Monthly Archives: December 2017

Week 13

Democracy, as Max Cameron points out, is a fickle thing. I thought he made an excellent point when he talked about how it can fail those without the ability to vote, especially things like nature. It is a novel idea to think about nature as having rights, but I suppose it makes sense when you view nature as a collection of individual beings that do have rights, including, to a certain degree, us. We rely on nature as much as nature relies on us, but in very different ways. Often, we exploit nature, for reasons of survival, or because for economic gain. Sometimes making money is necessary for survival, either on an individual scale, or that of a nation. But nature relies on us not to over harvest, not to be excessive in our consumption. So in times where it becomes necessary to take too much in order to not continue growth, or ensure future survival, how do we reconcile that with being a forward thinking society? Democracy allows us to make decisions that keep us moving forward, but the progress comes at a cost, one that, over the long term, may be unsustainable. Still, for its flaws, democracy is still infinitely preferable to an authoritarian leadership, one which doesn’t respect the will, or the wellbeing, of its people. I was also very interested in Latin America’s so called “left turn.” I thought of the three major reasons Cameron mentions for the left swing, the United states’ absence in the region was the most fascinating. In class we had had group discussions on what the west should do now in terms of what was going to be best for Latin America, and one suggestion that was mentioned frequently was just to leave them alone. In particular, there was some agreement that the United States should cease its interventions in the region, and just let it develop on its own. And when Latin America gets a chance to do this, during recent years, when America has been more focussed on other things, Cameron points out that there is a marked increase in democratic experimentation. Clearly, the governments in Latin America could be improved, some more than others. But this trend towards effective social policies and independence governance is in my eyes very indicative of the regions ability to be completely capable of taking care of its self, so long as no other countries try to mess it up.

Week 12

While I enjoyed all of this weeks lecture video, my favorite part was the potent reminder of how fortunate we are as Canadians to have the power to elect politicians. When we aren’t happy with who’s in power, we have a chance to act to change it- peacefully! Lucky us. I continue to be horrified by the violent and cruel nature of the crimes the government is commenting. It seems especially cowardly given that in the case of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo the innocents they were murdering were unarmed, non-violent women. I suppose that’s another thing we have to be grateful for here; the right to protest. We had talked previously about whether or not violence is ever justified. I think often peaceful protests can seem ineffective, but the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo would serve as a fine counterexample to that point. Of course, no everyone could manage to be as persistent in the face of  so great a threat, so perhaps there was a uniqueness to the bravery of the mothers and grandmothers who stood up against a foe far more powerful than they that imbued them with the ability to affect change. But maybe we can all draw from the same source and achieve the same power they did. Regardless, they are certainly an inspiration for us all. I must say that I am not entirely surprised to find out that there were individuals on the American right that supported the argentine government. Politics, as well as being a scumbag, seem to know no borders. Reagan’s comments justifying the actions of the government seem particularly callous, indicative of a total lack of empathy for the oppressed lower classes as well as a lack of understanding of the situation. But that’s Reagan for you. Part of the reason the peaceful protests worked, it seems to me, is because they were backed up by the threat of foreign nations- nations like the US, who were not afraid of being violent themselves. However, in the long run, it also seems to have contributed to a more stable, peaceful society, whereas more explicitly violent causes, such as the armed revolutions in the 1920s and 30s, while more immediately effective, did not yield the same long term prosperity. One more thing that we have to be thankful for is a free press. Often, I believe, media is overlooked or dismissed, especially in this era of so called “fake news,” but as the deaths of journalists as recent as the past decade show, its definitely something we can take for granted here.