International Organizations and their utter lack of accountability

United Nations

International Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank lack political and legal accountability. These supranational organizations are immune from any US federal, state or other national jurisdicitons, regardless of where they are headquartered. Furthermore, they generally lack political accountability. Although the country representatives in say the UN or the WTO are appointed by national executives (like the process for ministers), there is really no transparency or electoral feedback that evaluates these representatives and the organizations’ good governance. Worse, the IMF and World Bank chiefs are named by the EU and the United States respectively, thus alienating the rest of the world. At least the WTO (generally the most criticized of these organizations) allows each member state to have equal voting power.

In the US, the UN is continuously criticized for this lack of accountability and henceforth encrouching on US sovereignty. On the other hand, in Europe the UN is often hailed as the panacea for the world’s ills. Both are mislead. The US is wrong in that it is holding onto to sovereignty at a time in history where the trend is to yeild a degree of it for the better good of the entire globe. The EU is innocent in thinking that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s be honest, a non-transparent, non-accountable international organization is nothing more than the sum of all of the corruption in each of its member states. What is needed is serious UN reform, something that is extremely difficult to achieve for it would mean that certain fat cats (such as France, the US, and Russia would lose their relative weight and veto power).

All in all what concerns me the most . . .

in the here in now is immunity from jurisdiction. For example, in Washington, DC, the World Bank Group (including the IBRD and its parts, the IMF, and the IDB) is the second leading employer after the Federal government. Nevertheless, the World Bank Group is not subject to labor or workplace discrimination laws (or any other laws for that matter). It is completely self governing. That means that any World Bank employee (be her a US citizen or not) has no independent forum to redress her claims if she has been sexually harrassed by a superior or discriminated against. As a matter of fact, I have seen these cases arise before. A claim is brought internally, and a staff member or ombudsperson evaluates the validity of the claim. These claims are almost always dropped and the injured party receives absolutely no redress and intimidation. So here you have an organization that employs large numbers of people, yet these people are unprotected by the law.

Beyond the problems of labor law, there are also serious questions of abuse, as seen in the article below. It may be comforting to know that not only US soldiers may be abusive while on duty, but also the beloved UN Peace Keepers.

U.N. investigated over 300 for sex abuse

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer

The United Nations has investigated more than 300 members of U.N. peacekeeping missions for alleged sexual exploitation and abuse during the past three years and more than half were fired or sent home, according to a senior U.N. official.

The announcement came as the United Nations was trying to determine whether a report in a British newspaper involved new allegations or ones the U.N. had investigated or was investigating. The Daily Telegraph report alleged U.N. personnel in southern Sudan were involved in sexual exploitation and abuse of more than 20 children.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jane Holl Lute said Friday that the U.N. has done more in the last two years than ever before to try to combat sex abuse in its 16 peacekeeping missions “but we’re not satisfied with where we are.”

With nearly 200,000 people from more than 100 countries rotating through the peacekeeping missions every year, some people “are going to behave badly,” she told a news conference. “What’s different now is … our determination to stay with this problem … and constantly improve our ability to deal with it.”

Between January 2004 and the end of November 2006, Lute said, the U.N. investigated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving 319 peacekeeping personnel “in all missions” — from East Timor, the Middle East and Africa to Kosovo and Haiti.

This resulted in the summary dismissal of 18 civilians and the repatriation of 17 international police and 144 military personnel, she said.

According to the Department of Peacekeeping, during the first 10 months of 2006, 63 percent of all misconduct allegations involving peacekeeping personnel were related to sexual exploitation and abuse, a third of them to prostitution.

While allegations of abuse have dogged peacekeeping missions since their inception more than 50 years ago, the issue was thrust into the spotlight after the United Nations found in early 2005 that peacekeepers in Congo had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money.

Jordan’s U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein wrote a report several months later that described the U.N. military arm as deeply flawed and recommended withholding the salaries of the guilty and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators. It said abuses had been reported in missions ranging from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor, West Africa and Congo.

The U.N. peacekeeping department instituted a new code of conduct for peacekeepers and new training for officers and all U.N. personnel, and it reinforced messages of “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse.

A new anti-prostitution campaign is about to start “to target what has been a troubling pathway for sexual exploitation and abuse in the missions,” Lute said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Peacekeeping corrected information it supplied Thursday that four U.N. peacekeepers from Bangladesh have been sent home and 13 other peacekeepers serving in southern Sudan are under investigation for alleged serious misconduct including sexual exploitation and abuse.

