Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hobsbawm on Democracy

In these next chapters of “The Age of Empire” Hobsbawm discusses the advances in politics and democracy in the emerging powers societies. Hobsbawm helps in drawing the parallels between the representation of the majority of people and the wealthy minority. As the working, non-educated, and poor population began to sky rocket after the industrial revolution it was not long until they looked for more in life. Societies all over the world began to realize that they should not have to work tirelessly night and day alongside their kids for little pay. The pay they were getting was barely enough and most of the times not enough to support their family or themselves. It was not long before people saw the wealthy merchants with all their luxuries and realized that they should get be getting some of these benefits since they are doing all the work. After the civil war and the French revolution governments and the wealthy had to find a way in which they could satisfy the needs of their workers and citizens while being able to profit from the goods and services their company provides. As Upton Sinclair said in his book “The Jungle,” "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." The only way for a happy medium was for the development of some form of government in which everyone had a say. A form of government that began as early as the 6th century called democracy soon became the answer. It took many countries many years and many lives to obtain as some still have yet to adopt the policies, but as of now I would have to say it’s the best form of government created by the human race thus far. It is too difficult to get everyone, everything they want, so the majority is the closest to everyone. This is can be a very difficult concept in countries like the United States in which there are many groups of minorities. How can these people ever get what they want, how can they get represented?
Hobsbawm makes many points clear in his book with the rise of democracy in the 19th century. I think the points he makes about how capitalism and democracy work together. Although, I think it would be interesting if he argued this form of government as a mistake bound to fail as we have seen in the past, and that this is just another piece of a long cycle. Once again the wealthiest people in society have the greatest influence on politics getting what they want. This reminds me of the 19th century when people began to unite and demand more for their hard work. Today, we might not storm the Bastille, but it will not be long to people demand more from their government’s decisions.
One thing I think would be an interesting discussion would be based on the fact Hobsbawm says that the United States was slow in adopting these ideas. What I would like to know is if we were slow in adopting democracy why did we fly past most countries, and why are we trying to implement it onto other countries. Also, when will we realize how flawed our democracy and capitalism is, and when will it change to benefit the majority, not the one percent that has all the money. Oh yeh, LETS GO PENS!!!

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