Furthest Right

Is It Ever Justified To Forcibly Overthrow A Democratic Government?


Eugene Volokh asks whether it is democratically acceptable to overthrow a (bad) democracy:

But in the aftermath, Erdogan took the opportunity to persecute his political opponents on a large scale, including firing thousands of judges who might constrain his authoritarian tendencies. Erdogan’s government was also severely undermining civil liberties long before the coup, even going so far as to pass a law criminalizing “insults” to the president, under which hundreds of people have been prosecuted. Erdogan’s own commitment own commitment to democracy is questionable, at best. He famously once called democracy a tram that “[y]ou ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off.”

This raises the question of whether the coup attempt against Erdogan might have been justified. More generally, is it ever justified to forcibly overthrow a democratic government? In this 2013 post, written after the successful military coup against Egypt’s radical Islamist government, I argued that the answer is sometimes “yes.” There should be a strong presumption against forcibly removing a democratic regime. But that presumption might be overcome if the government in question poses a grave threat to human rights, or is likely to destroy democracy itself by shutting down future political competition.

Let us approach this like logical beings. What makes a democratic government any different than any other one? A bad government must be overthrown; if government itself as an idea is bad, all of them should be overthrown.

Volokh makes his living as an apologist for democracy. Like most Libertarians, he wants us to think that we can keep demotism so long as we transfer it from the ballot-box to the money-box.

Naturally this makes no sense, since humans in groups make insane decisions. Demotism of any form dooms a civilization and those within it, including those with the money to escape, who simply become assimilated in their new host nations.

Let us then look at the broader question which is that, since democracy is non-functional, when is it never not justified to overthrow a democracy? All of them end in collapsed nations; ours is heading the same way. Forget Erdogan, who is just a small-time tyrant and gangster; we need to look at the beam in our own eye and overthrow Western democracy.

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