Thursday, March 02, 2006

Forget Democracy?

This guy gives us something to think about. I think he pretty much nails it when he talks about how democracy at gunpoint is a bogus concept. That's why Iraq is a disaster right now.

The lesson to take away is that where it involves other despotic regimes in the Middle East] region -- none of which is nearly as despotic as Hussein's -- the last thing we should do is actively precipitate their demise. The more organically they evolve and dissolve, the less likely it is that blood will flow.


I take exception, though, to his suggestion that an effective tyranny is more moral than an ineffective democracy.
"[B]efore the names of Just and Unjust can have place, there must be some coercive power," Thomas Hobbes wrote in "Leviathan." Without something or somebody to monopolize the use of force and decide right from wrong, no man is safe from another and there can be no freedom for anyone. Physical security remains the primary human freedom. And so the fact that a state is despotic does not necessarily make it immoral. That is the essential fact of the Middle East that those intent on enforcing democracy abroad forget.

The morality comes not through the efficiency and efficacy of the system in question; the morality comes through the sentiment and philosophy of the system. Democracy, as a system, is always more moral than tyranny, because the former system is about -- at least in theory -- empowering the individual, whereas the latter is about disempowering the individual. Now, democracy is sometimes practiced in an immoral way -- witness the United States, for example. But that is not to say that the concept of democracy is in those cases immoral, but rather the practicioners are.

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