August 1, 2009

Madison and Mahmoud

"Liberty is to faction what air is to fire," James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10, way back in those nice just-post-revolutionary days. He also wrote that there were two ways to destroy factions, and that one was to destroy liberty. That way, of course, he rejected-- our founding fathers were rather partial to liberty (see: the American Revolution).

But apparently not everyone is still as partial to liberty as our founding fathers were. Take, for example, the current rulers of Iran. Recent actions taken by that "government" (must leave the quotes on for now, considering the overwhelming doubts surrounding the recent Iranian presidential election; a governing body who rigged such an election in its favor would hardly deserve that name) include the levying of charges against over one hundred "opposition" figures.

These "opposition" figures, so termed for the sake of clarity, I suppose, are members of the party opposing the currently ruling party of Iran. From what I can tell, they're up on charges simply for questioning the election results. Now, I wasn't there when they counted the election ballots (just as I wasn't present in Florida in 2000, ahem), but correct me if I'm wrong here- in a country that has a supposedly fairly elected president, shouldn't the people be allowed to question the election results?

It seems that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the powers that be in Iran (I can't in good conscience call him president), has decided that, indeed, it is perfectly fine to eliminate liberty in the name of eliminating factions.

But the things is, factions can't be eliminated anyway. I mean, look at Iran! They tried taking away liberty and it didn't work too well... Because, let's just admit it, liberty can't be taken away completely and neither can factions. And according to James Madison, the best way to control factions from producing too much damage to society as a whole is to operate under the republic system. In other words, republics work better than systems half-trying to put up a facade of republicanism (...Iran).

I realize that Mr. Ahmadinejad doesn't have to listen to James Madison, and reasonably so, since the two are from different countries and cultures and time periods. However, James Madison is one of the commonly accepted authorities on republics and how they work and why they work... And as Iran's governing body seems determined to masquerade as a partial republic, perhaps Mr. Ahmadinejad should take a leaf from Mr. Madison's book.

I realize that Mr. Ahmadinejad would hate this idea if he ever read it. But what he should understand is that this particular Western blogger isn't trying to convince him to let fair elections progress just because she's obsessed with Western ways. No, I'm actually thinking that a true republic in Iran would work just a bit better. After all, killing people in the streets and suppressing protests sure isn't working for him.

Long story short, Mr. Madison's right about this faction thing and maybe Mr. Ahmadinejad should give his advice a try...

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