Saturday, December 3, 2016

Is This the End of Liberal Democracy?

One recalls—just barely-- the halcyon days when the Berlin Wall fell and when liberal democracy was busting out all over. Francis Fukuyama became famous for declaring that we had reached the end of history and that the Hegelian prophecy had been fulfilled.

For reasons that escape me many conservative thinkers embraced Fukuyama as one of their own. And yet, Hegel was anything but a conservative. He was a wide-eyed idealist who became the godfather of Marxism.

Fukuyama had allowed his mind to be occupied by one of Europe’s greatest idealists. Yet, he and his acolytes failed to understand that Hegel was anything but a proponent of free enterprise and liberal democracy. Hegel did not believe that human beings could, through the exercise of their free will, direct the course of history. His was an alternative to British empiricism and eventually American pragmatism.

Hegel believed that history embodied the movement of the World Spirit.  Human beings could advance the historical narrative or resist it. They could catch the wave or fight it. There was no place for true freedom in Hegelianism. This never prevented Communist governments from calling themselves “democratic.” By that they meant that they were enacting what Rousseau called the “general will,” the true wishes of the populace, even if they had not been expressed in an election. If the people do not know what is good for them the Party does.

Fukuyama simply misunderstood Hegel. In so doing, he resurrected the reputation of a thinker whose acolytes brought extraordinary destruction to the world.

It was anything but conservative thinking.  This shows a regrettable truth: conservative thinkers have ceded the philosophical high ground to the left. When they take a whiff of its thin air they become disoriented. It’s a conspicuous failure, one that should not be dismissed lightly.

If we wish to extricate ourselves from the Hegelian straitjacket we should note that the end of Communism did not produce a triumph of liberal democracy. It offered us two nations trying, each in its own way, to recover from Communism. Call it a clash of policies, a competition between different approaches to political and economic reform. Nothing about it was given in advance.

In Russia Mikhail Gorbachev offered economic reforms, coupled with what he called “glasnost,” a Jeffersonian approach involving free elections, free speech, a free press and the other trappings of liberal democracy.

In China, which was in far worse shape than Russia, the transformation had begun ten years earlier, when Deng Xiaoping instituted economic reforms by privatizing communal property and opening the doors to free enterprise. The Chinese leader had no real use for liberal democracy, probably because he believed that it was a destabilizing force.

The protesters who occupied Tiananmen Square in 1989 discovered that Deng and his cohorts in the Politburo saw democracy as a threat to economic reform, not its handmaiden. China’s subsequent success has told many people that democracy was not a necessary accompaniment to free enterprise capitalism.

When Communism fell, China got to work and Russia got to bickering. After a time Russia decided that an authoritarian ruler would be more effective than a liberal democrat. With the advent of Vladimir Putin, it appears, at least for now, that Deng won the debate. The more they see Americans having a debate over transgendered restrooms, the more they are convinced that they made the right decision.

Today, countries that want to institute serious economic reforms are more likely to follow the Chinese than the Russian models. Worse yet, Western democracies with their hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing over everyone’s hurt feelings seem to many leaders to be weak and in decline.

And yet, in the past, nations have underestimated the certain nations in the West. In particular, German militarists mistakenly imagined that the nation that gave us gentility and good manners would not have the guts to fight against an embodiment of macho strength. They learned, to their chagrin, that they had underestimated Anglo-American grit and strength.

Great Britain gave us the architect of appeasement, Neville Chamberlain, but it also gave us Winston Churchill. We note that the weak-kneed Obama administration removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the oval office. How better to choose personal pique over strength? How better to announce that one is going to follow a policy of appeasement?

And yet, today’s European social democracies have been projecting weakness. As has the pusillanimous Obama administration. They seem to believe in the Hegelian prophecy, thus that they are on the right side of history and need not do anything in particular to prevail. By attacking all evidence of masculine and martial virtues they have systematically weakened Western culture, to the point where entire nations have opened their arms to marauding armies of Muslim refugees.

The issue was in play in the last presidential election. There, to the manifest chagrin of all those who embraced the gospel of weakness, the American people chose strength over weakness. Even though the Trump campaign manifested too much macho posturing, it succeeded in getting its message across.

True enough, Trump kept suggesting that he wanted to become more isolationist and less internationalist. And yet, with the nomination of Gen. James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense Trump has shown that perhaps he did not really mean much of what he said about disengaging from the world. And he certainly showed that he wanted strength above all else. Strangely enough, the New York Times this morning suggested that a guy nicknamed “mad dog” would be a good influence on the Donald. Because Mattis was thoroughly familiar with geopolitics and the functioning of the military. Naturally, a senator named Kirsten Gillibrand said that she would oppose Mattis, on the grounds that he was military. Would she have said the same of George Marshall? Or was she just trying to manifest girl power?

