Skip to comments.Democracy Is Not the Answer
Posted on 03/16/2013 2:11:08 PM PDT by rmlew
To understand how we got to the point that spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support a government run by people who have been at war with us for almost a century is a policy that most foreign policy experts endorse, it helps to take a brief trip back in time.
In the last century, our big three wars, the two we fought and the one we didn’t, were against enemies who were seen as being distinguished by a lack of democracy, with the Kaiser, the Fuhrer and the Commissar embodying the antithesis of the American system.
The Democratic Party, which stood at the helm during both hot wars, was able to link its brand to the wars by defining them as struggles for democracy. The process of de-nationalizing war from a conflict between nations and ethnic groups was only partly realized in WW1, but was largely achieved in WW2, and made post-war reconstruction and alliance easier. National and ethnic grudges were replaced by ideological platforms. If the trouble was a lack of democracy, then all we needed to do was defeat the tyrant’s armies, inject democracy and stand back.
Democracy also made it easier to turn liberals against the Soviet Union. The liberals who had believed in a war for democracy in Europe had difficulty tossing it aside after the war was over. And that emphasis on democracy helped make a national defense coalition between conservatives and liberals possible.
This strategy was effective enough against existing totalitarian systems, but suffered from a major weakness because it could not account for a totalitarian ideology taking power through the ballot box.
The assumption that because the Nazis and the Communists rejected open elections that they could not win open elections was wrong. Democracy of that kind is populism and totalitarian movements can be quite popular. The Nazis did fairly well in the 1932 elections and the radical left gobbled up much of the Russian First Duma. The modern Russian Communist Party is the second largest party in the Duma today.
Democratic elections do not necessarily lead to democratic outcomes, but the linkage of democracy to progress made that hard to see. The assumption that democracy is progressive and leads to more progress had been adopted even by many conservatives. That fixed notion of history led to total disaster in the Arab Spring.
Cold War America knew better than to endorse universal democracy. Open elections everywhere would have given the Soviet Union more allies than the United States. The left attacked Eisenhower and Kennedy as hypocrites, but both men were correct in understanding that there was no virtue in overthrowing an authoritarian government only to replace it with an even more authoritarian government; whether through violence or the ballot box.
As time went on, Americans were assailed with two interrelated arguments. The left warned that the denial of democracy was fueling Third World rage against the United States. And on the right we heard that tyranny was warping Third World societies into malignant forms. The left’s version of the argument directed more blame at America, but both versions of the argument treated democracy as a cure for hostility.
The argument that democracy had made the Muslim world dysfunctional was always chancy. The best counterargument to it was that second and third-generation Muslims in Europe were often more radical than their immigrant parents. If democracy were a cure for Islamism, it was working very poorly in London, Oslo and Paris.
The assumption of the argument was that the tyranny that a people were living under was unnatural while the outcome of a democratic election would be natural. And yet, if a people have been warped for a thousand years by not living under a democracy, how could they be expected to choose a form of government that would not be warped? Was there any reason to expect that such efforts at democracy would not lead to tyranny?
The Arab Spring has taught us to question the idea that democracy is an absolute good. Initially the outcome of the Palestinian Arab elections that rewarded Hamas was thought not to apply to the wider region. That assumption proved to be wrong. We now know that Hamas’ victory foreshadowed the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory. And we know that Islamists have the inside track in elections because they represent a familiar ideology that has not been discredited in the minds of a majority of Muslims.
We can no longer afford to be bound by a Cold War argument against Communism that has outlived its usefulness, especially once liberals turned left and defected from a national security consensus. Universal democracy has proven to be about as universal a panacea as international law or the United Nations.
Classifying ideologies as democratic or undemocratic has blinded us to their content and gives our enemies an easy way to take power while leaving the champions of democracy voiceless. Too many Republicans were flailing after the Muslim Brotherhood’s victory in Egypt; unable to articulate a reason why the United States should not support a democratically elected government.
Democracy was once viewed, rightly or wrongly, as a form of American Exceptionalism. But reducing that exceptionalism to open elections misses the point. It isn’t open elections that make Americans special; it’s Americans who make open elections special. Instead of looking to systems, we should look to values. Instead of looking to governments, we should look to peoples.
The assumption that exporting democracy also exports our values is clearly wrong. It isn’t democracy that makes free people; it’s individual responsibility. Democracy with individual responsibility makes for a free nation. Democracy without individual responsibility is only another name for tyranny.
We have spent too much time looking at systems, when we should have been looking at values. We have wrongly assumed that all religions and all peoples share the same basic values that democracy can unleash for the betterment of all. That has clearly been proven to be wrong.
If we had looked instead at a poll which showed that 4 out of 5 Egyptians believe that adulterers should be stoned and thieves should have their hands cut off, we would have known how this democracy experiment was going to end and how much damage it would do to our national interests.
It’s time to stop putting our faith in democracy. Democracy for all is not the answer. Responsibility for all is. Our responsibility is not to agnostically empower other people to make the choices that will destroy our way of life, but to make those choices that will keep our way of life alive.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
I believe the author is more accurately disparaging mob rule.
As P.J. O’Rourke once said, in a true democracy, every pair of pants would be acid-washed jeans, and every meal a pizza.
