“You can never have a revolution in order to establish a democracy.
You must have a democracy in order to have a revolution.”
– G. K. Chesterton
This comes from his essay The Wind and the Trees, which is one of the all-time great essays by the world’s greatest essayist. What do wind and trees have to do with revolution and democracy? Read the essay and you’ll find out.
In any case, the principle has just been demonstrated in Egypt. Every pundit is currently busy explaining why the revolution in Egypt will lead to democracy, or why it won’t lead to democracy, or why it might lead to democracy. The fact is that Egypt already has a democracy. True, the people can’t vote yet, but they can get out in the street and make their voices heard.
For decades the Egyptian government suppressed that right, sending police to break up protests, shutting down opposition parties, and stifling the press. The Egyptian government tried to do that to this round of protests as well. The people, however, were just too numerous. Thanks to their own will power and with a small assist from the internet and various outsiders, they had the courage to get out into the streets and stage mass protests while facing down both the police and the military. It took 18 days, but eventually Mubarak was forced to step down. Democracy caused the revolution, not the other way around.