Guest Author - Linda Sue Grimes
In a free society, the leaders are dependent on and accountable to the citizens who elect them into office; in a fear society because unelected the leaders control and coerce every aspect of the lives of the citizenry, because the leaders are not dependent on and accountable to their citizens.
In a free society, the leaders’ function is to improve the lives of the citizens; in a fear society, the leaders function to improve only the lives of the leaders.
In a free society, the creativity and industriousness of the citizens guarantee its prosperity; in a fear society the citizens’ creativity and industriousness are not welcome, except as it can be harnessed to the operation of the state.
Sharansky Shows Superiority of Free Societies
In Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, the author argues that free societies, democratic societies, are clearly superior to fear societies, nondemocratic societies. And it is a lack of moral clarity that prevents the democratic societies from realizing their superiority and therefore serving as instruments in helping free the people of the fear societies.
On those rare occasions when the leaders of democratic societies have put pressure on nondemocratic societies to improve their treatment of their own people, fear societies have been able to embrace freedom. For example, Ronald Reagan showed moral clarity in facing the coerciveness of the USSR, and Reagan’s pressure resulted in the total collapse of that fear society. Of course, Reagan did not accomplish that feat single-handedly. A democrat senator Henry Jackson had a hand in it. As did a provision of the Helsinki Accords.
There are four questions to ask in order to determine if a society is democratic or nondemocratic: Can people in that country speak their minds? Can they publish their opinions? Can they practice their faith? Can they learn the history and culture of their people? If the answer to most of those questions is no, then the people are living in a fear society.
Natan Sharansky is highly qualified to speak about the issues of free vs. fear societies. He spent nine years as a political prisoner in the former USSR, accused of high reason and anti-Soviet activities. He was merely one of millions imprisoned on these charges, and at that time Russian Jews were not allowed to leave that fear society.
Human Rights Activist
Sharansky’s book usefully clarifies the struggles of a human rights activist, who has experienced first-hand the differences between a democracy and dictatorship. He remarks that democracies do not go to war with each other, but totalitarian states are at constant war either internally with their own citizens or externally with other states.
One of the coercive measures employed by fear societies is the instilling in their citizens hatred and fear of other states. If the citizens hate other states, their hatred and misery is thus turned away from their real enemy, their own dictatorial leaders.
Democracies Do Not Attack Other Democracies
Democracies do not need to keep their citizens whipped up into frenzy over imagined enemies as fear states do. Democracies allow their citizens to decide who leads them, and if the leaders do not perform their function of improving their lives, the citizens are free to vote them out of office.
I highly recommend this book. It helped clarify for me the last forty years of history regarding the positions of the United States, the former USSR, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. And as the sub-title indicates, it shows how freedom can, indeed, eliminate the threat that terrorism we are facing today.
Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. PublicAffairs. 2004.