According to the department, there are currently 13 sexual exploitation and abuse cases under investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services in Sudan (OIOS), half in southern Sudan.

These cases include an investigation into an allegation of sexual exploitation and abuse in June 2006 against a Bangladeshi peacekeeper in southern Sudan. While the OIOS investigation is continuing, the department said the peacekeeper was sent home and dismissed from the army.

In addition, three Bangladeshi guards on duty when the alleged incident took place and two officers were repatriated for poor supervision or poor command. The Bangladeshi army dismissed one guard, lowered the rank of the two others, and severely reprimanded the two officers, the Peacekeeping Department said.

47 Comments

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47 responses to “International Organizations and their utter lack of accountability

  1. I very much agree with you. The UN is in urgent need of reform. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening since those in power don’t tend to give it up. So maybe we need to start over. Here’s my proposal…

    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

    More democratic, less vulnerable to the influence of dictatorships.

    What do you think?

    gary

  2. Stephen

    A point of information–The World Bank includes the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and IDA and the World Bank Group includes the World Bank, the IFC, MIGA and ICSID. The IMF is a separate organization and its staff use UN passports. Technically, IMF and WB staff travel under UN passports but are not subordinate to the UN. The IDB is a separate organization and its staff travel under OAS passports and is not subordinate to the OAS.

  3. eric

    Stephen,

    Yes, thanks for your clarification. For simplicity’s sake, I spoke of the “Group” as including the IBRD (meaning the Bank, IFC, MIGA, IDA) and the IMF as one piece — all of which fall under Bretton Woods and the UN umbrella. For the sake of DC, I would also include the OAS and IDB as major employers not subject to DC labor laws and standards.

  4. Each and every political vehicle/institution is nothing more than the furtherance of the social pretense, which is moronic.

    Any and all attempts at “global political solutions” will amount to nothing more than its predecessors: a pack of tool making monkeys humping a greased football.

    “Why” you ask? Standards of human behavior: avarice is the leader, always has been, always will be.

    Give up on idea, it is ill-gotten from the inseption. No organisation will withstand the corruptibility of the individuals within, they all rot internally. Has history taught us nothing?

  5. James, History teaches that all institutions slide towards disfunction. Just like the UN. So are you saying that you don’t believe in the principle of democracy at all?

    gart

  6. Democracy is a ruse cousin, and poorly played one at that, as it will always tend toward the entropic state of either fascism or socialism.

    Democracy is not a principle, it is another example of systemic belief only upheld by the ignominious social pretense. Democracy does not afford freedom, it affords the expectation of such, which is pure fallacy.

    The only thing close to “freedom”, in the purely definitional sense, is anarchy. All else is just a modality of group think, and wille zur macht control over the masses by the “elite” few.

    Even in Espana, you are not truly “free”, now are you, my American cousin?

  7. James,

    I definitely agree that democracy tends to slide away and requires constant attention, no arguement there.

    I suspect your definition of freedom and mine are not the same. So forget the symantics game…what is an example of a “good” country from your perspective? Specifically, what country comes closest to the sort of place you would want to live and raise your family? Your answer will help me understand your stand on democracy.

    gary

  8. Salutations gary,

    Freedom, is an impossibility, beyond being considered a philosophical argument.

    No country has been, or ever will be, “democratically free”. It simply isn’t a sustainable system in the hominid realm. Competition demands superiority and subjugation, difference and disparity. The best way to control, is to give the appearance of that which cannot be proven to exist in evidence, but is eluded to as possibility.

    Who has more freedom, gary? The slave that knows the length of his chains, or the “freeman” who isn’t aware of the chains at all?

    Even within the microcosm of familial entity, democracy is a fallacy. The parents are the regime, under the pretense of “guiding parenthood”.

    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche covered it best:
    What are man’s truths ultimately? Merely his irrefutable errors.

    The belief in democracy is such an error.

