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Re: [casi] Democracy, polls, food for thought

> In fact is there some thing called true democracy with all
> the talk about by the people for the people people or we are
> dreaming?

Dear Ghazwan and List,

The principle sounds noble enough. But in the 'true' sense,
I'd say no. An ideal yes - and functionally better than the
ruling monarchies. But since the industrial revolution 'democracy'
is just a synonym for 'capitalism'. And now it's unabashedly
finanical oligarchy, ie corporatism - promoting globalization,
neoliberalism...the New World Order.

Corporations put government leaders place - Bush is the best
president the oil industry could buy. Of course, people get to
vote. But more than ever corporations own and control government.
And they own and control the media. It's just a different kind
of dictatorship...I think. This is particularly noticeable in
the US, but it's more or less the same in all the so-called
western democracies.

So the media manipulates public opinion - or thinks it does.
At least it suppresses items that run counter to corporate
interests, eg. anti-globalization and anti-war opinions.
And it faithfully parrots government propaganda - the bigger
the lies...

On Iraq you can have any opinion you like, as long as it's
pro war. Anti-war demonstrations get scant mention in
the press. And prominent (ie, influential) war opponents are
scorned as "Saddam supporters", "professional anti-Americans",
or "bleeding hearts". (eg, Canadian, US, and German media.)

A more extreme example from the German press where not
even money could buy "free speech". (I don't think this
could have happened elsewhere):

When Bush visited Europe last May, German peace movements
and prominent individuals decided to take out a full-page
ad in a national (liberal) newspaper. The ad was to say:
"We don't want your war, Mr. President. We don't want any
wars - followed by all the signatures. The publishers refused
to print the ad. (Instead they put in their own ad: "Welcome,
Mr. President".) People wrote furious furious letters about
democracy to the editor, which the paper obligingly printed.

Presumably George W. would never have seen this anti-war ad,
but it would have sent a strong peace message to undecided
German readers - this is an influencial paper.

So I fear the Arab respondents to Al-Jazeera's poll are right:
to be effective, the anti-war sentiments of the public would
need strong media support. And according to Halliday, Iraqis
are only too aware that no-one "in power" will stand up for them.

> Does that mean that politicians are counting on people to
> switch their opinion and follow the leader right or wrong
> and support the war.

I don't know what they are counting on. They certainly don't
like public dissent - may even fear it. But corporations have
power which public opinion doesn't have. Still, if public
dissent grows stronger and stays consistent it may get a
voice. But it will take time. Another revolution, like the
French? Or else, Oceania and Brave New World rolled in one?

But many people are certainly getting fed up with the inane
propaganda the papers insult their readers with - and to
no effect it seems.

"What's right about a Bush", asked an editorial. Answer:
everything. With his 'Lincolnesque' view Bush must perform the
"'labour of Hercules' confronting him", gushes the writer - ie,
bomb, invade and occupy Iraq; then go on to the next country.

On the opposite page, several letters to the editor soundly
condemn Bush and his wars. Example: "Diabolical plot" - Re:
Bush 'sick and tired of deception', Jan. 15:

     "The United States is... in total disregard of
     international law.
     The aid group Doctors Without Borders can attest as to
     how severely the sanctions have hurt the Iraqi people,
     and their children, not to mention the impact of the
     continuous bombing by the United States.

     What about the principles of national sovereignty, human
     rights, and the self-determination of nations? Should the
     U.S. ignore these truth, they will be guilty of a criminal
     offence. The diabolical intention of the U.S. is to impose
     a new social and economic system on Iraq that would make
     it a better fit in a globalized world. Globalization, after
     all, is a concentration of economic and political power
     that could result in the enslavement of human kind under
     one world power - a dictatorship.

     I cannot believe that the world will tolerate such a fraud,
     hyped up by media propaganda, without millions of people
     protesting this injustice, aggressive transgression and
     violation of international law."

The media and the public values are not in sync said a
recent article in the Globe and Mail: "It's not Canadians
who've gone to the right, just their media".

"Right on, right on", wrote the readers. One reader said:
"My wife and I... are news junkies and your paper happens
to be the best of a very sorry lot. How sad."

Here are some excerpts from the article:

--------------Start Fwd--------------
Globe and Mail

"It's not Canadians who've gone to the right, just
their media"


Thursday, January 23, 2003 -- Print Edition, Page A19

"'You have a bit of a problem here,' a European diplomat
was saying over lunch last week. 'Your media are not
representative of your people, your values.'

So many of the political commentators are right of centre,
the diplomat said, while Canadians themselves are in the
moderate middle. There's a disconnect.

Who could disagree?

Witness Defence Minister John McCallum and his suggestion
that Canada might fight a war alongside the United States
even if the United Nations did not find reason for one.
The media applauded the sentiment. As for Canadians
themselves, a poll was taken: A piddling 15 per cent
favoured such an option.

Canadians aren't becoming more like Americans. It is their
media that are becoming bolder imitations. The press, it
might well be said, is moving away from the people.

Take Canada's two national papers... .There are some other
perspectives from middle-of-the-road columnists as well as
weekly contributors. But there is not one full-time
left-of-centre political columnist.

There are holdouts in the print world....

But the moderate voices, as the Iraqi crisis attests, are
increasingly being drowned out.

Some wonder, for example, how there could be almost as
much of a drumbeat for an Iraq war in the Canadian media
as in the United States. Some wonder how President George
W. Bush's allegations can be reported at face value by
Canadian journalists. If it were in years gone by, my
guess would be there would be reams of articles on how he
has been humiliated by United Nations weapons inspectors
finding nothing, on how he has plummeted in the polls, on
how he gets away with such assertions that Saddam Hussein
has the capacity to invade America and ruin its economy.
But that would be in the Canada of years gone by, before
the media forces of the right gained the predominant

Best regards,
Elga Sutter

--------------Original Message--------------
From: "Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar" <>
Subject: [casi] Democracy, polls, food for thought
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 15:57:51 +0300

Dear list members

Arabs see the anti war sentiments as having very little effects on the
impending war on Iraq. Al-Jazeera satellite channel run a poll in which
nearly 77% of the respondent say that war will happen despite the anti war
demonstrations and sentiment. The Guardian suggested support for military
action was at its lowest point yet. Just 30 per cent of those quizzed
supported the use of force, against 47 per cent who opposed it. I am sure
the opposition to war will increase in the next few days to reach above

Assuming that the Arabs are right and the war starts with such high public
opposition to it what does that mean to democracy? Does that mean that
politicians are counting on people to switch their opinion and follow the
leader right or wrong and support the war. Do the Arabs understand that
how democracy works, better than the west? In fact is there some thing
true democracy with all the talk about by the people for the people people
we are dreaming? Please dont tell me that every system has its weakness.

I am not criticizing I am just puzzled.

Best regards

Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar

Baghdad. Iraq

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