I’ve long believed that if people are just given the chance, that in general they will make the right decisions. Democracy requires the people to see their society as a whole and make decisions collectively. That’s why, as the Arab Spring took hold, I championed it. I thought that finally people everywhere were standing up and demanding a new day. They’d had enough. They want something more. This is the stuff of stories, the hero’s journey. The hero starts out under a dark power, with society controlled by the tyranny of evil men, but after setting out to change the world the hero sets everything to right and brings back harmony, after facing mortal stakes. I thought that there is just no way that people would vote for Islamic extremists to replace their dictators. They made that mistake before, supporting Muslim Clerics after they overthrew the last dictators. But everywhere we now see the rise of political Islam and I can’t understand it. It makes me wonder if America has long been right in just supporting dictators, because at least they kept the Islamists in check. Realists have often thought that the Arab people remained ruled by dictators because they just couldn’t handle democracy. I never wanted to believe that, but I’m losing faith quickly.
Egypt is only the latest in a long trend of political Islam on the rise, according to a new article from the Economist. While the sub-title is, “the West should keep its nerve,” I’m not so sure. Already there is talk of segregating women in public, making them wear the veil, banning alcohol and music. This is not a democracy; it’s just a dictatorship in another disguise. Worse, it’s one the people seem to have chosen for themselves. That’s the part that worries me the most. We see it in other parts of the world where a Stockholm mentality has set in. In Russia, as Putin and his “kleptocractic” cronies have repeatedly stolen elections, the people are finally taking to the streets. Gary Kasparov, the great chess grandmaster, has pointed out rampant election fraud in Russia for years. And yet, even as people storm the streets and face armed assault, the polls show they favor a “strong leader” versus a democracy by 62%. What is the matter with you people?
As I think about it more and more, I realize America is a unique place. It was founded by people who had to cross a violent ocean, in a time where crossing the ocean often meant death. They came here with little and had to make their own towns, find their own food, and create their own vision. They were a uniquely hardy people, even if they had a strong tinge of religious extremism themselves. But most importantly, they had something few people have today: self -reliance. Pragmatism ruled their spirits. They knew nobody was coming to bail them out, not their pastor and not the government. They had to make their own world. They had to do it themselves or die. That forged a unique spirit. When it came time for our revolution we were smart enough, despite our deep religious affiliations, to let people choose for themselves what they wanted to believe. We weren’t perfect. Slavery comes to mind. But what our founding fathers created was unique and special even to this day.
Unfortunately, even in the United States, we are losing our way swiftly. We couldn’t build our own towns and communities today if we tried, which is why we allow our own leaders to erode our freedoms. We’re not from the same stock as the pioneers. The result of that is; we’re no longer represented by people like us, who endured the same hardships. We’re represented by career politicians and people cut off from reality, people who want to control and overreach boundaries.
A democracy works best when the government stays out of as many areas of life as possible. It works when its people allow different people to make different choices. You can believe in Allah or Christ or Yahweh or Buddha, just don’t force other people to believe in them and adopt their principles.
Too often today, we overreach. We’ve forgotten, even in America, what democracy means. We want to make rules for everybody else. We want Internet companies to help police the web for big content, because they can’t do it themselves. We create stupid, money wasting laws, because we can’t think for ourselves. We force every electric cord manufacturer to put stickers on every single electric cord telling us electricity is dangerous, because a few people aren’t smart enough to realize that. We spend time thinking about guns, Gods and gays as if any of that matters. We force every company to comply with a web of red tape that creates thousands of pointless jobs just to keep up. But at least we are still a democracy. At least we still make good decisions once in awhile. We still have some of the pioneer stock, if only a little of it. The rest of the world, I’m not so sure. All these things go against self-reliance. It is not up to companies to police other companies. It is not up to some sticker to tell you that fire or electricity is dangerous. It’s up to you to know that. It’s up to you to handle it.
I still have a little hope. I hope that perhaps a modern, moderate Islam that respects others and plays nice in the world sandbox comes to pass, as the people exercise their right to rule. But, I worry that the vast, uneducated poor, uneducated and poor because of a living in backwards, repressed societies for so long, don’t have the foresight to see what they are doing to themselves.
But right now, I am fucking mad. I’m starting to long for the days of Mubarak, who kept the Muslim Brotherhood on the run. So go ahead Middle Eastern countries. Vote in people who will tell you what to do. Vote in people who will continue to make women second-class citizens, because they’re only half the population, so what rights do they have? They’re only around to incite men to lust, so we better cover them up, because one half of the population is too weak and stupid to control themselves. Vote to make sure you get thrown in jail because you listen to some Bach or Jazz or Britney Spears, because she is the Devil’s Succubus anyway. Make sure that nobody can drink ever, because people can’t control themselves and God talked to someone a few thousand years ago and told him so. Go right ahead. Maybe it will only take another Arab Spring twenty years from now. I figure you guys are due for revolutions every twenty or thirty years anyway. Maybe one of these days, you’ll get it right. Until then, you get what you deserve. You had a chance and you already fucked it up. And now the chickens will come home to roost. Again.