The practice of democracy promotion goes almost unchallenged. Since the 1980s, the United States, followed by other major powers, has been channeling state money into quasi-governmental organs designed to influence elections in poorer nations.

The National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute are the most well known of these groups, but USAID funds media, NGO, aid organizations and research bodies across the world. In the UK, the Westminster Foundation occupies a similar niche.

“Democracy Demotion” seeks to cast light upon the world of its sinister obverse. It is my contention that democracy promotion is not democratic, and it promotes only the interests of richer nations. The actions of its proponents may result in elections, yet these will be contaminated by the money, and preferences, of those who seek to manipulate them.

This already happens, on an enormous scale. Venezuela furnishes a much-discussed example (at least on the Left). Yet the ambitions of the U.S., British and other European governments are global.

Strategic democracy is not real democracy. It is not popular democracy. It is a hollow, sometimes fractious (as in Bangladesh) exercise in regime change by other means. It reflects the neo-liberal, elite centred perspective of the powerful and marginalizes the poor. At the same time, it distorts the global media and provokes suspicious governments into authoritarian responses.

For these reasons, the NED, IRI, NDI and their ilk demand a forensic, ongoing analysis.  If I have time, this may be it.

Kenya See What We Did There? The Old Disappearing Poll Trick 5/3/2009

3 Responses to “Democracy Demotion”

  1. al loomis Says:

    if you don’t have democracy in the uk, why worry about elsewhere?

    there is a notion in psychology, i think it’s called ‘substitution activity,’ which may explain tour interest. it’s like the drunk who searches for the dropped car keys under the street lamp.

  2. szamko Says:

    Sorry Al, I don’t really get your point. It seems like a simple disavowal of internationalism – caring about the impact of the policies of rich nations upon poorer peoples and nations.

    It’s just possible that the British and American states are as adept at suppressing democracy domestically as they try to do in strategic locations around the world, is it not?


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