Nepalese Gansters Unwilling to Grant Power to Other Gansters

Update: What had previously been wrangling is about to get a whole lot more intense. The Maoists’ coalition has collapsed with allied parties resigning in protest at their sacking of the disobedient general. Masses of protesters from both sides have come onto the streets. What happens next is highly uncertain.

In Nepal, a democratic election hasn’t changed the fact that the now-ruling party has one set of armed forces, and the now-opposition parties/traditional state has another. Both forces have a history of ‘human rights abuse’. In the unstable political climate there, the newly-elected Maoists won’t be secure in power until they’ve integrated their ‘people’s warriors’ into the state armed forces, and decisively asserted control over the same.

But the leaders of the army are refusing to let this happen, and the opposition parties are supporting them in such a stance – quite possibly out of a by-no-means-unreasonable fear that once the army is packed with Maoist guerillas, the Maoists will be able to use it against any and all opponents.

Hence political wrangling. At least that’s how it looks to me. What this, I think, illustrates, is the requirements for representative democracy. Where the extra-governmental parts of the state, especially the armed forces, are divided – i.e., are not sufficiently neutral between parties – there can’t be a proper, constitutional ‘contest’ between those parties. In Nepal, where both sides have a partisan army, they are constantly wrangling to avoid an outbreak of war. Thailand illustrates this in a different way; where the state ‘machinery’ all favours one party, winning a lot of elections won’t get their rivals into power.

To put it another way, for representative democracy to work, there needs to be sufficient consensus among rival parties, and sufficient agreement between those parties and the rest of the state. But in that case what we’re looking at is really undemocratic elite rule based on a certain program, with democratic decision between two versions of that program.

7 Responses to “Nepalese Gansters Unwilling to Grant Power to Other Gansters”

  1. Piglet Says:

    I think you may have hit on something profound. In order for a decent stable government to function it may be ventured that there needs to be some measure of consensus between the major groupings, usually revolving around shared respect for the constitution and the existing social order. You can’t really have one party wanting to utterly revolutionize society and the other wanting to turn it back and have them getting the opportunity to do this every five years or so when there is a slump and the masses get fed up. This will at the very least generate substantial bitterness and perhaps a lot worse. I think democracy may be all very well but in the limited sense of suffragium rights. Certainly not in the sense you propose where it assumes the form of a license to indulge in foolishness and chaos. Britain was much better governed in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries when there was no major ideological divisions in society, major relative to now that is.
    Just FYI it was recently proposed to me by a friend that we shoud consider restricting the franchise only to practicing and confessing male anglicans which, after opposition, I now reckon is a pretty darn good idea. Democracy really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and fewer babies would be killed if we adhered to the above method of political organization.

  2. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    So for a start, I’m rather surprised to hear “Britain was much better governed in the Seventeenth…century when there were no major ideological divisions”, since that was the period containing the Civil war and all its attendant strifes.

    Secondly, you long for a society without major ideological differences, which would have to mean a society without systematically opposed interests, which would have to mean a classless and non-hierarchical one. Yet the type of society you clearly prefer is one in which classes and hierarchies are maintained and fortified. I.e. you aim at a utopia.

    Thirdly, I’m often called an academic elitist wanker, but by speaking of “suffragium rights”, where ‘suffragium’ is defined on all of google only as a German word, you have outclassed me.

    Fourthly, extending the franchise was never a decision taken in light of political theory, it was forced onto the pre-existing oligarchy you so admire by popular struggle. Adhering to your friend’s misogynistic theocratic model would require either history’s grandest propaganda effort to erase from most of our minds all sense of dignity and self-assertion (not to mention basic critical thinking), or else sustained systematic repression and terror to frighten people out of resistance.

  3. Piglet Says:

    There were no major ideological divisions in our sense in the seventeenth century. But there was still a civil war. With the exception of said civil war the other attendant strifes are a bit overdone.
    I think it is absolutely within the realms of possibility to have a society with no ideological divisions but retain hierachy and classes. I just cited one didn’t I.
    Suffragium is a latin word from whence we derive suffrage.
    For your infomation many people who lived with no voting rights had a very real sense of dignity, self worth and were damn assertive. It is strange for a self professed anarchist to argue the crumbs the state hurls at the baying masses confer any meaningful benefit or honour.
    Also it is very theocratic to allow Catholics to vote seeing as they should be taking their orders from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Denying them this ability would lessen the impact of the priesthood on the nation. As Her Majesty is Supreme Governor of the Church of England it is very perplexing to be accused of wanting to set up a theocracy by only letting Anglicans vote.

  4. Piglet Says:

    When I whack Suffragium into google the first thing that comes up is a page on Greek and Roman antiquities where, as well as defining Suffragium, it also helpfully tells you that the Greek word for the vote is Psephous.

  5. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    “There were no major ideological divisions in our sense in the seventeenth century…I think it is absolutely within the realms of possibility to have a society with no ideological divisions but retain hierachy and classes.”
    So ‘ideological divisions’ ends up meaning the sort of disagreements which produce the conflicts you want to emphasise while being unrelated to the conflicts you want to de-emphasise. Great.

    “many people who lived with no voting rights had a very real sense of dignity”
    My point was, you will have a job on your hands persuading most people to be content with playing no role in their own government. People’s refusal to accept that is why universal suffrage exists. Certainly it would be appropriate for people to feel affronted at not having more self-rule than this crumb, but luckily for you they often don’t, as of yet.

    “it is very theocratic to allow Catholics to vote seeing as they should be taking their orders from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI”
    Oh come on.

    “Suffragium is a latin word from whence we derive suffrage.”
    I worked that out. But that left me none the wiser as to what specifically you meant by ‘suffragium rights’. I now gather you meant ‘voting rights’ of no specific sort, and the choice to use a non-english word in place of the english word was a flourish.

    “it is very perplexing to be accused of wanting to set up a theocracy by only letting Anglicans vote.”
    Presumably being a practicing anglican is something that the Anglican church regulates – it can ‘excommunicate people’ or stop them taking communion or something. Having a religious body decide voter eligibility is clearly a move towards theocracy.

    Glad to see that you didn’t waste time disputing the misogyny allegation.

  6. Piglet Says:

    There was not a big struggle, either in Parliament or in the streets and the villages, between commy types and conservatives in the Seventeenth Century. That is fact. Hence no major ideological divisions as you would recognize them. Unless you reckon episcopacy or classes as regards church government constitutes a major ideological division in society.
    I realise the power of the far left, in as far as they do not wish to work via the state, is currently quite pathetic.
    I don’t see what is wrong with saying not allowing Catholics to vote makes the state less theocratic. It clearly does.
    The Church of England can not degenerate into a theocracy because it is ruled by she who carries the sword temporal, i.e. our Queen. To be a theocracy you have to be ruled by priests but the state controls the priests, unlike Iran.

  7. Alderson Warm-Fork Says:

    “Unless you reckon episcopacy or classes as regards church government constitutes a major ideological division in society.”

    I reckon ‘ideological’ and ‘major’ are both fuzzy words. I reckon the issues people claim to be fighting over are not always the same as the ones that are actually motivating them.

    “I don’t see what is wrong with saying not allowing Catholics to vote makes the state less theocratic.”
    What’s wrong with it is that it bears no relation to the real world. This ‘Catholics are inherently subversive agents of a foreign power’ thing is a hackneyed prejudice no different from any other piece of bigotry.

    “The Church of England can not degenerate into a theocracy because it is ruled by she who carries the sword temporal, i.e. our Queen.”
    Great. So we avoid theocracy by hereditary dictatorship. This makes a huge difference to me.


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