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December 31, 2019 / Congau

Democratic Pretext

The problem with authoritarian states is not that they are authoritarian. The problem is that they are not like us: not like the healthy Western mainstream. All those roguish states, from the nasty Russia and Turkey to the naughty Poland and Hungary, are primarily scoffed at for not adhering to our pure democratic principles, as if their constantly devious politics were of only secondary concern.

How hypocritical this worry about democracy is, is obvious in the case of Saudi Arabia; it escapes with only light criticism although its authoritarian government makes most others pale.

What we want is a world that’s obedient to our power, but since we can hardly express such a blunt demand, we pretend to care about lofty principles.

There is reason to believe that if only those aberrant countries would adjust to a more middle European climate, they would also fall into place politically. If they, instead of having one dominant government force, were reduced to a more balanced European parliament where domestic bickering occupies the principal attention, there would be less room for external opposition.

If Russia were divided into fractions like a European democracy, its peculiarities would cease to be expressed and the neutralizing effect of compromise would smoothen its sharp edges and make it compliant to the West. That’s the underlying reason why Russian authoritarianism is such a problem: it’s the only way it can secure its contrasting features and vigorously oppose the Western mainstream.

European and American concern for democracy would have been touching if it were honest. All instances of double and triple standards should be quite obvious to any observer, but it’s curious how we still find the original arguments convincing. The spread of democracy would mean the spread of Western power, but we still think the subject is democracy.

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