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Electoral Dictatorships

I read this in the French magazine le Point. It bemoans the existence of “electoral dictatorships”. or electoral autocracies.  Like Hungary, Thailand and Turkey.

 

Autocraties électorales 

Le vent a tourné, et même des démocraties qui semblèrent prometteuses au tournant du siècle comme l’Inde, la Thaïlande, la Turquie ou la Hongrie sont retombées dans des ornières autoritaires. Ces pays illustrent le phénomène des « autocraties électorales », aussi appelées « démocratures », qui constituent un trait marquant de notre époque. Selon V-Dem, ces régimes sont devenus des plus courants, avec quelque 44 % de la population mondiale. Leurs dirigeants, arrivés au pouvoir par la voie électorale, subvertissent la démocratie en détruisant les contre-pouvoirs et restreignent les libertés. L’indépendance de la justice et la liberté d’expression disparaissent peu à peu, l’opposition démocratique et la société civile sont marginalisées, mais les apparences électorales restent plus ou moins maintenues, ce qui permet de sauvegarder l’illusion d’une démocratie. La Turquie ou la Hongrie sont des cas d’école. 

 

 

 

I cannot speak for Thailand or for Turkey. By contrast, I have been in Hungary several times in the past decade. The place is safe. I have seen with my own eyes women in full hijab walking around as tourists unmolested and visibly free. I have heard reported by observant Jews that they are able to go to synagogue on Friday night in yarmulke in complete ease, unlike almost every other place on Europe.

I have heard reports of retirees deciding to live in Hungary  because it is safe – crime-free, rather than in Germany, where doors are barred, not just locked.

Obviously none of such reports will satisfy the haters of Orban.

If you don’t have safety, you don’t have anything. Is Orban’s Hungary worse than a New York city controlled by the Democratic party, where you cant use the subway safely? Where crime forces you indoors? Where garbage pile up in the streets, and drug addicts shit where they want, as in San Francisco and Los Angeles?

What are these places, if not electoral dictatorships of the Democratic Party, where irremovable party apparatuses worsen the tolerance of crime, filth, plague, chaos, and decline.

Obviously the appearance of political choice matters little if you cant leave your house in safety, and this critique applies with great force to places where crime and decay are rampant, as in many US cities controlled by the Democrats, or European cities where Muslim immigrants terrorize the civic spaces, encouraged by equally left wing policies of European governments.

So spare us the false mourning for “democracy,  where the so-called democracy fails to address basic problems of personal liberty: freedom from crime, freedom from assaults by the homeless, freedom from drug dependence, freedom from Muslim anti-female violence, freedom from politically-imposed squalor and decadence.

Dictatorships come in many forms, and some of them may be elected. I suppose this is possible. But if some dictatorships are elected, and if they provide better outcomes for personal liberty of every kind, then does the term “electoral dictatorship” have any meaning whatever? And by contrast, if some regimes provide more personal security, and are led by men who keep being elected, then from what point of view are such societies and regimes failing? The freedom to criticize the regime is important, but is it more or less important than the freedom to shop, walk, gather in public and go to religious services in manifest peace and ease?

Defenders of democracy need to consider the basic facts of physical existence – felt sense of security – when they rank which countries are freer than others, which are dictatorships and which are not.

Are people actually freer in France or Germany than in Hungary? Or Japan for that matter?

 

 

 

 

Your daily dose of doom

HD wallpaper: skeleton chair ruin hdr, abandoned, obsolete, damaged, decline  | Wallpaper Flare

Sean Speer interviews Andrew Potter. Potter sets out his case:

“Here are the factors. One is what Tyler Cowen, the economist, calls the “great stagnation” to convey the three- or four-decade-long stagnation in technological development, innovation, and economic growth that has been going on since the 1970s.

Second, I think Benjamin Friedman, the economist, doesn’t get enough credit for connecting the dots between economic stagnation and its socio-political effects. He wrote a really interesting book about 15 years ago called The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, where he says, “Look, growth is great not just because it gives you stuff and raises your standards of living, but it also makes you better people.” That is, it makes you more open to immigration, more tolerant and open to diversity, less risk-averse, and generally less fearful about the future. In effect, it makes you more cosmopolitan and less Hobbesian about the world.

This points to the other key factor in what is going on, in addition to the “great stagnation”, which is almost a downstream effect, which is the rise of conservative populist politics. Right-wing populist politics is, in many ways, a consequence of economic stagnation, including in household incomes.

A third element is the rise of the internet and social media, which a lot of people thought was going to amplify productivity and democracy, but which has had the opposite effect. I used to be pretty optimistic and even cavalier about the effect of the internet on our civil discourse, but now I’m very, very pessimistic.

