Despite what President Bush seems to think with regard to Iraq, democracy has nothing to do with peace or tranquility.
France is, quite frankly, in chaos. After the events in Clichy-sous-Bois, where two North African teenagers were electrocuted while trying to hide from police who were allegedly chasing them, riots have erupted. The government has gone into “crisis mode.” Arrests have been made and property has been destroyed. All of this happened under a democratically elected president. If democracy is a panacea, why is this happening?
It is happening because it is economic opportunity, not democracy, which paves the pathway to tranquility. Jacques Chirac, the president of France, has done little to overturn the Gaullist (essentially Socialist) influence of those who preceded him. The French rejected the constitution of the European Union, which promised enhanced trade opportunity and economic interdependence.
This was not because of legitimate complaints, such as totalitarianism or human rights abuses in trader nations, but because of an ill-advised anti-globalization movement that reeks of socialism.
Unfortunately, the French are now facing the realization that they may not be admitted to the European Union at all. The EU commission sets limits on how much debt a member nation can go into per year, and France is quickly approaching these limits.
It is capitalism that entails security both domestically and internationally. If one engages in global competitive trade with other nations, war is less likely to develop. The more goods that pass between neighboring countries, the less likely it is that troops will need to cross those borders. If one has invested in Switzerland, one will be less eager to destroy the Swiss. Economically satisfied citizens do not engage in riots.
Big governments, similar to the type that France has accumulated in recent years are nothing but impositions on the free market that security and tranquility depend on. Unfortunately, the same tendencies can be seen in the United States in the rhetoric of Republicans and Democrats alike.
Democracy is necessary, of course. It is important for the government to represent the people. Democracy, however, is only successful at preventing strife when the economics behind it tend to limit government and promote capitalism, which in turn promotes the economic well-being of citizens.
France’s failure is just another in a long series of the failures of big government. Perhaps the emphasis on democracy instead of the more relevant idea of capitalism has been imparted upon America because those who espouse it don’t really believe in the limited government that capitalism entails.
Without governmental restraint, France’s failure will become ours. Without economic success and faith in enlightened self-interest, the freedom associated with democracy will not mean a thing.
Jordan Capobianco is a senior majoring in English literature.