Category Archive 'Democracy'
20 May 2020
â€œI have never voted in my lifeâ€¦ I have always known and understood that the idiots are in a majority so itâ€™s certain they will win.â€
04 Sep 2019
Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee (1747-1813).
Attributed to the above:
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to complacency; From complacency to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.
21 May 2019
We have given in to mundane, socially acceptable evil that we now accept as good, and that starts with individualism/equality, which is the backdoor into the human psyche. All of the stuff that the far-Right detests â€” diversity, decay in behavior, shattering of the family, international finance, Idiocracy, mass/pop culture, ethnic crime â€” has its origins in equality or being used to justify equality as a workable program. We target the root, where everyone else is swatting at flies and missing the big point. …
The core of politics for me is realizing that most people mean well, but do not understand how their actions translate to reality. They see a thing, want that thing, and desire that some all-powerful force will make it so, but that is religious thinking, not leadership. Democracy means that whoever sells the most pleasurable lie wins, and as a result society has drifted Leftward. At the close of the twentieth century, however, it had become clear that the liberal West was dying just as the Communist East had done.”
Successful civilizations lead to weak populations. Weak populations know they are inferior. They know this instinctively. They have no purpose for existing. They donâ€™t articulate this directly. They act it out indirectly by throwing themselves into acts of symbolic importance because they are not capable of acts of importance.
10 Mar 2019
Kierkegaard Monument, Copenhagen
Jacob Howland informs us that Kierkegaard long ago foresaw the damage to civilization and the human destruction that would be caused by ideologies of tyrannical equality.
SÃ¸ren Kierkegaard considered the primary human good to be individual freedom: the freedom to judge for oneself, to speak and act for oneself, and to come to be oneself in the fullness of oneâ€™s concrete particularity. â€œThe good cannot be defined at all,â€ he wrote in The Concept of Anxiety (1844). â€œThe good is freedom. The difference between good and evil is only for freedom and in freedom, and this difference is never in abstracto but only in concreto.â€ The goodness of the natural world resides in the harmonious abundance of existing beingsâ€”this improbable lily, that joyful birdâ€”each of which earnestly inhabits no more or less than its allotted place and time, spontaneously expressing, within these limits, its own rich particularity. The goodness and meaning of human life similarly consists in the irreducible particularity of individuals and communitiesâ€”families, congregations, nationsâ€”that arise in freedom and are sustained by freedom.
As early as the 1840s, however, Kierkegaard warned that late modernity is animated by a crushing spirit of abstraction that poses the gravest threat to the human good. The Hegelian philosophy that dominated the ageâ€™s intellectual culture, he observed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846), was of no use to actually existing human beings; it spoke absurdly â€œof speculation as if this were a man or as if a man were speculation,â€ and would perhaps someday find its â€œtrue readersâ€ among â€œinhabitants of the moon.â€ But such philosophical lunacy was the least of the matter. Long before the revolutionary followers of Marx and Engels brought Hegelâ€™s systematic science down from the heavens and settled it in the cities of men in a malignantly inhuman formâ€”the reductive ideology of dialectical materialismâ€”Kierkegaard prophesied the inevitable destruction of individual character and passion through an inherently reflective social process of â€œleveling.â€ The present age, he wrote in Two Ages (1846), is democratically â€œoriented to equalityâ€ and marked not by â€œthe happy infatuation of admiration but the unhappy infatuation of envy,â€ a â€œcensoriousâ€ passion that wants to â€œstifleâ€ and â€œdegradeâ€ individual excellence rather than to emulate it. A constant bane of human existence, envy is particularly destructive in the present age because â€œthe abstraction of leveling is related to a higher negativity: pure humanity.â€ Late-modern leveling, Kierkegaard predicted, would destroy all organic structures that mediate between living individuals and the bloodless abstraction of humanity as such. Nothingâ€”no person, institution, or even â€œnational individualityâ€â€”will be able to halt what he calls the â€œspontaneous combustion of the human race.â€
24 Apr 2017
â€œYou all start with the premise that democracy is some good. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s worth a damn. Churchill is right. The only thing to be said for democracy is that there is nothing else thatâ€™s any better. â€¦
â€œPeople say, â€˜If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better.â€™ I say Congress is too damn representative. Itâ€™s just as stupid as the people are, just as uneducated, just as dumb, just as selfish.â€
11 Jan 2017
A left-wing Dutch vegan who campaigned against cowbells in the Swiss village where she lives has had a request for a Swiss passport thrown out after annoying the locals.
Nancy Holten, who was born in the Netherlands but moved to Switzerland at the age of eight, is a fluent speaker of Swiss German and has children who are Swiss nationals.
