Australian friends, many of them, seem utterly horrified by their recently elected Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. So much so that various forms of civil disobedience are canvassed.
It seems to me that whenever this sort of situation occurs, a yearning for another form of government bubbles to the surface – usually the desire for some kind of benevolent dictatorship, which will sort things out with justice and “common sense”.
Thinking like this must have driven the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges to support two generals ‒ Videla in Argentina and Pinochet in Chile. Of course, we know now that, whatever their initial intentions, both men turned decisively to tyranny and repression in defence of their power. It was several years before Borges understood the reality of his mistake.
Have there ever been enlightened dictators who stuck to benevolent principles throughout their rule? I doubt it. Perhaps the closest to that ideal was Lee Kwan Yew (who was consistently re-elected and thus never threatened) in Singapore.
But the stream of hope turned to torture is seemingly unavoidable.
Let’s see whether the Egyptian people can find a satisfactory way through their current difficulties. As for the Syrians…