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Democracy Worshipers

“Your people, sir, is … a great beast.”

So Alexander Hamilton reputedly said in an argument with Thomas Jefferson. At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Hamilton explained:

“Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship.”

In his column, “Democracy Versus Liberty [1],” Walter Williams cites Hamilton, James Madison and John Randolph, who wrote of “the follies and turbulence” of democracy, and John Adams:

“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Yet what our fathers feared we embrace. For it may fairly be said of this generation that it worships democracy. Indeed, the fanaticism of this faith in democracy as the path to worldly salvation causes many to hail any and all revolutions against any and all autocrats.

One wonders: How is it that this childlike faith endures?

After all, the French Revolution gave us the Terror and Napoleonic wars. The Russian Revolution gave us Lenin, Stalin and 70 years of totalitarian horrors. Mao’s revolution put 30 million Chinese in early graves.

Cuba’s revolution gave us an end to freedom and 50 years of Fidel’s cult of personality. Iran’s revolution that took down the Shah raised up the Ayatollah.

One would think we would have learned a little skepticism.

Yet no sooner had the crowds in Tunis turned out their autocrat and the throngs taken over Tahrir Square in Cairo than our giddy elites were proclaiming the “Arab Spring” and demanding the United States get on the side of the Arab street against all autocrats.

Yet Hosni Mubarak, though a ruthless ruler, had been our man in Cairo since the assassination of Anwar Sadat, fighting alongside us in the Gulf War, keeping the peace with Israel, allying with us in the war on terror.

But as soon as the tide turned against him, we ditched him and cheered on the crowd in Tahrir Square, a few of whom celebrated the downfall of despotism with a sexual mauling of Lara Logan.

What our democracy-worshipers, our “power-to-the-people” lovers of revolution fail to understand is that revolutions unleash all the forces in a society, including the most noxious. Indeed, especially them.

To understand what revolutions and popular democracy are likely to produce, we need to understand the fires in the minds of the men who create or capture those revolutions.

And neither Africa nor Arabia offers much in the way of hope.

The overthrow of Ian Smith’s government in Rhodesia brought to power Robert Mugabe and his Mashona, who proceeded to massacre the Matabele of rival Joshua Nkomo, rob the whites of their property, drive them out of their country and create the hellhole that is Zimbabwe.

Yet such is the power of democracy worship, this secular religion, to blind people to the evidence of their own eyes that virtually every Western leader favored one-man, one-vote democracy in Rhodesia.

As we see in Julius Malema, that admirer of Mugabe and 30-year-old firebrand of Mandela’s ANC, just convicted of a hate crime for his singing of the anti-apartheid ditty “Shoot the Boer!” who wants to expropriate South Africa’s mines and confiscate white farms, racism and tribalism are alive and well in liberated Southern Africa. And democracy is their enabler.

To know what the Arab Spring is likely to produce, one needs to look not only at the Kerenskys who lead the Facebook-Twitter revolutions, but the Lenins and Trotskys who stand silently behind them.

The Arabs of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain want new leaders to reflect the popular will. And what is that will?

In the most recent elections, an Islamic party took power in Turkey. The Muslim Brotherhood advanced dramatically in Egypt. Hezbollah and Hamas were vaulted to power in Lebanon and Gaza.

Democratists who demand we distance ourselves from the kings of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain, who do they think will replace these monarchs?

Do they care, or is democracy the right way, results be damned?

In liberated Libya, reprisals are being perpetrated against the black Africans Moammar Gadhafi brought into the country, and the Islamists are surfacing.

In liberated Iraq, it is Muslim vs. Christian, Sunni vs. Shia, Arab vs. Kurd. In Sudan, it was Arab Muslim against African animist and Christian that tore the country in two. In Ethiopia, it was the ethnic Eritreans who seceded to establish a country of their own.

Looking at Africa and the Middle East, men seem willing to march for a better life and to demonstrate for democracy. But when it comes to fighting and dying, the calls of race, religion and tribe alone seem capable of compelling the ultimate sacrifice.

Before we endorse the right of all peoples to have what they want, perhaps we should know what they want. For in the Mideast, it appears that most would like to throw us out and throw our Israeli friends into the sea.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and is author of the forthcoming Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? [2]. Copyright 2011 Creators.com

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Comments Disabled To "Democracy Worshipers"

#1 Comment By James Canning On September 15, 2011 @ 11:44 am

The Financial Times today has excellent report on “democracy” in Singapore. That country has risen to great wealth through a modified form of democracy in which the ruling party maintained control for decades.

