Monday, October 18, 2004

Someone else's fault

It seems that a great and underreported feature of democracies is that they create a scapegoat for local ills and offer the means to then throw that problem maker out. Note that this may or may not solve the problem at hand, the key point is that someone was made to take the fall, and then pushed.

Certainly the near miraculous powers attributed to presidents on economic matters is far in excess of what any leader can actually do to help people get jobs and earn higher wages, but this does not prevent the challenger from ascribing current ills to the incumbent. Unfair, but imagine the alternative.

I read this dispiriting but illuminating post on the sorry state of scape goating in the Ummah (larger muslim world). Like all places inhabited by humans, people living in muslim arab countries have problems that they want to blame on someone. Since these contries are also totalitarian dictatorships, the incumbent government cannot be blamed, never mind changed. So the accusations turn instead of wild conspiracy theories pointing to the US and/or Jews.

Some people are nervous about holding elections in muslim countries because they fear that the tyrannical and worldly incumbents might be replaced by tyrannical and relgious zealots, a result, if you will, of competition to see who can blame America/Jews most vigourously. However, this would be counterbalanced by an institutional someone pinning blame on the incumbent (even if the complaint is that they lack sufficient religous zeal), along with a mechanism for changing that incumbent, a splendid shift of focus IMHO from the far enemy to the near enemy. People are less ideological about tacking close-to-home problems where beleifs tie to actions+consequences.


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