Friday, February 11, 2011

A Free Egypt or Death by Democracy

I've been following the developments of the popular uprising in Egypt for the past few weeks with a mix of satisfaction and trepidation. 

The satisfaction comes, of course with the idea that people can rise up and throw off oppression by a "popularly elected" dictator without resorting to widespread violence.  These are the results when the ideas of freedom that America has championed for years spread to populations  And this base of knowledge has become increasingly accessible to the world through the global means of communication (which is why oppressive regimes keep the Internet locked down).  So a part of me found hope in the idea of another free country in the middle east.

However, trepidation has been the watchword as this has developed, as there was always the concern that violence would erupt, or the government would get all repressive and start killing people in the streets.  The worst they did was try to black out the Internet and cell communication. 

I've also had trepidation about the people pushing the drive to democracy (more on that in a bit).  Foremost in this regard among the anti-Mubarak factions is the Muslim Brotherhood.  For clarification, this is a group that has all the philosophical agreement with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas (who is a spinoff of the MB), and would likely give Osama Bin Laden a hand job if they could pry him away from his favorite fuck goat.  In other words, the kind of people that would have no problem using the Egyptian army to start a war with Israel, close off the Suez Canal, and threaten any peace that exists in the Middle East (which is, at best, a powder keg in a big ring of fire during the dry season).

The tipping point was today, when Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down.  Naturally, the crowds outside leapt into celebration mode, from people yearning for freedom to the MB declaring victory.  However, while Mubarak is out, the military took control of the country.  What that portends I don't know yet.

But the biggest and certainly most foolish thing I have heard today is the celebration of Egypt moving toward democracy.  To put it bluntly, pure democracy in Egypt would simply be a prelude to all-out war in the region.  And it could become the war that spirals into a third world war.

And here's why:  Democracy, the kind where the ultimate rule is that of the majority, is the killer of freedom.  After all, if a majority of people voted to enslave a minority, under democracy, you have slavery.  Or fundamentalist Christianity.  Or a ban on potato chips and hot wings.  Or an oppressive, America hating, woman torturing, child brainwashing, barbarous murderous state.

So I'm all for a more representative government in Egypt.  But they must remember the lessons of history, and what happens when you give those eager to exercise power over others a free hand to make things "right."  Ask those who saw Soviet tyranny, the slaugher in China and the smaller countries of the Far East, and even that enlightened repressive hellhole Iran, which had a "popular" revolution to overthrow a hated dictator.

Democracy should not be the aim of those who wish to see freedom in Egypt.  Freedom itself should be the aim.  And freedom is found not in the rule of man, which is inherently capricious and self-serving, but in the rule of law, which governs the passions and limits the unfettered exercise of power.

To quote Abigail Adams (wife of 2nd President John Adams, and possibly one of the wisest women of her time) as she corresponded with her husband on the form of government for the future United States: "I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or few is ever grasping...."

So the question that must be asked in seeing the end of the Egyptian dictatorship is simple:  Have the Egyptians (and the free world to a lesser extent) traded one tyrant we knew and could trust to a point for many tyrants that will make them wish for the days of an autocrat (and us an ally in peace)?

Only the people of Egypt can answer that, and only by not trusting those who seek to fill the vacuum of power.

3 comments:

Infidel753 said...

Any viable democratic system in Egypt will need to include a constitution with guarantees of basic rights and against raw tyranny of the majority, as the US and most democracies have.

Many Egyptian military officers got their higher education in the US, and there are plenty of people in the country who are familiar with Western political norms. There's no reason to think they can't write such a constitution if they choose.

Also, the protests which brought down Mubarak were almost completely free of Islamist rhetoric, and only 15% of Egyptians say they support the Muslim Brotherhood. If all this had happened 20 or even 10 years ago, an Islamist take-over would have been a real danger, but it seems unlikely now.

Finally, don't forget the flow of military aid to Egypt from the US (about $1.3 billion per year). The military is unlikely to let the next government endanger that flow of money by doing anything stupid like tearing up the peace treaty with Israel -- even if it wanted to.

dmarks said...

Infidel: Thanks for an antidote to the recent Pat Buchanan column which painted the Egyptian electorate as a bunch of antisemitic terrorist monsters.

dmarks said...

Also, I have a bunch of Arab friends from outside of Egypt. They are quite jubilant about this, and none is any sort of extremist.