So, together with a stagnating economy, the rise of populist politics, and the toxic effects of social media, you get this toxic brew of lack of trust: lack of trust in institutions, a lack of trust in experts, and a lack of trust in one another.

Finally, there is another element in all of this, which J. Storrs Hall, an engineering sort of tech guy, reflected in his bookWhere Is My Flying Car?: A Memoir of Future Past, where he argues, “The great stagnation actually became the great strangulation.” That is, what’s standing in the way of growth is not the fact that we just plucked off the low hanging fruit and we can’t figure out new sources of economic growth, but it’s because we’ve buried our economy in a big mass of regulations and risk-averse bureaucracies. So even if we could resolve the political problems that have arisen in the last few years, there’s a more longstanding issue about whether we’re even capable anymore, as a society, of getting anything done.”

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The Hub bears watching.

Elite failure, and lots of it, with more coming

Now that the Swamp has won the US election, we are presented almost daily with evidence that technological, bureaucratic, political, judicial and media elites will run rampant for the next four years, unopposed by the man in the White House.  I call it failing upward. Everyone knows a person or two who rise from one position to the next, failing in every post (by any reasonable standard of success) and yet continually rising to greater and more respnsible positions. But an entire social class of experts rising through demonstrable failure?   This is new, to me at least.

 

Two articles today on the same theme, one from Unherd, the other from American Digest, citing the brave dissenter, David Warren.

 

Jacob Siegel in Unherd says it best:

“The first important lesson from the past year is that this revolt against the experts is not a fringe phenomenon driven by QAnon loons, hysterical anti-vaxxers and other untouchables. It is widespread and its consequences are already profound. On the surface, people are simply rejecting the authority of institutions such as the CDC, which now openly advocates for racial preferences and places political calculations before the public good. But beneath that rejection, there is a cultural shift at the level of animating beliefs.

“For millions of people, a disenchantment has broken the spell which upheld their faith in rational, scientific knowledge as the best means to tame the natural chaos of reality and administer the business of society. On top of all the other disenchantments undermining America’s founding myths, this one erodes the foundation on which the entire technocratic regime of modern society rests.

“Given the rather obvious importance of public health officials in the midst of a pandemic, why not seek to replace them with a better class of expert, instead of attacking the basis of expertise? The answer to that is in the second lesson of 2020: far from losing status after the repeated errors and deceptions of the past year, America’s institutional elite is more powerful than ever….

“If you are one of the people or organisations which repeatedly got the coronavirus wrong, abetted wanton political violence and destruction, or once again misread the American electorate, odds are very good that your funding streams, political influence, institutional power and leverage over your fellow Americans are going increase over the next four years of the Biden administration.”

 

Remember to follow the science. A BLM mobor a march against white racism is outdoors and poses no health risk, whereas a religious congregation is indoors and constitutes a grave health hazard. Funny that, eh? People are treating science as a set of papal encyclicals rather than a rude, rough and bumptious struggle of ideas in actual contest. The authority being exercised over people meeting and congregating is supposedly based in “science”, but which seems to work only in one direction.

 

Thus religion must be suppressed in the name of public safety. David Warren gets it right, as usual.

“That every conceivable human evil may be advanced by methods of social isolation, has been this year’s “breakthrough” rediscovery, and points to its ultimate authorship, Below.

“In Ontario, for instance, under a simpleton premier, almost all human interaction is banned, except that of mass-market retailing. Starting on the Feast of Stephen (December 26th), familiar visitors to our households will become liable to fines of up to 100,000 Canadian dollars, and up to one year in gaol.

“While such lockdowns have been shown to have no effect whatever on the transmission of viruses already widely disseminated, wherever they have been studied, they are imposed as if they were “science,” by petty, and very sleazy, politicians. In no civilized jurisdiction had they such personal authority. But they are thrilled to discover that they can get away with it; that a public systematically misinformed, and deprived of prompt, decisive legal recourse, will obey their edicts, and thereby submit to enslavement. Throughout history, those willing to be enslaved, have been enslaved.”

 

To Jacob Siegel of Unherd once more

“Regime loyalty is the herd immunity of the ruling class, a protection against the consequences of their own failures. This is why the loss in authority that manifests in the “crisis of experts”, while real, doesn’t diminish their power. But it’s also why the regime has to become more ideological and nakedly coercive — for a kingdom of experts without reliable expertise falls back on propaganda and state power.”

 

 

Making decisions – about riots

I was watching a video of US Marines about to attack a town in Afghanistan. The Captain addressed his battalion. At about 2:20 into the video he said (I paraphrase) : “The plan we have gone over and over – as soon as you land, it will fly out the window. You will be called upon to make a hundred decisions that there is no right answer to. But guess what? you will have to decide; you will have to act.”

