Archive for the ‘Democracy’ Category

Quote note (#215)

I’m not saying the election was rigged. I have no evidence of such a thing, and I’m sure the good people of Iowa are honest and competent. […] But just for fun, watch me build my case for a rigged election.

Since a lot of enraged Trumpenproletarians* are going to be talking about this, I should add some minimal local framing. This blog is:
(a) Loftily detached from Trump enthusiasm, and
(b) Unable to morally discriminate between fixed democracy, and ‘clean’ democracy. (Though, perhaps, the latter is ultimately slightly less depraved.)
Still, this story is already out there, and it isn’t unimportant at the level of popcorn-positive political disintegration, regardless of the final — and probably irrecoverable — facts.

* See this (+) persuasive introduction to early 21st century American class war. (Plus.)

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February 3, 2016admin 31 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Sentences (#39)

Brett Stevens succinctly distances himself from the delusion of democratic salvation:

If I could, I’d elect Barack Obama for another term.

(XS is so there.)

February 2, 2016admin 34 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Quote note (#208)

At Vox (some Yule cheer):

Political scientists have long known that “government legitimacy,” or the popularity of particular administrations, is going down. But many of them have argued that “regime legitimacy,” or citizens’ attachment to democracy as a political system, is as strong as ever. Our research shows that this is just not true: Attachment to democracy has fallen over time, and from one generation to the next. … For Americans born in the 1930s, living in a democracy holds virtually sacred importance. Asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how important it is to them to live in a democracy, more than 70 percent give the highest answer. But many of their children and grandchildren are lukewarm. Among millennials — those born since the 1980s — fewer than 30 percent say that living in a democracy is essential.

ADDED: Let’s change the subject — “Perhaps the time has come for us all to ask how much we really value democracy, and to start discussing how much more expressive and responsive it could be in this technological age. Change is coming. The big question now is how good we are going to be at shaping the sorts of change that can renew democracy instead of stunting and blunting it.” The faster ruin is brought to the only societies on Earth with some prospect of supporting democracy, the more of these kind of diversionary conversations we can expect.

December 21, 2015admin 27 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Quote note (#192)

Eliezer Yudkowsky on the nonlinear dynamics of democratic legitimacy:

The actual number of people who have theistic respect for democracy doesn’t matter. I suspect it’s a lot lower than it used to be 30 years ago. But so long as people go on believing that reporters believe this theistic belief to be widespread, they’ll go on expecting reporters to crucify anyone who speaks openly against democracy, and the public discourse will continue to be unified in apparently supporting that narrative which would if widely believed imply that a coup in the US is impossible, thus making everyone believe that everyone else believes it, thus making everyone believe that a coup is impossible, thus making a coup impossible.


October 16, 2015admin 9 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Quote note (#176)


A king owned the territory and could hand it on to his son, and thus tried to preserve its value. A democratic ruler was and is a temporary caretaker and thus tries to maximize current government income of all sorts at the expense of capital values, and thus wastes. […] Here are some of the consequences: during the monarchical age before World War I, government expenditure as a percent of GNP was rarely higher than 5%. Since then it has typically risen to around 50%. Prior to World War I, government employment was typically less than 3% of total employment. Since then it has increased to between 15 and 20%. The monarchical age was characterized by a commodity money (gold) and the purchasing power of money gradually increased. In contrast, the democratic age is the age of paper money whose purchasing power has permanently decreased. […] Kings went deeper and deeper into debt, but at least during peacetime they typically reduced their debt load. During the democratic era government debt has increased in war and in peace to incredible heights. Real interest rates during the monarchical age had gradually fallen to somewhere around
2½%. Since then, real interest rates (nominal rates adjusted for inflation) have risen to somewhere around 5% — equal to 15th-century rates. Legislation virtually did not exist until the end of the 19th century. Today, in a single year, tens of thousands of laws and regulations are passed. Savings rates are declining instead of increasing with increasing incomes, and indicators of family disintegration and crime are moving constantly upward.

All familiar, to a sedative degree, to those here, of course. Except, crucially, the interest rate stuff — which is remarkably dissonant with our contemporary situation. Since Hoppe’s expectation — based on a long-term, fairly consistent trend — is the rational one, it suggests that the present collapse of interest rates is intriguingly anomalous. Is there a sharp, big-picture analysis of the phenomenon out there somewhere?

