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Institutional Exhaustion isn't just a Feature of Democracy
Statement inspired by Pope Benedict’s renunciation, drafted and published on Feb. 11, 2013

There can be no doubt,
that mature democracies show disconcerting signs of exhaustion these days (high
abstention rates in national elections, erosion of party memberships,
party financing scandals, gridlock, etc..)  
Today’s news about the Pope’s demise, however, evidences that exhaustion and disintegration aren’t just
features of later day democracies. No, if one chooses to look around this world, one will find that all governmental
systems suffer from a certain degree of depression. Just think of the dire straits that Cuba’s dictatorship is
constantly navigating in; think of the corruption scandals in China’s communist bureaucracy; take a look at Iran’s
interior power battles, think about Prince Charles’ life, Carl Gustav’s alleged extra-marital affairs or Mr. Urdangarin’
s illicit business activities and take heed of the various scandals that have rocked the foundations of the Catholic
Church. So something is definitely going wrong not just in the state of Denmark. But what of all things could be the
cause for the sense of the malaise that people around the world seem to be living in? Is all this due to the relative
prosperity we are benefiting from? (This can’t be true because people in Cuba at least tend to be dirt poor).
Is the
despondency due to the transparency that the internet age with all its technological advances is creating? (Well,
most dictatorial systems try to limit their exposure to electronic media allegations) Is it perhaps
part of the human
condition to feel frustrated and complain about things? (The smiling faces of kids in Africa suggest that not all
people are equally burned out). Or is this just a reflection of an emotional down-cycle that history and mankind
are currently going through? (Sounds unlikely).

Whatever the answer to this is, we have to continue to muddle through. And contrary to the now retiring Pope we
continue to believe that it is better to muddle through a chaotic democratic system than it is to hang in there in an
autocratic one. After all, democracy can at least boast to have the idea of anarchy somewhat integrated into its
DNA whereas all other systems are simply overwhelmed by the sheer power of that.
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