ON LIBERTY: Via Donald Sensing I came across this excellent Times Online article that discusses the growing momentum of democracy in the world.

Now democracy is spreading in a remarkable way. There are 54 African nations; Africa is the poorest continent on earth. In 1989 only four of these nations were democracies; in 2003, 17 of them are democratic despite poverty, the spread of Aids, and the social problems of tribalism. In 1989 the Warsaw Pact still existed. None of the regions of the Soviet Union, nor any of the Warsaw Pact nations, were democracies. Now most former Soviet countries and all the Warsaw Pact nations are democracies, despite corruption and the ghosts of the past. Self-government in a free society has become the global standard. ...

The American victory in Iraq is a warning to the tyrants and terrorists of the world. The momentum of liberty continues to accelerate. The dictators have had a very bad couple of decades; in 1980 the world was still “half slave and half free”. Now the remaining dictators, old Castro, young Assad, Kim Jong Il, mad Mugabe and the others, look foolish and obsolete, though still horrible. They must mend their ways or liberty and democracy will amend them.

The world is a competitive environment, and over time efficient processes will out-compete inefficient ones. Totalitarian government is on the way out, not because it's morally repugnant (which it is) but because it is inefficient and cannot compete with free and open societies. A totalitarian government is precariously balanced and difficult to maintain; the longer it is in existence the more stable it can become, but it always perches on the cusp of an unstable equilibrium.

Iraq is a perfect example. The government was very stable internally due to mass psychology and brute force, but one solid push from the outside and the entire construction toppled to the ground. Try to imagine a similar breakdown of morale and order in the United States -- even if we are someday faced with overwhelming military force. I may be biased, but I think that many/most Americans would be willing to fight and die for our country and our freedoms if some invader threatened to take them from us, and our society could not be so easily torn asunder for precisely that reason.

I believe that if we play our cards right and do not tolerate brutal dictatorships even when it is in our short-term best interests (I'm looking at you, France), ours may be the last generation that has to struggle overtly against this totalitarian meme; perhaps we can force it underground and eventually out of civilization altogether.



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