Smaller Scale Democracies Help to Overcome Colonial Mistakes
Large nation states are not the only political systems in which war, economic mismanagement, social ills, poverty and aggression take place. Smaller states have also been subject to these issues. To understand the causes of these issues in smaller states, it is important to know the causes, as parts of the world look set to move towards direct democracy.
We must look at the kind of wars that affect smaller nations to better understand this matter. We must understand the larger forces at play in the world modernity has created, in order to understand the use of the terms ‘rebel’, ‘insurgent’ or ‘terrorist’. We live in a world where representative democracy – as characterised by the Western powers – is in full force in its chauvinistic attempts to offer its narrow definition of ‘liberty’ to other peoples. This provides much of the news and media we follow in the west with a sort of ‘benchmark’ of how we interpret these world events. The failure of liberal nation states, in Europe and America, to comprehend these events and comment on them effectively largely comes from our nineteeth-century understanding of ‘statehood’ rather than a twenty-first-century understanding of democracy. We often overlook the struggles of smaller groups in favour of their larger nation state representatives. For example, the United States had ‘common cause’ agreements with dictators such as Fulgencio Batista, Anastasio Somoza, Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, Augusto Pinochet, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the former shah of Iran), Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, Syngman Rhee and Suharto to name but a few.
This failure to understand in part comes from the fact that many national liberation movements achieve their goals through aggression. Many movements that follow this strategy are seeking freedom for themselves and their group interests over the freedom of their fellow citizens. When they use this power it heavily leans towards abuse, destruction and finally corruption. When corruption rises, we often see the growth in smaller nations of drug trafficking, leadership competition, rival groups and civil war between the groups fighting for their liberation. For example, the Tamil Tigers carried out suicide bombings in the capital and raided Sinhalese and Muslim villages in various parts of Sri Lanka. In another such instance the Kurdistan Workers’ Party killed and injured civilians through a number of bombings outside Kurdish-dominated areas of Turkey.
The centralised ruling power is then easily able to brand these groups as ‘rebels’, ‘insurgents’ and ‘terrorists’. This further projects their ruling centralised power as legitimate, especially on the world stage. Non-violent revolutions result in partial or full success 80% of the time, while the vast majority of violent uprisings eventually fail, especially in an age of overwhelming government, as found by political scientist Erica Chenoweth based on hundreds of political campaigns since 1900. This is not to say that, under violent dictatorship, one is not justified to fight or use violence. Many make the argument that violence is imperative to representative democracy as the rulers are aware that the people can form militias and revolt against them. George Orwell once wrote “That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer’s cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there”. It has not.
Many nations affected by internal aggression are transitioning from feudal systems into newer systems to better compete in the largest arena of all – global markets. Many are emerging from their previous colonial rule where one world power had seeked to rule the affairs of many smaller civilisations regardless of their wishes. Much of the time in the case of the British Empire, nations maintained their cultural identities but were made to be and think ‘Anglo’ in the case of work or business; much of the British Empire and East India Trade Company was a fetishisation of growth and economics above all else. There was little consideration for the identities of the people subjected to their rule. But this call to fight for national liberty is no respecter of our colonial past, indeed many peaceful activists in the West would sympathise with the struggles of these people subject to our ancestors’ modus operandi, whose short sightedness and lack of pluralist thought saw other peoples as ‘less advanced’. This is a symptom of the ‘End of History’ mindset that has characterised so many liberal nations’ worldview – a worldview which considers the current status quo of liberal democracy to be the conclusion of sociopolitical progression, leaving ideas outside of liberalism seldom considered.
Many have achieved some part of their freedom. Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia were subject to Tsarist rule and later to the USSR. Liberation is still rising for the people of Bangladesh, the Czechs, Slovenia, Slovakia, Iceland and Rwanda. As of 2021 the United Nations has 193 members. Democracy is certainly still spreading but we must mould it to the twenty-first century by ensuring that it is not forced on any people, and ensure that newer models for the twenty-first century are in place for people to see around the world, as the Swiss have done. Direct democracy is a topic which Local Matters has already written about in great detail in both our articles and our book. The importance of metapolitics in showing England a better form of democracy than our ancient and outdated representative democratic system is paramount, before more peoples are subjected to the next colonial mistake of a liberal two-party dictatorship. This includes the people of Lozi, the Kurds of Iran and Turkey, the Inuits of Canada, Ibo and Hausa of Nigeria, Native American tribes, Basques of Spain, Bretons of France, to name but a few peoples seeking to govern themselves and achieve their goals of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’.
We are living in an era the world has never seen. Never have so many peoples at once desired to radically change their political positioning and power structures. This presents the ability to overturn the negative effects of empires and the maps drawn in ignorance. These people fight not for their ‘will to power’ over others, but for their voice to be heard and their will to be spoken and made law. The English must seek to join this movement into a new era of rising auroras. We must push for direct democracy, and for the birth of sovereign spaces liberated from the domination of the modern. This is why joining movements agitating for more direct forms of democracy is now an imperative. A more local future is inevitable, but only so long as we promote this worldview through real life and digital activism. This starts at home.
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy.” -George Orwell
Published by Local Matters: thelocalists.org