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One interesting thing with many of these riots is that fuel and food prices play a large role. So whether the dictators fall or not, the medium-term outcome can be expected to be more fuel subsidies and food price controls. The former makes the economy even more dino fuel-dependent, while the latter risk making agricultural investments even less interesting. Furthermore, the stronger the people, the more ruined finances as there is no end to what people want subsidised - IMF etc expects Egypt's public finances to deteriorate in case the revolution is successful.

This is why many economists (and some RSP:ers) aren't that keen on democracy (as long as they get to say and write what they want of course).

The road from primitive populism - catering to a more or less desperate populace - to responsible campaigning (environment, sound finances, long-term solutions) - communicating with an educated and reasoning population - is very long, and not even the most mature democracies are at the other end yet. That said, political freedom has a great value in itself - they say you can't eat democracy, but it's also hard to eat with your teeth on the prison floor (writing this in my Moscow hotel room, hiding from corrupt policemen unchecked by a subdued media)
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Mondainai wrote:
One interesting thing with many of these riots is that fuel and food prices play a large role. So whether the dictators fall or not, the medium-term outcome can be expected to be more fuel subsidies and food price controls. The former makes the economy even more dino fuel-dependent, while the latter risk making agricultural investments even less interesting. Furthermore, the stronger the people, the more ruined finances as there is no end to what people want subsidised - IMF etc expects Egypt's public finances to deteriorate in case the revolution is successful.

This is why many economists (and some RSP:ers) aren't that keen on democracy (as long as they get to say and write what they want of course).

The road from primitive populism - catering to a more or less desperate populace - to responsible campaigning (environment, sound finances, long-term solutions) - communicating with an educated and reasoning population - is very long, and not even the most mature democracies are at the other end yet. That said, political freedom has a great value in itself - they say you can't eat democracy, but it's also hard to eat with your teeth on the prison floor (writing this in my Moscow hotel room, hiding from corrupt policemen unchecked by a subdued media)


As one of the RSPers who are not super keen on democracy (on its own) I have to say you are once again conflating democracy and the rule of law.

There is absolutely nothing stoping a democratic regime (i.e.a regime elected by a majority in free and fair elections) from breaking people's teeth on prison floors or from restricting freedom of speech.

I am willing to bet a lot that in the fairest elections in the world Putin would still win comfortable majority in Russia as Chavez would in Venezuela. Milosevic and his equivalents won most of their elections in the Balkans in the 1990ies fair and square as did the curernt lot in Sri Lanka (they are perhaps the best example of how democracy goes wrong in multi-ethnic countries without strong rule of law). Mugabe would probably lose in Zimbabwe - but even after total economic collapse it would be a relatively close call, same holds for Ahmedninejad in Iran.
This is without going into examples such as Hammas in West Bank, Hizbullah in Lebanon or the more notorious ones from the central and eastern europe in the 1930ies.

If you want, British oligarchic regime durning the most of 19th century was much better at guaranteeing the freedom of press and freedom from arbitrary arrest then many contemporary democracies. In Habsburg autocracy in the 1890ies you had a fair bit lower chance of having your teeth on the prison floor then if you happened to be of the wrong ethnic group in the Balkan democracies hundred years later.

Political freedom has its own value but it can realize that value only when the appropriate conditions have been met. As long as they are not, the basic Aristotle's objections to democracy stand as strong today as they did 2500 years ago. Leviathan needs to be muzzled, beaten and castrated (by constitutionalism and rule of law) before its reigns can be handed over to the mob.


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BJ, how did you manage to read that piece and come to the opposite conclusion that Mr. Krugman actually reached?
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perfalbion wrote:
BJ, how did you manage to read that piece and come to the opposite conclusion that Mr. Krugman actually reached?


If environmentalists didn't try to fight global warming harvests would get worse, and then poor countries would have more reasons to fight against dictators?

The kind of reading only an anarcho capitalist cultist will reach. Leave your common sense at the door.
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bjlillo wrote:
hibikir wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
BJ, how did you manage to read that piece and come to the opposite conclusion that Mr. Krugman actually reached?


If environmentalists didn't try to fight global warming harvests would get worse, and then poor countries would have more reasons to fight against dictators?

The kind of reading only an anarcho capitalist cultist will reach. Leave your common sense at the door.


You've got it backwards. See my previous quote.


BJ - I agree with you often enough - but you really got it crazy here
I understand you may be tongue-in-cheek here but if so why not go whole hog and propose that we just agent-orange wheat in the dictatorial countries in order to create famines which will spur the people to revolt against dictators
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bjlillo wrote:
Clearly the only conclusion one could come to is that if you want to see brutal dictators like Mubarek propped up, you should fight for CO2 controls. If you, like me, are a fan of freedom and hope that Mubarek is just one domino in a series of dictators to fall, climate change is apparently your best hope for la revolucion.