The American people seemed to decide that candidates not named Trump were too weak and too sensitive to conduct the war against Islamic terrorism. President Obama was so afraid of it that he refused to pronounce its name. As for Hillary, she failed miserably in her Libyan incursion and she was surrounded by women. At times, her campaign looked like it was being run by a coven. She made “Stronger Together” her campaign slogan, but very few people really believed that it was more than posturing.

In a time of war, at a time when Western civilization is under attack, the American people opted for strength over weakness. And the American people, especially America’s young people, seem less concerned with the bickering that has come to define democratic deliberation and more concerned with a strong leader who can fight and win a war. They were less worried that George Bush was too strong than that he was not strong enough. 

Fukuyama notwithstanding, liberal democracy is no longer the rage that it once was. Around the world young people say that they would prefer a military coup, thus a more authoritarian government.

The following account of a recent study comes to us from Quartz:

People everywhere are down on democracy. Especially young people. In fact, so rampant is democratic indifference and disengagement among millennials that a shocking share of them are open to trying something new—like, say, government by military coup.

That’s according to research by Yascha Mounk, a Harvard University researcher, and Roberto Stefan Foa, a political scientist at the University of Melbourne. The remit of their study, which the Journal of Democracy will publish in January, analyzes historical data on attitudes toward government that spans various generations in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. They find that, across the board, citizens of stable liberal democracies have grown jaded about their government, say Mounk and Foa—and worse.

And that is not all. These young people are open to radical proposals to limit freedom of speech. This might mean that they have been brainwashed in authoritarian principles. But it might also mean that they are looking for a wartime leader and not for more girl power.

Quartz reports:

Young people today are more into political radicalism and exhibit less support for freedom of speech than previous generations, according to the July study.

The survey also tells us that young people are less interested in civil rights and do not much care about elections.

Charles Krauthammer made a similar point in a recent column:

That era is over. The autocracies are back and rising; democracy is on the defensive; the U.S. is in retreat. Look no further than Aleppo. A Western-backed resistance to a local tyrant — backed by a resurgent Russia, an expanding Iran, and an array of proxy Shiite militias — is on the brink of annihilation. Russia drops bombs; America issues statements.

What better symbol for the end of that heady liberal-democratic historical moment. The West is turning inward and going home, leaving the field to the rising authoritarians — Russia, China, and Iran. In France, the conservative party’s newly nominated presidential contender is fashionably conservative and populist and soft on Vladimir Putin. As are several of the newer Eastern Europe democracies — Hungary, Bulgaria, even Poland — themselves showing authoritarian tendencies.

Discredit where discredit is due. Krauthammer believes the current feckless American administration has opened the way for an authoritarian resurgence:

And even as Europe tires of the sanctions imposed on Russia for its rape of Ukraine, President Obama’s much touted “isolation” of Russia has ignominiously dissolved, as our secretary of state repeatedly goes cap in hand to Russia to beg for mercy in Syria.

With China, Krauthammer sees the same tendency:
As for China, the other great challenger to the post–Cold War order, the administration’s “pivot” has turned into an abject failure. The Philippines has openly defected to the Chinese side. Malaysia then followed. And the rest of our Asian allies are beginning to hedge their bets. When the president of China addressed the Pacific Rim countries in Peru last month, he suggested that China was prepared to pick up the pieces of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now abandoned by both political parties in the United States.

Of course, the post-Cold War period now seems to have been defined by the rise of Islamic terrorism. Faced with a significant threat, some Western nations have been trying to appease the holy warriors. Others are willing to fight.

The soft power of gynocentric European nations has led to a massive invasion and to increasing threats of terrorism. The authoritarian regimes in Russia and China have followed different policies and have tamped down on the jihadi tendencies of the Muslims within their borders. Vladimir Putin is not promoting a Merkelian open arms policy toward Muslim refugees. Xi Jinping has not concerned himself with the sensibilities of Chinese Muslims.

If you are addressing an enemy that seeks to destroy your civilization by terrorizing your population and by raping your women, you might think that show of force is required. And you might believe that you must unify the nation behind its leaders. This would not make you an incipient fascist. It would show you to be a realist who has tasked himself with cleaning up the mess that weak-kneed social democrats have visited on their nations.


Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: We note that the weak-kneed Obama administration removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the oval office.

The true story of the Churchill bust is here. Apparently there were two busts, how confusing, right?
The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence.

