Friday, December 03, 2004

A critique from the right

I actually agree with some of the points in this article, Times Online - Comment. The masses, he calls them here the "mob," are nothing more than a blunt instrument. They re not capable of putting together a finely tuned, separation of powers, republican government on their own. They are just good at smashing things wholesale. Though they haven't smashed anything here and are making their case to others of their citizens with a certain magnanimity, to the powers in control, the represent the ability to smash things up. That is their potential to those in power.

I wrote this to my ethics class. (We were studying Plato's Crito and addressing the idea of civil disobedience.)

One of the things that comes about as a result of revolutions is that often the revolutionary leaders, when they seize power, are worse than the ones that were overthrown. This is true because they have undermined the ability of the state to function. The state may be a lot of things but basically it is a guarantor of order. And notwithstanding what we may think in this country, civilization must have order as a basis. (Without order there can be no equality and liberty.) For the new leadership to be able create a government and function they must restore order and since they have no allegiance at all to the previous regime (and often think themselves outside of history--but that is another point) they do not feel obliged to temper their efforts in any accepted way. (They often reject the previous ethic that would limit them.) So we get the excesses of Robespierre, who in the end, was consumed by the system he put in place. And we get the killing fields in Cambodia, the 26 to 50 million (no one is sure how many exactly) of Stalin and Lenin, and etc.

Tymoshenko has been the firebrand agitating for a confrontation and she is a favorite of the crowd. When they went to the administration building last week for the first time, she was the one who pushed it, but it was Yuschenko who was at the head of the crowd. It is hard to know if they would have moved for Tymoshenko or not.

And when the people started to storm the Rada two days ago--they were coming through the windows and the doors--it was Tymoshenko and some other deputies that had opened the doors for them. She argued that the officials were not hearing the people and so she thought they ought to get it direct. It was stopped by Lytvyn, the Speaker, who is coming off as a principled man who is trying to do the right thing. He told them essentially that the Rada was working and that they shouldn't tamper with something that was working.

That is the problem with revolutions. They can pull down all institutions and clean the slate. That creates all kinds of disorder and presents an opportunity for a strongman to come in and impose order. That is why the best thing here would be a transfer of power under the threat of the crowd with institutions and even the Constitution still intact. That is the ideal. We will see if this happens though.

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