Following up from the last post:
Notwithstanding the protests against public service budget cuts in various American states, notably Wisconsin, I think that a movement for democracy like the one in the Arab world is very unlikely in the Western world. There are several reasons why I think this.
One is that we believe we already have democracy. We have a vote; we have a multi-party system; we have a free media and free markets; and for many people, that’s all the democracy we need.
Another is that too many people are apathetic about politics: they think that nothing anyone could do will change anything. (I know lots of people who, for reasons like that, don’t vote). Or, they care more about the price of gas, and the price of imported consumer goods like clothes and cellphones, than they do about the way indentured labour in foreign countries keep those consumer goods cheap. Or, in their apathy they simply don’t care enough about social justice or the suffering of other people to do anything about it.
A third is that lots of people here believe in values that separate rather than unite people, such as competition. Too many people believe that the poor and oppressed are lazy, wasteful, incompetent, or stupid, and therefore deserve their poverty. The libertarian point of view, expressed for instance in John Hospers’ Libertarian Manifesto, is that if someone else’s misfortune is not your fault, then you don’t have to do anything about it if you don’t want to. You don’t have to share your food with the starving, if you don’t want to: and this, according to libertarians, is freedom.
Overall, not enough of us treat the values of humanity, like friendship and love and care, as universal values. Not enough of us treat the values of integrity, like dignity and trust and courage, as universal values. Not enough of us have a sense of wonder, by which we can see the good in things, or imagine life as different than it is.
So, in addition to a fear barrier, we may also have an apathy barrier. Readers, I invite your comments on this thought.