The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day -- all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency.

The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence.

The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.

But as we learn from the Right, truth is whatever story is repeated the most vigorously without fact checking to get in the way.

Trigger Warning said...

"Krauthammer believes the current feckless American administration has opened the way for an authoritarian resurgence..."

If Krauthammer believes that, he is wrong.

The Obama Regime hasn't just "opened the way" for authoritarian regimes abroad, the Obama Regime is authoritarian. Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such legal insouciance in the Executive branch of the government as we have witnessed with President Lightworker. He has refused to enforce laws he doesn't like, made law via executive fiat when duly elected representatives would not act as he demanded, executed American citizens abroad, persecuted whistleblowers exposing Regime misdeeds, used the IRS as a political bludgeon, broken international arms trade regulations, and even advocated lying to schoolchildren (e.g., "x-ray carrots") to further his wife's witless and misguided school lunch decrees.

In the SCOTUS, Obama has set a modern record for losses. But that's not all:

Obama has lost unanimously 50 percent more than his two immediate predecessors. These cases have been in such disparate areas as criminal procedure, religious liberty, property rights, immigration, securities regulation, tax law, and the separation of powers.
--- The Federalist

The Left loves dictators, because the Left is simultaneously a personality cult and a cargo cult. Witness the love for the World's Greatest T-shirt Salesman and vicious thug, Che Guevara, and the tryrant and mass murderer Fidel Castro. Human life means nothing to them. They feed on the power to suck the very life out of common people. President Lightworker opens the way for dictators because they share his inclinations.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I guess the Churchill Bust story doesn't stop in 2012, but there's not a whole lot new here.

Maybe The White House really needs two busts of Churchill, one for the Oval office and one in the Treaty Room?

So if Trump really makes it to the White House on January 20, the second Churchill will be restored, and all will be well between the two empires.
However, one expected action is likely to be less controversial, certainly in Britain: that of restoring the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.

Mr Trump, who has frequently professed his admiration for Britain's wartime leader, was asked earlier this week whether he was considering returning the bust, sculpted by Jacob Epstein, to the White House.

“I am, indeed, I am,” he said, during an interview at the New York Times, at which he was sitting in front of a picture of Churchill.

Mr Obama replaced the Churchill bust with one of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office in 2009, soon after he took over the presidency, causing outrage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boris Johnson controversially wrote earlier this year, while he was Mayor of London, that Mr Obama's decision to send the bust back to the British embassy in Washington had been a “snub to Britain”.

However, Mr Obama later explained that he had a second sculpture of Churchill, who had an American mother and was the only person ever granted an honourary US passport, in his private quarters.

“My private office is called the Treaty Room. Right outside the door of the Treaty Room so that I see it every day, including on weekends when I’m going into that office to watch a basketball game, the primary image I see is a bust of Winston Churchill,” he said.

“It’s there voluntarily ‘cause I can do anything on the second floor. I love Winston Churchill, I love the guy."

The Epstein sculpture had been given to President George W Bush by Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, and was displayed in the Oval Office from 2001-2009.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, please disable the copy and paste functions on your computer. A simple link will do. Your blather takes up too much real estate... I'm tired of scrolling past your crap to get to the interesting comments by interesting commenters.

Trigger Warning said...

Not much new. Just your backtracking.

The bust in the Oval Office had political significance, as opposed to one in the Executive Residence, and was sent back and replaced.

There. Those are the facts.

Trigger Warning said...

Ares is blogging in the comment of a successful blog because his ridiculous blogs were ignored. For obvious reasons, I might add.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The American people seemed to decide that candidates not named Trump were too weak and too sensitive to conduct the war against Islamic terrorism.

I might point out that Trump got 46.3% of the vote that isn't 100% complete, so whomever "The American people" are, they are not a singular body with majority consensus opinions.

And we might also consider that Obama's drone program has surely murdered more Muslim terrors (and their families) to satisfy even Trump's bloodlust, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Trump really can do more?

The main point Trump sold is fear - that Muslims can't be trusted, because a small fraction of them become radicalized and can become terrorists.

And certainly its hard to face that fear honestly. And as long as we're bombing Muslim nations, we'll continue to walk right into the narrative of Western aggression against Islam, and continue to become a recruitment tool for ISIS and other radialized islamic groups.

What's unclear to me is whether bombing bad people while saying "Radical Islam" offers a different result than bombing bad people.

Again, if Trump makes it to the White House on January 20, perhaps we'll learn if such scary words really make our self-declared enemies quiver in fear.

Sam L. said...

