Saturday, March 26, 2011

Civilization vs. Barbarism: Resisting the Abuse of Power

Arabs are fighting for civilization, against the barbaric behavior of politicians abusing power for personal glory, and that is the fundamental battle of mankind.
In the end it did not matter if it was an Arab pol who kissed up to Tel Aviv or one allied with Iran or one who sported a royal title and hosted foreign navies or one who played the al Qua’ida card to extort funds from naïve Americans—all showed themselves to be criminals, murderers of their own people, murderers of the people they were supposed to be caring for. In the end, it was not the arbitrary political preferences of the perpetrators that mattered but their criminal nature.

They were thugs, they hired thugs, they ordered thuggish behavior on the part of their servants, they looked the other way and pretended to be great men while their thugs committed murder on their behalf: the distinctions are irrelevant. When you are the dictator or the king or the president or His Excellency or his High Mucky-Muck and your general or your police chief “understands” that he is free to slaughter citizens demanding their rights, then you are a criminal.

When the practice of identifying and punishing such criminals becomes an accepted principle of governance, then mankind will deserve to be called “civilized.” The Arab people are putting their lives on the line in the latest battle of mankind’s war by those who aspire to civilization rather than barbarism.

This struggle against barbarism, i.e., against abuse of power, is the core theme of human history. History is the story of the struggle for freedom, and the main enemy in that struggle is not foreigners but homegrown politicians who take on airs and set themselves above the people they are supposed to be serving.

History in the Arab world today is moving fast, and it is easy to get caught up in the details and forget what is really happening. The Arab Revolt is not really about points scored by Israel or Iran or the U.S. or al Qua’ida, though the revolt is impacting all of them. The Arab Revolt is about mankind’s struggle for liberty. As such, those of us who aspire to live under regimes practicing good governance should applaud and support the struggle of the Arab people, whether the particular criminal they are resisting happens to be pro-Israel, pro-Iran, pro-al Qua’ida, or pro-American, or just in love with himself.
Signs of Progress in the War Against Abuse of Power
1. Egypt charges ex-minister of the interior for "ordering the shooting" of protesters
“Anti-Zionism,” “fighting terrorism,” “preparing for the end of days,” “preparing for the return of the Mahdi,” “regaining the Jewish homeland,” “spreading democracy,” “resisting imperialism:” none of these ends matters if the means include the slaughter of civilians, snipers murdering dissidents, the torture of the innocent, the locking of ethnic groups in a ghetto, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment. It is not about the menace of a citizen insulting a politician. The issue is the quality of governance.

If the end goal is civilization, in the sense of a society in which people are treated with civility, the means to that is the rule not of individuals but law. And the first step toward the rule of law is ensuring that the rulers obey the law. The highest power lens of justice should always be focused on the most powerful elements in society – the presidents, the billionaires, the CEO’s, the generals. If they do not obey the rule of law, then the very concept of law is a mockery, a hypocrisy, a force for oppression that must be resisted by force. Historically, that force has typically been applied violently and with a self-defeating absence of restraint. To the degree that Arab protesters today can succeed in applying force judiciously, non-violently, applying just the sufficient degree of force to compel their criminal masters to obey, they will have advanced the cause of human civilization.

No comments: