Thursday, January 26, 2006

The False Hope of Democracy

It has been the sincerely felt desire of President George W. Bush that "democracy" take root in the Middle East. The hope is that once the method of choosing their leaders/oppressors changes that liberty and freedom will somehow, inexorably and self-evidently, take over. Everyone has heard the President and others in the administration tout the elections of Afghanistan, Iraq, and (until 25 January 2006) the Palestinian territories as victories in the on-going war on terrorism. Bush such naivete and false hope was dashed when the terrorist group Hamas won a fair and convincing victory in the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary election. Said election can now join its rightful place in the history of democracy's greatest and most appalling failures, along with Athens in the forced suicide of Socrates, Athens in the Peleponnesian War and the fall of the Weimar Republic in Germany in 1932-33.

I once wrote on the difference between republican and democratic government and in that essay I came to the crucial flaw of democracy, i.e. unlimited majority rule, with the following passage:

"What legitimacy is gained from getting a majority of voters to pass anything? If 70% of voters vote to ban gay marriage, does that make it right? If 51% of voters vote to ban smoking, does that make it right? If 99.99% vote to redistribute property, does that make it right? The answer to all of these is "NO!" absolutely not. Truth isn't determined by how many adherents one can get to go along with you."

Democracy is nothing more than rule by majority, whatever majority can be cobbled together for any cause, whether it be property redistribution or property protection. There can be no rights in a democracy because provisions against the state are barriers against majorities, a contradiction for any true democracy as one preacher of democracy, Rousseau, reminds us of repeatedly in his Social Contract. The Palestinians have merely confirmed this for the world. If President Bush and his team ignore this blatantly obvious message then they imperil their own legacies, and much more importantly American lives and interests abroad and at home.

This is an unneccesary question imposed by President Bush's misguided strategy to rebuild the societies of the countries whose governments we destroy in order to eliminate terrorist supporting regimes. It is not our responsibility to do any such thing. If the residents of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories cannot look at the obvious historical record and move to establish free secular republics when given the opportunity by our destruction of the previous tyranny then they obviously aren't ready for the demands of such societies. Trying to build such a society (which isn't what we are doing, we are building semi-free, quasi-religious parliamentary republics) is like constructing a house upon a bed of quicksand, doomed to sink into oblivion. The only reason some sort of success was achieved in Germany and Japan, the example upon which Bush is basing his strategy, is because those countries were utterly destroyed and already westernized, thus making the transition relatively easy. These conditions do not exist in any way and even if they did it would still not be our job to engage in such activities.

The interesting thing in this situation is that before people castigated Israel for attacking Palestinian terrorists because "innocent" Palestinians were killed in the crossfire. Now all Palestinians are indicted as never before by having a terrorist state as a duly elected edifice above them. Israel and the United States would be perfectly justified in eliminating such a state and its supporters as they were justified in eliminating Hamas when it was "just" a terrorist group and not a ruling party in a government. What would be a tragic farce indeed would be the spectacle of the free world contributing money to the Palestinians ruled by an openly terrorist regime. It would be even more tragic than the free world contributing money to the slightly covert terrorist regime of Fatah under Arafat and Abbas. It will be a long time indeed, if ever, before the Palestinian people regain any credibility as serious and rational proponents for anything, let alone peace.