  9. James,

    You completely ignored my question.

    gary

  10. eric

    Gary,

    To answer your question posed to James in which country would you want your children to grow up, I think that most people would prefer to bring up their family in their own country and culture. Our course in extremely poor countries or one with very limited rights, people would prefer to emigrate. Where to go? I think that depends. I don’t think there is much of a difference in the quality of life/freedom in any of the EU member states and in the US. It really depends on where you are from, your language, and what you want to achieve. What I can say for sure after living in Spain for 6+ years is that the great majority of Spaniards will always be happier living in Spain than in any other country in the world. And vice versa, the majority of Americans are probably going to be happier in the US than in Spain or in Europe. People are simply more comfortable where they are from.

    And in terms of the question of democracy, there really is no viable alternative.

  11. gary,

    As Eric pointed out, choice of locale is of little consequence, once the immersion into the social pretense has taken hold. Under generalisation, most will be complacent with the familiarity of the known, not opting for change of venue. This is especially true once child rearing comes into the picture, because we assume greater security exists in what we are familiar with in community and culture.

    If the choice was to be freely made, and the state was less fascist, I would likely opt for Italy, perhaps even Sicily.

    I was obtuse because your question is rather semantic, as pointed out by Eric. Less of a choice of “free will” than most any would be capable of logically entertaining.

  12. TheCommentKiller

    On a different note, but more related to what Eric wrote about: In 2002-03 i represented a woman that was living with and working for a family from Cameroon, the “man of the house” worked for the World Bank. The woman was basically their domestic slave (she cooked, cleaned and raised the child). They brought her over from Cameroon and she worked 7 days a week; was not allowed out of the house unescorted by the family; and she was physically abused. After three years they finally let her go to church down the street on her own. Someone at church contacted friends of theirs from Cameroon who contacted us.

    We literally went in the home and freed the woman. It was totally NUTS. We commenced a civil case against the family and the husband threatened to get her deported (as she didn’t have proper papers) if we didn’t drop the case and not call the police. She agreed.

    On the macro-level i agree that they multi-national agencies are awful, but they, particularly the World Bank Group (WBG) and IMF, are simply the pawns of the big multi-national corporations. And i have not clue how Wolfowitz, one of the worst creatures to be roaming the earth, heads the WBG. Wolfowitz is the designer of the war in iraq and believes in that the U.S. can only be sucessful if it is in a state of perpetual war… as the rest of the clowns from the Project for a New American Century believe. If you need to draft a list of people that reasonable for awful U.S. foriegn and domestic policies PNAC is a good place to starts, also a good place to start a list of people that should be sent to Guantanamo- these guys are the real terrorists.

  13. Two things there cousin:

    You’re story of the female from Cameroon sucks. They threaten to deport her for telling the truth, and nothing is done about it? How about telling them to F off, wait for the attempted deportation, then applying for sanctuary, (considering she is a non-combatant illegally held captive and abused, she should have been protected under international laws)?

    Apparently my cousin hasn’t spent enough time studying history. Every politically motivated vehicle will fail. Nations are always founded on the blood and bones of fallen warriors, and once the nation becomes “civilised”, systemic entropy engages, and the civilisation falls to rot. Terrorism is a function of fear, not a matter of military aptitude or power, and it has also been repeated throughout history.

    Without warfare and suffering, humanity has little to do. Wolfowitz may be an abject puke, (I agree because he’s obviously a coward, as are all politicians), but he is only a symptom, not a direct causal agent. Power begets power, and in pragmatic reality, might makes right. Again, history is your best ally in knowledge.

    No political vehicle or organisation will ever effect real change. Or maybe the story of the woman from Cameroon is fiction?

  14. eric

    Well, the stoy about the woman from Cameroon really has little to do with the World Bank. The actual staff members of the Bank do not enjoy any form of civil or criminal immunity, only the Bank does. So, theoretically, they could have been sued from false imprisonment, ect. Part of the duress has to do with fear of being deported. As a matter of fact, this type of slavery and indetured servitude does sometimes exist in the US. Do you remember the neighbors from India who brought their maid over?

    On the corruptibility of democractically elected officials, I am not too concerned, as long as there are good means of government transparency in place and a free press. Theoretically, the self-interest of the politician is irrelevant in a democracy. So, the politician wants to take advantage and have power, well in order to do so, he needs votes. And in order to get the votes, he needs to please the electorate. And if the system is pretty transparent and the press are going through the politician’s garbage, then the people are free to vote him out in the next elections.

    The problem is when the press is not so vigilent or is partial, transparency is lacking, the electorate is indifferent, and special interest is more important than getting votes. And that is mainly what is happening in the US today.

