Montag, 29. Oktober 2007

power to the people?

as was to be expected, i've had endless discussions here about The Crisis (as it is generally called here) and the ones i have found the most depressing have been those in which several timorese themselves have stated that their country is simply not ready (or ever will be) for western-imported ideas such as democracy or human rights, especially freedom of speech and gender equity. while i do agree that 'the west' can not claim a monopoly on the one true path for societies to follow and that a one-size-fits-all imposition from the outside is not in any way desirable, i find the alternative that is being presented rather depressing. it is a neo-traditionalist harking back to a mythical 'golden age' where men and women 'knew their places' in society, there was one leader and everyone had to toe the line (and presumably did so ungrudgingly).

these are calls for national unity, justice, harmony and peace to be essentially imposed by dictatorship, which at times is expressed exactly in those terms. of course, timor leste is not the only transitional country where such sentiments are rife. i've heard the same argument in many of the post-socialist countries of central and eastern europe as well as in the former soviet union. in the mid-90s, many there talked enthusiastically about the 'pinochet model,' combining autocracy and neo-liberal market policies. personally, thats quite far from my vision of a society i would want to live in. but if "the people" want it, should i not then accept it, especially if i am merely an outsider here? and have not other countries had at least economic success with that model? the tricky part is of course is in determining whether "the people," that elusive concept, actually want it as much as the would-be leaders.

anyhow, its time for me to leave the dusty streets of dili behind for a while and go the the greener pastures in 'the districts'....

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