Deal with the devil: order, without law and without democracy. El Salvador’s model

The aesthetics of NayibBukele’s Twitter account (@NayibBukele) is a bit unexpected, especially given the title that accompanies this account, El Presidente. Bukla, a son of Palestinian immigrants, is the president of the Republic of El Salvador. In recent weeks, he has been crowded on Twitter with photos of dozens of young men, usually topless, some in positions of humiliation and intimidation. Masked uniformed leopards stick their rifle butts in them. At least one of the tweets shows a bare chest lying on the ground, lifeless.

What was that for the President of the Republic? And what was that to El Salvador, the small and crowded Central American country? Well, President Bukla proposed a deal to his people, which under the influence of Johann Wolfgang Goethe we would call “Fausty,” or a deal with the devil: personal security for democracy, that is, much more personal security for much less democracy. At least for now, the Salvadorans seem to be responding.

Knowing this, President El Salvador is the most popular elected political leader on earth. Public opinion polls in the third year of his presidency put his support at 84% (with 3.8 million Twitter followers in the country of 6.5 million residents).

Bukla tweets about the bare-chested because that’s what his security forces are doing these days: they are arresting without trial thousands of suspects in membership in murderous street gangs (pandilla). The detainees are stripped at police stations and detention centers, and their detainees photograph them, or actually photograph their tattoos.

The president tweets a dialogue, real or hypothetical. A sturdy young man runs it with his regents. He says: “Hello, Mr. Soldier. As you can see, I am not a member of any ‘Pandiya’.” The soldier replies, “Let’s see.”

The soldiers roll up the young man’s lower lip. A symbol of the “pandiya” is tattooed on its inner side. On test day it was one of Bukla’s most popular tweets.

When the gangsters fired for fun

A mass curfew has been imposed by a state of emergency declared by the El Salvadoran Congress in late March. This was after one and only day, on the eve of Easter, the gangsters massacred 62 passers-by on the streets of the capital, just like that, for no particular reason, just because they passed and returned.
Bukla, who became famous in the world of finance when he made bitcoin legal, has always despised the democratic process. He sent armed soldiers to the plenum of Congress, to frighten the deputies; And he persuaded Congress to dismiss five Supreme Court justices.

March’s bloodbath freed him from the rest of his inhibitions. The state of emergency was imposed for one month, and has since been extended again, and rightly so will be extended again. Public opinion stands by him unequivocally. Street gangs have been embittering public life for years. What good is it to see their friends persecuted up to their necks, humiliated and tortured.

And what about the persecuted, humiliated and tortured democracy? It’s too abstract a matter for millions of hardships of the day, struggling to make ends meet against abject poverty, a terrible climate and all-powerful gangsters.

From Benito and Rodrigo will come Torah

A number of powerful leaders in the last century have preceded Bukla. First to them, if I am not mistaken, was Benito Mussolini. He eliminated the Mafia in Sicily in the 1920s, when he freed his security forces from restraint. He wrote to the interior minister, “You have an open check … if the laws bother you, no problem, we will write new laws.”

Six years ago, Rodrigo Duterte, a brutal and rude provincial demagogue who came to power in the Philippines, promised a bitter war against drug traffickers. It is estimated by human rights organizations that the security forces executed 52,000 people without trial. Duterte’s term ended this week. His popularity stands at 67%, and his daughter has been elected the next vice president.

Neither the Philippines nor El Salvador are exactly the light for the Gentiles. But their systemic crises teach us something about the dynamics of dealing with the devil.

At the heart of anti-democratic movements in the last century is, sometimes unknowingly, the negation of the fundamental principle of liberal democracy and the rule of law: the goal does not sanctify the means. Democratic left and right tended to agree on this principle even when few agreed on almost any other matter. The broad consensus is now in considerable doubt. Thirty years ago, the impression was created that the Western, liberal democratic model outperformed all its competitors. This was in the wake of the collapse of communism in Europe, the apartheid regime in South Africa, the recent military dictatorships in Latin America, and a considerable number of tyrannies in Africa. Even the Chinese dictatorship has swayed.

The euphoria passed her. Democracies have dwindled. Among those who remained, there was a departure from liberal principles. The popularity of the “Chinese model”, or of the “Singaporean model”, is attributed to a new (and not written) social convention, which guarantees economic well-being and stability in exchange for a partial or full waiver of political freedoms, and in fact the rule of law. The nature of this deal between ruler and rulers may one day speak to the hearts of the masses even in Western democracies. In U.S. cities, for example, there is a serious crisis of law and order. One wealthy neighborhood in Chicago has decided to fund the establishment of a private police force. This is a solution for the rich.

What would happen if a populist demagogue offered voters in a mature Western democracy to give up most of the freedoms in favor of law and order? Or maybe even give up the law in favor of an arrangement? Write to me please if you think the public will resist or not resist the temptation.

By Editor