19 March 2010

Article: Democracy at a crossroads

"Democracy at a crossroads" is an unsigned article that was published on 16 March on the website of the South African magazine "Leadership: Interviews, Insights, Intelligence". The subtitle or lead reads: "Globally, democracy has become stale – even corrupt".

The article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "South Africa is not the only country that has, in recent history, found it difficult, troublesome and at times extremely challenging to make a transition to a democratic dispensation. [...]
[T]housands of Germans, on a cold November day in 1989, came together to pull down a concrete wall that had symbolised the divide between democracy and communism [...]. The jubilation and euphoria soon was replaced by disillusionment and disgust, as organised crime and unscrupulous politicians stepped into the void left by a discredited state-controlled system [...]. There is a growing disenchantment around the globe and the public is fast losing its interest and support for the democratic system. Democracy has become stale, predictable, uninspiring and perhaps – worst of all – corrupted. It is no coincidence that the decay comes less than a generation after the end of the Cold War and the demise of the traditional ideologies of left and right. The drive to assert the superiority and longevity of democracy vis-à-vis the stifling repression of the old communist system has disappeared and has been replaced by a mediocrity that is downright depressing. [...]

"[G]laringly lacking is inspirational and visionary leadership required to generate energy and vitality necessary to rekindle the enthusiasm and will that is already lost, to face the challenges of the 21st century. The excitement and expectations when Barrack [sic] Obama entered the White House [...] have evaporated and the 'Yes, we can' cry has been replaced by a 'Yes, we'll try' whisper. Obama discovered what others before him also experienced; democracy has become a comfortable vehicle for those seeking an easy ride to self-enrichment. [...] Politics has become a very expensive game and fund-raising has become one of the main functions of candidates, leaving the door wide open for big business, interest groups and those with the finances to buy influence. [...] So lucrative and effective has it become that the corporations and big businesses are bankrolling all political parties to cover all possible election outcomes and keep the smaller ones quiet and dependent.

"If left unchallenged, corruption will signal the end of democracy as we know it. In recent years, corruption has embedded itself in the historical as well as the newly established democracies. [...] Small wonder that the public is disillusioned and disheartened. Corrupt politicians and their accomplices unashamedly will exploit and abuse democracy as cover to gain access to the trough where they and their cohorts can guzzle with gay abandon at government tenders, embezzle government funds and gorge on all the other delicatessen served. After all, no one joins politics or a freedom struggle to stay poor. The fruits of victory are there to be picked and devoured, even if it is reserved only for the privileged few to show the masses in a perverted way how it should be done and what could be attained under the banner of democracy. No wonder democracy is under fire."

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