  15. This isn’t a change though, Eric. It isn’t the “US today”, it is a part of the fabric of the country from its inseption.

    Perfect example: Go back and look at the life of Ulysses S. Grant and his service both as a general and a president. Pay attention to the media portion of the history. It makes Watergate look like a bit of a misstep from the podium platform after a bad speech, in comparison.

    Basically, Viva la Status Quo. Hominids and their incessantly ignominious agendas … pathetically laughable, and predictable.

  16. eric

    Yep, James, you’re correct. Things really haven’t changed that much . . .

  17. TheCommentKiller

    I agree that the employee/slave of the World Bank employee has nothing to do with World Bank employees, nevertheless an interesting story.

    As far as getting some sort of sanctuary for being wronged in this country, we advised the client that we would assist her in getting the proper documents and defend her if deportation proceedings were commenced (and use the abuse/mistreatment in her favor), but there is nothing in that law the expressly protects her for offences that occur inside the country. So had she been wronged in Cameroon- then we would have had a better defense. I think the law has since developed to protect those that have been trafficked into the country, but i haven’t had such a case since, so i don’t know much about that area of the law.

    I do think the Wolfowitz’s of the world are a product society based on greed and power; or a society that suffers from affluenza. Whether a society can be created that is Wolfowitzless- i am not sure, but i think it is our responsibility to try to make society better for all.

    I do think Wolfowitz should be held accountable for designing a war based on lies, but instead we have allowed him to be the head of the WBG.

    Either way the Corporations (and the laws that protect them) are a much bigger problem. Anyway.

  18. James,

    So you see Italy as a good model of how a country should be run (assuming I’m interpreting your answer correctly). Given that, how would you rank Italy as far as:

    1) freedom of speech
    2) freedom of the press
    3) electorial process (is it fair)

    I’m guessing you will rate Italy high. I’m trying to avoid a semantic game with you. So instead of calling for a pro-democracy organization, let’s call it the pro-Italy-like organization.

    So now are you onboard? Are you willing to push for an organization that encourages the spread of Italy-like governments?

    gary

  19. TheCommentKiller

    when i think of Italy i think of a word i recently learned- “misprision” and a favorite word of mine- “xenophobia”

  20. gary,

    No, I do not think of the official Italian government as good; hence my determinate and pronounced position of that state being “fascist”.

    CommentKiller, (one of a few favored hominids, because he is kin and okay for being a legal counselor 🙂 ), is right in his definitions of Italy/Italians, if not a bit strong on the second term usage.

    Government is consumate evil, if evil can truly be stated to even exist. No good comes of it, never has, never will.

    First, the very nature of the hominid must needs be corrected. When you have solved that issue, we can then begin to speak about the more efficacious governmental vehicles, if any would exist.

    (I’m a little surprised my cousin would view his bloodline kin as being “xenophobic” … I would tend more towards “ethnocentric”, but you may be correct.)

  21. TheCommentKiller

    i am not expert on italy, but my sense is that they are a pretty xenophobic bunch. That being said, i am sure the Swiss (my other blood line) are even worse.

    And i used to be a proud Italian-American until i moved to NY (in 2003). But for the Irish-Americans, i am not aware of a more xenophobic group than the “I”talian-Americans in NY. They are particularly awful in Long Island- i was so glad when i moved out of there. There is a great documentary about this modern day xenophobia in Long Island- called Farmingville P.O.V.- it is honestly eye-opening, you would think it too place in the deep south in the 50s.

    But Eric has a good (and probably accurate) theory on immigrants and the U.S., that once they get here, they want to close the doors to all of the groups.

    Anyway.

  22. James,

    My bad…allow me to try again. You said:

    “No, I do not think of the official Italian government as good”.

    Ok, understood. So which government DO you like? Or do you dislike all of them? If that’s the case, would you prefer that we all lived in anarchy?

    gary

  23. It is certainly a fair assessment that no government is found to be even adequate, let alone “good”, in my perspective.

    Government is the furtherance of the ills proliferated by the social pretense. They simply cannot be effective, there is no belief in equality or rights, nor any proof in evidence of such. As stated previously, all governmental vehicles exude the “might makes right” aberrance.

    Anarchy? Philosophically pleasing to the mind, the only true form of freedom, but no, it will not do. Unless there is such a beast as an ethical anarchy?

