Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Heads Up on Kenya
Here's his brutal conclusion:
At the bottom of virtually every electoral mess in the developing world are indestructible identities that Western academics long insisted didn't exist. InI have an acquaintance in Kenya, a very serious minded Kenyan Pentacostal Pastor, who has done amazing work in his rural home town. I worry for him, his work, his fellow pastors and their congregations.
the 20th century, no end of professors declared that differences in ethnicity, tradition, language and perceived identity were all in our heads: European imperialists had created tribes to screw up Eden.
But our attempts to ride roughshod over fundamental identities to which human beings cling for dear life only resulted in the sort of failures we've witnessed in the post-colonial years - and the problems we faced in Iraq as we brushed aside sheiks in favor of corrupt bureaucrats.
To make democracy work in the developing world, you must adapt it to the pre-existing social structures and traditional loyalties, rather than assuming they'll wither away at the first election. Even Stalin couldn't finish off the Chechens. Afghanistan's Pathans won't vote for Tadjiks, or Sunni Arabs for Sunni Kurds.
The utterly wrong-headed and ultimately deadly insistence that everybody is just like us has led us to prescribe poison: In tribal societies, Western-style presidential or parliamentary systems produce, at best, authoritarian regimes. (As I argued years ago, our question in 2003 shouldn't have been "How do we bring our democracy to Iraq?" but "What would an Iraqi democracy look like?")
Kenya was once a model for the rest of Africa, and now it succumbs to the violence and chaos that has ravaged Africa in the modern era. A tragedy, and one that may have lasting (negative) consequences for Africa as a whole.
(Via The Corner)
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