March 17, 2011

Libya vs. Wisconsin: Mob? or Uprising Against Tyranny?

Hatched by Dafydd

I was listening to and reading the propaganda of the protesters in Wisconsin before they upped stakes and skedaddled, and the one slogan that irritated me the most was, "This is what democracy looks like!" -- applied, in a burst of unnoted irony, to a rent-a-mob's attempt to shut down the state legislature.

On the other hand, the rioting and now combat against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and previously against Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, really do look like democracy in its nascence to me. So what is the difference? What is a simple way to sort whether violent protests constitute the birth of democracy or of mob rule?

I see a very simple test, derived from the rule enunciated by Ann Coulter anent the potential need for a union. Last month, the hot-right chick wrote:

The need for a union comes down to this question: Do you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money? In the private sector, the answer is yes. In the public sector, the answer is a big, fat NO.

I understand the distinction the blonde bombard is making, though I still disagree with her formulation; if you have a boss who wants you to work harder for less money, your best bet is still Capitalism: Get some "hand" in the game by making yourself a more valuable employee, then negotiate a raise or promotion.

Still, the Coulterism is succinct and full of pith, easily adaptable to the distinction between Libya and Madison. Let's phrase it thus:

  • If you're protesting because neither election nor even dissent is allowed, then what you have is an uprising of freedom.
  • If you're protesting because you lost the election -- then what you have is an anti-democratic, totalitarian front.

See? Politics needn't be abstruse or recondite. Betimes the most basic rules are best.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 17, 2011, at the time of 5:06 PM


The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Interesting post, because it posed a puzzle: How did Dafydd get from Ann Coulter's principle to his own? At first glance, they seem to have nothing to do with one another.

After considerable thought, I figure that you might mean this: If a person or group has a means to gain their objectives within the system, they are not oppressed - even if they don't always get what they want. If there is nothing within the system that allows them to pursue their goals, they are oppressed, and within their rights to try to get themselves a different system.

Even if I'm right, though, I don't think you did your usual job of explaining it.

I'd add that I don't have anything against people in Wisconsin protesting, any more than I had against Tea Partiers protesting (who also lost an election). My problem with the Wisconsin folks is their continual insistence that what is happening to them is undemocratic. And, of course, if their protests become mob violence instead. That hasn't quite happened yet, but they are veering far far closer to it than the Tea Party ever did.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2011 7:38 PM

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