    My edification and eventual downfall will be logic. Pragmatic and useful in academics and linguistics, virtually useless in the world of the hominid: no suitable answer can be given, I do not know the answer, gary.

    Perhaps as my friend Faust has elucidated for me, the herd, (general society), is necessary to allow the few the liberty of philosophising amoungst themselves, round dark corners, in small cafe’s. I’m going to have to give him more credence on that thought after this discourse.

  24. CK,

    Eric is explaining the symptom of the immigrants to the US, without giving the founding reason:

    We throw them into an immediate double bind:
    “You’re in America now, you must be like us … just realise you can never be us.” (Unspoken, of course)

    Hard to judge them for their actions when we force them into a corner with no way out. Ethnocentricity or xenophobia would be your only available options at that point, wouldn’t you agree?

  25. TheCommentKiller

    I didn’t do justice to Eric’s view which is that immigrants come to the U.S. get in and then advocate to close the gate behind them.

  26. James,

    You describe global political solutions as “a pack of tool making monkeys humping a greased football.” Later you said “My edification and eventual downfall will be logic.” I’ll just leave you to your theories, but I do recommend that you avoid vacationing in the Sudan, Iraq or the other anarchies…the room service is abysmal.

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  27. eric

    Thanks all for the debate. Quite fun!

  28. TheCommentKiller

    Gary,

    Two pts: First i think what James is saying is that ignorance is bliss.

    2nd: I think democracy is important, i do not think the U.S. gov’t is spreading democracy, i think it is clear they are spreading the opposite. But i don’t consider the horrific conditions in Iraq or the Sudan (or anywhere for that matter) as Anarchy. Anarchy is actually more complex than we (at least I) originally believed, it shouldn’t be confused with utter chaos, lawlessness, injustice and/or failed states. Real anarchists actually have profound and well-thoughtout ideas that would not support what happened in Rwanda, or what is going on in the Sudan or Iraq.

    Anyway, what the hell do i know.

  29. Actually cousin, you are more correct than you give yourself credit for in this instance.

    If you ever have linguistic exchange with an atheist, you are likely to find out they place a high priority upon ethics, but not from the statehood/lawful perspective.

    Exactly as you stated, (from my experience on a number of philosophical sites), most of the anarchic atheists find the world situations abominable, and have rather strange moralistically/ethically determinate positions as to why the situations should not have occurred.

    Anarchism is misdefined and misused, you are correct. The problem is the herd, and their need of being controlled, hence, anarchy would be another failure.

    Ignorance is bliss, more knowledge is only more responsibility and more suffering.

  30. Then help me out…name a country (or location) where anarchy exists so I can better judge this approach. Or as I suspect, are you proposing an approach that is unworkable in reality and thus, a waste of time considering as an alternative to democracy.

    “Democracy is a form of government which may be rationally defended, not as good, but as being less bad than any other.” — Dean William Ralph Inge, 1919

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  31. Sorry gary, being simply corporeal, and basal primate, the ability to create instance or manifest entity, is not possible. No working model of anarchy is in existence. The “waste of time” comment is non sequitur logica.

    So we can look at “democracy”, if you would so like to do.

    First off, whether or not you agree, “democracy” does not exist in singularity, nor in stasis. It may be the structure of the vehicle, but it goes no where without the wheels; capitalism.

    Capitalism is moderately contained corruption, (known given as its premise is from avarice, primary behavior model of the hominid; see Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Baudrillard for reference). Capitalism rewards the perfidious, meretricious, ignominious and easily corruptible by fanning the flames of unchecked human desire for resource superiority, (albeit, ephemeral, not necessarily actual, if one understands the economic premise of the social contract), through any means necessary.

    In theory, democracy is, on a purely suppositionary basis, purported to keep capitalism’s deficiencies in check by supporting the high ideological aspects of the social contract, (fairness, equality, rights, responsibility, protection). Again, in theory, quite pleasing to the mind. Pragmatically, another abysmal hominid failure.

    America is not a democracy. It is a representative socialism, and as previously stated to Eric, this is not a change, dusting off the biases of history, makes this clear. America was never intended to be a democracy, ideologically, in words only, it was to be a representative republic. In truth, it was founded as an elitist entrepreneurship. (Before baulking at that, put away the prose and high calligraphy of the Bill of Rights and early Constitution and realise the framers of those documents were philosophical idealists suffering from typical hominid aberrance).

