The Wall Street Journal thinks Egypt needs a General Pinochet
THE Wall Street Journal thinks Egypt needs a General Pinochet
And this has predictably outraged just about everyone else:
Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took over power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.
What’s wrong with that of course is that Pinochet overthrew a democtratically elected President (Allende), tortued and murdered and then, when age caught up with him, brought back that democracy. Sorta.
What’s right with it is something more subtle and well expressed by Fraser Nelson here:
All this has been established by Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist who travelled to Egypt to investigate the causes of the Arab Spring. His team of researchers found that Bouazizi had inspired 60 similar cases of self-immolation, including five in Egypt, almost all of which had been overlooked by the press. The narrative of a 1989-style revolution in hope of regime change seemed so compelling to foreigners that there was little appetite for further explanation. But de Soto’s team tracked down those who survived their suicide attempts, and the bereaved families. Time and again, they found the same story: this was a protest for the basic freedom to own and acquire ras el mel, or capital.
Democracy is a fine and precious thing: but so to is personal and economic freedom. And there are indeed times when democratically elected politicians threaten those freedoms, the other than being allowed to vote for who you want freedoms.
And at heart this is what Hayek was talking about when he said that Pinochet was better than Allende way back when. He thought that Pinochet would protect those personal and economic freedoms more than Allende would. In which he was almost certainly correct by the way. Whether you argue for those freedoms or for democracy as being the paramount issue is entirely up to you. But it’s really not all that much of a surprise that those who have already made their decision, plumping for the liberty not democracy side, continue to do so by arguing that a liberal autocrat is better than an illiberal elected politician.