Debbie Schlussel, in FrontPage Magazine, sets out the reasons why democracy may not always be a good idea:
"Democratic" elections in the Mid-East--unless heavily "swayed" by our money and troops, as in Iraq--always result in fundamentalist Islamic theocratic disasters for our country, when a benevolent dictator of our liking would be much preferred. Even in Iraq, Islamic shariah law rules.
She cites Iran, the PA, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Lebanon as examples of democratic elections producing anti-freedom results. And of course this is possible, where there is no tradition of constitutional restraints on the majority, where there is no commitment to reason and individuality, as in the successful countries of Christendom (Thanks, Rodney Stark!).
The Big Pharaoh comes to the same conclusion:
Ladies and gentlemen, for the zillionth time I say: democracy is not just about ballot boxes and ballots and happy faces throwing pieces of paper in a box. Democracy cannot be separated from the values of liberal democracy, from the values that many of you take for granted. Values such as human rights, minorities rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to change religions, equality, women rights, and the seperation of religion and politics.
I'm a bit troubled by all this. It seems to support the idea that benevolent despots like Chung Hee Pak and Lee Kuan Yew and even Chiang Kai-Shek and the present Chinese Red government are better for a developing country than premature democracy. The same idea could apply to Russia, where democracy run amok and the lack of a strongman are often cited as leading to near-anarchy and social collapse. Maybe I just trust people too much. Maybe I just have the wrong idea of how people think when they've been immersed in collectivism for a really long time. I suppose it is possible that a basic level of "political literacy" is necessary before democracy can work. And maybe it doesn't matter if that consciousness is imposed or bubbles up from below. Certainly the population of Britain didn't embrace individuality and reason from the beginning.
But the failures of strongmen - The Shah, Castro, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam, Khomeini - have been too many and too horrendous to put one's reliance on a dictator to successfully shepherd his benighted flock towards enlightenment. So I guess my question is, "OK, so you don't want democracy? What do you want instead? Despotism with a human face? What are the odds that the despot you've chosen will work out the way you think?" I'd rather take my chances with democracy.