    So gary, quid pro quo. I concede anarchy doesn’t have, nor ever will have, a working model in “reality”.

    Show me a working model of democracy, I find none in realistic existence. Rather, like the writings of the venerable Marcus Aurelius, it appears to be little more than the ornate language of unfettered idealism.

  32. James, I agree with most of your definition of demcracy. I never even remotely suggested it was a perfect system, so attempting to argue the point is a waste of pixels. So setting aside the academic exercise, the practical reality is that you only get to pick from among the existing systems. I understand you favor the “Italian System” from among the eisting alternatives. The goal of my proposal is to move the world away from the “Chinese System” and towards the “Italian System”. Would you approve of that goal?

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  33. Salutations gary,

    Allow me to reassert this point: Unless you have a proposal, or other argumentative proposition, predicated upon critical analysis with respect to correcting the psychological distortions of the hominid, this discourse will avail neither of us of anything.

    All governmental vehicles fail on the same, repetitive, redundant instance: ignominious hominid behavior. If this cannot be changed, then abject failure is the only avenue.

  34. James,

    So bottom line is if humans can’t manage a perfect (above the failures of the hominid) system, it’s not worth trying. Does that summarize your position?

    gart

  35. gary,

    Stop with the assumptions, that’s the third time, and no, there was no mention of perfection. That state is a ludicrous ideological premise never attained in actuality.

    The bottom line is critical discernment: is what we are currently engaged in, politically, leading towards the maximum amelioration of the individuals within the system, and the system itself?

    Summarily, the answer is an all encompassing: no.

    Then we have to to do two things: critically analyze the current scenario for correctable failures, (i.e. the obvious ethical failures of the hominid driven by personal avarice), and censure ourselves for not looking for avenues that are outside known repetitive errors of historicity.

  36. James,

    Do you have anything concrete to propose that brings into play your vague statements?

    gary

  37. I’ve already state it more than once gary, you seem to be adverse to what has been clearly stated:

    We are hominids.

    Hominids are tool making apes with imagination.

    Hominids deal in vagaries and incidentals, not concretes and absolutes.

    An example of such is our affinity of religion/metaphysics, with which we attempt to drive morality and ethics into a creature that is built to be a predator and resource collector, (avarice stems from these desires).

    As long as avarice is in play, unchecked, and mostly unnoticed, specieal failure is at an optimum. Avarice, although theoretically built upon the social contract, does not lead to social edification.

    Again, the bottom line is that we, hominids, are an accident, a chance, and haven’t the cognitive capacity to change the errors with which we evolved in a violent world.

    Politics is an extension of the social contract, which as I stated, is misunderstood, and misrepresented … always has been, thus societies always fail; so too will all constructs, institutions, organizations and vehicles created under these premises. Directly, because we, hominids, just don’t get “it”.

    So again, until you create an exacting method to correct the aberrances of being hominid, politics is a moot point.

    It is, just, that simple. To put it bluntly, we are a genetically inclined chance, awaiting the final mutated malfunction.

    Rather simple really. What is so confusing?

    Hominid + poor cognitive ability + unnatural constructs + repetition of destructive behavior = failure

  38. TheCommentKiller

    okay Gary,

    You seem to want to engage/convince James that democracy is the answer. It seems that your goal is to move the world towards the italian system (which is awful and has always been) and away from the chinese system. is that correct?

    Let’s take a step back, democracy does not exist in Italy or in any nation b/c the principles have been comprised by corporate greed. At the micro (and mezzo) level- look at rise and fall of Tom DeLay. He was NOT taken down by democracy, as he should have been, but taken down by a county atty prosecutor. you know democracy is at stake in America when we have to rely on a local prosecutor to fight corporate control of the gov’t.

    At the macro-level we have the war on Iraq- a corporate war on every level for control of natural resources.

    China, on the other hand, may be one of our only hopes (that and the unity of the poor nations against the rich or the unity of Islam (not in the form of terrorism, but not necessarily non-violent either) against the West or maybe something i have not yet considered) of ending inequality in the world and creating a more democratic world.

    China may be the only country which could challenge U.S. hegemonic power (i’m sure cheney is hoping to have his last heart attack before that happens). So, although, China may not be as democratic as Italy- i believe China provides us with more hope for the future (barring environmental concerns) than Italy- even if Italy is the perfect democracy.