Our enemies will be uncertain about Trump's intentions for them. This will give them pause, and that is good.

Trigger Warning said...

The main point Trump sold was Make America Great Again. If that inspires fear in you, then you should go back where you came from.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, PC killed liberal democracy in the US and EU. Canada is totally lost.

The dichotomy of the 'liberal democratic' West vs 'autocratic' Russia is mostly bogus.
While certain topics are taboo in Russia, other topics are taboo in the West. And neither side has genuine freedom of speech. US still has the First Amendment, but the likes of Elena Kagan want to institute 'hate speech' laws.
But even without such laws, so much of speech is silenced already in the US because US institutions and industries will fire, blacklist, and destroy anyone who won't along with the Narrative or the New Normal.
Look how Chick Fil-A has been banned from Chicago because it stands for real marriage.
And plenty of businesses have been destroyed because they would't bend over to 'gay weddings'. Some freedom.

In UK, insensitive tweets get you jailed.
In Germany, criticize migrant foulness, and go to jail.
There are laws and draconian measures to silence true speech in the EU.
Also, the media are most foul. Any European who wants to secure borders and preserve his people and culture in his homeland is tarred as 'far right' and 'extreme'. Since when is self-preservation of white nations 'extreme'?

Canada is one of the worst. It is an Correct Democracy.

As for Japan, it's essentially been a one-party-rule nation, not much different from China in that regard.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Anonymous: " Any European who wants to secure borders and preserve his people and culture in his homeland is tarred as 'far right' and 'extreme'. Since when is self-preservation of white nations 'extreme'?"

What I've often wondered is: What is the Left's endgame? Because it seems the social utopia they want is impossible, which endlessly frustrates them because of their vaunted good intentions.

I've come to the conclusion that they don't want what they say they want. They don't actually want to create anything. They are critics, analysts and malcontents. They seek to destroy what others value and love, because Leftism is -- at its core -- an assault in the very idea of value, merit, love and beauty. In other words, all that is desirable. They have no appreciation for it, and see others enjoying it. Therefore, it has to go. Marriage, masculinity, femininity, heterosexuality, classical art and literature... you name it, it sucks. It's gotta go. They hate humanity.

That's why they favor climate change: to get rid of humans. That's why they favor hate speech laws: because they hate human creativity. They haven't had an original thought in decades. Only wants, desires, wishes, dreams... and it's someone else's job to make it happen.

They are destroyers.

Trigger Warning said...

You are exactly right, Sir.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares: You haven't used the stupid term "Alt-Right" for awhile. What's wrong?

AesopFan said...

The issue was in play in the last presidential election. There, to the manifest chagrin of all those who embraced the gospel of weakness, the American people chose strength over weakness. Even though the Trump campaign manifested too much macho posturing, it succeeded in getting its message across.
* * *
Apparently, for many people, "too much" looked like "just right" -- or possibly even "still not enough" -- and there are valid suggestions from some pundits that anything less would not have gotten the message across at all.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Yes, so the bottom line is: the Left hates what you love, because you love it. In the spirit of the season, they are like the Grinch. I do believe in the spirit of redemption, so I pray for them every day. That said, my Christian conscience is tested when they continue their campaign to take and destroy. I confess I am running out of patience. If the Grinch came down to Whoville more than a couple times, I'm sure some Who would be waiting with a rifle. His thinking: "Enough." I don't like feeling this way, and I'm optimistic about Trump's ability to steady our course. But the Left will be on full parade... desiring an end to the America I love. Hmm... time to go to Mass and think things through differently. Give it all to Him who saves.

Anonymous said...

Russians wanted a new semi-Czar. Odd, but makes sense.
The old ones oppressed, exploited, imprisoned, sometimes killed them (they could have killed Lenin and Stalin. Should have.)
But Lenin & Stalin eliminated religion, slaughtered 10s of millions.
Putin doesn't, and publicly at least, is devout.

China wanted a new semi-quasi-Dynasty. For similar reasons.
The current leaders are trying. A now-shaky economic boom helps.

Muslims want a new Caliph for the Ummah. Ataturk deposed him in 1922 - a day of infamy to Bin Ladin.
They're itching to continue their conquests to make the whole world an Ummah.

I'm guided by Isaiah Berlin and Sam Huntington. Among others.

Putin's Russia is a branch of WCiv. Our natural ally for those problems.

Heraclitus: War is the Father of all things. (I hope dearly not a World War this time tho).

My 'umble thoughts. -- Rich Lara

Ares Olympus said...

Trigger Warning said... The main point Trump sold was Make America Great Again. If that inspires fear in you, then you should go back where you came from.

