20 сакавіка 2006

Reply to Dean Esmay

Mary Madigan of Exit Zero kindly linked to my post on her blog and also on Dean's world. Dean Esmay commented on my post, but because of his blog's restrictions, I couldn't reply there to his comment, so I'll do it here.

Dean says,

It probably seems very idealistic of me to say so, but I genuinely believe this, intellectually and scientifically as well as morally and ethically and sentimentally:

Free elections that express the will of the people first. We must have that first. The rest will sort itself out in time.

I genuinely believe that with every fibre of my being.

...and by "express the will of the people" I do not mean that "the people" have some great overwhelming consensus among them on all things. No, that is not the purpose of elections.


Free elections are but the first step: "We choose this person over that person to lead us."

Elections are never about giving people everything they want. Elections, true free elections, are about giving the people their voice in sorting out the chaotic mess that is the normal state of human existance.

They must first and foremost have the power to say "you shall lead us" and "you shall not."

From there it is often painful and frustrating. But it must start there. All else is merely rhetoric.


Free elections that express the will of the people first

I doubt that you can have truly free elections in a country such as Belarus. Actually, I don't think there is such a thing as absolutely free elections. Big players will always intimidate the small fish. They will always have more control over the media and the election process.

What needs to come first is candidates who, despite the elections being only half-free (or worse), are capable of generating mass support, and leading their supporters to victory. Yushchenko has done that, so in that sense I agree with both Dean and Glenn Reynolds.

Because Lukashenka has consolidated his power in a way that Kuchma could only dream of, there can be no Yushchenko in Belarus. I guess I should have called my post Why Belarus won't go the way of Ukraine, not Why I don't want it to go that way. I don't want Belarus to plunge into chaos, and in the absence of a broad enough support for a regime change, such a change will most likely lead just to that. Yushchenko had all kinds of support from the elites as well as ordinary Ukranians. It's just not the case in Belarus.

As Dean says, true free elections are not about giving people everything they want. By the same token, in our situations elections can't be truly free. That doesn't mean Belarusians will never get there. But it will take more effort from more Belarusians to get there. Whatever foreign policy everybody else pursues, the people of Belarus are the ones responsible for what happens.

As for democracy, my stand is simple. To me, democracy is not an absolute valuse, such as freedom and liberty: it's just a way of achieving consensus in a society. People must be willing and able to achieve that - and my hope is that it will happen soon in Belarus.

1 Comments:

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