Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Bad Barrel Of Bangladeshi Democracy

I have just been boning up on 'Political Psychology'. It has answered many of my questions regarding the evil in Bangladesh, but a cultural/historical explanation seems also necessary.

Hierarchies of obedience
clearly play a part: our leaders are the wife and daughter of former dictators; they are like queens who must be obeyed; they are not only above the law, but above morality as well.

The Lucifer effect is the most fascinating: western donors, by insisting on democracy, have created a bad barrel. The barrel seems to attract the worst elements of society. Now,
Bangladesh is going through a 48-hour hartal: if I drive, my car will be incinerated, probably with me inside. What kind of people incinerate cars and people? The arsonists are members of the opposition: they are 'bad' apples...or are they? It's the barrel that's bad (democracy as 'bad barrel' has had a long history since Thucydides; S.E.Finer notes that in the west democracy used to regarded with 'horror'.}

In 2007 - 2008, the donors had to reinstall military rule because we were headed for civil war: the best elements of society came forward to be our temporary rulers. These men and women were honest. They were respected, and the man in the street was pleased. It was a 'good barrel'.

After the cold war, the western donors enforced democracy on us: fifteen years of military rule were ended. These were the best years for
Bangladesh. The military rulers even amended the constitution to give greater power to the judiciary. The barrel was good, and good men served under the administration.

John Mearsheimer was right: we would regret the cold war. I miss it terribly for the sake of

But why is it that military rule was a 'good barrel'? The answer, I believe, lies in our culture and history. The culture is one of deference and hierarchy: military rule has been the only form of government in the Muslim world. Without a single chain of submission, society collapses. Today, we in effect have two dictators instead of one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, probably so it is