Don’t pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side. Sometimes even that’s not safe.
I’m watching with interest as we, those of us here in North America at least, warble with delight at the move to democracy that seems to be burgeoning in Egypt and Tunisia. How brave, how marvelous.
Brave yes, but I’m not clear just how we get the idea that all of this is headed for democracy. If we look at the vast number of states that punted out a dictator I’m having a hard time thinking of one that ended up with a working democracy. My, admittedly anecdotal evidence, would suggest that they tend to end up with some other form of totalitarian state. Though it’s often dressed up as a democracy and backed by real democracies. Afghanistan would be an example close to my home and it’s military. Iraq would be another one.
People get democracy only when they get democracy. It’s not just a decision to do what’s best for one and all. It’s a vast cultural change. Going from rule of might to rule of law is not for the faint of heart. You only need to look at the democracies of North Europe and North America to see that there is some blood to be shed and some family matters to be sorted before you get to the working version of that particular political philosophy. And even then there is always room for failure and ignominy. I guess Italy and Mexico would probably carry that flag most often.
I hope this works out in the middle east. I hope they get where we wish they’d be, because I think it’s one of the more humane systems of government. Not particularly efficient or careful of it’s citizenry in some cases (see the US of A on that count), but at least there is the possibility for a fair deal some of the time.
However, when you throw out the devil you know you have to take the chance that the devil you don’t know that gets into power is worse. However, even when you know there really are bad things out there in the dark, you still have to risk the dangers to create something wonderful.