Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Democracy Is Still Best

Michael Ledeen, who has a great deal of experience with the history of 20th Century fascism, tries (here) to put into perspective the free Palestinian elections that swept the terror group Hamas to victory. He says that “the Palestinians were offered a Hobson's Choice between two tyrannical organizations”

Ledeen admits that people will sometimes freely choose tyranny over freedom, but says this is no reason to oppose the extension of democratic societies. He cites the popularity of the fascist regimes of 20th Century central Europe, which he also says are the best models for today’s Islamofascism. “The horror of fascism … is precisely its popular success.” He briefly explores the psychology behind the drive to “escape from the burdens of freedom.”

Ledeen scoffs at the view that some people are simply incapable of democracy. He says contemporary history gainsays this view. “It's silly to believe that a society without democratic traditions can't create a democracy; if that were true there would never have been any democracies at all.”

Ledeen argues that the two ways to tame tyranny are by internal uprising or external war. He suggests that Iran is ripe for internal uprising and that Iraq is a good model of war achieving this goal. He says that while desire for and fear of freedom are universal, “most human beings will fight for freedom when the time is right.”

Ledeen argues that current conditions make this the right time. He calls for moving rapidly to support “the revolutionaries with the enthusiasm they deserve.” Of course, Ledeen’s critics say he “is apparently capable of viewing diplomacy only through the barrel of a gun.” But his critics have few (if any) promising ideas, so why trust them?

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