And she wanted a Swiss passport herself, but was refused after locals who were consulted about her request said they were ‘fed up’ of her challenging Swiss traditions by campaigning against the use of cow bells.
The campaign against cow bells by the 42-year-old vegan and animal-rights activist has made her unpopular in the Alpine confederation.
And now the majority of residents from Gipf-Oberfrick in the canton of Aargau have successfully blocked her second attempt to get a Swiss passport.
The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.
She said of her situation: ‘The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears?’
She also railed against the weight of the famous cow bells.
Nancy complained: ‘The bells, which the cows have to wear when they walk to and from the pasture, are especially heavy.
‘The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.’
The Dutchwoman, who describes herself as a freelance journalist, model and drama student, has also campaigned against a number of other Swiss traditions like hunting, pig races and the noisy church bells in town.
It’s a tradition for cows to wear bells in her Switzerland town. The bell is standard for alpine cattle when left to graze in alpine meadows.
In 2015 the villagers successfully stopped her application for naturalisation in a referendum.
While the town authorities wanted to give her the Swiss nationality, 144 out of 206 citizens voted against the plan.
This time her application was denied again, with locals especially angry about the increasing media coverage Holten seeks for railing against Swiss traditions.
Holten said she does not have anything against Swiss traditions but in the end only cares about animal welfare.
Local politician Tanja Suter agreed with the majority of the town’s citizens and said Holten had a ‘big mouth’, saying she did not deserve to get a Swiss passport ‘if she irritates us and does not respect our traditions’. …
The case has now been transferred to the Cantonal government in Aargau, which can overrule the decision and can still grant her a Swiss passport despite the objections of the locals.
Local residents in Switzerland often have a say in citizenship applications, which are decided by the cantons and towns where the applicants live rather than federal government.
About 20 per cent of the Swiss population is estimated to be foreign.
04 Oct 2016
Why did low-information, not-particularly-ideological Republican voters go loco this year, reject all the qualified and genuinely principled candidates in favor of a Reality TV clown and populist demagogue?
They were fed up and simply wanted to express their animosity toward, and contempt for, the holier-than-thou, we-know-better community of fashion elite that controls the national establishment and which, under Obama, has end run the democratic process and simply imposed its will on the larger majority it contemptuously ignores again and again.
Matthew Continetti explains that the nomination of Trump is the steam explosion that occurs when all the democratic pressure release valves on the engine of government have been sealed shut by its careless operators.
This is a moment of dissociationâ€”of unbundling, fracture, disaggregation, dispersal. But the disconnectedness is not merely social. It is also politicalâ€”a separation of the citizenry from the governments founded in their name. They are meant to have representation, to be heard, to exercise control. What they have found instead is that ostensibly democratic governments sometimes treat their populations not as citizens but as irritants.
The sole election that has had any bearing on the fate of Obamacare, for example, was the one that put Barack Obama in the White House. The special election of Scott Brown to the Senate did not stop Democratic majorities from passing the law over public disapproval. Nor did the 2010, 2012, or 2014 elections prevent or slow down the various agencies of the federal government from reorganizing the health care sector according to the latest technocratic fashions.
The last big immigration law was passed under President Clinton in an attempt to reduce illegal entry. Since then the bureaucracy has been on autopilot, admitting huge numbers to the United States and unable (and sometimes unwilling) to cope with the surge in illegal immigration at the turn of the century. In 2006, 2007, and 2013, public opinion stopped major liberalizations of immigration law. Then the president used executive power to protect certain types of illegal immigrant from deportation anyway.
Coal miners have no voice in deliberations over their futures. Only the courts stand in the way of the Clean Power Plan that will end the coal industry and devastate the Appalachian economy. Congress is unable to help. The president went over the heads of the Senate by calling his carbon deal with China an â€œagreementâ€ and not a treaty.
There has been no accountability for an IRS that abused its powers to target conservative nonprofits, for Hillary Clinton who disregarded national security in the operation of her private email server, for the FBI that treated Clinton with kid gloves while not following up on individuals who became terrorists. The most recent disclosures in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., show the terrorist Omar Mateen was clearly motivated by devotion to radical Islam and to ISIS. We are only finding this out now because of a lawsuit filed by a news organization. What is the FBI afraid of?
Progressives disregard constitutional objections as outmoded artifacts of a benighted era. Who cares how Obamacare was passed or implemented, the uninsured rate is down. Why should Obama submit a treaty to the Senate when he knows it wonâ€™t be ratified; the fate of the planet is at stake. The absence of comprehensive immigration reform isnâ€™t evidence that progressives failed to marshal a constitutional majority for passage. Itâ€™s reason for the president to test the limit of his powers. Nor does government failure result from overextension and ineptitude. It is caused by a lack of resources.