#2 Comment By James Canning On September 15, 2011 @ 11:58 am

Alexander Hamilton and others were able to see clearly, that actual “democracy” in an independent US would be dangerous to the national interests of the American people.
Hamilton was a cousin of the Duke of Hamilton.

#3 Comment By Greg Panfile On September 15, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

Mr. Buchanan should know that two things have vexed Islam structurally from the very beginning, because neither is adequately addressed in the Koran or the Traditions:

1. The matter of succession
2. Prevention of a hierarchical orthodoxy

While Mohammed actually forbade what has happened in places such as Iran and parts of Afghanistan… rule by ayatollahs, mullahs, and other self-appointed interpreters… human nature has overridden his explicit instruction. On the other matter, he did not provide for his own succession, and that led soon after to what is now the Sunni/Shia split, and the ongoing problems of tyranny and dynasty that has inhibited Islamic culture since then.

If Islam is able to solve these problems, it will be to the world’s benefit. If not, things will be dark, but those will be the reasons… not anything to do with the specific peoples or religion involved. Human nature is at fault here.

Colonization, corruption, and exploitation by the Western powers, extending for centuries, has exacerbated rather than improved these things. Until we find a way to back off and let these people work things out for themselves in their own time and fashion, we will continue to make things worse. It is important to recall that this same civilization was reading Aristotle and doing algebra when Europeans had forgotten something the Romans did every day… that one needs to bathe.

Rome went without plumbing for 1000 years. There are, in the Islamic world, the seeds of what could be a renaissance. Any humanist, and any monotheist, should be wishing these people well. Looking at our own culture, it is not as if they could do much worse.

#4 Comment By K. W. Jeter On September 15, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

“Our Israeli friends” — is this a joke?

At the same time that PJB’s column appeared on the American Conservative website, so did another piece titled “Tapping the Israeli Embassy.” Quote from that piece:

“What the FBI uncovered was a massive and highly focused campaign referred to by the Israelis as “perception management,” but which the CIA would refer to as a covert action. Much of the activity was illegal or incompatible with the role of foreign diplomats in the United States, which is why Leibowitz took action after his supervisors refused to proceed with prosecution. The focus was on Iran, with Israeli officials intent on preparing the American public for war against the mullahs. They were spreading disinformation on Iran’s nuclear program, promoting international sanctions, and trying to obtain Washington’s support for an ultimatum on the nuclear program as a final diplomatic gesture that would be turned down by Iran, leading to war with the U.S. playing the lead role. The Israeli Embassy’s activities consisted of drafting articles and editorials that were placed with an accommodating media, paying journalists to write pieces making the same points, and working closely with groups like WINEP and AIPAC to present policymakers with a coordinated list of arguments for war. At least one congressman from Indiana was approached directly by Israeli intelligence and agreed to host an anti-Iran conference as well as to introduce legislation tightening Iran sanctions.”

Lying and manipulating the US into another pointless war is hardly the action of a “friend.” And as for the Islamicists wanting to “throw us out” of the Mideast — why wait? Let’s come home now and leave them and the Israelis to do what they want with their sandpile.

#5 Comment By patrick On September 15, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

Pat is one of my favorite people but Mubarak is a ghastly example here. For what two decades or more, he impoverished the country making it an economic basket case. The amount of money he stole was breath taking, in the tens of billions of dollars, much of it our taxpayer dollars. He horribly oppressed his people, torture was widespread. Wasn’t the Canadian sent there to be tortured or was it Morocco? (The one that after six months the Canadian government said oops, we’re wrong, he’s not a bad guy? Can we compensate this guy and others like him please? Say three million dollars or so? Anyway . . . )

American president after American president did nothing. The idea was only this kleptomaniac human rights abusing dictator, and HE alone could keep the peace with Israel. But Jefferson was adamant about this wasn’t he? When people are reduced to a state of despotism, and if Egypt didn’t define that term it has no meaning, they have not just the right but the obligation to rise up against the person oppressing them. The Egyptians had no obligation to continue to be oppressed just because it served the interests of the Israelis or ourselves. Would any of us have continued to live like that or would we have risen up years earlier?

