Friday, March 04, 2011

A Moment As Important As The Fall Of Communism?

For anyone still so possessed by Muzzie-fright as to assert that the Arab uprisings are an Islamist resurgence in disguise (which is to do Ahmadinejad's propaganda for him in the bargain), listen to what Salman Rushdie says about that. Then take a long hard look in the mirror. The longer the "west" cowers in its delusions and the coziness of neutrality, the longer we put off our moral duty to side with the revolutionaries, then the greater the advantage to the Islamists in their ceaseless efforts to hijack the revolution.

Give your damn heads a shake. Marg Bar Diktator.

"The west talks a great deal about freedom. Here are people trying to get their freedom. They're not being given it by American tanks. They're getting it themselves."


Blogger Bernard von Schulmann said...

This is the Arabic's world 1989. I am sure some of the countries will not end up becoming what they could, as has happened in Europe, but there will finally be true functioning democracies in the Arabic world.

As to people that say the Arabs can not figure out democracy, what about Poland and Hungary? Before 1989 they had no history of open and free elections.

What people also forget is that the average Arab is better educated and better informed than the average Canadian was in 1939.

What people also forgetting is that totalitarian has ever managed to win a majority mandate from the public in any election in any country.

There is also no example of a case where the majority of people in any nation in human history has willing chosen to give up democracy in favour of a dictator.

The natural governing model for human beings is a democracy. The Arabs want democracy, but so to do the Chinese, the Cubans and any other people on earth

3:10 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

RE: There is also no example of a case where the majority of people in any nation in human history has willing chosen to give up democracy in favour of a dictator.

Palestinians, voting for Hamas in 2006, come pretty close if you ask me. Of course, Hamas didn't say they would be dictators. But then again, neither did Hitler in 1933, when 44% of Germans voted him in. But all they had to do was read Mein Kampf.

11:07 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

Some history:

Hitler was not elected to power in 1933. The elections in 1933 were held after his accession to power and were accompanied by widespread violence and intimidation. And still he couldn't get a majority, making your point even more emphatically.

In the second election of 1932 the Nazi vote fell from 38% to 32%. Still the largest party, but Hitler was not elected to power - he was made Chancellor as a result of a deal resulting from rivalries in the German right. Papen put him in power thinking he could be controlled, one of the worst mistakes in history.

In the 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas got a shock victory on 44% of the vote to Fatah's 41%. A narrow result and a reaction to widespread PA corruption. Their control of Gaza is based on a coup not elections and they would be smashed if any were held.

So no, electorates can be dumb, but not that dumb.

4:42 AM  
Blogger ComradeAgopian said...

Bravo .

1:21 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Not sure what your point is, plump. Firstly, i said Hamas came pretty close, which they did, given that they received the plurality of votes. I also agreed that Hamas did not get in on the basis of being dictators. Fact remains, though, they did win that damn election. Yes, they later took control of Gaza in a coup. Again, your point being???

As for Hitler, given that he had the largest party in the Reichstag before being named chancellor in January 1933, it's safe to say that a lot of Germans voted for him. And you can't on the one hand claim that he didn't get a majority and then on the other say the elections weren't fair because of intimidation. I mean, you can say it, both of those facts are true, but they contradict your point, which, I believe, is that he wasn't really elected to be a dictator. Fact is, 44% does win elections in first-past-the-post countries; in popular vote countries like Germany at the time, nobody was ever going to win an election since you needed 50% (see Israel today).

To answer the larger point, I think that Germans in 1933, Palestinians in 2006 and Lebanese Shiites (to take another example) can certainly be duped -- given the right economic, social and political conditions -- to vote in a dictator. And I don't mean to single them out, either. In the right conditions, it isn't beyond any electorate to do the same, IMO. This idea that an electorate will never vote in a dictator reminds me of the similar homily that two democracies have never waged war against each other. That's true for now, but as the number of democracies grow, I wouldn't bet the farm on it continuing. All that being said, I do strongly agree that it's far more unlikely for a democratic country to vote in a dictator or to go to war with another democracy -- and thank God for that; it's just the absolutes I take issue with.

3:16 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

Not sure what your point is, plump

To agree with you! Properly functioning democracy is the best guarantee against dictatorship because dictators never win a majority, even in exceptional circumstances.

But the trouble is I am a bloody useless academic so I can't help nit-picking - pedants the lot of us.

So Hitler came to power after the second election of 1932, not that of 1933, when he won 32% of the vote. Until Papen no-one would countenance a coalition with him. He was lucky (and the world unlucky), just as his vote declined with the easing of the economic crisis, someone cut a deal.

The '33 elections should be discounted as they were not free and fair and Hitler was already in control (the 56% who voted against him looks to me like an extraordinary act of resistance. The Nazi response was simply to end democracy).

There is a huge historiography on popular opinion under the Nazis but that is another matter.

All I was doing with Hamas was to point out how close the result was and again a quirk of the system gave Hamas a legislative majority.

So, with the profoundly important revolutions taking place today, we should not fear democracy. Though all good democrats have to be on the lookout for populist demagogues who would seek to destroy it. They can only win when democrats lose their nerve and judgement.

3:09 AM  

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