in the given culture. Those who were considered members of a "friendly" or at least unobtrusive ethnic background were afforded the opportunity to gain wealth, a precursor to power and influence, and then retain such influence after the evacuation of the invading population. Though most would say that there are no other forms of government which can better serve the whole of humanity, as all have to some degree tried and failed to represent the whole either through strict adherence to the demands and knowledge of a single ruler (or a small body of elite) or through the largely unrealized ideal of the whole of the population being represented by all of their needs collectively.

As a group Americans have assigned themselves a role as the protector and spreader of democratic representation all over the world (35) and yet we are also the culture where individualism is the most prevalent idealism. Every voice must be heard in a cascading symphony gluttonous of self-indulgence, with an occasional insertion of an unrealized and clique ideal about inclusion and fairness. You can be certain of the voice of every person as that of their own special needs and interests. Though the needs of the whole are said to be met by this cacophony the reality is often unrealized even in what many consider to be the most "democratic" government in the world. The reality of our emerging culture is the gradual loss of the middle class, seemingly so important to the democratic proponent (37). The defining voice of our nation is becoming more rather than less elitist as the very rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while the middle class really becomes the wealthy poor in their inability to self determine and…

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