Is it really surprising that our democracy has become more tenuous as the distance between citizen and government has increased? A large portion of the electorate, it would seem, is no longer willing to tolerate a bipartisan establishment that seems more concerned with the so-called â€œglobalistâ€ issues of trade, migration, climate, defense of a rickety world order, and transgender rights than with the experiences of joblessness, addiction, crime, worry for oneâ€™s children, and not-so-distant memories of a better, stronger, more respected America.
These concerns are often written off as racism, or resentment, or status anxietyâ€”as reaction, backlash, atavism, obstacles to universal progress. The same was said of McCarthy in the 1950s, the New Right in the 1970s, the Tea Party eight years ago. But in every case, including this one, the populist upsurge signified a genuine and not entirely irrational objection of a part of the electorate to its dissociation from the life of the polity.
[F]rom ..â€œDonald Trump and the American Crisisâ€ by John Marini:
Those most likely to be receptive of Trump are those who believe America is in the midst of a great crisis in terms of its economy, its chaotic civil society, its political corruption, and the inability to defend any kind of traditionâ€”or way of life derived from that traditionâ€”because of the transformation of its culture by the intellectual elites. This sweeping cultural transformation occurred almost completely outside the political process of mobilizing public opinion and political majorities. The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality.
Marini refers to institutions such as the family, church, and school, institutions charged with forming the character of a citizen, of instructing him in codes of morality and service, in the traditions and history of his country, in the case of the church directing him spiritually and providing him a definitive account of the cause and purpose of life. These are precisely the institutions that have been brought under the sway of bureaucracies and courts heavily insulated from elections, from public opinion, from majority rule. And as the public has lost authority over decision-making in the private sphere, as the culture has become more alien, more bewildering, more hostile to â€œthe old morality,â€ as President Clinton keeps saying rather fatuously that the fates of Kenya and Kentucky are linked, is it any wonder voters have sought out a vehicle for their disgust and opposition?
02 May 2016
Plato, copy of a bust by Silanion, Musei Capitolini.
Andrew Sullivan is back, in New York magazine, telling us that the current election reminds him of something.
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Platoâ€™s Republic. It has unsettled â€” even surprised â€” me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that â€œtyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.â€ What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like â€œa many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.â€
This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed â€” with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do â€œwhatever one wants,â€ you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise.
The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: â€œWe almost forgot to mention the extent of the law of equality and of freedom in the relations of women with men and men with women.â€ Family hierarchies are inverted: â€œA father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents.â€ In classrooms, â€œas the teacher … is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.â€ Animals are regarded as equal to humans; the rich mingle freely with the poor in the streets and try to blend in. The foreigner is equal to the citizen.
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.
He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time â€” given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracyâ€™s civil religion. He makes his move by â€œtaking over a particularly obedient mobâ€ and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class â€” and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. Itâ€™s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracyâ€™s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excessâ€”â€œtoo much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slaveryâ€ â€” and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.
Trump definitely scares Andrew.
17 Mar 2016
Daniel Hannan is the British representative to the EU Parliament who is notorious for saying intelligent and true things. He is naturally appalled that so many Americans have lost their marbles recently.
Shall I tell you the most depressing thing? Itâ€™s not that the party of Lincoln and Reagan will be fronted by a self-absorbed, foul-mouthed, thin-skinned, bullying, mendacious, meretricious, mountainous berk. Itâ€™s not the reputational damage that our most important ally will suffer in consequence: if I were Mexico, Iâ€™d be glad to pay for a sodding wall to keep Trump out. Itâ€™s not the prospect of another sleekit Clinton using Supreme Court appointments to ensure a full generation of left-wing judicial activism.
No, sadder than any of these things is what the rise of the Donald says about democracy. …
Ah, America. You deserve better. And we expect better.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Roger Kimball.
24 Feb 2016
Bloody Shovel explains the biological case against democracy.
Traditional power arrangements can be stupid and ineffective. They are by definition nepotistic, and often nothing gets done. But they have the important function of impeding the access of evil sociopaths to the highest reaches of power. You really donâ€™t want those people up there; all they do is suck the coffers dry, and hurt everyone they fancy in order to satisfy their greed. Democracy, by opening the levers of power to free competition, all but guarantees that evil sociopaths will end up ruling everything. People who have no issue with giving sick men access to girlâ€™s toilets, or bringing hostile barbarians to rape the women of their country. Monarchies can have a bad king. But Democracies always have a bad king.
Hat tip to Vanderleun.
01 Feb 2016
detail, frontispiece of Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651.
