Friday, December 05, 2008

Order (1)

Last week I wrote these words.

Most of order in a society does not come from government,
but from people being responsible and cooperating with each other.
The statement is true, but it only applies in those societies where there is a culture that unifies people round a common set of moral standards that encourages respect for other people.

When unity of values or respect for people disappears, cooperation and responsibility no longer sustains an orderly society, so those with power eventually resort to political and military force to keep order. The problem is that force can only produce a semblance of order with the forces of disharmony smouldering just below the surface. The other problem is that soldiers and police can punish the people who attempt to destroy a society after the event, but they cannot prevent them from their harm. A society held together by force will be an unpleasant place.

Democracy cannot produce a unified culture, because it is a winner-takes-all system that decides which cultural group shall dominate all other cultural groups in society. The democratic process exacerbates cultural tensions.

Iraq and India are examples of this divisive diversity. They both contain an amazing range of ethnic and tribal groupings, laced with diverse religious beliefs. In absence of a unifying culture, such societies can only be held together by force. Saddam Hussein achieved this in Iraq. The United States military power has also managed go create an uneasy order, but Iraq will never have more than that without a unifying cultural force.

The British Empire created a semblance of order in India, but it never had the true order produced by cultural unity. Since the British left, many assumed that democracy could be a unifying objective. However, under democracy the winner takes all. The strongest cultural group gets to control the less powerful groups, so actually democracy is a divisive force. Democracy cannot provide the cultural unity needed to hold a diverse society together. Recent events in India are the natural consequence of intense cultural diversity breaking through the restraints of political and military force.

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