The advantages of living in a lesser “democracy”

Modern democracies intrude into citizens’ lives far more than monarchs ever dared. That’s the view of writers such as Alain de Benoist and Trenton Fervor. The major concern of the typical monarch was hanging onto his crown. He had to placate and hold off nobles who might aspire to usurp it and keep the peasantry satisfied enough not to switch allegiances, and sufficiently healthy that they could serve as soldiers. It was wise to leave them alone otherwise.

Modern bureaucratic states have little to fear from usurpers or invaders. In the popular imagination politicians have only to fear being voted out of office – but even that is a chimera. They may experience defeat, but they do not suffer from defeat. They mark their time selling access as lobbyist or corporate executives, acquiring healthy bankrolls along the way, until they can return to office. Bureaucrats enjoy lifelong sinecures.

All of the best respected so-called democracies are run by entrenched elites. However corrosive their words for each other, their conduct demonstrates an elaborate professional courtesy, a live-and-let-live approach. They almost never, for instance, send each other to jail for even the most egregious offenses. Jail is for common people. Why, you might get raped there! There is also a mutual understanding as to how fortunes are acquired in politics, and a willingness not to question each other’s sources of wealth.

Governments propagandize their citizenry from grade school on up about the benefits of democracy. Children learn that they are ruled with the “consent of the governed.” Not that anybody offers them a consent form to sign. They later learn that paying taxes, performing military service, observing extensive and often nonsensical rules about where a person is allowed to be, what he is allowed to ingest, and how he is allowed to drive are also “by consent.” Lastly, they learn that there are many things they are certainly not allowed to say, and wise not even to think. Many observations that were no more than everyday knowledge to their grandparents’ generation are now called “hate speech.” Do you question the number given for victims of the Holocaust, six million? Do you question the wisdom of gay marriage? Do you wonder how many rapes are actually committed on campus, and even worse, who commits them? Better shut up before they lock you up.

Over the past couple of centuries the economic freedom afforded by modern democracies (and fossil fuels) allowed business to realize extraordinary increases in productivity. Democratic societies created vast wealth. While much of it flowed to the entrepreneurs, a great deal remained with the working, merchant and professional classes as well. It began to appear that freedom from want and from fear of catastrophe could be made available to everybody. In any case, politicians observed that promising as much would get them elected. It was simply a matter of skimming from society’s wealth, those with money to spare, in order to provide for victims of bad breaks.

Unfortunately, assessing bad breaks involves considerable moral hazard. It is hard to say no to a supplicant, even when the problem is manifestly his own fault. Saying “yes” actually benefits the people charged with saying “no.” The government, in its role as middleman, has had to hire an army of bureaucrats to handle the redistribution. Their very jobs depend on the problems, and there is no way they intend to see any of them solved. More and more learned to take rather than provide for themselves, and the skimming has become painful for productive members of society. Margaret Thatcher quipped “the problem with socialism is that you quickly run out of other people’s money.”

The justifications given for this plunder have resulted in some of the worst abuses of freedom. It is not enough for government to simply say that it is redistributing from citizens with the ability to make money to those who lack it. Productive people might have complained that it was unfair – which it was. Government was therefore obliged to make excuses, concoct a rationale, a reason why the unproductive people are that way. In cases where there are obvious reasons, such as a physical handicap, they exploit them to the fullest. Otherwise, they contend that the unproductive are somehow the victims of the more productive.

Thus, blacks and Hispanics have become presumed victims. The most obvious abuses, such as slavery, are in the distant past and not at all unique to the putative victims. They were certainly not universally suffered by the supposed victims or their distant ancestors, and many other ethnicities also suffered slavery and discrimination. Nonetheless, government blames these minorities’ failure today on these events of yesterday. They also go out of their way to invent offenses that they assert are taking place today, such as the “invisible knapsack” of “white privilege.”

Government makes same types of claim on behalf of women, gays, and any other class of people whom it benefits the bureaucrats to identify as victims. The homely and the obese are seeing their day come as well. The hierarchy of talent and respect that stood for centuries has been upended. The Jews, however, the perpetual outsiders, who seem to have had a hand in all this upheaval, appear untouched. They remain in the seats of power. A deeper look at their inability to reproduce their people and their culture, however, shows that they are the greatest victims of all of their own success, if such success can be accurately attributed to them. Jewish identity is dissolving through intermarriage and their bloodline is thinning through homosexuality, adoption, and a simple aversion to having children.

Blaming the productive members of society – white men are the archetype – certainly makes them less productive. They cannot hire whom they want to get their business done, choose to live among similar people, or choose private social arrangements among themselves. They can lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for the imagined crimes of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism, thought crimes against which nobody could mount a defense. They cannot impart their knowledge of how the world really works to their children, lest the children carelessly let slip some forbidden truth which brings upon them the wrath of the authorities and the scorn of their “better informed,” that is, more highly indoctrinated peers. Public schools and universities do not serve their children well. The curriculum is paced according to the ability level of the disadvantaged, out of the forlorn, eternal hope that they may someday catch up. College admissions discriminate against them for the same reasons.

