Thursday, July 26, 2007
Iraq and Failed Export of Democracy
I hope by now people have recognized that democracy cannot be exported. Iraq at least is a living example. Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote in his book "Concord and Liberty," "Here we begin to understand that each authentic insitutiton is untransferable. Suppose we wanted to lift it out of its native soil, where should we cut it? Where begin and where end those political entities which language, owing to its magical power of creating phantoms, puts before us as independent and self-sustaining objects, calling them by the definite names of 'tribunate of the people,' 'parliament,' 'freedom of the press'? None of these institutions terminates in a clear-cut line. They all reach back into the particular collective life where they originated and whence they receive their indispensable supplements, their strength and their control. He who wishes to transplant an institution from one people to another must bring along with it that people in its veracity and reality. Laws of foreign nations may serve as incitement and even as guidance-- Rome not infrequently took her bearings from the juridical conceptions of Greece-- but in the last instance every nation must invent for itself. Invitation of alien political institutions betrays a pathological state of society. A people cannot take its institutions from the manifest surface of foreign nations: it must discover them in its innermost beeing if it wants to lead a life in freedom. Freedom cannot be achieved by proclaiming a few random liberties. Life in liberty presupposes a perfect continuity of circulation throughout the collective body, from the heart of its common beliefs to the skin which is the state, and back from the skin to the bowels of faith."