Paul Lachine

Guerre, dette et démocratie

NEW YORK – A l’heure où les Etats Unis prennent la décision de lever le plafond d’endettement qu’ils s’étaient fixé, il serait bon de se rappeler pourquoi la dette américaine est si élevée aujourd’hui, et quelles en sont les implications. La popularité du Tea Party peut encourager les Républicains à critiquer l’élévation du plafond, mais ils la supporteront probablement en fin de compte parce que, entre autres choses, il est plus facile de défendre des guerres financées par l’endettement – comme en Afghanistan et en Irak par exemple – que des guerres qui doivent être financées de manière contemporaine par des taxes.

En effet, le débat américain qui se profile met en évidence un argument plus général : depuis des temps immémoriaux, la guerre a été une arme à double tranchant. Les sociétés humaines se sont massacrées et opprimées l’une l’autre à la mesure des pires fléaux infligés par Mère Nature. Mais les guerres ont aussi apporté des changements bénéfiques, parce que mobiliser des combattants implique aussi de les mobiliser politiquement.

L’histoire est pleine d’exemples de guerres augmentant la représentation de ceux qui fournissent les ressources de combat. L’Athènes antique devint une « démocracie » - littéralement, gouverner par le peuple – lorsque Kleisthenes organisa d’ordinaires pêcheurs et agriculteurs en une masse révolutionnaire capable de vaincre les oligarques supportés par Sparte. Leur liberté politique fut garantie par le besoin d’Athènes d’utiliser une flotte intensive en main d’ouvre pour combattre les Perses et d’autres ennemis.

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