community what is community

Address by Prof Vytautas Landsbergis at the Community of Democracies Parliamentary Forum meeting on 15 September 2010 in  Washington

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I have prepared my concluding remarks in advance, let me share them with you at the beginning. They are on democracy as a growing problem again.

I still remember the old good times of the Soviet Communist totalitarianism when the very concept of democracy was blamed as hypocrisy and dictatorship of “the riches” which should be abolished by all means because such was the call and order of History.

That was then the political philosophy and practices of that state and system, its teaching and indoctrination. While any military and political captivity was called “liberation”. Europe should be then liberated first, the Africa and Latin America little later, with isolated yankees left for a dessert. Well, it did not happen yet, and “Carthago”, a nickname for US, retains not destroyed despite such was a professional dream of colleagues of Mr. Putin.

We, those unified in the Community of democracies, do believe in peace and co-operation and never in eternal rivalry with smaller and bigger wars and governance of the stronger ones over the others. We do believe in democracy as a best option among all not very good forms of human co-existence. Anyway, what we can observe today and around us, is mankind travelling again in a darkness and looking for the Messiah. Sometimes his name is a good “drink” to consume ever more, and entertainment which also includes the basic instinct ; sometimes – xenophobic hatred to “the others” in color and mind, in a result inspiring mutual attacks and recently spreading religion of violence. The charming materialistic self-confusion about the alleged “welfare state” is, at least for me, a part of the same darkness, actually blind path. You will not be ever happier by consuming ever more.

Could democracy, blamed and repeatedly crucified, be seen as Messiah’s teaching in politics? That is difficult even to imagine – a policy built on love. But democracy as a path and interim goal is our chosen preference. At least, it brings peace, while non-democracies circle each other pregnant with wars.

Who are we in this Forum? – Like-minded politicians from the like-minded states that share, to take the European Union and the United States – “our commitment to freedom, democracy and human dignity”. I quoted here Ms. State Secretary’s latest adress to the Council of Foreign Affairs. We desire to include such people from around the world all keen to be unified for democracy, but we cannot yet dream about unified democratic states worldwide. On the contrary, our world remains divided into democracies and non-democracies. Those latter do prefer self-exclusion and are skilful in inventing pretty names for themselves even with insertion of the word “democracy”. Then it looks like eventual practices when the dictating clan of rulers define themselves “demos” or “people”. It makes no real sense, because any “ruled democracy” without freedom of speech and choice remains clanocracy. Even if it calls itself “sovereign” what means the sovereign right to call anything whatsoever.

“Some leaders see democracy as an inconvenience that gets in the way of the efficient exercise of national power, – said State Secretary Hillary Clinton. – This world view must be confronted and challenged everywhere”.

Here democracy was taken in its normal sense and vocabulary. First, as model of living within a free society with fairly elected and accountable government. Next, as a state which is embodiment of such model. Unfortunately, there is a lot of neo-Orwellian vocabulary on democracy, confusing all senses.

After previous (and current) well known “people’s (realize clans’) democracies” we use to hear now ones taking on “partial” democracy, “ruled”, “sovereign”, even “Russian-type” democracy (now en course to be introduced in Ukraine) etc. The most proper and healthy, as rejecting all demagoguery, should be clear distinction between democracies and non-democracies, with some place reserved, at least, for promising not-yet-democracies. Pre-democracy may have similar sense as well. Otherwise we see around certain efforts to say simple thing a more sophisticated way: “true democracy” (vice versa the false one) or “real democracy” (vice versa virtual, fake, theoretical or façade democracy). For me, all it is rubbish. An exceptional space between democracy and non-democracy deserves to be left for “democracy-friendly” (pre-democratic) states and that’s all. Commonly known is the fact that hard non-democracies are democracy-hostile. One of prominent Eurasian politicians – do you remember it? – simply compared “your” democracy, if promoted, with old bad colonialism thus encouraging hesitant colleagues to take that very sovereign stance.

May democracy downgrade? Unfortunately, yes. When sickness of corruption grows to embrace the entire body of a state, the ruling mechanisms of it become affected more and more, either paralyzed or functioning in a line of that very virus. Then it results in a corrupted democracy (softly occupied by neighbouring corrupted non-democracies).

Manipulated democracy looks still like a method used in Parliaments – from national ones to the European – but there is no ban for an evolution towards variety of post-democracies.

Going back to democracy as a type of governance, usually it is understood as normal parliamentary democracy – with real powers, both legislative and that of control, given to really elected, really representative Parliament.

For this the fundamental human right of choice is an essential matter. Unfortunately, one or two of the “emerging centers of influence” (along with recent definition by State Secretary) do refuse that right to be implemented. Just a week ago president of Russia stated that “parliamentary democracy would be a catastrophe for Russia”. To understand this in real terms, as well as the previous warning of Russia’s prime minister /future president/ that freedom of assembly is and will be regulated by truncheon striking heads, we should catch this vocabulary correctly. Similarly as decades ago the Communist clan somewhere called itself “working people”, the recent label “Russia” (allegedly contraindicted to parliamentary democracy) should be read as “current political elite”, nothing else. The common sense cannot be denied to any people for ever, probably only deprived of it by circumstances or indoctrination. As the world is now on the crossroads again, democracies have a mission and must not refuse to implement it.