Exchanging democracy for dictatorship?

I was recently “copied in” on an article titled “A Conversation with Ece Temelkuran on How to Lose a Country, in 7 Steps and asked what I thought. A summary of what the author thought is included in the meme below together with other images pertinent to my response. My friend who asked me the question, challenged me to surprise him. Given my “right wing, rabid” views, which I will get to, some of what I have to say will not come as a surprise but some (I hope) will and provide common ground.

My friends expressed his own view: “Democracy can only be defended if people believe in it as a thing worth defending for itself, not just as a means to achieve what they want to achieve. Both left and right will now not defend democracy against abuses by their side, only against abuses committed by their opponents. Winning is everything. The press in Britain has generally behaved disgracefully, ‘helping their side’ with lies, half truths and political propaganda. Only a few newspapers have really held off from this. The politicians lie, break promises and ignore the law quite openly in the pursuit of their goals. The public know this and either welcome it or shrug their shoulders – as the writer says, they want to be shepherded, but some also want the freedom to oppress and harass their neighbours under the cover of ‘getting their country back’ – and this too is tolerated and in some cases encouraged by the politicians as it allows them to behave in any way they wish to. The Prime Minister is widely recognised as being a liar and untrustworthy yet this is accepted by the electorate. ‘Common sense’ measures against minorities such as Jamaican immigrants who have lived in the U.K. all their lives with spouses and children in the U.K., being deported even though the government has been ordered by the courts not to deport pending appeal are now happening – the rule of law being ignored when convenient or useful to do so… these should be warning signs that alarm ALL democrats, whether of the right or the left, but it seems that most of the right have no problem with this. They are happy to see an independent judiciary bypassed as long as it gets what they want or believe in. It’s not full blown fascism yet, but it is the beginning...”. My own off the cuff response is I agree with a lot of this, but in one important aspect I respectfully disagree.

I suppose if I were to summarise my own political philosophy, it is that I am a conservative libertarian with socialist sympathies, who regarding nationalism and globalism would prefer the former. This may have been evidenced at the recent UK General Election, when I welcomed the decisive victory of Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party as much because it represented the best chance for us to “get Brexit done”, but voted for our local Labour candidate, because I judged that certain social justice concerns will be best addressed by her. While I agree with Churchill (see above), I do lack confidence in democracy and share the concerns that Reagan predicted that I see coming to pass and conclude that history has shown that corrupt power happens all sides of the political divide. I have seen much evidence of democracy NOT working, such that I am inclined to a view a benevolent dictator could be better than a malevolent so called democrat. I try (although not always successfully) to maintain a balance – I feel people should be free to be, say, think, do what they want within the law and expect to live in peace and security, with minimal government interference but, given human nature is as it is, I doubt that a laissez faire approach to government can work entirely in the best interests of the poor and vulnerable. My biblical understanding is that true democracy has hardly ever happened and what usually resulted was authoritarianism with varying outcomes. I doubt if the two Bible bright hopes: Old Testament theocracy and New Testament communism in the Early Church would work today since both required an agreed ethos centred round the fear of God.

Back to the article: the lady being interviewed made important and valid points, as did my friend, and I quite get as well as share their concerns about what could happen to our (UK and US) democracies and the dangers facing us, whether we are on the left or right of politics or a strange mix like me. After all, Ece Temelkuran has seen her country, Turkey, which looked as if it were going down nicely the democratic path being overtaken by authoritarianism and see our going down the same route despite protestations about how mature our democracy is. I concur. While there are notable differences between the US and UK enactment of the philosophy of separations of powers: executive, legislature and judiciary, I can see creeks in the system and that is much because of liberal leftism as that coming from the right. She is quite wrong to say “democracy is literally crumbling at the hands of a strange guy with funny hair” (I guess she meant Boris or Donald) when I would argue there has been worse from the anti brigade, which I may elaborate on in my sequel.

But we are in danger! Both the US and UK imho suffer right now from a weak opposition and an electorate that is asleep (although are beginning to wake up). I hope, notwithstanding differences in opinion where the dangers lie, me and my friend will continue to engage in honest, robust, open debate and work cooperatively toward a society that is based on truth, justice and righteousness.

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