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Amartya Sen Democracy

By muniz884 Oct 22, 2010 1427 Words
Roberto Muniz
Politics of the Developing World
Hiram Jose Irizarry Osorio
Wed, October 11, 2010
Just how important is democracy when compared to our own financial needs? Everyday struggles occur all the time and affect not only humans and the environment but also the world economic order. The struggles are connected as one and are fueled by the differences in everything. Roberto Unger is a Brazilian theorist and law professor at Harvard who has written many books based on a wide range of different political topics. The book that I will be analyzing in this paper is Unger’s Democracy Realized: A progressive alternative. Verso. And in particular his chapter ”the importance of democracy.” I will also be analyzing a chapter of a book by Jared Diamond who is a professor of geography and physiology at UCLA. Titled Guns, Germs, and Steel. And with a particular emphasis’ on his chapter “Zebras, unhappy marriages, and the Anna Karenina principal. I will begin by posing certain questions such as how did we get to democracy and what is it? Second what is Sen talking about when he says, “there are real handicaps that china experiences compared with India because it lacks democratic freedoms?” Third how can we relate development, freedoms, and human rights to democracy? “Developing and strengthening a democratic system is an essential component of the process of development.” Fourth what should come first removing poverty and misery or guarantying political and civil rights? And fifth I will argue that democracy and civil rights practically go hand in hand. And sixth I will discuss what the real goals of freedoms are. And then of course voicing my concerns about what the authors are expressing and then in the end compare both of the papers. So to start off how did we get to democracy and what is it in my opinion? Roberto Unger was very helpful in explaining just how democracy’s started, as we know them in his book Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative, Verso. As diamond always emphasizes it always starts in Eurasia and democracy is no different. The people who inhabited Eurasia was being bullied, poor, and had a very hard time making ends meet. Because of this a different government was started, one that consisted of the people, by the people, and for the people. People began to want their most basic rights as people. People in Eurasia realized their kings were not god like and perfect and most importantly, had no right to govern without asking for the people opinions or suggestions. Democracy is a type of government in which all people have power and responsibility and can contribute to decision. Through there elected representatives. Democracy protects human freedom, and follows the standards of majority rule. In contrast to a dictatorship, where a dictator rules government and the government operates without the peoples consent, democracies guards against central governments breaking them down to regional and local levels so the people are given power to make a difference. Now that we have discussed just what is democracy in the previous paragraph we will now dissect and discuss what sen meant when he said “there are real handicaps that china experiences compared with India because it lacks democratic freedoms?” what are these handicaps? In my opinion I think its should be easy for anyone to see just by looking at the most basic economic graphs and data of both of these countries that they are both booming excelling in a economic sense and are even big players and contributors in a international market sense. But what you cant tell by looking at these graphs is the fact that they are very different in terms of political and civil liberties that the governments if India (democratic) and china (communist) give their citizens. Sen doesn’t really discuss the handicaps china faces but instead he discusses the vast amount of handicaps India has even though they are a democracy. For example china is far more advanced then India in terms of basic education. There are much more literate people in china compared to India also china is far more advanced when compared to issues such as social health care. When looking at these facts it seems as though democracy is not necessarily as important to development and Sen would have us believe. But you can also tell that people in china don’t have some basic rights. Chinas government has been accused of restricting the freedom of speech, movement, and religion of its citizens. So what should we value more our economic success or our basic rights as people? The previous paragraph can also be used to determine our third question that Sen posses of “what should come first removing poverty and misery or guaranteeing political liberty and civil rights, for which poor people have little use?” well this question seemed a little odd to me because I don’t understand how you can possibly just remove poverty and misery. The only thing I could think he is trying to argue is that by giving people their democratic rights it will also allow them and give them the means to combat poverty on their own. And now for our fourth question. Couldn’t it be said that with the establishment of democracy violence quickly follows with it? For example if you take cases such as what happened in Spain when the dictatorship of Franco and Franco himself died and a democracy was established there was a lot of violence in the Basque region and there continues to be violence in that region because of Basque groups such as ETA that want their independence from the democratic Spain. Another example is México who has for a long time been seen as a very democratic country (although terribly corrupted) would be better off nowadays with a hard dictatorship that could stop this problem of the drug trade by using means that are illegal in a democracy. Because It seems that with a democracy the drug dealers are giving way to many freedoms to escape the democratic law. So yes democracy and violence sometimes cross paths but it will also occur in a dictatorship as well. What is the real goal of freedom? Other then just simply stating development? There are many different types of freedoms but primarily there are three big ones and these are political freedom, economic freedom and freedom of religion. Each of these freedoms as you can probably tell has a specific purpose for example political freedom is the right to chose and vote for who you want to represent you within a democracy without interference from the government as well as other people. Economic freedom means the freedom to produce, trade and consume anything and acquire services without having to deal with outside forces like fraud or theft that could halt you from exercising your freedom to choose. And the last main freedom is religious, which gives people the right, and options to chose and worship any god or gods they wish. So the real goal of freedom is simply to give you the right to chose and make your own decisions based on how you feel and deem necessary at the time. This also goes with development because the more you are able to demonstrate your true feelings it makes it easier to develop as a person. And this in turn helps you to develop in a society. So in the end democracy provides the only long-term basis for managing competing ethnic, religious and cultural interests in a way that minimizes the risk of violent internal conflict. Because democracy is a fundamental human right, the advancement of which is itself an important measure of development,” Everyone will always have there own opinions but its up to us to determine what the term “importance of democracy” means to each and every one of us. 1. When sen says “there are real handicaps that China experiences compared with India because it lacks democratic freedoms”. What does he mean? 2. How we can relate development, freedoms, and human rights to democracy. “Developing and strengthening a democratic system is an essential component of the process of development”. Like SEN says 3. In your opinion “what should come first –removing poverty and misery or guaranteeing political liberty and civil rights, for which poor people have little use”? 4. Couldn’t it be said that with the establishment of democracy violence quickly follows? 5. What do you believe the real goal of freedoms is? Other then just development.

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