Democratization is Done

The idea that political seriousness can be evacuated from any situation by invoking (purely procedural) ‘democratic’ norms was always an evasion. It was a way to avoid the reality of ‘who-whom’, and thus dependent upon a haze of Cathedralist insincerity. The implicit selling point — “Don’t worry, the rabble will accept representatives that we can work with” — isn’t bought by anybody anymore. Things have gone wrong badly enough, often enough, for such promises to have been discounted down to zero.

If you don’t want the rabble in power, you have to keep them from power. That’s the simple, and now overt, understanding of the dawning post-demotic age. Michael Hirsh doesn’t like it at all:

As the Egyptian military consolidates control by murdering pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters and declaring a state of emergency, we may be witnessing the most dangerous potential for Arab radicalization since the two Palestinian intifadas. Despite the resignation Wednesday of Mohamed ElBaradei, the vice president, in opposition to the Egyptian junta’s action, the discomfiting fact is that most of Egypt’s liberal “democrats”—along with the United States—have never looked more hypocritical. If the bloody crackdown is allowed to continue while the U.S. and West do nothing, the actions of the Egyptian military could de-legitimize democratic change in the Arab world for a generation or more.

Read without judgement, Hirsh’s article is a fascinating document, punctuated by a raging despair that marks a transition of aeons. “Egypt’s liberal ‘democrats'” can either change course in accordance with their name (as Hirsh would like, but does not expect), or they can teach the world that ‘liberal democrats’ know nothing of global political reality, and need to call themselves something new. A sound name would describe a plausible, though ambitious, aspiration: Modernity in Power (freed of democratic dreams). It will still be a while before we hear anything of this kind, but its intimations are not — any longer — difficult to detect.

ADDED: Crossing the Rubicon: “While we Americans are babbling about a new politics of ‘inclusiveness’, even some of the Twitter-Facebook liberals of Tahrir Square are coming to see Egypt as it is. Us or them.”

August 15, 2013admin 16 Comments »
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16 Responses to this entry

  • C. Y. Chen Says:

    “If the bloody crackdown is allowed to continue while the U.S. and West do nothing, the actions of the Egyptian military could de-legitimize democratic change in the Arab world for a generation or more.”

    So what would it take to delegitimise ‘democratic change’ in the West itself?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Uprooting a democratic tradition is far more difficult, but a fiasco of a foreign policy can only help.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 15th, 2013 at 6:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Vladimir Says:

    Political institutions and their ideological foundations can live on indefinitely as universally acknowledged pious fictions after their collapse in practice. It took more than three centuries after the evident collapse of the Roman Republic for this reality to be acknowledged formally. Everyone still saluted the sovereignty of “The Senate and the people of Rome” for many generations after it was clear that any practical attempt to assert this sovereignty in opposition to the de facto autocracy would have been laughable.

    There is no reason why the pious fiction of “democracy” could not similarly last indefinitely under a bureaucratic managerial state whose elites, despite all their lip service to this sacred ideal, instinctively understand that they must prevent electoral politics from influencing any important decisions in practice. We’ve had something close to this system in the West for several decades already, after all. What’s more, throughout this period there have been evident catastrophic failures of democracy in most places where real power happened to be up for grabs through elections — and yet the ideological mainstream has had no problem rationalizing these away as not being “real” democracy. I don’t see what’s different this time around.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I think you’re shifting too fast from ‘democratization’ to ‘democracy’, even if the two are ultimately connected through a single Puritan-revolutionary root. The failure of the ‘Arab Spring’ doesn’t imply the extirpation of democracy in its Anglosphere homelands any time soon, but it still massively discredits democratization as a globalist template.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 15th, 2013 at 9:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    As far as America no change in managerial liberalism is possible without the roar of the people.

    No the Generals won’t do it. Nor could they.

    Since it’s operating at a high equilibrium of bankruptcy and mistrust, change is quite possible.

    Democracy was never for everyone. It suceeded for a time in the United States and England because the people groomed themselves [or were groomed] for it.

    Managerial Technocracy and rule of the elites caused and aggravated the very Great Depression that was used to smother democracy in the night.

    Yes it was always an idiotic idea for MENA. Except to cause problems, which it has…you can’t quite conflate England with Egypt however. Except for the imported “English”.

    I think the People in America will again be free, and afraid…indeed some already fear them.

    And Admin – doubt not that in Washington fear of the People is already present. They can’t admit it, it’s like a spectre they can’t make out, shadows in the fog. You’ll see occaisional hysterical rants [FEAR] about it with references to the Confederacy and building the border fence along Mason Dixon [instead of the Rio Grande].

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    “The People” is a construct. “The People” don’t exist. You seem to intend by “the People” to mean something like “alienated conservative whites, primarily in the South and exurban and suburban regions of the rest of the US.”

    Who knows, though… maybe the South will fall again.

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    The great thing about democracy is that you can actually get something like it if the population is homogeneous enough. It’s called fascism.

    Notice that the closest thing to Mussolini was Nixon and you’re far along to realizing just how hopeless British forms of government are to America.

    [Reply]

    VXXC Reply:

    David The core of elite politics is hatred of “The People”. If they’re hated, they must exist.

    The core of the current Mikado’s politics is united around hatred of the core of the nation, the majority. As is predictable with open hatred it works both ways.

    I’ll define the people as the out of stock, no backorder purchasers. I’ll define the people as the majority.

    I’ll come to a crystalized form of the people as the people who act.

