After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Democracy Now

In the Financial Times I read this...

Microsoft bans 'democracy' for China web users
Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors.

It reminded me of something...

I was once left waiting at a booth in US embassy while the official went off to find my passport. So out of boredom I started reading the various notices stuck to the sides of the booth. One of them lists the questions to ask visa applicants from countries that require Special Processing ('special processing' is reserved for those of us who are unfortunate to have a passport from a country that is not friendly with the US).

For each country there were two columns marked 'Donkeys' and 'Eagles'. -- Donkeys and Eagles!! that is all we are to them! - For Iraq it was obvious...

Donkeys - members of the Baath party, members of the Iraqi military, employees of the Iraqi government. Eagles - everyone else.

For Zaire, donkeys are anyone who obstructed democracy.

I read that one three times for it to properly sink-in. Can you imagine a Zairean at the US Embassy being asked by a straight faced official - "did you ever obstruct democracy". Can you imagine Bill Gates being asked this question at the airport on his way back from Beijing?

I suppose one must then understand the real meaning of democracy - it is freedom. For a poor Zairean it is the freedom to vote in favour of US policy - for American corporations it is freedom to repatriate dollars back to the US. Once we get these definitions out of the way we can all understand each other much better.


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