Hoyt, Harmony, and Hayekipedia

Classical Values gets results! No sooner does our own Sarah Hoyt tell the Instaworld "there's no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship" than this happens:

Tunisia's popular uprising is all the more surprising because it wasn't part of a narrative that had been given a name and assigned a colour months in advance. To most people outside Tunisia, distracted by events in the United States and elsewhere, this came out of nowhere, in a country too often described as a "benign dictatorship," one of those places we happily visit on package vacations because the torture chambers are kept well out of sight.

One of the ironies of this sort of thing is that your Pinochets and Syngman Rhees are much more likely to be forced from office by an uprising than your Saddam Husseins: a little bit of liberty is like a crack in a glass house.

Liberty is something uniquely precious for those who call ourselves "libertarians."  The statists on the left and the social conservatives on the right will both praise liberty in certain favored conditions, but they also view their kind of coercion as necessary and right and desirable. And that's ultimately why I'm a libertarian --  built around the primacy of freedom and faith in the ability of a free society to self-organize for optimal outcomes with minimal coercion, libertarianism is easily the most intellectually consistent and empirically-driven of the political ideologies. 

Not to be missed: an utterly fascinating article on Wikipedia and its Hayekian origins over at Reason.

posted by Dave on 01.15.11 at 11:57 PM


One of the objections I have to movies about revolutions is that they show the tyranny on the other side as absolute. The truth is that Louis XVI was a weak king -- there would never have been a revolution under Louis XIV, he made sure of that -- and Nicholas II a "liberal" western-loving tzar. Yeah, they were still absolute rulers, but they were trying to liberalize. That's why the revolutions happened.

Look, if revolution came out of "extreme oppression" NK wouldn't be standing.

Sarah   ·  January 16, 2011 11:19 AM

I always have a disgusted reaction to any buffoon claiming that "the best government" is actually as benevolent dictatorship.

Fine, I respond, let's suppose such a government can be imagined, since it has never actually appeared in history. How do we prevent the benevolent El Supremo being succeeded by a Nero or Caligula? How do we keep the Kims and Ceausescus and Idi Amins out?

This is a dictatorship we're talking about here, so bear in mind you yourself have absolutely no authority or control over the succession. So no imaginary veto power exists.

Steve Skubinna   ·  January 16, 2011 2:46 PM

One of the ironies of this sort of thing is that your Pinochets and Syngman Rhees are much more likely to be forced from office by an uprising than your Saddam Husseins: a little bit of liberty is like a crack in a glass house

While the commonly accepted narrative on Pinochet is that he was the bloodthirsty dictator installed by the CIA, who destroyed democracy in Chile, this narrative ignores the Resolutionthat the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed three weeks before the coup. The Resolution passed by a 81-47 vote, a strong 63% majority. An excerpt follows.

"5. That it is a fact that the current government of the Republic, from the beginning, has sought to conquer absolute power with the obvious purpose of subjecting all citizens to the strictest political and economic control by the state and, in this manner, fulfilling the goal of establishing a totalitarian system: the absolute opposite of the representative democracy established by the Constitution; 6. That to achieve this end, the administration has committed not isolated violations of the Constitution and the laws of the land, rather it has made such violations a permanent system of conduct, to such an extreme that it systematically ignores and breaches the proper role of the other branches of government..."

In general and in specific, the resolution could be interpreted as an invitation to a coup. Allende himself called it such. The democratically elected members of the Chamber of Deputies would not have passed such a strongly-worded resolution by a commanding 63- 37% majority if their constituents, the Chilean people, were not also disgusted with the Allende government's repeated violations of law and democratic procedure.

Dictator he was, with blood on his hands, but a dictator who got there with support from the democratically elected Chamber of Deputies. Most who voted for the Resolution assumed that Pinochet was going to call elections within 6 months, an assumption which was later deeply regretted.

What forced Pinochet from office was a referendum which he had called for years before, in an attempt to codify his continued rule. The referendum had the voters vote yes or no on continuing Pinochet in office for another 8 years. He had been in office for 15 years. A no vote would result in elections. Pinochet lost the referendum by ~ 55% to 43%. After Pinochet lost the referendum he had called for, he was forced to follow the consequences of the rules he had created, and call elections. Heist on his own petard.

Gringo   ·  January 17, 2011 5:15 AM

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