Adam Burk

Founder/ Director, Treehouse Institute

This conversation is closed.

Are economic forces more powerful than democracy and justice? Should they be?

With the historical shifts in political power throughout the Arab world, there are still strongholds of tyranny. On a NPR Marketplace morning piece the discussion focused on the effects of these turbulences on the oil market. It stated that the current disruption in Libyan supply could be accommodated for by other oil producing countries, and thus the unrest in Libya is tolerable.

One of the speakers then said that if there was ever such a disturbance to the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia that it would bring forth Armageddon as oil levels would plummet. For this reason, if any displays of unrest similar to Egypt, Tunisia, or Libya, began in Saudi Arabia, allies should not allow them to persist. That the same world leaders declaring the people of Egypt heroes, should target people undertaking the same initiative in Saudi Arabia as criminals, agitators, a force to be neutralized. The show host noted his agreement that such uprisings should not be allowed in Saudi Arabia for these reasons.

And so, this highlights the true balance of power in the world. Democratic countries, particular the United States, are happy to support people's democratic movements to overthrow dictators, as long as the economic impact is not much of a concern. However if it comes time to choose between the values of democracy and justice or business as we know it, these speakers at least favor business as we know it.

What do you think?
Is it worth it to allow one of the worst recessions in history in order to promote democracy and social justice? Or is it not really worth it?

If some people are oppressed so that more can be free is that a tolerable equation?

How can we celebrate democracy when we would (and have) actively support leaders in others countries to suppress it?

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    Mar 22 2011: Wow! I think I am in LOVE!Adam have you seen the TEDx talk by Sam Richards from Penn U on Radical Empathy? Is aligns nicely with your thoughts.
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      Mar 22 2011: Debra, what a great TEDx talk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUEGHdQO7WA Thanks for adding this to the conversation.

      Sam Richards certainly guides us through a powerful exercise in perspective. Undoubtedly, every global citizen needs to regularly contemplate our perspectives to discover holes in understanding. Through such a practice we may move towards greater wholeness.
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    Mar 22 2011: I agree with you Adam that recognizing the work of the plutonomy and unwinding the plutonomic web is the issue and the aim. Lindsay Bowker, Cove Meadow, Stoinington Mainewww.lindsaynewlandbowker.posterous.com
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      Mar 22 2011: Lindsay, Great to hear another voice from Maine. Perhaps the first step to unwinding this web (perhaps knot is a more appropriate metaphor) is awareness that it even exists, what do we do once we are aware?