Maybe if president after president hadn’t been enablers, maybe if we had given him ultimatums, had put conditions on the vast sums of money we were giving him that he stole, maybe the transitions would have been better than it is today. Maybe. But don’t expect people who are being horribly oppressed to just sit there and accept it. We wouldn’t, why should they?

#6 Comment By Libertarian Jerry On September 15, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

Good article Pat…….America was founded as a Constitutional Republic,not a Democracy. Unfortunately,we have degenerated into a Mobocracy Welfare/Warfare State controlled by a political elite that wants to rule the world. The method used was the injection of Cultural Marxism tactics to control the Public Education System,Academia and the Mainstream Media thus influencing the course of American opinion. But the real culprit has been a majority of the American People who voted for the yokes around their necks by giving up on personal responsibility and self reliance while,at the same time,voting away peoples property rights and supporting The New Deal ,The Great Society and the fraudulent “War On Terror.” American Democracy is doomed to bankruptcy and will eventually disintegrate into a Police State. This is our fate.

#7 Comment By Dmitri Aleksandrovich On September 15, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

Mr. Buchanan we are seeing the world as it truly is and Western Liberal Democracy with its high notions of tolerance and diversity are not the glue that’s going to keep the current order from falling apart at the seems. In the last century we say the great rivalry of two Masonic experiments in statecraft. One was the United States (Western Liberal Democracy) and the other was the Soviet Union (Marxist-Leninism). The Marxist-Leninist experiment was the first to collapse and the Western Liberal Democratic experiment is next and with it the world will return to its natural tribal state where people identify with each other according to one’s religion, culture, tribe, ethnicity and race. It will happen here in the United States too except here it is probably going to be more along racial lines than sectarian lines. In the Middle East it is going to be along the Sunni-Shia divide with the fate of the Christians and Druze hanging in the balance (Assad in Syria has been a good friend to both Syrian Christians and displaced Iraqi Christians). The Balkans will be along the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Muslim divide and even Six occupied counties of Ireland will probably see tensions rising and maybe even conflict resuming along the Catholic-Protestant divide. This is the way the world is and the way it has always been. The only difference from today and centuries past is that centuries past the world was largely divided amongst empires and kings were much less likely to go to war then factions of people. I forget who said it but it went something like the wars of men will be much more brutal than the wars of kings.

Now as for the Mideast throwing us out. Well I think we outlived our welcome there along time ago and should have withdrawn at least after the fall of the Soviet Union. As for the Israelis…it is time they fend for themselves. Let those individuals in the world who support the state of Israel fund the state of Israel but keep US taxpayer money out of it.

#8 Comment By Raashid On September 15, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

Pat, your article was spot on until the last sentence. I would have thought you of all people would have the sense to stop referrring to the Israelis as your “friends”.

#9 Comment By H. Dibadj On September 15, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

Constitutional conservative monarchy has proved again and again in various places on earth to be the best form of government. The main enemies of this system are often western educated revolutionary men and women. Go figure.

#10 Comment By tbraton On September 15, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

“Constitutional conservative monarchy has proved again and again in various places on earth to be the best form of government. The main enemies of this system are often western educated revolutionary men and women. Go figure”

Perhaps we should invite Prince Harry to come over and become King of the U.S. of A. (I believe Prince Willliam is already promised to Great Britain) and offer a profound apology to Great Britain for breaking away and even for dumping that tea in Boston harbor. Thus, we can assume our rightful position in the ranks of the best governed places on Earth alongside Great Britain.

#11 Comment By Anonymous On September 16, 2011 @ 10:01 am

Mr. Buchanan,

In all seriousness, please consider running for president.

Your views over the years were “early,” I think. We are all coming around to your way of thinking.

And look at the yahoos running. You could beat them all.

#12 Comment By Matt On September 16, 2011 @ 10:02 am

Well I have to agree with Clyde Wilson that a little more democracy might do us some good. In America, we have elections, but the list of things that we’re allowed to decide democratically shrinks every year.

