14 February 2011

Egyptian democracy and majority views

There are good reasons to support democracy.  For any fully functioning liberal democracy (not nonsensical "people's", "Islamic" "traditional" or other fake versions) a country needs free speech, free and independent media and for key state functions (justice/law and order) to be relatively free of corruption.  Those are all good things in and of themselves.   Free and fair elections cannot exist unless all political views can be expressed, and media outlets and options are not controlled, censored or monopolised by the state or ruling parties.   Free and fair elections also cannot exist if electoral authorities are corrupt, courts are corrupt or biased politically and most of all police and other forces of law and order are used as personal thugs by politicians.   Again, it is a good thing for the courts, police, electoral officials and the state as a whole to be politically neutral.

In that respect I like liberal democracy because with it comes some rather important foundations of a free society.

The other positive is that it gives people a peaceful means to debate and discuss politics and public policy, it provides a way to ration political power that provides A check on politicians.  I say "a" check, because it is far from adequate.  The best that can be said is that it provides a means to remove politicians from power.   Yet, without the most basic constitutional limits it is itself threatened by politicians who can be elected and abolish liberal democracy, free speech and the foundations that make it all work.  That is what happened in Germany when the Nazis got elected.   Unfettered majoritarian rule can destroy itself, let alone what it can do to the minority.

That's why advocates of freedom talk of constitutionally-limited government more than democracy.  Democracy is useful, but inadequate.  Constitutionally-limited government has a residual use for democracy to debate the role of the state within the limits of that constitution.  

So what this means for Egypt is that democracy, based on the majority will of Egyptians may not mean freedom.
Amy Peikoff points out in this article, the results of a Pew Research Center poll, conducted of Egyptians last year, paints a negative picture of this new "freedom" if politicians are elected to embrace the following:

95% prefer religion play a large role in politics.  Consider what that means for those not of the majority religion, or any religion.  A non-secular state doesn't exactly leave room for views not of the dominant religion.

84% favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith.  This is the situation already in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.   Nice.

82% support stoning adulterers.  Great.

54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.   Modern.

54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.  Comforting.

Without a constitutionally-limited government which guarantees some minimum individual rights, Egyptians wont have freedom, because so many of them want to vote away the freedoms of others.

What is astonishing are those on the left who rightfully damn the dictatorship under Mubarak, but who are completely non-chalant and don't give a thought to freedom in Egypt as long as they have some form of democracy - like Iran's witless idiot in New Zealand, a man who think if Egypt becomes an Islamist state "so what".   That's right Bomber, fuck the people who get executed for leaving Islam, fuck the people who get imprisoned for insulting Islam, fuck the people who get beaten up, imprisoned and summarily executed for political protests.  Look forward to the cheering on of a Syrian revolution as well, except that doesn't have the hated USA backing the current regime, so it doesn't really matter does it?

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