I don't want to get into a huge pompous discussion On The Nature of Liberty, with lots of citations of erudite philosophers, but I have come around to Buchanan's view. Our obsession with democracy keeps getting us into trouble all over the world, and it ties our hands when trouble hits. At the risk of sounding like a neo-Marxist or a neo-Darwinist, I would argue that democracy might be the highest form of liberty, but that over time time, democracy can become a threat to liberty--a Jupiter chopping up his father Saturn sort of affair.
England, the birthplace of modern democracy, became one (yes, yes, officially a monarchy, but let's not get pedantic) after liberty became well established, e.g., limitations on the political reach of government as exemplified in the Magna Carta, the development of an economy in which that government could have only a limited "taste," to use some Sopranos language, and of a society with many centers of influence and power quite apart and independent from the state. In more modern times, we have seen liberty lead to democracy in Pinochet's Chile. Under the old and, as it turns out to the chagrin of leftists everywhere, enlightened dictator, a deliberate economic policy was set in motion that created a vibrant capitalist economy that led to today's amazing Chile--a country from which we have much to learn. We saw a similar process take place in Spain. Whether by design or "just because" the Franco regime fomented or at least allowed the emergence of a society with considerable liberty. Spaniards could get a passport with little trouble, set up businesses, buy and sell property, invest in stocks, bonds, etc., and rely on a fairly honest legal system to protect their property rights.
In places such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Honduras, all over Africa, we tie ourselves up in knots, often times huge complicated legal knots with lots of lawyers tugging on the ends of the twine over whether a regime is democratic, whether a particular act is in "keeping with democratic principles," or, believe it or not, whether some act by a government in another nation is in accord with that other nation's constitution. You don't know how many absurd meetings I attended while wise men debated whether the manner in which leftist pro-Chavez plutocrat Mel Zelaya had been removed from power in Honduras was in keeping with article this and paragraph that of the Honduran constitution. There we were, lots of highly paid American bureaucrats, crammed into an office at the NSC, arguing over the Honduran constitution--ignoring, of course, that the Honduran Supreme Court had ruled Zelaya's removal constitutional. We now see similar arguments over whether the removal of the repellant and tyrannical anti-Western jihadist Morsi in Egypt is or is not a coup, and whether we should or should not cut off assistance to the pro-Western and moderate Egyptian military.
We should, of course, be focused primarily on our real interests in the region and secondly on whether the new regime, be it in Tegucigalpa or Cairo, will benefit liberty more than the old one. In Cairo, I think there can be no doubt that whatever the flaws of the Egyptian military, a government under the control of that organization is better for the West, and better for the Egyptian people as it is better for liberty.
Now, of course, our advocacy for liberty overseas would be considerably stronger if we stopped destroying it at home first.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The DiploMad 2.0: Liberty vs. Democracy?: