Sunday, July 19, 2009

Popularity contest

"People's support doesn't bring legitimacy, but popularity". So goes a quote by a senior Iranian cleric regarding the continued discontent by a large part of the Iranian populace about the June 12 presidential election in that nation. And I am sure that the cleric and others within the ruling leadership feel that they do not need popular support so long as they possess the guns with which they can continue to quell support for alternatives to their leadership. The problem is that they were on the other side of the equation 30 years ago in opposition to the Shah and they certainly had no problem declaring that popular support granted them the legitimacy to take the actions - and the leadership - that they did.

However, power begets the desire for more power and a lower tolerance for dissent. That, in turn, reduces the standards of legitimacy from popularity by and from the populace to legitimacy through whatever means are necessary. Lies, coercion, force or anything else in between are fair tools to use within their eyes and, unfortunately, it continues a downward spiral from which it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to recover. History is littered with many examples of those who failed to learn the lessons of their predecessors. And thus does the cycle continue.

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