Why Democracy Is Dangerous for the 'Arab Spring'
by FRANK SALVATO
October 21, 2011
There is a concerted movement that began in earnest with the Progressive Era to identify the United States of America as a Democracy. To be sure, this movement has made great strides in convincing the American citizenry of just that. This movement has been so successful in delivering this message that Democrats, Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives have, throughout history – and even up to and including today, identified our American form of government as that of being a Democracy. There is even an initiative promoted by our federal government to export “Democracy” throughout the world. Today we see this initiative playing out in the Middle East and North Africa. There is only one thing wrong with all of the above and the problem exists at the root: The United States of America is not a Democracy; it never has been and, God willing, it never will be.
Democracy has always, throughout history, served as a gateway to despotism. This is primarily because Democracy is tantamount to “mob rule,” or government by the majority. In a government ruled by the will of the majority – a Democracy, the rights of the minority are not guaranteed and are often neglected or even ignored by those who hold power, most often in pursuit of keeping or maintaining that power.
Additionally, in a Democracy, because it is essentially government by the will of the majority, government has no constraints. If fifty-one percent of the people – or a plurality of the people – can be persuaded to believe a particular avenue of thinking; convinced that a certain law is “necessary,” it becomes the policy of the government or the law of the land, regardless of whether or not the minority’s rights have been usurped or protected.
The history of the world, where governments are concerned, have proved quite clearly that there is a natural progression from Democracy to mob rule, which gives way to anarchy and, eventually, tyranny under an oligarchy. An examination of the democracies of the early Greek city states illustrates this progression.
Looking at Democracy from a historical – or realistic – viewpoint, especially where transition to Democracy is concerned, it can be stated with confidence that the best organized – and usually the best funded – faction among a people in turmoil is almost always the most influential when a new form of government is established out of the chaos that encompasses governmental transition. This is exactly the case in the events taking place across the Middle East and North Africa.
It is smart, at this point, to layout the transitional formulaic timeline so as to map out the evolution of almost all of the governmental transitions that have, to date, taken place in the so-called “Arab Spring.”
In each country, discontent with despotic leadership – self-protecting and nepotistic oligarchies, rulers with an often violently heavy hand, who routinely oppressed political opponents and opposing political organizations, who, in many cases, jailed those of differing political and/or religious ideologies – provoked a move toward rebellion.
That rebellion fomented a move to public civil disobedience. At first, these protests; these demonstrations, were organic; comprised of mostly urban inhabitants better suited to use the tools of modern social networking to organize protest locations and attendance. As international media began to inform the world of these events, people from more rural locations began to trek to protest sites. And as these events became increasingly potent they became fertile ground for factions and organizations more familiar with organizing large groups of people to action. In some cases – as in Egypt with the self-injection of the Progressive Movement and international labor union organizations, like SEIU – these elements were non-indigenous entities based in foreign political ideologies, possessing ulterior motives targeting any new system of government.
These prolonged, well organized and well funded demonstrations fueled anarchical chaos, used as a tool to bring about revolutionary change. It is important to understand that in the condition of anarchy there exists a vacuum where no central authority exists; there are no laws, no protection for the populace of property. During this anarchical chaos, rioting, looting, destruction and physical violence became prevalent, thus facilitating a thirst among the populace, in each of the affected countries, for order; for control. As stated earlier, the best suited groups to provide this order, this control, were the best organized and best funded factions among the people; usually the very people who encouraged the anarchical chaos from the start; the people and groups most likely to gain from the overthrow of the existing government.
This scenario came to pass in almost every event in the so-called Arab Spring. From Tunisia to Egypt, from Libya to Syria to Yemen, a despotic oligarchy was in the seat of power, chaotic and most often violent protects ensued and a power vacuum manifested only to see the best organized and funded factions among the peoples – in many cases military or armed factions – seize power under the guise of facilitating future “democratic elections.”