#13 Comment By J P On September 16, 2011 @ 10:25 am

“Our Israeli friends” — is this a joke? –K. W. Jeter

Pat, your article was spot on until the last sentence. I would have thought you of all people would have the sense to stop referrring to the Israelis as your “friends”. –Raashid

I think the “Israeli friends” comment was very apt, because it was intended to make a point. The context reveals this:

Before we endorse the right of all peoples to have what they want, perhaps we should know what they want. For in the Mideast, it appears that most would like to throw us out and throw our Israeli friends into the sea.[emphasis mine]

I do not think the comment so much as joke as ironical. Mr. Buchanan is juxtaposing those who endorse the right of all peoples to have what they want, i.e. “our giddy elites” (including neocons), with what those in the Mideast want. The irony comes from the fact that many of the giddy elites support Israel while their support for democratic revolution in the Mideast would only undermine the same.

#14 Comment By Krzysztof On September 16, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

What can we learn from the 1989 revolutions in the name of democracy in Eastern Europe the Soviet Bloc. The revolution that have ended communist totalitarian Stalinist systems. Because you can always bring front and center all the revolutions that have failed in the past and conveniently forgot those that seceded and treat them as insignificant phenomena’s. The East Europeans Karol Wojtyla (Pope Johan Paul II), Lech Walesa, Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuron Vaclaw Havel, and many others like them in
The Soviet Bloc the countries behind Iron Curtain; are just a bunch of Dreamers and fools Dreaming about Democracy. They deserve also to be acknowledge not all revolutions Failures. We should use as example those that succeeded in liberation and use those That did not as a warning but not to be deterred from democracy pursuit

#15 Comment By James Canning On September 16, 2011 @ 4:27 pm

Dmitri Aleksandrovich – – You might find it interesting to watch HGTV (US & Canada), where young homebuyers are taken through the process on-camera. A remarkable percentage of the couples are mixed (white-black, white-asian, etc etc etc).

#16 Comment By James Canning On September 16, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

JP – – All Arab countries accept the 2002 Saudi peace plan, and I doubt that any Arab country has a desire to return to war with Israel. Yes, the people of some countries may have their wish Israel would go away, but the leadership of the Arab countries is under no illusions on this score. The key issue is borders, and whether Israel gets out of the West Bank and Golan Heights.

#17 Comment By cortesar On September 16, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

Democracy the art of counting noses as great a mind once put it
As matter of fact there is no almost single great mind that did not despised democracy
There is only one good things about democracy- it prevents tyranny
In all other aspects it nurtures mediocrity, deception, duplicity and lies. It is hostile to any higher individual, any noble aspiration having from its inception its foundations rotten

For you lovers of democracy I have a question :
If tomorrow a democratic system was established in Apple how long it would take before the company is ruined?

#18 Comment By The Pale Scot On September 16, 2011 @ 10:26 pm

Countries don’t have friends, they have interests.

We forget this at our peril.

#19 Comment By William Dalton On September 16, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

Pat, as you say, the “democracy” movements in Africa, Arabia, and elsewhere in the Muslim world are not likely to bring about governments you or I would care to live under. But, as you also say, they are more likely to bring in governments that “will throw us (i.e., our military/CIA presence) out.” And if we get that much out of these revolutions, and nothing else – the end to our presumptions towards empire on the other side of the globe – it is as much as I dare hope for, and all I can say is, “Power to the People!”

#20 Comment By JimBob On September 17, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

America did not have a Revolution in any sense of the word. What we had was a War of Independence.

#21 Comment By James Canning On September 18, 2011 @ 11:32 am

H. Dibadj – – I agree with you that constitutional monarchy is the best form of government, at least as to those countries fortunate to have kept their monarchies (or seen them “restored”, as in Spain).

#22 Comment By James Canning On September 18, 2011 @ 11:33 am

JimBob- – Yes, the propertied interests that backed the “Revolution” certainly wanted to keep their property. This meant avoiding actual “democracy”.

#23 Comment By GeorgiaBoy61 On September 18, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

Dmitri Aleksandrovich, re: “The Marxist-Leninist experiment was the first to collapse and the Western Liberal Democratic experiment is next and with it the world will return to its natural tribal state where people identify with each other according to one’s religion, culture, tribe, ethnicity and race.”

Well-said. Historian Martin Van Creveld has predicted as much, in his book “The Rise and Decline of the State,” as have such theorists as William Lind and John Boyd, who have spoken of fourth-generation conflict, in which the nation-state loses its monopoly on the use of force, and individuals who decline to fight for their nation, will risk their lives for other causes and identities instead. Van Creveld notes that the nation-state came about and attained legitimacy because it provided a better model than feudalism for assuring ordered progress. Modern states everywhere are, more and more, failing to provide security, prosperity and the rule of law, and thus are perceived as increasingly illegitimate by their peoples.

