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Democracy in Cardiac Arrest – USA and Brazil



I’m putting the disclaimer at the beginning of this blog. This is neither about left versus right, Democrat versus Republican, liberal versus conservative, or any other manner of taking sides.

Both the USA and Brazil are democracies in which elections take place and power transitions are supposed to be orderly. In both cases each of the leaders who were voted out promulgated and spurred on the idea that the elections were not legitimate and that they would not concede and accept the results. In both cases their followers attempted to overthrow the election results with violence. It is more than a coincidence that the two leaders admire each other.

Nicolas Gomez Davila was a Columbian philosopher who lived during the 1900’s. He was best known for his aphorisms, his precise statements of principle. Two of these are particularly significant when examining what happened on January 6, 2021, in the United States and two years later in Brazil. Both were attempted coups.

“Violence is not necessary to destroy a civilization. Each civilization dies from indifference toward the unique values which created it.”

“In general, "historical necessity" turns out to be merely a name for human stupidity.”

Once someone (or “someones”) has passed the threshold of not accepting an election result simply because it disagrees with her/his position, we have lost the essence of democracy and crossed over into anarchy. Sure, there are many instances throughout history where a violent revolution was necessary in order to move forward. The interesting thing is that the vast majority of revolutions were attempting to achieve democracy. The simplest definition of democracy is that the control of the organization (city, state, country, group, etc.) is by the majority of its members. But when facts are disavowed and lies are repeated, chaos ensues.

Look at Davila’s first aphorism. Violence is not even necessary. All that has to happen is to ignore the principles of a democracy. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The second one is for the people who claimed that a violent takeover was a necessity.

Are democracies in cardiac arrest? In a way, the two incidents acted as AED’s (automated external defibrillator) and shocked democracies everywhere, hopefully jolting them back to life. If not, we’re looking at the downhill slope of the decline of the democratic system.

Go ahead and vote on whether or not you think this blog is good, but if I don’t like the results, I’ll just ignore you and consider the results illegitimate. Oh, right. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

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Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.

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