In late June, large scale protests erupted in Egypt, as protesters demanded Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi restructure his cabinet and call early elections. On July 1, CNN reported one supporter said, “the president is staying. We believe in democracy. If people don’t like him, they can vote him out in three years.”
That sentiment was echoed by Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a representative for the Muslim Brotherhood, saying the opposition “failed in the previous five elections we had in Egypt since the revolution, and they don’t want to fail a sixth time. That’s why they’re going to street politics. Street politics is not an end in itself. It is a means to achieve democracy.”
On July 3, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad, told CNN that Mohamed Morsi and members of his Presidential team had been arrested by presidential guards. The head of Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party and the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood also were arrested.
Before the arrests, Dardery claims that Morsi has reached out to opposition leaders many times, but the opposition is “afraid of democracy.” That is an interesting choice of words. Especially when one considers that most Americans believe that “freedom” and “democracy” go hand-in-hand with one another. In the minds of many, “afraid of democracy” is akin to “afraid of freedom,” however the two statements are almost contradictory.
In practical application, democracy is a system in which a plurality of people who show up on voting day attempt to impose their will on everyone else. Allow me to pause for a second to say that I’m not opposed to voting, as I believe one can vote in self-defense; I am however opposed to the system that uses threats of force to make everyone in a geographic area comply with the wishes of a few. If the joint opinion of the plurality changes in the middle of the term, in most cases there is no option for recourse.
Why then should people not have a manner in which they can let it be known that they do not consent to the ideas expressed by the local (or national) government? Why must everyone be obligated to live under the policies chosen by a plurality of people as expressed on a given day?
The idea seems foreign to most people, and they would likely claim “it would never work,” or “it’s never been done before.” Both claims are, in fact, false! Polycentric societies have existed in several places at various times throughout history; in Medina during the time of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, in Gaelic areas during the middle ages, and to a lesser extent in the United States before the New Deal when most people received social services from fraternal organizations or mutual aid societies.
I long for the day when democracy, much like slavery, is viewed, not only, as a thing of the past but also a system that should have never existed. No government or society should be able to claim a monopoly over any geographic area, and every individual should be able to give his consent to and/or withdraw his consent from any “government” at any time. In fact, I recall being taught that governments exist with the consent of the governed. Can someone then choose to not consent? If not, how is “forced consent” different than a contract signed under duress?