I’m sorry to have been off the air yesterday; I spent a long day with the promising young band Bulletproof Soul at Avatar Studios, mixing some of the material we recorded a few weeks ago. I am also working at the office all day today, so can’t write at length now either — but it appears that our recent post about the distinction between democracy and government-by-consent has sparked a discussion that it would be interesting to continue.
Obviously democracy is far from perfect: as Churchill famously said, “it is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Bill Vallicella, clearly sensing that the topic was in the air, yesterday linked to a blog post by philosopher Colin McGinn (whose blog, by the way, we have just added to our sidebar). Go and read Bill’s post, and McGinn’s, here.
Meanwhile, our old friend Jess Kaplan (not to be confused with commenter JK) has sent us a link to a provocative article from the Sacramento Bee, in which the author, Stanford professor Joel Brinkley, argues that the United States’ recent bungling and ham-fisted ineptitude have made the promulgation of democracy seem rather distasteful. You can read the article here.
Finally, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been reading Franklin and Winston, a fascinating account of the wartime friendship between these two great men. In it we have an excerpt from a speech given by Churchill at Harvard on September 6th, 1943, in which he speaks of America’s responsibility to reject the temptation of isolationism, and to accept its inevitable role in history:
There was no use in saying “We don’t want it; we won’t have it; our forebears left Europe to avoid these quarrels; we have founded a new world which has no contact with the old.” There was no use in that. The long arm [of destiny] reaches out remorselessly, and everyone’s existence, everyone’s environment, and outlook undergo a swift and irresistible change. …
I will offer you one explanation — there are others, but one will suffice. The price of greatness is responsibility. If the people of the United States had continued in a mediocre station, struggling with the wilderness, absorbed in their own affairs, and a factor of no consequence in the movement of the world, they might have remained forgotten and undisturbed beyond their protecting oceans: but one cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.
If this has been proved in the past, as it has been, it will become indisputable in the future. The people of the United States cannot escape world responsibility.
There is no halting-place at this point. We have now reached a stage in the journey where there can be no pause. We must go on. It must be world anarchy or world order.
So, all of this ought to give us something to chew on! In particular the question of how to reconcile the need for “world order” with the sorry mess that the UN has become should concern us as well.
But for now, back to work I must go.