    I suspect they’ll have at last their Ironsides.
    ==============================================
    nydwracu we didn’t have Fascism 1830-1933.

    We certainly had forms of British Government say 1600-1776.

    If forms of British government are so hopeless in America [a strange proposition] then what hope is there for a monarch?

    What form of government does work for America?

    and BTW what will all the merry monarchists and formalists do about the people, the Army, the Cops [also sworn to the sacral scroll]???
    ===========================================================

    My point again Admin, there is a court party of reaction within the very Cathedral walls, indeed in it’s potomac citadel. Vehemently some reactionaries are right-wing progs.

    But since the people are all a bunch of hicks, there’s nothing to fear.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If you were to stretch generosity to the maximum, what proportion of our contemporary US population do you imagine possibly supporting a non-Leftist regime? I simply can’t get the maths to work. Dynamic capitalism has no future in America without secessionist fragmentation (at least to the point of assertive states’ rights, and attendant roll-back of the Federal Government to something tolerably limited).

    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 12:29 am Reply | Quote
  • Helen Says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to read all of his article, but Hirsh seems to be advocating the interests of the relatively more progressive Washington factions in a typical way. Viz., “America” should uphold the “democratic” principle that an Islamist government in Egypt would be most compatible with the progressive program of administered global herdism.

    On a more abstract level, I find it unlikely that any mainstream journalist would care to drop obscure hints about his (aristocratic? Reactionary?) distaste for the democratic fiction, much as he (or his system 1) is well aware that it’s a fiction. He is also unlikely to experience particularly strong emotions about politics or the commonweal. He’s paid to write pap that communicates in a banal but coded way with other members of the Polygon, and simultaneously contributes to America’s facade of uninhibited political discourse for the sake of outsiders.

    [Reply]

    VXXC Reply:

    Outsiders to Hirsh means outside of the Acela corridor.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 12:45 am Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    “We must kill Democracy to save it!”

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Kerry’s more of a (witless) “We must save democracy to kill it!” kind of guy.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Indeed!

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 4:17 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Managerial Liberalism is not democracy.

    Democracy in Egypt would indeed be a slaughterhouse to rival Pol Pot.

    Democracy in MENA is good for killing people, breaking things. It’s also stunningly effective at drawing Takfiri wrath. For some reason they were very late and indeed many times never to realize it’s potential for them.

    Democracy to many of the oppressed peoples of the world means AMERICA. Much more than democracy was needed to make America succeed, indeed democracy only came to compliment America’s Constitutional Republic. Democracy might have destroyed Res Republica, but in fact the deed was done by Progs. . Who in the truest feality to their parents and grandparents blame the people for their sins.

    But if you’re one of the truly oppressed serfs in the valley, as opposed to the gangster on the Hillside Villa then you of course love the idea of democracy, and really wanna be Amiriki [Americian].

    Hirsh is on the Hillside. Hirsh however is no gangster. Hirsh knows this. Hirsh is soiling his creased pants.

    And who here, or Hirsh, gives a f*ck about Egypt?

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 12:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    @VXXC

    Bit of a tack change Admin. What percentage would support non-Leftist government?

    If we take the current leftist government, and to be fair leftist governments from the 70s forward then it’s safe to assume a majority of the ethnic majority.

    You could also use Gallup and all polls on liberal and conservative self identification, and get around 40% plus.

    Progressives are a minority. 19% identify as Liberal. 6% as Progressive. So MORE than the Progs.

    So a lot depends on what “Leftist” government means. Left of who? Frederick the Greatest? Or left of Cromwell?
    Or do we mean in the times we live?

    “Dynamic capitalism has no future in America without secessionist fragmentation (at least to the point of assertive states’ rights, and attendant roll-back of the Federal Government to something tolerably limited).”

    If dynamic capitalism is the neo-liberalism of the last 30 years I don’t want it to have a future. I care about the good of my country. If we are restricted to internal trade [the bulk of it in any case] and exchange controls to keep our gold, it’s not my problem. Hell Autarky isn’t my problem. I’m American. We could get away with it. If Sergey Brin or Elon Musk don’t like it, they can GO HOME. Say hello to the natives.

    Our rights will be asserted, or they will not. In which case we Americans are the Sergey Brins and Elon Musks of the future. The people will assert their rights, or not. In which case they can see their future in Mexico City and Sao Paulo now. The Federal monstrosity will not likely be rolled back, and delenda sunt.

    The Federal government can’t reform. Reform isn’t possible by any mechanism at the Federal Level. They’re bankrupt because they’re all scrambling for the looting takings that are left .

    The court has no King because the King was THE PEOPLE. That is to say elections. Did this King have to let his ministers and Parliament run things? Well yes. The limits on the appetites of the Court was the Constitution. The New Deal slew and usurped both. It’s millions of people on auto-pilot of their own interests or interests of department at the most. Which is of course the self interest of your office. They can’t reform because it requires not a Gorbachev but millions of Gorbachevs. It won’t happen.

    So the Reactionary Splinter of the Court party needs the Ring of Fnargl to work. And it has to be used. As sovereignty will be conserved in the Court Party, it has to be defeated and destroyed. So there’s no reform. King Fnargl must either destroy the Potomac or the nation. It’s quite simple.

    Perhaps the Court Reaction Party thinks this person can save it. Them to be more precise.

    Someone mocked me here with perhaps the South shall fall again.

    I’ll take the South = all the Red on the map :: the Return of the House of Stuart.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 16th, 2013 at 6:12 pm Reply | Quote

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