29 May 2008

Nepal: The March of Democracy?

Here was the sort of event that Americans might be expected to celebrate. The nation of Nepal had abolished its monarchy and declared itself a republic. That sounds like exactly the sort of progress that the Bush administration in particular, claims to encourage. Why, then, has this milestone received so little attention in the United States, and no more comment from the government than the bland, noncommittal remarks of a State Department nobody recorded here? Could it be because one of the driving forces behind the democratization of Nepal is a Maoist movement? Could it be because the change doesn't give the U.S. any special advantage in Nepal's part of the world, and thus doesn't seem like a triumph of democracy to us? Or doesn't democracy matter unless it benefits Americans in a material way not immediately apparent in Nepal?

It might have been different once, since this seems like the sort of news that the Founders would have celebrated with no hint of ambivalence. But monarchy doesn't seem to bother Americans as much as it used to, unless the monarch lacks legitimate family ties, dispenses with the sacraments of coronation, and can be called a "dictator" instead.

You might argue that Americans don't feel threatened by the idea of monarchy simply because so many monarchs are constitutionally constrained these days, and most are little more than media celebrities. Kings and queens, princes and princesses are mostly harmless members of the global freakocracy that holds so many everywhere in thrall. But had someone suggested that future to the Founders, it would probably have given them reason to call more loudly for getting rid of every crowned head. The fact that no one seems to care today suggests that decadence is setting in.

1 comment:

crhymethinc said...

Perhaps Tibet should consider taking a lesson from the Nepalese playbook. Maybe if they agreed to become a democracy, the US would actually support their bid for freedom from Chinese rule.

But probably not, since the USA is so far in debt to the Chinese.