    As James feels that this ex cerise is futile b/c of “hominid’s” innate shortcomings, i would add (although i would love to find the ideal country) that your debate maybe important, but to compare or rank nations is pointless b/c the only thing (which “hominids” are to blame for) more counter-productive to give significance to than the artificial borders between nations are the rights/protections/and power that this same society has afforded corporations.

    to sum up, i am not trying to discourage a debate, but this one seems misguided. the proper debate, in terms of promoting democracy, should be how to end corporate control of power. When will enough be enough? Does American need to change its name to the United States of Halliburton before the people are upset? Maybe when Exxon Mobile is formally recognized as a State by the UN the people will be upset? This is the shit you should be debating about, not Italy v. China. 5 of the top 10 companies in the world are oil companies- this is why we went to war, no democracy could have stopped it. this is why Bush (a pawn of these corporations) continues to fight this war. As long as Exxon et al. have more power than the UN, then democracy is meaningless.

    Holla

  39. James, I give up on you. Good luck with your assumptions that we cannot rise above our hominid origins. I wish you could spend just one day in prehistory so you could better appreciate how far we have come.

    CommentKiller, you have a long and mostly valid rant against the United States. I wonder if you’re assuming that my definition of democracy is what the United States currently represents. Unfortunately the US has given democracy a bad name.

    As much as I too find fault in the current state of the United States, I am amazed that you think so highly of China. If you were in China, it’s very likely you wouldn’t have found this blog, or dare to post to it. That’s quite a stunning contrast.

    > the proper debate, in terms of promoting democracy, should
    > be how to end corporate control of power.

    Let’s be serious. A democracy is the only place where you even have a chance at controlling corporate power. You vote out those who fail to do it. I for one have not voted for a Democrat or a Republican in nearly twenty years as I see no difference between the two parties. But I’m not giving up and I never miss an election. Not being able to vote is MUCH worse.

    I’ll leave you with a very applicable quote:

    “The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

    I couldn’t have said it better.

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  40. James

    gary,

    LOL, assumptions? Hardly. Straightline genetic history. Visiting prehistory is unnecessary, and a ludicrously invalid argument position. Visit any colony of chimpanzee or gorilla, and the facts can easily be laid out.

    A better tool doesn’t a better primate make.

    Ryan,

    You can’t honestly believe that those incompetent greased football humpers in the U.N. will ever have the ability to “end corporate control of power” … you’re smarter than this, most certainly.

    Delusions and pipe dreams serve no more purpose than fundamentalism and conspiracy theories.

    P.S. (oil is a resource, and the Iraq “War” is the age old hominid game of jockeying for resource superiority, nothing more.)

  41. Understood James. Now go beat up your neighbor, rape his wife and steal his groceries. Just like the chimps. You can’t jockey for resource superiority just sitting there typing on that keyboard.

    Myself I’ll continue to dream up tools to better our lives, regardless of whether you believe it makes us better primates in the process.

    gary
    http://www.UnitedDemocraticNations.org

  42. TheCommentKiller

    Gary,

    I don’t think China is the ideal model, but may be the solution to balancing the power in the world- which could lead to greater democracy. In order for democracy to flourish two things need to happen: U.S. hegemonic power needs to compromised and large corporations need to be reined in.

    As such, voting in federal U.S. elections is currently wasteful. We should protest the elections in the U.S. until they become more democratic. The corporations run the country (and the world) and only offers two options- the democrat candidate for the haves and the republican candidate for the have-mores. W/out campaign finance reform and clean election laws there will never be a party or a candidate that represents the people. Instead of organizing voters to cast ballots we should organize them to protest what you perceive as a free election- which most certainly is not.

    As for a comparison between China and the U.S.- i think Malcolm X said it best:

    “America preaches freedom and practices slavery. America preaches integration and practices segregation… A devil is still a devil whether he wears a bed sheet or a Brooks Brothers suit… I’d rather walk among rattlesnakes, whose constant rattle warns me where they are, than among those Northern snakes who grin and make you forget you’re still in a snake pit… Then the whole world would give Uncle Sam credit for being something other than a hypocrite.”

