Monday, 11 June 2007

George W. Bush, War and Democracy

(Photo:Anti-Bush demonstrations in Rome, by zoen). Saturday, June 9th, U.S. President Mr George W. Bush visited Rome and Vatican City. Thousands of people demonstrated in the streets of the Italian capital against war: a good deal of pacific citizens, in spite of about a hundred violent hooded men making brawl with the police (repubblica.it).
Besides, few people joined the sit-in protest set up in San Giovanni square by Comunisti Italiani, Rifondazione Comunista and Verdi. Sinistra Democratica did’t join the sit-in, while Democratici di Sinistra’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Massimo D’Alema criticized all of them, saying that MP supporting the government shouldn’t demonstrate at all: “abbiamo un solo dovere: governare, e non scendere in piazza” [we've got just one duty: to rule, and not to protest] (
repubblica.it). The Center-Right stigmatized the divisions inside the Center-Left coalition (corriere.it).
Peaceful citizens, such as the
No Dal Molin movement from Vicenza, were left alone: they were squeezed between many doubtful politicians and few violent protesters. Those peaceful thousands of citizens were all marked as ‘anti-American’ (corriere.it), even those Americans who joined the demonstration to reject war in Iraq.
May protests against war really damage democracy? “Le nombre toujours croissant des propriétaires amis de la paix, le développement de la richesse mobilière, que la guerre dévore si rapidement, cette mansuétude des mœurs, cette mollesse de coeur, cette disposition à la pitié que l'égalité inspire, cette froideur de raison qui rend peu sensible aux poétiques et violentes émotions qui naissent parmi les armes, toutes ces causes s'unissent pour éteindre l'esprit militaire. [...]
Tous les ambitieux que contient une armée démocratique souhaitent […] la guerre avec véhémence, parce que la guerre vide les places et permet enfin de violer ce droit de l’ancienneté, qui est le seul privilège naturel à la démocratie.
Nous arrivons ainsi à cette conséquence singulière que, de toutes les armées, celle qui désirent le plus ardemment la guerre sont les armées démocratiques, et que, parmi les peuples, ceux qui aiment le plus la paix sont les peuples démocratiques; et ce qui achève de rendre la chose extraordinaire, c’est que l’égalité produit à la fois ces effets contraires.”
(
Alexis de Tocqueville, De la démocratie en Amérique, 1840, vol. II, ch. XXII).

3 comments:

fabrizio said...

Je ne parle pas francais!

Edm said...

Well, the meaning of Tocqueville's quotation is more or less the following. In democratic countries, people want peace because it preserves their richness and equality; on the other hand, ambitious soldiers living in the same countries want war because it's the only way for them to by-pass the army's hierarchy. So, here is the paradox: democratic equality produces two opposite effects.
Anyway, Fabrizio, you are able to speak Piedmontese, isn’t? Didn’t you really catch the meaning in French? You’re joking, for sure…

fabrizio said...

I can, I don't want to ;-)