Monday, April 14, 2003


As Tony Parkinson said in Friday's Age, while the US' record for playing realpolitik (defending democracy at home by promoting tyranny overseas) may not do it much credit, we should look to the shining historical examples of countries where the US has fostered the democratic spirit:

Against this history, however, there are many success stories attesting to the US role as a benign power. Too often, these are forgotten. Postwar Japan. Postwar Germany. The Poland of Lech Walesa. Vaclav Havel's Czech Republic. South Korea. The modern-day Philippines. None of these nations could - or would - have emerged as free societies without the superpower playing a key role in fostering democratic instincts.

In the general spirit of cheery optimism that we have been enjoined to adopt I'm willing to concede that Parkinson makes a very good point. So, for the next few months, I'm going to forget anything I read in Dog Years, Gunter Grass' {biting|caustic|savage|trenchant} satire on the de-nazification of post-war Germany, with its long dishonor roll of prominent members of the Nazi party who were allowed to resume business-as-usual because they occupied positions of authority in key industries. I'll also be ignoring that nagging feeling that something similar happened in Japan. I won't have much to say about Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos - especially not about the shoes or the Swiss Bank accounts. And obviously there's nothing of relevance to this subject to be said about Solidarity or the Prague uprising of 1968. It's thanks to this sort of carping historical quibble that there are so many bloggers who feel that the best use of their right of free speech is to tell the Left to shut up.

Since telling people to shut up is a legitimate exercise of free speech (as long as you accept that they have every right to ignore you and carry on wittering) I'm pretty much going to refrain from bitching about those demands too, however much I may be offended by the way the sentiment is expressed: if you put it offensively enough a few people might decide that you're just an intolerant dickhead. I don't have a problem with that.


No comments: