Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rights More Important than Fealty to the Purity of Democracy - Egypt

I had this interaction on twitter with a UK libertarian whom I admire.  In this case we disagreed.

So @LibertarianView makes the reasonable point that I am not really supporting democracy if I support the overthrow of Morsi by the military, and I agree to an extent.  The tougher question is whether we should support democracy at all costs, even to the loss of freedom.  Morsi had granted himself dictatorial powers.  The Muslim Brotherhood was and is intent on imposing Sharia law, even if that means abrogating rights embedded in the Egyptian constitution.  Even if the rights were not embedded, fundamental human rights such as freedom of worship are never legitimately denied, even in a democracy.

Throughout history, we have seen instances where dictatorship arises out of democracy.  The use of force to resist a denial of rights can be legitimate, even if that government was elected.  One could argue that Lincoln did not have the precise constitutional authority to prevent the southern states from seceding over the issue of slavery.  The state governments that voted for secession were duly elected.  But, as he made clear in his second inaugural speech,  the purpose of secession was to perpetuate the denial of rights to black slaves in perpetuity. This violated the promise of the Declaration.  The response of war to secession was appropriate and moral.

Ultimately, if Morsi had remained in power, there would have been no more elections in Egypt.  Supporting his overthrow does not mean that I am against democracy, only that I support a constitutional form of government that guarantees basic human rights and I value this greater than the purity of the democratic form of government.

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