I enjoyed the approach, and it ought to be better understood. You will have to act, you will have to decide. I wish it were more broadly understood in society. You have to decide and you have to act. Make a wrong decision? Go ahead and make another. This one may be better. This approach is utterly contrary to the bureaucratic mindset which fears decision-making.

A former boss of mine was a judge. He said: “Make ten decisions. Eight will be right. One will be wrong. One you win or lose on appeal”. But the message was” keep making decisions.

This brings me around to Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s book on the newest generation, and it is not pleasant reading.  The Coddling of the American Mind 

chronicles the increase of neurotic levels of fear among American college students: how good intentions and bad ideas are generating a generation of weak people. As he says: prepare your children for the road not the road for the children.

 

The message Haidt is giving in his YouTube lecture is that we are heading for tribal war. That was in 2019. Look around you. What do you see? Dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality and anti-intellectualism [at 42:40]. The riots and revolt we have been witnessing these last few days have been long prepared by the erosion of cultural and educational standards. The failure of the forces of order to act, because they have been told to lay off by mayors and governors, is yet another signof the scale of  the rot inside our institutions.

 

Someone, possibly Jonathan Kay, said that this could be Trump’s Reichstag Fire moment. I avoid the connotation that Kay would like to put on these riots. These are an excuse for  looting and for anti-fa to break windows. Everyone is seeing far too much disorder to be enthusiastic for kneeling before the black race and beseeching forgiveness, as the Left would have us do. Time for some violence from the state against Antifa and the looters. And yes, Derek Chauvin disgusts me. But so does mass break down of order.

 

 

Today’s dose of cultural doomism: Richard Fernandez on the fate of the Church and western society in general

I have a great deal of time and respect for the Roman Church, and vehement disagreements with it. However, on the fundamental questions of what Christianity is and means, it is sound. Here is the American Richard Fernandez writing on the fate of the Church, the universities and society. I could not have imagined the speed or thoroughness of the total moral collapse of the West that I grew up in. I would block and copy Fernandez’ article in its entirety, but shall content myself with this reference:

“[Pope]Benedict’s recollections [of the perversion of Roman Catholic seminaries into homosexual cliques] might be of little interest to non-Catholics did they not so closely mirror the recent experience of the secular West. As the devil was taking over the seminaries, something was also seizing the great universities of Europe and America, turning them into bastions of political correctness. Everything that happened inside the Church also happened outside with astounding swiftness. In less than 20 years, marriage was redefined from its centuries-old meaning as a union between a man and woman to include homosexuals. Abortion became a progressive sacrament. Concepts of gender and race, which some had thought to be immutable, were transformed in a few short years into a veritable smorgasbord of categories. Slate tells us Facebook offers users 56 genders to choose from.

“Although the fires that damaged the Notre Dame in Paris and almost started at St. Patrick’s in New York City during Holy Week seemed to underscore the disaster that had overtaken the Church, Rod Dreher points out that the flameless burning of the Western world’s secular cathedrals has been happening for some time. An ongoing and relentless purge of politically incorrect academic thought at institutions of higher learning has been proceeding apace. Librarians call it weeding and have already removed millions of books from campus collections. “At the University of California, Santa Cruz … the removal of 80,000 books from the Science and Engineering Library last summer sparked uproar among faculty … more than 60 science and math faculty members signed a letter to university librarian M. Elizabeth Cowell complaining they hadn’t been adequately consulted on which books could be discarded and which ones had to be saved.” It’s not fringe behavior, but a program abroad in the noonday sun. Dreher points out that a senior librarian at MIT openly regards “white” books as a waste of space and a legacy of oppression. Her article in the Association of Research Libraries argues the challenge now is to “build diverse and inclusive library environments that contribute to social justice.”

And so forth, endlessly. The hideous strength of white supremacy is observed even in dog walking.

I refrain from a daily re-iterations of alarm and despair at the decline of the moral backbone of the West, of what used to be Christian civilization, because I do not want this blog to become a Gates of Vienna, a Vlad Tepes or a Jihad Watch. But make no mistake: I agree with their analysis and perspectives. For me, Islam is not the enemy so much as it is the adventitious bacterium that invades the body politic when it has lost its antibodies. The anti-white-ism, anti-male-ism and anti-Christianity comes from this society, not from outside it. Trump is not remotely the answer to this dire situation of collapsing culture, but at least the rot has stopped, for the time being, in high places.

Now for the universities.

Please read the Richard Fernandez article.