Saturday, June 30, 2012

Democracy—How It’s Changed!

We are seeing very different varieties of democracy in the world today. We see what is being called “post-liberal democracy” and “pre-liberal democracy.” Both of them are very different from the old-fashioned kind of democracy, which was characterized by classical liberal ideas—those that espoused individual liberty, limited government, property rights, and democratic sovereignty.

In America and much of Europe (think Greece), we are seeing “post-liberal” democracy, a form of government that replaces the old and seemingly worn out democracy of classical liberalism with a form that emphasizes social rights, social goods, intrusive government, and transnational law.

Opponents of this kind of “post-liberal” democracy claim that there just is not enough money in the kitty to pay for it; and further stretch of the national bank account will destroy the nations that try it. Furthermore, we have the prime example of this kind of socialistic government obviously before us, i.e., the USSR. (What a failure that was! It could not supply the goods and services the people needed.)

On the other hand, we are seeing in the Middle East, a form of democracy which might be called “pre-liberal” democracy. “Pre-liberal” democracy is democracy shorn of the values Westerners typically associate with democracy: free speech, religious liberty, social tolerance, equality between the sexes, and so on. This “pre-liberal” democracy seeks to replace the classic qualities of Western societies with democratically elected officials who would replace the old Western values with a religious form, i.e., Islam and Sharia law. Of course—this “pre-liberal” democracy is chosen by popular vote of the people. That is why it is called “democracy.”

There are definite limits on what this “pre-liberal” democracy can do for the people in a nation that adopt it. Classical expressions of democracy such as freedom of speech and sexual equality will be suppressed just as soon as they collide with Islamic paradigms. But…this form of democracy is seen by the people as preferred to the governments it replaces—the governments of Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, and other tyrants of the Middle East.

I cannot help wishing that we could get back to the old-fashioned variety of American democracy—the pre-New Deal variety of democracy. I know there were abuses in that kind of government; but the government take-over we are seeing in America today with Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank bill, and other laws just give me a bleak outlook on America’s future.

Much of this blog post was redacted from an editorial on page A-11 of the Wall Street Journal of 19 June 2012.

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