Stream Of Commute - November 9, 2003
(these are spontaneous thoughts, flowing from head to keyboard, on the daily commute)
the dangers we face. uncertainty. if the ship might go down, we may as well do so living and acting out the principles we preach. it's either that, or sacrificing everything for safety and to become a hypocrite.
why freedom before democracy?
meditating on this. democracy is the "power of the people". heridotus. the only problem is that anyone can get elected, including Hitler. so we have the difference between liberal and illiberal democracy, as zakaria would put it (the future of freedom). the problem is that we can no longer tolerate the proliferation of illiberal democracies.
so perhaps freedom before democracy would mean that the free nations of the world, banded together, would assure the rights and dignity of humanity, in the rule of law, globally. we would use our current advantage of force, along with our legitimacy of force as exercised by the state, to essentially force all nations, no matter whether democracy or other form, to abide by full transparency, and the inalienable right of humans. eventually, this would more likely than not lead to global democracies, but that would be predicting the future.
what we need to focus on is the establishment and protection of liberty, everywhere on the planet, along with the cooperation that will be needed to assure the protection of the planet's ecology. with the current pace of consumption and population, we must do this, there is no going back.
thus, we don't worry about establishing democracies, which would be an empty measure at best, since votes can be spun any which way, and we instead focus on the inalienable. now, it's possible that there really is no way to establish this other than alongside the establishment of democracy, but that again is speculation. interested nonelected elites wanting to keep power may just play by the rules in order to stay in charge. sooner or later, one would guess that would pass into democracy eventually.
this needs to be fleshed out too since the dominant form of organization in the world today is the corporation, which is hardly democratic. so there is a base realism to this strain of thinking too.
by saying liberty before democracy, we remember what we're fighting for. the inalienable. dignity. the rest follows. morally. practically, these would seem to follow from a system of democracy, with the monopoly of force in the state legitimized by the people.
if we're going to have a surveillance state anyway, which seems nearly inevitable, then surely we need to assure the balance of power between people and state, in the tradition of constitutional liberalism, do we not? this would mean transparency and accountability. in fact, full transparency and accountability would more likely than not improve global living conditions to the point where the fanatical apocalyptic may go away. there would still be the lone psychos and serial killers, but much could be improved here. regardless of the conditions which lead to despair, if there's going to be surveillance, it needs to go both ways, and include the corporation along with state, church, and society in the balance of powers.
example of the legacy of the Civil War. we didn't conquer the South and establish democracy there. we fought for the inalienable (among other things). the South was already a democracy, and wildly in support of slavery. so the means of democracy was not good enough here, until a fitter and more just system was implemented in its place.