    Don’t be so easily fooled by U.S. propaganda. The U.S. preaches that it is the freest country in the world, although they imprison more people (a disproportionate amount of which are minorities- and targeted for nonviolent offenses). The U.S. believes they invented liberty and have market on democracy and freedom- it is exactly the opposite. And i believe that China, more than any other single nation- could bring the world to a more equal (and therefore more democratic) state. China could balance the playing field a little bit. If China could challenge U.S. hegemonic power- the IMF, World Bank, etc- would not have the leverage that they currently have.

    So, although i do not believe that voting (at the federal level in the U.S.- in its current state) will change anything- i am not as pessimistic as James. I believe that individuals and groups can effectuate positive social change. If we are not here to make the world a better place to live in then what is our purpose? James? I love Camus (or what i know of his writings) and i enjoy thinking about his ideas, but i don’t agree that the only question worth debating is whether, “one should commit suicide.”

    In summation, i agree with James that “hominid’s” infected with Affluenza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza) have screwed up the world and will continue to do so. But I also agree with James that it is our function to make the world a better place to live. Although, i do think it is a extremely difficult battle to even fight, Ralph Ellison correctly wrote, “Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”

    Holla

  43. TheCommentKiller, you said:

    > The corporations run the country (and the world) and
    > only offers two options- the democrat candidate
    > for the haves and the republican candidate for the
    > have-mores.

    While I agree that corporations pull all the strings in the US (and world), I’m afraid you’ve fallen for the greatest lie of all – the two party lie. There’s really only one party. The democrats and the republicans (whom I will now refer to as the “republicrats”) are equally bought & paid for by the VERY SAME corporations. The republicrats want nothing more than to maintain that illusion. The republicrats exclude 3rd party candidates from debates, fight election reforms tooth & nail, and even work to keep 3rd party candidates off the ballot.

    > As such, voting in federal U.S. elections is currently
    > wasteful.

    I completely disagree. While I share so many of your grievances concerning the United States (believe me, I do), there are only TWO ways to change the system:

    1) vote the bastards (republicrats) out of office
    2) start a revolution and overthrow the government

    While the republicrats do everything they can to convince you that your vote is wasted by not voting for them, exactly the opposite is true. And when enough people vote for 3rd party candidates, one of two things will happen. Either a 3rd party will move to a more prominent position or one of the two major parties will steal the platform goals of the 3rd party. Either way the people win.

    If you stop voting, you are throwing away the keys to your own freedom. You might as well live in China.

    gary

  44. eric

    Let’s not all be so dramatic here.

    I remember years ago when I first moved to Spain, I was sharing an apartment with a friend of mine and we had a Romanian maid clean once a a week. She was not very expensive and not the best cleaner on the face of the earth. My friend often complained that the maid could have done a more thorough job and that we should demand that she work harder. My point of view was that if you wanted things cleaner, clean it yourself.

    In other words, we can’t expect government to be the end all. Certain things we have to do ourselves. We should be rigorous in checking our elected officials and should vote against them in the next elections if we are not satisfied. At the end of the day, we are to blame for our governments. I don’t remember who said it, but it was something like this: every people have the government they deserve.

  45. eric

    CommentKiller, James, and Gary,

    Thank you all for all of your comments on this topic. I hope you have all enjoyed the mental exercise. By the end of the day, I am going to close this post to comments. Gary, I hope you will continue to visit my blog and I invite you to please continue commenting.

    Eric

  46. TheCommentKiller

    Gary & Eric,

    Gary- i totally agree with voting for third party candidates, unfortunately (at the federal level) one must have massive amounts of money to get elected and third party candidates cannot compete. When election laws change, then we shall vote for third party.

    I agree that the two-party system is really one party- that was my point.

    And i agree that a revolution is an option.

    And i agree with Eric, that it is up to us to make the change happen, unfortunately at the moment elections will not bring change.

    My guess James will say that we are all naive; and that whatever change we bring will result in the same end product b/c either way it is run by “hominids”. Maybe he is right, but i wanna learn the hard way.

  47. James

    Ryan,

    I’m not saying change for the hominid is impossible.

    But, it is we, as individuals, who must change, before our vehicles and constructs can show any real efficacy in action.

    No offense, but you and gary have spent this time arguing for the construct, thereby negating the responsibility of the individual, and creating the scenario for failure. (litmus test, remove the [individual], and see if the [construct] still stands)

    Some just refuse to accept or understand, history repeats for a reason.

    individual > [group > community > social vehicle > socio-political vehicle > government][construct]

    (roughly)

    Is that concise enough?