Democracy, Capitalism; Disentangle the Ideals

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Democracy, Capitalism; Disentangle the Ideals


Byline: Tulin Daloglu, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Dow Jones industrial average's recent extreme rollercoaster ride is a prime example of how instability in the world negatively impacts our lives. In one week, the market went from a historic 936-point gain to a chilling sweep downhill just a couple of days later, impervious to the assurances of the government bailout package and bank support that was designed to mitigate the ups and downs. But the will - of government, of banks, of companies, and of investors - is the most important part of the equation.

The stakes in this situation are extremely high, making it difficult for anyone to admit that what they've done has failed. President Bush announced plans for an emergency summit of leaders from the world's top economies to determine a collective course of action to preserve the foundations of democratic capitalism. There is certainly a need for an orchestrated action plan to address the root causes of this financial crisis, which has brought us so close to global recession. Equally important: using the right words that will calm the markets and generate stable activity. That said, democratic capitalism is no longer the empowering expression to address the challenges of today and the future.

Divorcing the idea of money or capitalism from democracy is crucial. Capitalism and democracy mean very different things to people. Democracy promises freedom and justice, while free market capitalism can be merciless. Surely, however, that does not mean that democracy is not implacable; prosperity does not always mean that equality or justice will result. Or, in other words, there is no guarantee that capitalism leads to democracy.

Democracy has no single definition, but many are troubled by the way the system is abused in many countries that hold elections. Take Iran, for example. Who would argue that Iran is a democracy? For its part, Iraq is working to develop a government based on democratic ideals. Liberated Iraqis certainly elected their leaders. But indeed, we can all agree that Iraq is miles away from being a democratic society. Before the United States pushed the idea of elections as proof that Iraq is moving toward being democratic, it should have made it a priority to strengthen Iraq's democratic institutions, its culture and its values.

Unfortunately, there's a growing illiberal democracy trend among countries that hold elections: an environment in which the winning ticket in any election can unilaterally do anything and everything it wants. For example, Turkey's ruling government embraces majority rule. …

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