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Iranian Police Fire Teargas at Protesters | Middle East | English

Security forces have deployed on the streets of Tehran and blocked off the home of an opposition leader.

Reformist leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi said they called the gathering to show solidarity with uprisings that ousted authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. Iranian authorities warned the reformists against proceeding with the rally, calling it a ploy to mobilize an anti-government protest and revive their Green movement.

17 protesters injured, 165 arrested in clashes in Yemen

At least 17 protesters were wounded and up to 165 others were arrested Monday in clashes between anti- government demonstrators and the police and paramilitary forces in Yemen’s capital Sanaa and the southern province of Taiz, witnesses told Xinhua.

I was just recently talking with a Republican friend who was convinced that the uprising in Egypt was part of a plot by Obama to install a radical Moslem government there. This is one of many signs that the obsession with Obama’s evil nature is a unhealthy fixation for conservatives, because it leads them down the path of justifying torture, vicious secret police, and totalitarianism in opposition to a hopelessly ineffective and boring liberal Democrat such as Obama. The hypocrisy of “conservative” political gamesters in the US is breathtaking.

With that said, I would agree that there is no reason to cheer for mob violence and street rallies as tools of political pressure. That’s just indulgence of a meliorist fantasy that the populist Left has nurtured since at least the French Revolution. However, the flip side is that we have no reason to defend militaristic, oppressive dictators. Within the framework of an instrumentalist US foreign policy, they can certainly be useful tools, but there is little ethical basis for supporting them.

The only ethical justification I can think of is the cultural kismet argument, in which we can propose that certain kinds of people want the whip because their cultural traditions despise personal responsibility. History shows evidence supporting this thesis for some people, but I’m hesitant to apply such generalizations without a more rigorous theoretical and statistical foundation.

The bottom line is that for the average US citizen who is not engaged in CIA covert operations, international diplomacy, or sociological theory-building, it is simply corruption to try to justify the rule of vicious autocrats in other countries. We can advocate for libertarian political rights for other people on principle, so that our own consciences will be clear when we advocate for liberty in our own society.

By the way, labor union activists are not “anarchists” or pro-democracy. They attempt to use one institutional order against another, and populism is not part of their plans unless a majority of the population is unskilled and illiterate. Because most of their constituency is unable to subsist on the basis of their own abilities, they always defer to the most powerful authority available to protect them. The danger of labor unions is not in the supposed “ideas of freedom and equality” that they instill in “the people.” The danger is that they instill complacency in the underqualified and the undereducated, who come to believe that by threatening violence they can extort greater benefits from the rich and powerful. As always, the most paranoid and insecure people are those very same rich and powerful ones, who weave bizarre conspiracy theories about socialism and democracy in order to justify calling out brutal armed force against street demonstrators.

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