We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class; to win the battle of democracy.Even though Marx and Engels were famous for their advocation of violent revolution, they knew there were other paths for their ideology to take in order to seize power.
Moslems are not interested in peace, but rather world domination. The only kind of government suitable for them, regardless of structure, is a demilitarized one.
The rogue elements need to be carefully observed and occasionally "demotivated".
That is why this country is theoretically a representative republic.
Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.
“If we had looked instead at a poll which showed that 4 out of 5 Egyptians believe that adulterers should be stoned and thieves should have their hands cut off, we would have known how this democracy experiment was going to end and how much damage it would do to our national interests.”
I can’t say I remember that, but I DEFINITELY DO REMEMBER the polls that said the Brotherhood would walk away with any election and would turn Egypt into another Iran. It wasn’t even close. Egypt was SEETHING, ready to become the next Islamic state in the Middle East, with only Sadat and then Mubarak stopping that. It WAS NOT a state secret - if this little twerp blogger from Texas knew what was in store, then Hillary certainly did too.
I remember getting angry at reading something in a geography book (during junior high, I think) that said some countries simply aren’t ready for democracy - I was wrong (then), and they were right. Unfortunately Democrat leaders and most Republican leaders are still stuck in that classroom, thinking as I did. You’d think they could learn, if not from the Palestinians, then from Iraq, or Afghanistan. Or maybe...more likely...this has ALWAYS been their objectives.
I look at Obama and Biden and Reid and Pelosi and I don’t see hearts beating for Democracy. I see hands itching for money. We’re never going to get anywhere if we keep attributing noble thoughts to this bunch of thieves. They are out to make money for themselves and their buddies. Is there anyone, anyone who thinks these thieves helped kill Qaddafi because they wanted a Democratic Libya? Does anyone here think the Democrats are killing the Syrian Soldiers because the Democrats think that will bring Democracy to Syria? It’s all about money.
No, it is not a representative republic, it is a Constitutional republic. The purpose of the Constitution is to put some things outside the reach of democratic majorities, representative or direct.
The problem with democracy is that the people who create businesses and wealth will always be a small minority of the population, and will thus be a tempting target for robbery via government. Self-rule only survives as long as the majority of the people are moral enough to not want to steal other people's property.
In the Arab world, democracy does not work because the majority does not have the necessary mind-set to make it work.
Corrupt Representation has brought
us to a state of “Dumbacracity.”
Dictators know how to do this.
I am claiming the phrase as my own.
I meant “ Dumbacrisy”
Always looking for talking points.
There is no drought of historical lessons showing that this is true, but leftists never learn from history. I think all egalitarian movements entail collective illusions of its adherents and proponents, and it ensues from deception and naturally glides inevitably toward totalitarianism. Again- history teaches it. It's good to see someone setting the record straight on Democracy and let's hope we see it hammered on more and more.
Freedom is the goal, and democracy merely a means of trying to attain it. Democracy without respect for the rights of the individual does not advance the cause of freedom. Whatever their form, governments that don’t secure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are oppressive.
I do believe, though — along with the writers of the Declaration of Independence — that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed”. I won’t deny that in general dictatorships that rule in opposition to the will of the people are an evil.
In some instances, though, democracies impose a harmful tyranny of the majority that can be even more oppressive. At some times and places we have to face the fact that both of the given alternatives are bad, and choose the lesser of two evils. Democracies (including representative democracies, republics such as our own) aren’t foolproof.
> What is never mentioned is the fact that the more democracy we have the less personal liberty we retain.
Interesting the way you phrased that. I agree that we don’t want the group as a whole making decisions for us as individuals — and the more they do the less personal freedom we have (I’ve never thought about that in quite those terms). On the other hand, we don’t want some individual (a dictator) making all the decisions for us or for other individuals either. Both are forms of tyranny that suppress individual freedom.
Ideally we as individuals would do as we please in every situation, but because our actions often affect others, there must be some limitations on them (laws against crimes that seriously harm others, and so forth). I don’t want government intruding into our personal affairs any more than is necessary, though (to maintain a reasonable level of safety for the people as a whole).
In most situations I support limited government — rule by the majority (that is, a representative democracy) but with strong guarantees for the rights of the individual.
It's important to make the distinction-- and I don't want to put words in your mouth or infer incorrectly-- between a political process, where a majority of votes carries more weight than the minority, and dominion. Our founders foresaw wisely that we could only protect and ensure liberty through the rule of law- not whims of the mob (majority).
I'm guessing you meant that but it wasn't clear.
Sorry, but I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. Do you mean by ‘dominion’ control by the majority that goes so far as to oppress the individual? If so, I oppose it. The majority of the voters, though, indirectly determine the law (and if that majority is large enough, they can legally change even the Constitution itself). We’re ultimately dependent upon their tolerance, or apathy (except to the degree that we have the power, irrespective of law, to resist them).
In the Arab world, democracy does not work because the majority does not have the necessary mind-set to make it work.
They had better voting procedures than we do (inked finger when they voted), but ... Shia voted for Shia representatives, and then all of the Shia representatives voted together. They would have been better off dividing up the country by sect.
Meanwhile ... all of the Christians and other minorities were systematically killed off.