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July 31, 2015admin 38 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy


A persuasive argument for why the Chinese authorities are looking forward to Hillary-v-Jeb in 2016:

The ruling Chinese Communist Party is deeply sensitive to charges that it is non-democratic and the playground of “princelings” — a pejorative term for the class of Chinese business tycoons and political power players who trace their lineages to Communist veterans. Nothing helps to blunt that charge as much as the idea that American democracy is similarly corrupt. “The Chinese media, especially the Party media, has been using American elections as a way to discredit democracy,” says Kecheng Fang, a former reporter for the Southern Weekly in Guangzhou who now researches Chinese media at the University of Pennsylvania. “I think much of Chinese media has been referring to this election as Clinton 2.0 versus Bush 3.0, so it’s a very trendy topic.” As Weihua Chen, chief Washington correspondent for the China Daily, the government’s largest English-language newspaper, put it to me in an interview: “You guys always talk about being the greatest democracy, but now you have a democracy run by two families for more than a decade?”

Scrape down past the popcorn topsoil, and it’s a depressing story. Democratic hegemony is so solidly entrenched as a benchmark of global regime legitimacy, that even China resorts to pointing the finger and taunting: call that a real democracy. The Zeitgeist hasn’t remotely begun to turn, and the world’s most powerful autocracies are still deferring to it submissively, even as they beg for some tolerance in respect to timing.

If NRx has one serious task — and in fact, an overwhelmingly intimidating one — it is to contribute to the establishment of an alternative principle of political legitimation. To imagine that significant steps had yet been taken in this regard would be to court extreme self-delusion. The road ahead is hard.

July 21, 2015admin 40 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy
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Out of the Popcorn Zone

As a corrective to the disturbingly unironic Donald Trump enthusiasm affecting certain sections of NRx, here‘s Ace (of Spades) exiting the circus:

… several years ago, I actually believed in America, and participatory democracy, and all that. […] Now I don’t. So now I find myself agreeing with Chomsky, albeit from a rightward direction. I don’t agree with him about who controls the country, or to what political ends; but I do with agree with him that it is controlled. […] Now this brings me to … Manufactured Consent … So this is why I have become a radical: I agree with a left-wing socialist/communist about the fundamental rotten lie at the heart of the American democracy. […] … I am turning off the TV, I am turning off the Bob Corker & Mitch McConnell show, and, frankly, I am cutting the cord on America.

(He’s even turning off the computer for a day, which is perhaps edging into excessive extremism.)

There’s still some definite suggestion in the post that democracy itself could be exculpated, so the journey is not yet complete. Give it time.

July 16, 2015admin 58 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Quote note (#169)

“Alone among major powers, the United States has not professionalized its diplomacy” with disastrous consequences, writes Chas Freeman:

… what if every four or so years, you administered a frontal lobotomy to yourself, excising your memories and making it impossible to learn from experience? What if most aspects of your job were always new to you? What if you didn’t know whether something you propose to do has been tried before and, if so, whether it succeeded or failed? To one degree or another, this is what is entailed in staffing the national security functions of our government (other than those assigned to our military) with short-term political appointees selected to reward not their knowledge, experience, or skill but campaign contributions, political sycophancy, affiliation with domestic interest groups, academic achievements, success in fields unrelated to diplomacy, or social prominence.

(Pillaged further here.)

June 18, 2015admin 19 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy
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#AAA UK-Style

The profound, utterly cynical contempt for the basic principles, procedures, and personalities of democracy™ exhibited by this phenomenon is highly encouraging.


With added meta-amusement:

June 17, 2015admin 9 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy

Political Correction

It’s increasingly hard to find anybody of even moderate articulacy (other than professional propagandists / unapologetic communists) with a kind word for democracy these days. Marc Faber, it turns out, hasn’t. Here he is in conversation with the (re-animated) Daily Bell:

Marc Faber: I hope so, but this is one of the problems of democracy, that you have dynasties, and so I’m increasingly leaning to the question whether actually democracies function nowadays.
Daily Bell: Indeed, it would be hard to find a functioning democracy. Can you point to any at this point?
Marc Faber: That I don’t know but everybody thinks that every dictator is evil. In Asia, we’ve had very fast growth in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore under non-democratic regimes. Even today in Singapore you have some kind of democracy but not a true democracy. In Hong Kong we don’t have democracy; it hasn’t ever been there for the last 150 years. […] I don’t know. I’m just saying that to sit there and say democracy is the best system in the whole world is maybe not the correct view.

March 21, 2015admin 12 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy