Blogs > Liberty and Power > Democracy is a Bitch (Hamas victory)

Jan 27, 2006 1:09 pm

Democracy is a Bitch (Hamas victory)

Turn-out was high, the debates were free and open, and, when it was all over, Hamas won big. Apparently, the goddess of democracy, long worshipped by Victor Davis Hanson and other pro-warriors, is proving to be a bitch goddess.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

As a simple empirical check on this thread: does anyone know where Hanson discusses the relation between democracy and foreign policy? A reference or two or three would help in clearing up whether he is talking about "democracy" per se or "liberal democracy."

David T. Beito - 1/27/2006

Here is what I found with a short search. He almost always uses the term "democracy" rather than "liberal democracy." While he touts the virtues of capitalism, etc., his general approach seems rather if to assume that elections will have a transformative effect on behavior.

I see no concern in this essay, for example, about the dangers of a tyranny of the majority:

Aeon J. Skoble - 1/27/2006

RAB - Is there some reason you're referring to me with scare quotes? That's my name. If it bothers you, keep it to yourself. You're the visitor here, not me.
As to the substance of your comments:
1, there's no such thing as imposing freedom. A free society is one in which those who would impose lack the power to do so. It's fallacious thinking to characterize overthrowing a tyrant as "imposing liberalism." And in any case, what do you mean by saying that "our masters" want to "impose liberalism"? The US govt didn't play any role that I could detect in the Palestinian elections. My remark to David was simply to note that folks like Hanson aren't, contrary to what David seemed to imply, favoring democracy per se, but liberal democracy.
2, "the distinction between "attacking its neighbours" and "liberating its neighbours from oppression" the eye of the beholder." If the point of this remark is to imply that the destruction of Israel would somehow liberate the people who live there, sorry, that's false. Citizens of Israel, including Arabs, have a far greater level of rights and democratic participation than any other middle-easter nation, and certainly more than they would enjoy under a Palestinian regime. Besides Hamas' goal of killing Jews, they also like torturing and killing gays.

Otto M. Kerner - 1/27/2006

If there's somebody out there taking orders, please make mine a "liberalism", and give me the "democracy" only if it comes free.

Rowan Arthur Berkeley - 1/27/2006

Oh, great, 'Aeon J Skoble', so our masters now want to impose upon us 'liberalism'. Presumably that is why they are known as 'neo-conservatives'.

p.s., again to 'Aeon J Skoble' : the distinction between "attacking its neighbours" and "liberating its neighbours from oppression" is, like a surprisingly large number of things, in the eye of the beholder.

Anthony Gregory - 1/26/2006

Yes, Hamas is at least partly a product of the democratic State of Israel. Yeah, democracy!

Anthony Gregory - 1/26/2006

Also, some democratic peace theorists have characterized Afghanistan after the American invasion and nation-building as a democracy.

Sheldon Richman - 1/26/2006

Incidentally, as UPI reported in 2001, Israel helped nurture Hamas as a religious rival to the secular Fatah. The story is here:

Sheldon Richman - 1/26/2006

Could Hamas's victory had anything to do with Bush's rather heavy-handed support (thanks to us taxpayers) for Fatah? When will they ever learn?

David T. Beito - 1/26/2006

Very often the pro-war side uses the the term "democracy" without qualifiers and celebrates uncritically the machinery of elections, such as the recent depictions of high turnout in Iraq.

Leaving this aside, however, Hanson and company are very inconsistent on this. They have praised democracy in Iraq even though it led to a victory a Shi'ite fundamentalists. These Shi'ites, not to mention the Sunnis and Kurds, are often very critical of liberal ideas including free speech for opponents, equal rights for women. Because the winners are pro-U.S.,their illiberalism is overlooked and rationalized.

Aeon J. Skoble - 1/26/2006

Last I checked, it wasn't democracy, but _liberal_ democracy, that was desired. Hamas may have been democratically elected, as was Hitler, but that's not liberalism. My guess would be that Hanson would have favored going to war against Hitler, despite his democratic "legitimacy", on the grounds that Nazi Germany was literally threatening and in many cases actually attacking its neighbors. Hamas is explicitly dedicated to the eradication of one of its neighbors, so what exactly is the objection to the self-defensive war that seems to entail? The elections are neither here nor there.