#24 Comment By Sean Gillhoolley On September 19, 2011 @ 7:00 am

I am surprised to read that you oppose Democracy Pat. True freedom is tied to a government that is chosen by, and thus representative of, the people. A constitution is required to protect the rights of the individual against the tyranny of the masses. We do not have to like the choices that other nations make, but if they are made freely, by their people, then we must respect that choice. And since the choices made are consensual, the people are responsible for whatever comes from those choices. When others choose for you, you are not responsible for those choices. As long as the Arab world is run by tyrants, we cannot fault the people for the decisions those tyrants make (especially if we are helping to prop up those tyrants, which is a dishonour on our shoulders), but we can hold them accountable for the decisions they make. We should make it a policy to always support democracies over tyrannies. Pointing out how Mubarak was in our corner is a point of shame, not an argument to turn our backs on burgeoning democracies. The US helped overthrow the democracy in Iran, and now look at what we are faced with. We deserve it, because we caused it. Time to stop causing so many bad results around the world.

#25 Comment By PeterRocco F. OBrien On September 19, 2011 @ 8:43 am

Pat you always have interesting views and when I disagree with them, I always give them a second read and some even a third. The more i study them the more they sometimes make sense. Revolution without a specific end is not worth the fight because it is just change for change sake and that does not accomplish a goal. I think the American Revolution had the goal of disabling monarchy and Empire in the 13 colonies and establishing an order on the American continent that would govern a country on the same continent concern with its welfare and not just its goods. Empire does not work in the long run because subject peoples are not going to remain such for long when they realize they should be calling the shots for themselves. The French Revolution did not have the same focus. The Americans knew what they wanted and the French did not. This should be the standard to judge modern rebellions.

#26 Comment By TGGP On September 19, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

I believe the opening quote is from John Jay*, not Hamilton.

South Africa seems pretty messed up (there’s a clip from the liberal “Young Turks” program of the host being astounded at the rape statistics), but the fact that they actually put this person on trial and convicted him for singing a song (not that I approve of such laws) suggests it is still a ways from Rhodesia.

*I will always remember him for some 18th century graffiti. After the treaty he negotiated with England, someone wrote around the enclosure of Treat Paine “Damn John Jay! Damn every one that won’t damn John Jay!! Damn every one that won’t put lights in his windows and sit up all night damning John Jay!!!”

#27 Comment By Karen Barker On October 17, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

I love this article. I remember when Dick Cheney and George Bush said that going into Iraq would cause other countries in the Middle East to collapse and become democracies. It happened the way they said it would. I even thought the Iranian government would topple at one moment. I’m happy that people there are out from under cruel dictatorships they detested, but I thought the same thing the author of this piece did: There is a vacuum of leadership and based on historical events, it could go either way.

But I do think Republicans deserve the credit for the possibly upcoming democracy in that part of the world.

#28 Comment By Karen Barker On October 17, 2011 @ 6:31 pm

Oh. No wonder I like this article so much. Mr. Buchanan wrote it. I heard rumors he PAID his congressional interns…..unlike some others. He’s also above the boring rhetoric. You aren’t sure what he’s going to say, but it will be interesting and odd.

Questioning democracy! That’s just righteous. Sort of forces you to think back on historical events and how government uprisings have played out.

I’m holding onto my assumption that the French were winning because they have, after all, gotten rid of Marat and Disneyland.

#29 Comment By Karen Barker On October 17, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

Dmiti, I should visit your planet on my next vacation.
Because here on earth, the ‘Marxist-Leninist’ movement and ideology is alive and kicking. These governments still exist in several countries, including China, Venezuela and Cuba.

With the newish shine of quasi-capitalism, though, the government will release you from jail relatively quickly if you win a Nobel Prize. Because now, with the factory contracts, the goodwill of a company like Apple is worth one jailed artist.

#30 Comment By Karen Barker On October 18, 2011 @ 12:09 am

And Dmitri, I hope you know I was kidding. Tone isn’t evident on the internet and I didn’t want you to take my comment the wrong way. I meant it in a playful spirit.