Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one. John Stuart Mill
Mills famous observation may seem out of step in our modern world but that does not make it untrue. It was accepted, without reservation, until very recently that not all societies are up to the rigors of self-government. Today the mantra is democracy is a right and a prerequisite for freedom. A belief that is wrong as it is popular.
President Bush, probably more than anyone, is responsible for the present U.S. policy of blindly pushing democratic government at almost any cost. He was fond of saying that inside the breast of all mankind beats the desire to breath free. He may of been right, but it is also true that the desire for others to breath free does not beat in the hearts of all men, and one without the other is useless! What Bush could never come to accept is, only those nations and cultures who value freewill and freedom of thought, as well as respect the Rule of Law and property rights, have reached the maturity needed to rule themselves. Cultures that seek domination and uniformity are no more capable of self-rule than children are able to properly care for themselves. Such societies by their very nature are domineering and despotic.
When democratic processes are introduced into societies incapable of taking on the responsibilities of self-rule, the results have been inevitably disastrous. Even if the voting is not rigged the countries soon fall right back into dictatorship often with no little amount of bloodshed in between. In fact the “new boss” is often either the “same as the old boss” or worse. Examples of this unfortunate cycle can be found in Central and South America, Africa and even Asia.
The fact is, that encouraging democracy in societies that are not mature enough to handle it is like mixing gasoline and fire or putting a match to a keg of gunpowder. When people who have been told to, ‘seize their rights’ take to the streets and clash with the powers that be, it often ends badly. Either with crushing force being used against the would be revolutionaries or violent overthrow of those powers. Even if successful, they inevitably will form unstable governments that either soon fall to dictators promising order or become dictatorial themselves as a matter of survival.
None of this is surprising, even Europe was once fertile ground for despots and shows signs it could be again. Countries that are inherently lacking in tolerance, have a strong radical presence, have fractional tribal/religious cultures, and/or have no history of living under Rule of Law cannot be successful at self-rule. The truth is, even the United States was probably not capable of self-rule hundred years before its revolution. The success of the American experiment was made possible by a strong undercurrent of respect for the law, as well as an embracing of freewill and individual rights that had happened prior to independence. For people to think that countries that know none of these can achieve the same result is fantasy.
A truth that seems uncomfortable for many to accept is that democracy does not lead to freedom; freedom must spring forth from a culture of respect if it is to exist at all. People who live under a kingdom whose rulers respect and nourish a atmosphere of tolerance and understanding are likely to enjoy more freedom than those living in an intolerant society with a democratically elected leader. Liberty is a state of being that is earned even in the freest of societies. Why is it not asked asked how can people who seek domination of others rightfully claim freedom for themselves?
Those that take take exception to such statements should ask the Coptic Christians of Egypt if democracy has meant freedom for them. Their burnt churches and raped women are testament enough that democracy in a society not up to its rigors, means more tyranny not less! The same can be asked of the businesses that have been confiscated and closed and news organizations suppressed under Chavez of Venezuela. Than there is the woman jailed for being exposed to her rapists under the new democratically elected government of Tunisia. Even the recent events in Libya seem indicate an uncertain future for democratic governance there.
On the other side of the coin countries like Jordan under King Hussein or Morocco under King Mohammed VI would quickly fall under tyranny if left to their own devices via more democratic governments.
George Bush’s response to this has been to say people if given time get it right. Maybe so, but how many thousands will die before that day? Today the price likely to be paid while countries “get it right” is not only untold numbers of deaths but the creation of terrorists states that not only threaten their own people but countries across the globe. This point is being driven home by the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
Under the guise of democracy, the Middle East is becoming the playground of terrorists and tyrants. Experts in the Arab world are even predicting Al-Qaeda will soon re-emerge as terrorist’s powerhouse as a direct result of the elections held across the region. Even Iraq and Afghanistan, with all the blood and treasure invested in them, are showing signs they will soon follow in the footsteps of the countries of the Arab Spring.
Blind allegiance to an idea and letting philosophy override experience and common sense is always a recipe for disaster, this is never more true then in the case of democracy. Of course President Bush is not the only one to fall into this trap; the current U.S. president and many other world leaders seem to hold similar beliefs. Abandoning the hard path of edging societies and their leaders towards values that foment freedom, they have chosen the shortcut of blindly inspiring democratic revolutions. A decision that the world will rue was ever made.
If this article makes you think pass it on