Of course, the utilitarian counterargument is that living in a dictatorship sucks, but starving to death arguably sucks even more, and arguing that people should starve to death so they will overthrow a dictatorship and replace it with, presumably, a democratic government which will still probably not be able to feed them seems to me to be your basic sort of meaningless philosophic masturbation.
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bjlillo wrote:
mightygodking wrote:
Of course, the utilitarian counterargument is that living in a dictatorship sucks, but starving to death arguably sucks even more, and arguing that people should starve to death so they will overthrow a dictatorship and replace it with, presumably, a democratic government which will still probably not be able to feed them seems to me to be your basic sort of meaningless philosophic masturbation.


Who exactly is starving to death? We're just talking about increases in the price of food.


Which, if you are sufficiently poor, leads to starvation.
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bramadan wrote:
Which, if you are sufficiently poor, leads to starvation.


You're such a stickler for details.
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Rampant commodity SPECULATION -> increases in food prices -> protests in Egypt.
 
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bjlillo wrote:
If you, like me, are a fan of freedom...



The only people who deserve to be free are those who are willing to take it for themselves without first being prodded by economic disruption or high food prices.
 
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bjlillo wrote:
So... no one then?


You're not willing to fight for your freedom?

 
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bjlillo wrote:
rcbevco wrote:
Rampant commodity SPECULATION -> increases in food prices -> protests in Egypt.


So what you're suggesting is that Egyptians should thank Wall Street for their opportunity for freedom?


I've heard that idea postulated (Rattigan [sp]) "food" for discussion. I'm not sure what difference between commodity markets and horse racing is. It definitely isn't true capitalism (even if it "is" it’s bad news).
 
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bjlillo wrote:
You're going to have a hard time starting a revolucion if everything is hunky-dorey for the citizenship. People usually need to be sufficiently pissed off about their personal situation before they want to break out the guillotines. Ideology is a nice motivator, but the number of people willing to kill for ideology is far less than the number of people willing to kill for ideology + personal betterment.


You're overcomplicating something that is actually very simple. Either a person is willing to fight for their freedom or they are not. In the latter case they do not deserve to be free. If somebody doesn't care about their own freedom why should I care about it?
 
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Artaxerxes wrote:
Either a person is willing to fight for their freedom or they are not.


Unless you're actually in a circumstance where it's "fight for your freedom or lose it," how would you know what you're willing to do?

Hell, many people would say "I'll fight for mine." Right up to the moment where that involves riot police, troops, weapons, arrest, etc. Then they're not so willing to walk the talk.

I doubt there are many that could convincingly say they'd fight for their freedom. Probably those that served in the military could, but the rest of the population? Why would you believe their answer?
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perfalbion wrote:
Artaxerxes wrote:
Either a person is willing to fight for their freedom or they are not.


Unless you're actually in a circumstance where it's "fight for your freedom or lose it," how would you know what you're willing to do?


We wouldn't know the answer, but that has nothing to do with what I'm saying, which is this: if a person is in a circumstance in which he must fight to either gain or preserve his freedom, and he chooses not to, then that person does not deserve to be free. The fact that there are people who don't know what they would do in such a circumstance is irrelevant.

perfalbion wrote:
Hell, many people would say "I'll fight for mine." Right up to the moment where that involves riot police, troops, weapons, arrest, etc. Then they're not so willing to walk the talk.


Yes. Do you agree with me that those people don't deserve to be free?

perfalbion wrote:
I doubt there are many that could convincingly say they'd fight for their freedom. Probably those that served in the military could, but the rest of the population? Why would you believe their answer?


I wouldn't.

 
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Artaxerxes wrote:
Yes. Do you agree with me that those people don't deserve to be free?


Not if you define "fight" as "physically resist" (which I think you've implied), no. Did Gandhi deserve to be free?

There are ways of fighting that have nothing to do with physical force. If you include those, then I'd agree that you have to be willing to work for our freedom.
 
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perfalbion wrote:
Artaxerxes wrote:
Yes. Do you agree with me that those people don't deserve to be free?


Not if you define "fight" as "physically resist" (which I think you've implied), no. Did Gandhi deserve to be free?

There are ways of fighting that have nothing to do with physical force. If you include those, then I'd agree that you have to be willing to work for our freedom.


Yes, let us include those non-violent ways of striving for freedom. As long as one is willing to make an effort, a sacrifice of some kind, perhaps risk the wrath of one's oppressors, then they can be considered as deserving. What all of the deserving have in common is that they love freedom enough to do something. As opposed to somebody who isn't willing to do anything unless food prices rise.
 
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Then I'd agree. If you're serious about freedom, you need to show it when it matters.
 
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bjlillo wrote:
Do you consider yourself to be in the group deserving of freedom?


No. I owe my freedom entirely to others.
 
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