March 01, 2005
Rosalía Lloret was cofounder of the internet portal network Ya.com, main responsible for Contents and Services at the company and member of the International Product Marketing Executive Board at T-Online International, mother company of Ya.com. Previously, she was part of the small team at Telefónica SRC hired to design and develop terra.es, the new portal for the company. Before her incorporation to Telefónica, Rosalia was staffwriter for Internet and Telecommunications at the business daily Cinco Días (Prisa Group). She has a degree in Journalism by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), is MA in International Relations by the Fundación Ortega y Gasset (UCM) and also MSc in Journalism by El País (UAM). She is currently completing postgraduate studies in Global Politics at the London School of Economics.
Q: Some feel that the current War on Terror is exactly an example of what the terrorists want: more excuses for their inexcusable actions, and a curtailing of civil liberties in democratic countries. Could you explain that paradox?
A: Just as the Nazi party used democracy precisely to destroy democracy, the new radical Islamic terrorism is making use of the very means of globalization to wipe out globalization. Television, the Internet, the instant transfers of capital and the easy travel are the main allies of this new terrorism, which is articulated as a network, gets funds from diasporas’ remittances and very cleverly exploits the broad media coverage by TV and Internet.
Sadly, some states seem to have entered in an unholy alliance with terrorists to curb globalization and, more precisely, the liberal society paradigm attached to it. With the –utterly reasonable- excuse of fighting terrorism, democratic governments are curtailing their citizens’ freedoms, imposing more and more controls over their lives and, ultimately, bringing down some of the very foundations of democracy and the rule of law, such as the habeas corpus, i.e. the right for an independent and fair trial before imprisonment. Guantanamo in the US or the indefinite arrest under the UK’s anti-terrorist bill, are clear attacks on democracy in the name of democracy.
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This one is an interesting question. How do you reconcile the need to restrict criminal or terrorist activity with the apparent need to allow freedom to the general public, especially when the general public is known or suspected to harbour some criminal elements?
Real democracy (whatever that is) and freedom make nice catchphrases, but what are they actually worth to the world, in comparison to other things we might aim for instead? It seems to me that lots of people (myself included) are willing to talk about democracy and freedom, and to give them an implied high value, without ever really thinking about what they actually mean or justifying why they might be valuable.
Is it possible that the western world's "ideal" of living in large communities with easy access to many people and rich resources, while still maintaining privacy and freedom is unattainable in the current world political climate? Maybe we would do better to accept the relative loss of democracy and settle for something that is safer for most of us? If that involves some loss of freedom for the people on the planet who have the most freedom already, is that necessarily a bad thing?
Posted by: Helen at March 1, 2005 12:53 PM
I'm not giving a 'supreme value' to democracy, Helen. I actually think that most of the values we hold are a result of the permanent debate and 'negotiation' within societies and between societies and states. Indeed, we have witnessed a -sometimes unavoidable, sometimes not- loss of privacy and liberties over the last decades in our democratic societies.
But I also believe that, among the systems we've experienced so far, democracy is the 'best context for human development', as Kim Campbell says in this interview regarding the Madrid Summit. And there are some very basic elements of democracy without which it cannot simply be considered 'democracy' any more, such as the freedom of speech, the multi-party system or the right for an independent trial. The anti-terror laws, both in the US and the UK, allowing indefinite imprisonement (or house arrest) without trial are just wiping out one of these core elements.
Maybe, you think, we'll find a better and safer system for 'most of us'. But, who do you mean by 'us'? We certainly remember other systems that were also better and safer for the majority of its citizens... and became criminal for the rest. This is a very sensitive issue.
Posted by: Rosalia at March 4, 2005 02:51 PM
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