Of course, granting perpetual government favor to those not favored by God or nature is expensive. They breed – the normal disincentives to bearing children have been removed. These populations become more and more dependent on government. Government, in turn, continues to invent new ways to buy their votes. Poor people are invited to immigrate (and vote for the leftist parties). People too young to work are perpetuated in their adolescence, paid to attend institutions of supposedly higher education (and vote for the leftist parties). The catalog of identified disabilities continues to grow, giving people who are unwilling to work an excuse not even to try (and vote for the leftist parties).

It has long been impossible to balance the budget and at the same time buy off these constituencies. Almost every rich democracy is running an unsustainable budget deficit. The United States, through heroic efforts, has brought the ratio of expenses to revenues down from 4:3 to 5:4. To paper over the difference, all governments create money out of thin air – and claim that there is no way it will lead to inflation. Per capita debt in most rich countries is far greater than per capita annual income. Righting their budgets is a mathematical impossibility, eventual collapse a certainty. The politicians’ game is to milk the system as long as they can, and pray that somebody else takes the blame when it all collapses.

Everywhere, those who can do so dip their hands into the public till. Plunder is subtle in rich countries. Obama awards the Obamacare computer contract to a friend and major campaign contributor; an acquaintance of Hillary Clinton “advises” her to buy an option which results in a several thousand percent overnight profit; George W. Bush was persuaded by campaign contributors to revoke Glass-Steagall, which curbed banking abuses. However, international surveys such as those by Transparency International and the World Bank show that despite all it remains considerably easier to do business in the big democracies.

There are a few benighted corners of the world in which the despots are content, just like royalty of old, simply to hang onto their crowns. As every nation must, they call themselves democracies, but the leaders of the “true” democracies sneer at the very pretense. These lesser “democracies” show no subtlety at all in their rapacious theft. Businesses are nationalized, and then privatized to the privileged at the drop of a hat. Tax police may investigate a company relentlessly, until the owner finds it in his best interest to sell out, for a song, to a crony of the president.

Sober leaders of the Western powers, people like that paragon of fiscal personal virtues Dominique Strauss-Kahn, constantly lecture leaders of the lesser democracies on the error of their ways. Moreover, they don’t lend them much money. The supposedly smart leaders of Western institutions prefer to loan to the crypto crooks in charge of Western democracies rather than the conspicuously crooked leaders of second-class nations. This has the happy effect of forcing the latter to live within their means, more or less. Argentina has renounced its foreign debt, several times. The citizenry is not on the hook to pay anything back. Ukraine’s national debt is only about $2,000 per capita – less than 1% of that of many Western European nations.

When the day of reckoning comes, when it becomes too patently obvious to all concerned that the sovereign powers can never repay their debts, all countries will be stuck with the two historically inevitable alternatives: renounce their debt, or inflate it away. Either the bondholders – that would be pension trust funds, by and large – suffer a default, or inflation dissolves the pensioners’ purchasing power. Either way they lose, along with Medicare, food stamp and other government beneficiaries. Meanwhile, those benighted lands with small debts, mostly to the West, should be able to shed even those obligations amidst the general chaos. They will certainly face disruptions as world trade falls, but their currencies and economies, already rock-bottom, may perversely, hold up better than their more elaborately structured, and hence more fragile, counterparts in the more developed countries.

Moreover, these sham democracies leave the people alone! Argentina is in many ways a very free country. The government is so busy making a complete mess of the economy that people are free to do as they will outside of the political realm. The same is true of Ukraine. As long as you don’t make the mistake of getting between the pigs and the trough, you have few problems.

In Ukraine we can talk on just about any topic without fear of jeopardizing friendships or losing jobs. Do the races differ in average intelligence? Do Jewish interests have an outsized impact on politics and foreign policy? Is it wise to persuade women to excel in the workforce rather than raise children? Should the advocacy of homosexuality be allowed in schools? I am pleased to say that one can have a conversation on any of these topics in Kiev without being peremptorily shouted down.

The level of medicine here is quite good – especially if you pay for it. Socialized medicine is such a sham that even ordinary people bribe the doctors to get ordinary service. If you are willing to pay a hundred dollars a visit out of your own pocket you get outstanding service. An English friend with osteoporosis needed several steel pins to fix her broken leg here. The Pakistani and even English doctors at National Health were impressed at the quality of the work. Kiev is a medical tourism destination for dentistry, fertility and transplant services.

This erstwhile worker’s paradise isn’t unionized. Bus drivers drive, waiters wait, and builders build for market wages, and they don’t strike. Buses, trains, trolleys and taxis are old, but they are well maintained. The metro costs 25¢ per ride. They plan to raise it; 40¢ seems to be the most people will pay. The ridership is middle class. If a rider smells of urine, or acts rowdy, he will hear about it. There aren’t any minorities permitted to live outside the norms of civilized behavior.

Kids here grow up more or less normal. Schools do not infuse them with propaganda. Nobody tells them that “white privilege” accounts for where their parents have arrived in life. Materially, they are much less well off than Blacks in America or Western Europe. Spiritually, however, they do all right. They are mostly members of supportive communities of people like themselves. Most have loving parents, and grandparents to fill any gaps in the love department. They grow up healthy and hetero. The high level of overt heterosexuality here must be an affront to gay-prideniks everywhere.