In Iowa today, we are beginning participation in ritual activities intended to persuade us that we are a free people electing our own government which governs with our assent. Jason Brennan, a professor at Georgetown, recently posted a short essay arguing that the degree of consent we actually have in a mass democracy is so limited as to be, in most real circumstances, practically non-existent.
In general, our relationship as individuals to our government doesnâ€™t look much like a consensual relationship.
If you donâ€™t vote or participate, your government will just impose rules, regulations, restrictions, benefits, and taxes upon you. Except in exceptional circumstances, the same outcome will occur regardless of how you vote or what policies you support. So, for instance, I voted for a particular candidate in 2012. But had I abstained or voted for a different candidate, the same candidate would have won anyways. This is not like a consensual transaction, in which I order a JVM and the dealer sends me the amp I ordered. Rather, this is more a like a nonconsensual transaction in which the dealer decides to make me buy an amp no matter whether I place an order or not, and no matter what I order.
If you actively dissent, the government makes you obey its rules anyways. For instance, you canâ€™t get out of marijuana criminalization laws by saying, â€œJust to be clear, I donâ€™t consent to those laws, or to your ruleâ€. This is unlike my relationship with my music gear dealer, where â€œnoâ€ means â€œnoâ€. For government, your â€œnoâ€ means â€œyesâ€.
You have no reasonable way of opting out of government rule. Governments control all the habitable land, and most of us donâ€™t have the resources or even the legal permission to move elsewhere. Governments wonâ€™t even let you move to Antarctica if you want to. At most, a privileged few of us can choose which government we live under, but the vast majority of us are stuck with whatever government weâ€™re born with. This is unlike buying an amp from Sweetwater.com, which, by the way, I highly recommend as a dealer.
Finally, governments require you to obey their rules, pay taxes, and the like, even when they donâ€™t do their part. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the government has no duty to protect individual citizens. Suppose you call the police to alert them that an intruder is in your house, but the police never bother dispatch someone to help you, and as a result the intruder shoots you. The government still requires you to pay taxes for the protection services it chose not to deploy on your behalf.
So, in summary, it looks like in general our relationship to our governments lacks any of the features that signify a consensual transaction.
None of this is to say that governments are unjust or illegitimate, or that we ought to be anarchists. There are other reasons to have governments. Nor is it to say that democracies are not in some way special. Democracies in fact do a much better job than alternative forms of government of responding to their concerns and interests of most of their members. But itâ€™s a stretch to say that democracy rests on the consent of the governed, or, more precisely, itâ€™s a stretch to say that you consent to democratic rule.
Read the whole thing.
20 Jun 2014
Robert Tracinski explains what the Patent Office cancelling the Washington Redskin’s trademark shows about the state of American democracy.
This name-bullying has become a kind of sport for self-aggrandizing political activists, because if you can force everyone to change the name of somethingâ€”a sports team, a city, an entire race of peopleâ€”it demonstrates your power. This is true even if it makes no sense and especially if it makes no sense. How much more powerful are you if you can force people to change a name for no reason other than because theyâ€™re afraid you will vilify them?
Given the equivocal history of the term â€œredskinsâ€ and the differing opinionsâ€”among Native Americans as well as everyone elseâ€”over whether it is offensive, this was a subjective judgment. (One observer suggests a list of other sports names that could just as plausibly be considered offensive.) When an issue is subjective, it would be wise for the government not to take a stand and let private persuasion and market pressure sort it out.
Ah, but thereâ€™s the rub, isnâ€™t it? This ruling happened precisely because the campaign against the Redskins has failed in the court of public opinion. The issue has become the hobby horse of a small group of lefty commentators and politicians in DC, while regular Washingtonians, the people who make up the teamâ€™s base of fans and customers, are largely indifferent. So the left resorted to one of its favorite fallbacks. If the people canâ€™t be persuaded, use the bureaucracyâ€”in this case, two political appointees on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Thatâ€™s what is disturbing about this ruling. Our system of government depends on the impartial administration of the laws by the executive. In this case, executive officials declared that a private company doesnâ€™t deserve the protection of the law: if the ruling survives an appeal in the courts, the federal government will stop prosecuting violations of the teamâ€™s intellectual property rights, potentially costing it millions of dollars.
This ruling isnâ€™t a slippery slope. Itâ€™s a slope weâ€™ve already slid down: bureaucrats in Washington are now empowered to make subjective decrees about what is offensive and what will be tolerated, based on pressure from a small clique of Washington insiders. Anyone who runs afoul of these decrees, anyone branded as regressive and politically incorrect, is declared outside the protection of the federal government.
That this is happening, and that we have no idea where it will stop, is what should terrify usâ€”even if, like me, you donâ€™t particularly care one way or the other about the Washington Redskins.