Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Kim Gets One Wrong

Kim du Toit had this to say about authoritarian governments:

What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that authoritarian government may be benign at first, but inevitably leads to oppression, war and conquest / occupation, circumstances not beneficial for the fostering of culture (or of civilization, come to think of it).

This is clearly true for leftist authoritarianism; it's been a disater wherever it's been imposed, and very difficult to get rid of, and almost impossible to remove without major political upheavals and violence. However, there are a good many counter examples of right-wing authoritarian governments giving way peacefully to a more democratic system - Chile, Spain (democratic at the moment, but sadly voting themselves into dhimmitude, the schmucks) Taiwan, South Korea.

If we examine the countries of the world with democratic systems we can divide them into three main groups: (note: for simplicity of expression "democracy" is here taken to include repubican systems of government with a large democratic element along with purer democracies)

1) Indigenously evolved over long periods of time amoung Anglo Saxon/Germanic/Nordic peoples
(U.S., England, Switzerland, Iceland)

2) Imposed by (or inspired by) Anglo Saxon, etc.
(Japan, Germany, India, Israel, most of Europe)

3) Successor to a right-wing dictatorship
(see above, Chile, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan)
(And before y'all leftists start whining about how awful Pinochet was, I want to be clear about this:
I think killing mass quanities of commie scumbags is a Good Idea. I LIKE death squads)

It seems there is a qualitative difference between left and right authritarianism that leads to formation of democratic institutions from the latter, but not the former.

The historical example of right wing dictatorships show some broad similarities: The leaders in question may have been corrupt and thuggish, but they also had at least a rudimentary patriotism and love for their country. They were, conciously or not, aware of the limitations of human endeavor. They were not trying to reformulate society into a utopian vision of human perfection. Mostly they just wanted to impose order and stability, and maybe make a few dollars on the side.

Absent an indigenous predisposition for self-government, a necessary precondition for a democracy is stability and the rule of law. The right-wing dictatorships have a record of brutal but effective imposition of order.

This doesn't bode well for Iraq. Somebody is going to have to pound civilization, rule of law and civil order into their heads good and hard before any stable democracy can take root. Trying to have a democratic election in Iraq prior to a long period of imposed order would most likely yield rule by a mullah-du-jour, followed by a three part civil war between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, followed by chaos. I doubt we have either the will or the resources to install an imperial viceroy in Iraq. What will have to happen is a takeover by a sane, rational, and pro-western dictatator.

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