Two opposite forces are bringing the populations of rich countries down. Meaningless jobs, for those who have them, create a vast amount of stress. Conversely, the increasing fraction of the populace that has no job finds life all the more meaningless, an endless cycle of watching TV and cashing welfare checks. The society is becoming sour and cantankerous. The young people don’t trust their own skills. They depend on government, but don’t really trust it. They seek escapes from this uncomfortable reality in drugs, alcohol, video games, television, and sex divorced from any notion of procreation. Unhappy with themselves, uncertain about their security, they avoid the responsibility of family.

For every four Americans of working age who work, there are three who do not. One in four of those who work are part time. 80% of all US jobs are in the service sector, and many of them require no special skills and pay abysmally. 20% of workers do not make enough money to pay taxes.

The West has been persuaded to conflate material well-being with physical and spiritual health. It doesn’t work that way. The centuries-long increase in lifespans, especially for women, appears to be coming to an end in America. We are becoming obese. With obesity comes less activity, and with that comes a decrease in physical well-being and self-esteem. Meanwhile, in backwaters with traditional diets and some combination of folk cures and old-fashioned medicine, people seem healthier. They walk a lot. Many have physically demanding jobs. They spend much of their free time working in their vegetable gardens. Although Latin America and Eastern Europe are infected with television, fast food and video games like the rest of the world, remnants of their traditional culture keep them more slender and more socially cohesive than the richer countries.

The enlightenment dream that a well-chosen government could make its citizens happy has turned into a nightmare. Governments everywhere operate in the best interests of the governing class. The average citizen is better off adopting the cynical wisdom of the ages. Take care of yourself and your family. Don’t expect anything from government – avoid contact with it as much as possible. And, given that everybody must live under some government or another, choose one that is too inept to curtail the liberties that matter, such as your freedom of thought and speech, and freedom to raise your children as you choose. Choose despots smart enough not to press the citizenry so hard as to foment a rebellion, tolerate their plunder, and be content with what they leave you. We humans are a productive and resourceful lot, and it doesn’t take much to survive.

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7 thoughts on “The advantages of living in a lesser “democracy”

  1. I found you through your discussions with Silky Johnson on Takimag. I read this “lesser democracy” essay there, but then saw that you had set up the Website here at Silky’s suggestion. This is a fine piece of writing, and I will read the other essay you have posted too. Please continue to write and share.

  2. Phenomenal, really. What an excellent piece of writing and insight. It’s so very frustrating to live in America now and see it devolve into a cruel joke. With the kind of money I make I should be living like a king. I make more in one year than my dad made in 5 years at his peak – he raised 7 kids on that income – we struggle on two incomes and 2 kids. To watch newly elected politicians wearing their $300 suit wind up a millionaire by the end of their second term yo know they’ve screwed any principles they had on their way to screwing you. Great work sir!

  3. “George W. Bush was persuaded by campaign contributors to revoke Glass-Steagall, which curbed banking abuses.” one point of correction – I believe this was Bill Clinton in 1999. But hey, Bill’s friends were same people as George’s friends. Not a dimes worth of difference.

  4. Thanks for the comprehensive analysis. And thanks for the politically incorrect, but obvious solutions or paths thereto. So many times I’ve written the same observations to a few friends. But facts and logic don’t phase those who know the truth as they are told. With a lot of luck, maybe your comprehensive review will move a few to reality. After reading your blog and on a personal note I’ll have to ask for your indulgence. When I first met you, I was a trucker and student at Berkeley. Then I returned to truckin’. Then I was a firefighter in good old Richmond, CA for about 10 years.. Then I moved to Alaska where a became a banker and descended into becoming a fed (SBA loan officer), city manager, and borough (like a county down there in America) manager for about fifteen years. About seven years ago, I returned to being a trucker. Are a few Hail Mary’s in order for my apostasy? You need another trucker in the Ukraine?

    • Ukraine is well populated with people with few academic qualifications. Driving trucks is a prestigious job, not terribly well paid, in a country with a people:car ratio 1/4 of that of the USA. Fewer than half the adults I know have licenses.

      Social Security will support you pretty well here. While Social Security lasts, that is. I could live comfortably on $1,000/mo if I had to. Sell a paid-for house in the USA, buy two apartments, one to live in and one to rent, and you could get by fairly well. The skill you have to sell is English language. They love native speakers, and the going rate is $20/hour or so.

  5. Thanks for the update. Wasn’t too serious about Ukraine trucking. Am very concerned about Ukraine’s independence. It seems that Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and the Baltic states have been torn hither and yon. Independence implies sufficient military and economic power to make the cost of a takeover prohibitive. You mentioned that Ukraine has a fairly homogeneous population fraught with fraud and such things as Tymoshenko being jailed for what is perceived to be her political opposition to Yanukovych. Do you think there is a sufficient sense of nation that selling out to the East or West is so far out of the interest of the reigning politicians that a sell-out won’t occur?

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