Strangely rational people are skeptical of a voice that says "Only I can fix it" and we consider that such voices are con men.

But I am confused. The ideal con man has to disappear before the consequences of all his swindling are apparent, while president-elect Trump, after losing the popular vote, but winning the electoral college, he actually has to perform something, and he cares about his family name, and doesn't want to leave it in shambles.

So this is where the fear comes for me - Donald Trump has promised impossible things he can't deliver, so SOMETHING is going to have to substitute for his impossible goals. And his campaign clearly demonstrate what this substitution is going to be. He's going to scapegoat minority groups as the CAUSE of Americas lost greatness, and he's going to double-down on every irrational assertion he's ever made (unless you're careful not to remind him), and keep searching for enemies until he finds ones that resist enough that he can become convinced they are the ones he has to destroy.

Supposedly Hitler also said he wanted to make Germany Great Again, and Germany had plenty of reasons for complaint, after the harsh punishments applied to them after surrendering in World War I.
Claim: As the Nazi Party rose to power, Hitler used the slogan "Make Germany Great Again."
WHAT'S TRUE: A prominent theme during the Nazi Party's ascendancy was restoring Germany to its former greatness, and Adolf Hitler used the phrase "make Germany great again" upon occasion.
WHAT'S FALSE: "Make Germany Great Again" was not a (campaign) slogan employed by Hitler, and Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler are far from the only politicians who promised to make their countries "great again."

I don't think the United States is in as sorry of a position as post WWI Germany, and we've not lost any major wars yet, and never been invaded, unless you count cyberhacking, so I don't think the U.S. is in as much danger as Germany.

However perhaps we can consider we did have a civil war, and there is still a southern inferiority complex going on, and we do have as many guns in this country as the rest of the world combined, so if we consider there are a lot of psychologically vulnerable people who are afraid sufficiently to own guns, and every time there is a mass shooting, more and more people purchase guns, someday all this firepower will find a use, and perhaps it will lead to our second civil war?

And certainly Trump's scapegoating and aggressive language seems to be priming fearful and passionate people to find their own scapegoats to get the next race war going hot, or whatever game ends up going.

So this is Trump's America.

Trigger Warning said...

I must agree, you are strangely rational. In fact, your "rationality" is so strange that "rational" in the usual English language sense doesn't cover it.

You really should run your pseudo-blog posts by your ESL teacher.

By the way, did the fear "come for you" when Barack Obama promised to lower the sea level?


Advice: look up Godwin's Law.

Ares Olympus said...

Trigger Warning... By the way, did the fear "come for you" when Barack Obama promised to lower the sea level?

I presume that's one of Trump's "Truthful hyperboles"?

But clearly putting anti-science republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology seems to be a consequence to President Obama's statements in favor of action against climate change.
Sci,Space,&Tech Cmte
✔ ‎@HouseScience

.@BreitbartNews: Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists
Yes, that Breitbart, the racist, misogynistic über-right-wing site that calls itself a voice for the “alt-right” movement, which is—as my Slate colleague Jeremy Stahl says—composed of “neo-Nazis in suits and ties.”

And what do you know, there's Godwin's law again at least in the "neo" sense being being directed against the organization that promotes itself as the source of tribal beliefs for white supremacists.

And I see IAC's sense of wrong is saved again!

Sam L. said...

Ares, Only Obama could fix us 8 years ago. Case in point. Trump has not said he has all the answers. That is your view of Trump's America, and many of us disagree with your view.

"When Obama promised to lower the sea levels" is something I don't recall exactly. I do have a recollection he said something like ~if we elected him the sea level would stop rising, or rise more slowly~ which I interpreted as the story of King Canute.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Don't forget, TW... the planet was to begin to heal, too. All because The One arrived as our Gaea messiah!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I disagree with Ares' view. All of them.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Sam, I know you love all the racial healing.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, let's accept (for grins and giggles) that your climate change hypothesis is correct. Do you really think we can reverse it? If yes, how? No hyperlinks, no IPCC documents, just plain and simple: what is Ares' solution to this climate "problem"?

Trigger Warning said...

"And what do you know, there's Godwin's law again at least in the 'neo' sense..."

If the shoe fits...

Trigger Warning said...

IAC, apparently there is some sympathy abroad for the notion that the US Government, an organization that can't manage the development of a working health care insurance site, deliver health services to veterans, dismantle a retaining wall on an abandoned gold mine, or approve loans to viable energy companies, should be put in charge of the planetary climate.


Anonymous said...

Hey look, 'western values'.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

TW: Yes, it is odd.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.