Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Volokh Conspiracy Quandary

Mar 22, 2006 7:29 pm

The Volokh Conspiracy Quandary

Several days after Liberty and Power brought up the case of an Afghan man who faces capital charges for converting to Christianity, Eugene Volokh has weighed in with a detailed discussion. In the comments section (spelling now corrected), I state the following:
I am glad Eugene is finally on the case. Unfortunately, he is still dancing around a fundamental quandary, a quandary that needs to be eventually faced by those VC bloggers who are pro-war.

How can they support, often just by their silence, the Wilsonian effort to spread democracy while, at the same time, call on the Bush admininistration to undermine the autonomy of these democracies just because the voters don't think the"right" way? This is a contradiction.

Perhaps the antiwar Hayekian libertarians had a point, after all, when they warned about the dangerous unintended consquences of going down the Wilsonian road. Perhaps too this is also the time for libertarians to reopen their debate on this policy.

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David T. Beito - 3/23/2006

Okay, lets assume that this isn't "democracy."

Previously, the warbloggers have more or less assumed that all we had to do was "give" the Afghans, Iraqis, etc. the ballot and liberal values would take root naturally because all humans are liberty loving. A particularly extreme example of this mindset was Rumsfeld comment that looting in Baghdad showed that "freedom" was messy.

Now, that this view has proven overly optimistic, what is to be done? The U.S. doesn't have the resources to micromanage every case where the Afghans and Iraqis vear off the liberal straight and narrow e.g whenever the veil is reimposed in Basra or rural Afghanistan, everytime there is ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk, etc. Even if the warbloggers think it would be worth the expense in lives and dollars, they can no longer count on the American people, who now think that the Iraq war was a mistake, to ante up.

At some point, warbloggers, like Volokh, have to face these issues.

Aeon J. Skoble - 3/22/2006

Maybe the problem is that democracy per se isn't the desideratum. What's needed is _liberalism_. Democratization of tyrannical regimes can lead to liberalization, but doesn't necessarily do so. I think many political leaders and their speechwriters confuse the two, but I suspect Eugene knows the difference, and isn't in favor of pure majoritarianism, either as an export or as a domestic product. I'd wager that what Eugene favors is limited government. Democratic institutions are often a part of that, esp. when the regime used to be a dictatorship, but the demos also needs to be limited, typically by some codified rights theory. Then there's no contradiction.