Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Democracy, However Dysfunctional, Is Necessary

It's common knowledge that there are those in Kuwait who would rather dissolve the Parliament than wake up every morning to read about another MP making a mockery of Kuwait's Democratic experiment. Almost everyone I know, including some very well-informed and highly educated people, advocate the dissolution of the Democratic way of life, citing regional experiments like Dubai and Qatar, and how they've adjusted to the new World Order and the effects of Globalization so successfully without popular oversight like our Parliament. (Never mind that Dubai went dangerously close to bankrupt, and Qatar almost went that way as well,  had it not been for the government's buyout plans earlier on, at a great cost to Public funds!)

Agreed, some Islamic MP's are utilizing Democracy to push forward their Islamo-Political agenda, while others try to milk the government of all it's strategic reserves in the name of Democratic equality, and others try to instill a sense of urgency to secondary issues like Consumer Loans write-off plans and so on. However, the main constant is that all these issues, secondary or otherwise, are being discussed in plain sight of everyone to see and judge, and not behind closed doors, where political deals can be struck under the table, and where freedoms can be stripped away from the people, as was the case back in the 1980's. To counter that threat, a system of checks and balances should be in place, exposing all that there is when discussing the financial and economic future of the people.

In some ways, Kuwait can seem to be a Demagoguery, a Kleptocracy, a semi-Islamic Dictatorship, or an actual Struggle for Democracy, it really all depends on how you view the Political and Economic developments in Kuwait, historically and culturally. In all respects, however, the voices that cried out for equality and freedom never quietened down, and those that raised them were almost always considered to be the opposition to the government, but always towards the benefit of the state in general, and not individuals in particular.

They've always measured Kuwait's sustainability against the collective good, and not individual gains.Social Security, Free Education, Cradle To Grave Welfare, they're all initiatives made by the forefathers of Kuwait's Democracy towards the general good of the state, people and government alike. However,  with the absence of formal political parties in Kuwait (clearly in violation of the Constitution) vague distinctions between them is unavoidable, and can very well be forgiven after the fact. A political party is not HADAS or the NDA, these are no more than popular pressure groups that shape the opposition based on their own understanding of what Democracy should be about, at least in my opinion.

Proper political parties stem from the streets, yes, but they come with a clear agenda, clear allies and opponents, clear goals and plans, and most importantly, clear streams of funding. They can be Socialist, Democratic, Islamic, Capitalist or Communist, but they would all be working towards a common goal, and that is to get to office and implement their own agendas which they have promised to implement, the very same ones upon which they were elected by the people.

Since Kuwait has a different political structure, since the head of Government must always be a member of the Ruling family of the Al Sabah, that part of the Political parties-based government cannot be fully implemented, which is fine and acceptable with many in Kuwait, because even if he was clearly affiliated - body and soul - with one party over the others, so long as there was a system to keep him and his affiliations in check so as to maintain the system of equality among the people, we would always be safe.

Thankfully, that system is present in the form of a body of nominees who speak on behalf of their representatives, be they from the people or from the pseudo-political parties, which include all the others. That body needs to maintain a system of "checks and balances" as well as oversight and legislation onto both the Executive and Legislative branches of Government, so that the rights of others would never be erased, and will always be protected by the system itself.

Since, in it's absence, one party will take over control of the government, and would 'assumably' modify the existing rules and regulations to suite it's own endeavors, making way for its people to instill a system of imbalance and unfairness among the others, to the point where the few will rule over the many. This was how Hitler, Mussolini and Hafez Al Assad came to power.

On the other hand, should a political party have the overwhelming majority of the people behind it, and take over the government, then the the same imbalance occurs, and the many will rule over the few. Again, this was how the Soviets and the Chinese came to power.

However, by implementing a system of government whereby the Legislative, the Executive and the Judiciary are all separate and independent, or even a system whereby a Fusion of Powers is present, these disasters can almost always be held at bay.

Taking into account the baseline stereotypical fears that run rampant today,consider if HADAS or the Salafists take over the government, and immediately enforce a law that would mandate the compulsory separation of the sexes everywhere. By the same token, consider if the Popular Action Bloc takes over, and distributes Kuwait's Fund for Future Generations, and imagine how Kuwait will survive once the last barrel of Oil gets pumped out. Yet again, consider if the NDA takes over and allows Bars and night clubs to be built..imagine any of these things to happen (still within the realm of the stereotypical fears, mind you) without anyone opposing them and you get the picture.

Worse still, imagine having a government that will one day mandate that all Kuwaitis must pay a 'loyalty tax' in order to stay 'Kuwaiti', or something even more sinister as initiating a government body that snoops onto the private lives of citizens without opposition or control from anyone except a select few from within the inner circle of power.

By implementing a checking system, however, the religiously conservative would oppose the legalization of alcohol, the liberal would oppose the legalization of separating the sexes among the workplace, the masses would oppose the monopolization of various industries, everything would be balanced within the realms of "full control" versus "shared control", and all would respect the other's opinions, wants and needs. Furthermore, this would all happen within an equal system of checks and balances, regulated and verified by the Constitution, which, in itself, is built upon a system that balances power between the ruled and the ruler.

That system is called  a Democracy, and it's what many are asking to dissolve here in Kuwait! Dismissing Parliament under the guise of 'ineffective policies' made by it's members is a testament to our failure as a people, since we put them there in the first place! Instead, we should pursue a better Parliament and select our nominees based on issues, not personalities.

One can only hope and pray....but voters make things happen their way.

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