Is western democracy good for the world?
Saturday, 1 November, 2003
Many of the supporters of the war in Iraq saw its purpose as regime change and political transformation toward democracy throughout Iraq and the Middle East.
But is western-style democracy good for the world or is it just another example of cultural imperialism?
BBC News Online, BBC World Service Radio and American National Public Radio stations will bring together opinions from around the world in a global interactive phone-in from London on Saturday, 8 November.
democracy mean to you where you live? Is flawed democracy better than none at all? Has the
west created the ideal model, the liberal democracy? Or is the democratic process
unworkable as a universal model?
You can watch the programme LIVE by coming back to this webpage at 1800GMT on Saturday, 8 November. Alternatively, tune in to BBC World Service radio, or your local NPR station in the USA.
Use the form to
give your comment or ask a question. Please include a telephone number if you would like
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Why restrict us to the US brand of democracy? The Americans have one style, the British another and the Swiss a third (and there are other minor variations on these).
stops at the ballot box and governments appoint outsiders to fill key roles, often with
political bias. British democracy also stops at the ballot box but doesn't rely so much on
unelected officials. Swiss democracy is continuous with frequent referendums for the
citizens to tell the government their wishes and the government being obliged to carry
them out. Personally, I believe that the Swiss style of democracy has far more to offer
other countries than the US brand because the population is in control of its own destiny
and not under the whim of unelected officials.
"Democracy" isn't actually democracy at all, it is just an illusion of democracy
Western "Democracy" isn't actually democracy at all, it is just an illusion of democracy, based on this ludicrous idea of "free election" that gives people the impression that they are living in a "free society".
Whoever gets into power in western countries is essentially the same as the last person who got into power. In that respect it is no different from a totalitarian system where the same leader always gets elected. We may elect different leaders but they all act in the same way once elected.
It makes no
difference whether you live in the west or the east. Any system where one person is in
charge of a country basically revolves around power, and nobody is going to want to do
that job unless they crave power.
flaws, democracy has proved to be the best model for avoiding wars and protecting
liberties. Let's be thankful for what we've got and work to improve it, not destroy it.
As long as states
of the world wish to be (or to remain) part of the United Nations, there's little room for
discussion. UN Charter rules, and other international treaties ratified by so many
non-democratic countries of the world, make it clear that respect for Human Rights and
Democracy is a condition sine qua non. There is a contradiction in the fact that China is
a permanent UN SC member and at the same time opposes democracy and human rights because
they would be a "western ideology". It's not an issue of cultural homologation,
but coherence with freely accepted international binding obligations should be required.
If democracy is NOT good, then I doubt whether most of the participants in this discussion group would have been able to air their opinion fairly and squarely! br />Vnay Citnis, Poona, India
Judging by how
western-style democracies have prospered, the answer is yes. Sure, you'll get comments
from socialist, anarchists, but do they really know what it is like to live under a
dictatorship? In fact, the very reason they can voice their opinions is due to democracy.
democracy succeeds, it delivers social stability, respect for human rights and freedoms
for everyone and, as a result, increased prosperity. If certain cultures don't want that,
then that is there choice - but they need to realise that they cannot expect to enjoy the
same quality of life as westerners without taking on board at least some of the values and
structures of the west. Western democracy and quality of life are a package deal.
democracy is good. Bahrain now has a democratically elected parliament. The people now
feel that they have a say in the running of the country, even though there are some
Islamic extremists in parliament, they are a minority. Also, there has never been a war
between two democracies, so it must be good for world peace.
freedoms of expression and an independent judiciary is the most scientific, reasonable and
balanced option currently available. Scientific because it relies on feedback from the
people, reasonable because it understands that people are essentially human, and if they
err, it might be time for a better replacement. And balanced because the views of all who
care to vote are reflected. Any country that cares enough about the above qualities can
make democracy work. There is nothing inherently western about it.
Are we talking
about the presidential democracy of USA or about a parliamentary democracy? I think we
really need to clarify the differences! I also believe it is easier for people from
authoritarian countries to transition to a USA style presidential democracy than to a
Democracy takes different forms which differs from one culture to another, therefore we
cannot take that western concept and just stick it into other countries saying that's
democracy...you must respect other's traditions even if they don't go with what you call
The western style
of democracy has given value addition to human liberty and thereby fostered a sense of
growth and progress. The spirit of accommodation from people of varied faiths and beliefs
is the core success of all democracies in the world and found to be true with our
establishments in India.
principles of democracy - free speech, free religious choice, free enterprise, equal
rights, voting, and so forth - are good, I don't think the current Western style
democracies based on capitalism are applicable around the world. It gives big business too
much power and coerces governments to adapt laws that favour them even more. Furthermore,
the selective process of who can run for office is too often related to personal wealth.
People who have leadership capabilities should stand for office by a selective, objective
process, not by who you know or how rich you are. So, until we can elect from a group of
people who are leaders, regardless of their material assets, democracy still has a long
way to go.
that we have a say in the final decision, that the government must act on the desires of
the majority, unless they oppress the rights of the minority.
Yes, it is and
the proof is the mass immigration to all the western democracies. Some people will argue
that the mass immigration is economic, but they don't realize that the two are linked. It
can work anywhere in the world, but it is not easy.
true democracy only works in sparsely populated locations. The western-style democracy is
not some sort of veiled imperialism, but rather it is an attempt at creating some stable
form of government with relation to economic and technological innovations.
It's not really
imperialism, because we're not imposing our will on anyone. If countries in which we
install democracy then elect governments that don't agree with us, then fine. At least now
the people can DECIDE whether or not they want an anti-western government rather than
having it impose on them.
There is no such
thing as an ideal democracy. How can something be ideal when the idea is "one man,
one vote" without taking into consideration the man himself who is casting the vote.
I live in Pakistan where people vote on the basis of tribe, caste, family and many other
factors but the main point regarding the leader's qualities is not on that list. What if
people of a country want a King will that choice be called a democracy?
democracy is perhaps the best thing for all countries. It means freedom - which means that
we are free to vote and to have our freedom to do what we want.
goes hand-in-hand with western culture and values, you cannot easily transfer these mores
and codes of behaviour to cultures they are foreign to.
If western style
democracy means US policy then I'd say no that it is not a good idea to be spreading such
a democracy around the world. US policy has isolated only one extremist group - its own.
Each states' democracy should be left to the will of its people, and not to the
administration in London or Washington.
democracy is good for the world. It's not an issue of culture, its a system of government.
You can have an Islamic democracy, a Hindu democracy, a Christian democracy, or separation
of church and state. The point is to have leaders who are held accountable to ALL of a
nation's citizens - it doesn't matter how, and it doesn't involve culture. This is
essential for a peaceful world.