Print

Print


Quoting John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>:

> Thomas R. Wier wrote:
>
>
> > Note that you have only proven that states can become less
> > compelling, not that there is a fundamental distinction between
> > one type of government or another.  Surely you would not claim
> > that when the United States *did* enforce this requirement
> > that the United States was not at the same time some kind of
> > liberal democracy, would you?
>
> No, I had no such thought in mind.  I do continue to believe,
> however, that there is a fundamental distinction between rule
> by an individual or a clique on the one hand, and rule by
> a movement on the other.  Nazism was dangerous not because it
> was the rule of Adolf Hitler, but because it was the rule
> of Nobody, and when Nobody is responsible, then things like
> the bureaucracy of murder become not only possible, but
> seemingly inevitable.

I'm not sure how I see how that distinction work out in practice,
however.  It is IMHO hard to claim that Saddam Hussein is not a
totalitarian despot, in that he has complete control over all
aspects of human life in those parts of Iraq not patrolled by
British and American aircraft, and only slightly less in those
patrolled regions.  He has ruthelessly laid waste to whole regions
of the country and to entire populations, with chemical weapons
at times.

On the other hand, while his Baath party is the only legal party,
and he is just the head, it actually serves as rubber stamp for
his every action. Everyone knows who really controls the country
and who is responsible for the government's actions, and that is
Saddam and to a slightly lesser extent his two sons Uday and Qusay
who run day to day affairs, as well as perhaps a handful of close
military officers.  The de facto structure, according to your
distinction, is authoritarian because of the small number of
people who in fact make the decisions, while de jure it is
totalitarian because in theory all actions are supposed to be
those of the party.  So, what's the real difference between those
two? Clearly, just as many people are dying every day from the
same government.

=====================================================================
Thomas Wier <[log in to unmask]> <http://home.uchicago.edu/~trwier>

             "...koruphàs hetéras hetére:isi prosápto:n /
Dept. of Linguistics  mú:tho:n mè: teléein atrapòn mían..."
University of Chicago "To join together diverse peaks of thought /
1010 E. 59th Street   and not complete one road that has no turn"
Chicago, IL 60637     Empedocles, _On Nature_, on speculative thinkers