Tuesday November 24, 2020
'Democracy Has a Fundamental Assumption'
What is the awful consequence of the War in Iraq as you see it?
Well, let me say I think it's not soluble. That it's not even a bad war, it's not even a dreadful war, it's a war that it may have repurcussions that will go on and on forever. It's like the sort of hideous, obsessive experience you never get out from under.
I won't be fancy about it. It's a lose-lose situation. Because we will never succeed in turning Iraq into a democracy—which I think is immensely difficult for a very simple reason: You don't take democracy and put it in a hypodermic and inject it into a country. Democracy is a grace. For religious people—not fundamentalists, who are in my mind not nearly so much religious as totalitarian, because you've got to do it their way—but for people who have religious spirit, democracy is a grace. In other words, it's something that you can abuse.
Democracy has a fundamental assumption: that if you allow the mass of people to express their will, more good will come out of that than bad. That means that democracy can always fail. And the best of democracies can fail. We have probably the greatest democracy that ever existed: We can go down the tubes; we can turn into a totalitarian country, too.
-- Norman Mailer talking to Charlie Rose, Nov. 6, 2003. This snippet begins at 15:37. Norman was always a great, underrated prognosticator, which I mentioned in my obit for him in 2007 and in this 2017 blog post. To be a great prognosticator, you just need to know human nature and keep a clear mind. Or at least keep it free of the noise; of the bullshit. God, I miss him. I feel like re-reading him. At the moment, I'm re-reading Joyce.