Posted by: bklunk | December 4, 2006

Now We Are Getting Down to It

In my very first political science course, I read this neat little book that argued that democracy is the form of government that respects the fact that we can never be sure that we are right about the big normative questions.  An authoritarian approach can only be right if the authoritarians are right.  An appropriate epistemological humility requires democracy.

Response to Questions of Russian Normality

I agree with Frankie in questioning the word “normal”. It connotes that one state is inherently right and another is wrong. Democracy is not necessarily right, but since that seems to be the way most of the world perceives normality, in this context Russia would fall in to the abnormal category. Although they claim to be democratic, Russia has proven that it has a long way to go to true democracy.
Another way to look at Russia as abnormal would be to show that they are failing in many aspects of statehood. Is a failing state normal or abnormal? Russia is placed very high on the list of most corrupt states. They are listed high as a country with very little freedom of the press. There are several instances, just this semester, of murders of reporters and prominent figures opposing the government. There are also constant examples of torture in the Russian army. Russia’s behavior concerning Georgia has been bad, to say the least. The examples go on and on. I can’t in my Western, democratic frame of mind think that any of this is “normal”, but would it be different from another perspective? I hope that no matter who you are you believe that corruption, torture, murder, and discrimination are abnormal and wrong.
But I understand where Frankie is coming from by questioning normality. It is normal for any state to do what is in its best interests. We all know the United States has its own best interests as its number one priority, so it is “normal” for Russia to do the same. What is not normal is the way they have gone about securing their interests and the internal problems that Russia seems to be ignoring.

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  1. I read this really interesting article in The Economist about how now it seems to be going in a backwards direction, even moving towards a fascist state. With the growing bloodiness and corruption that is taking over Russia and the all around state that the population is in, the country is moving away from anything stable. I had no idea that Russia was still so bad off; I thought that they were slowly (but surely) rising up from their communist ashes. I also thought that the days of the KGB and killing/assignations of those within and against the government were over—at least in democratic states… or maybe that’s just my naive thinking.

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