This is exactly what happened during the Russia Revolution of 1917, which saw Vladimir Lenin establish total control over the Russian people, and also what happened in the run up to Nazi Era Germany, when Hitler’s “Brown Shirts” created the chaos that catapulted him to power. It is also the same formula followed by Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara during the Cuban Revolution. In each instance, the resulting forms of government that evolved from the chaos were responsible for millions of deaths and genocide.
Understanding the frailties and vulnerabilities of Democracy is important in understanding the very real threats facing the people of the Middle East as the so-called “Arab Spring” evolves. In each of the countries affected there are well organized and well funded factions that either stand in the wings waiting for the right moment to make their moves toward the seat of power or have already done so.
In Egypt, two factions have advanced toward the seat of power, even as “free and democratic elections” are promised to the people: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (the Egyptian military) and the once outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has delayed elections while expanding power, almost on an ongoing basis, only recently setting on a date – November 28, 2001 – on which the four month parliamentary election process will begin. The presidential election is slated for 2012. At each stage of getting to this point, the military has acted sluggishly and with a totalitarian hand. Renewed protests have materialized in Tahrir Square, with protest organizers demanding speedy reforms, the lifting of the decades-old emergency law, an end to military trials of civilians and “social justice,” the last demand suspiciously symbiotic with the international labor union and Progressive movements.
On the other end of Egypt’s “Arab Spring” spectrum exists the Muslim Brotherhood: an organization that exists at the epicenter of fundamentalist Islam; an organization that serves as a spiritual focal point for violent jihadi organizations (i.e. al Qaeda and all of its off-shoots, Hezbollah, and Hamas, to name but a scant few) around the world. The Muslim Brotherhood exists as the best organized faction among the Egyptian people, rivaling the Egyptian military in both organizational ability and funding. In fact, it can be argued that the Egyptian people are more sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood than to the military, who are facilitating and guaranteeing elections.
Members of both of these groups stand to fair nicely in both the parliamentary elections and the presidential election.
In Libya, anti-Qaddafi rebels poised to attain power have been tied to jihadi elements connected to al Qaeda and in some instances, jihadi forces that have physically engaged in combat against American military units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The same fact present when an examination of the events in Yemen is undertaken.
In Syria, as Bashar Assad continues his genocidal tamping down of anti-regime protesters even in the face of international calls for his removal from power, “Arab Spring” revolutionaries face a future where either Assad prevails or even more draconian Iranian operatives ascend to the reign of power.
And in Tunisia, fundamentalist Islamist factions are exerting their influence of the shape of their society. On October 14, 2011, Islamic extremists firebombed the home of a TV station executive just hours after militants clashed with police in the streets of Tunis in protest of the station’s broadcast of a film they claim violated Islamic values.
Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets in the West – along with opportunistic politicians, and community organizing and international labor union leadership – celebrate the “transition to democracy” facilitated by the “freedom fighters” of the “Arab Spring.”
In 1992, the terrorist group Hezbollah – born of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – politicized its organization, agreeing to participate in that country’s elections for the first time. In their first political sojourn they won all twelve seats for which they slated candidates. Today, Hezbollah members are part of the Lebanese government and maintain virtual control over Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, the organization responsible for more deaths of US military personal before the September 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda on the United States, has been validated via the democratic process as a legitimate political organization.
In 2006, Hamas, a United States State Department recognized terrorist organization, achieved political validity via democratic elections in Gaza. They then immediately entered into armed insurrection with their political and military rival in the Palestinian-held territories, Fatah, establishing themselves as the sole seat government in the Gaza Strip.
In 2007, Marxist Hugo Chavez, then already elected to a term-limited presidency per Venezuela’s constitution, advanced sweeping constitutional changes that allowed him to be re-elected indefinitely. Chavez initially won the Venezuelan presidency via democratic elections.
The overriding point in all of this is that history always – always – repeats itself.
The “Arab Spring,” occurring in today’s Middle East, is just as vulnerable to despotic forces as were the revolutions that took place in Russia in 1917, Germany in the 1930s and Cuba in 1959...and the repercussions of the ascendance of these despotic powers could be the catalyst for a seminal confrontation that could very well encompass the globe.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative.