Saturday, December 5, 2009
Another Use for Democracy
When George Bush talked about spreading democracy I was skeptical. This quote from Mark Steyn offers the only good explanation I’ve seen for such talk: “Go back half a decade to when the administration was threatening to shove democracy down the throats of every two-bit basket case whether they want it or not. Democratizing the planet is, in a Council of Foreign Relations sense, “unrealistic,” but talking it up is a very realistic way of messing with the dictators’ heads. A pipsqueak like Boy Assad sleeps far more soundly today than he did back when he thought Bush meant it, and so did the demonstrators threatening his local enforcers in Lebanon.
Democracy does not develop in a vacuum. A society with a receptive state of mind must exist. An active ethos of scientific inquiry is helpful. A religious frame of mind with continually evolving theological explanations and always changing areas of doctrinal emphasis is congenial soil for democracy to grow from (which helps explain why nonreligious and anti-religious liberals and progressives are congenitally antidemocratic).
Most countries in the world lack the cultural history and attitudes necessary for sustaining democracy. Observe how many third world countries institute a democracy but then quickly descend into a ruler for life military dictatorship.
I like Steyn’s idea of democracy as a weapon to give more freedom to Assad’s subjects. It’s too bad that Barack Obama is so adverse to measures that cause discomfort to dictators.