Archives for category: democracy

To set a wolf to guard sheep
Latin proverb.

A first glance, it doesn’t make much sense to put an oilman in charge of a COP conference.
Nothing more than setting a wolf to guard sheep, right?

On the other hand, shepherd dogs are nothing but ‘converted’ wolves.
Wolves who had somehow figured out that it’s more sustainable to live with the humans than in the wild.
Former wolves who had somehow figured out that’s far more sustainable – for them, to protect the sheep than to prey on them.

OK, the agent driving the process had been human. But the facts remain. Dogs have evolved from wolves.

What are we waiting for?
If the descendants of the wolves had been able to ‘cross over’, why so many reasonable people continue to believe that the ‘Global Warming’ is a hoax?
After all, we’re the ones supposed to be reasonable…
And the way I see it, it’s unreasonable to believe that burning fossil fuel accumulated during millions of years can be ‘sustainable’. Forget about ‘peak oil’ and ‘peak gas’ and remember how hot the Earth was when the first drop of fossil fuel had been set aside by Mother Nature.


“Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos.”
The true version of the Chinese ‘curse’
too many times translated in English as
“May you live in interesting times”

Not so long ago, a presidential candidate told his audience “People… my people are so smart!….And loyal! you know, I could shoot someone on the 5th Avenue and not loose votes!”

As things happened, he was right. His people did vote for him.
He, a guy who had previously bragged about ‘grabbing women by the pu$$y’.

Four years later, the People changed their mind. And voted to send him back to Mar-a-lago…
He told ‘his’ people the vote had been rigged.
The ‘smart ones’ believed Trump to the tune of eventually chasing Vice-president Pence all over the Capitol in an attempt to convince him to ditch the result of the vote. Against all evidence, as certified by all pertinent authorities.

Currently, there is an increasing number of people floating the idea that ‘democracy’ isn’t for everybody.
The notion isn’t exactly new – see the ‘debate’ pitting ‘republic’ against ‘democracy’ – but lately its promoters have become even more brazen. They posit that since people are not equally endowed – intellectually, mostly – they should be tested before being allowed to vote.
Nothing new under the sun? The whole thing is nothing more than a rehash of the notion put forward by Robert Heinlein in Starship Troopers?

Not exactly!
Heinlein proposed that full citizenship – including the right to vote – should be extended exclusively to those willing to put their life on the line. ‘If you want to decide the future, you need to commit yourself to defending the present. With your life, if necessary’.
Quite a difference from ‘I’m not OK with how you may vote so I’m going to look for ways to disenfranchise you, under various pretenses.’

The way I see this, we’re confronted by two things.
An increasing lack of trust amongst us. And an burgeoning amount of intellectual dishonesty.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As per the United States Constitution, Arms are supposed to be kept and borne with the main goal of protecting the free State. Which State was supposed to be governed by a government “of the people, by the people, for the people“.
Nowadays, under the pretext that ‘the government is more often the problem than the solution’, the defenders of the Second Amendment “as it was written” maintain that Arms are necessary so that the people may defend itself against an overbearing government.

Otherwise put, whenever I don’t like the outcome of an election, I need to be able to start a(n) (un)civil war. An attitude born out of a complete distrust in our fellow citizens’ ability to vote ‘right’.

And a simpler version.
I don’t trust all my fellow citizens’ ability to vote reasonably but I trust all my fellow citizens enough to let them walk around armed to their teeth. Unconditionally, in some states.

Coming back to Marcus Aurelius’ pronouncement, who is the one smart enough to determine whether those 10 000 actually have no idea about the subject at hand?
Not to mention the fact that Marcus Aurelius never actually said it…. Wrote it, more precisely.

And why do I choose to believe this guy Sadler instead of trusting the bloke who had created the meme? Because Sadler makes sense. And because Sadler had put his name forward – remember Heinlein? – instead of cloaking himself in the shadows of the internet.

I’m not sure what ‘timid’ meant in those times.

I would have used ‘coward’.

On the other hand, it would have been politically incorrect…

And ‘somewhat’ inefficient! Being blunt, often scares your audience.

And makes them impervious to what you need to share with them.

If you can’t beat them, join them!

‘Join them in what?!?’

This being where all hell breaks loose.

‘Join them’ as in:
‘What you were doing was worthless. That being the reason for which you were not able to beat them. Hence you must turn coats and join them. In what they were doing’?
Or ‘join them’ as in:
‘Regardless of who’s right or wrong, they are more powerful than you. In order to preserve yourself, you must cave in. And join them. In what they were doing and in how they were doing it!’?

There’s a third manner of putting it.
‘This is the democratic thing to do. If there are more of them than you, you must join them. There is wisdom in numbers, you know!’

I’m afraid all three ‘as in-s’ are wrong!

If you live in a democracy, you had already joined them.
The very essence of a democratic arrangement is that you may keep your convictions even if the majority has made up its mind to proceed in another direction. You sometimes must follow – because you have already joined them, but you always may bring along your ‘luggage’. Provided that your luggage doesn’t endanger the community, of course.
What if the community considers your luggage to be dangerous and you disagree?
Then maybe the bond between you and the rest of the community isn’t that strong after all… In this case, you may have to weigh the pros and cons… Also, you must seriously consider the possibility that the relation between you and the community may not be based on ‘true love’ … it more likely belongs to the ‘friends with benefits’ category…

Do you tend to side with the powerful?
Are you comfortable with delegating your ‘feel good’ to an outside agent?
Are you aware that no matter what those outside agents promise, what they have in mind is their own interests? Not yours, theirs!
Are you aware that ‘they’ are not your ‘servants’? That unless you live in a democracy, there’s no way to keep them accountable?
‘Stockholm syndrome’ means anything for you? How about ‘postponing the inevitable’? ‘Sweeping under the rug’?

Are you that afraid to change your mind? Under your own steam?
Why ask for other incentives but those provided by mere reason? What else do you need besides arguments in order to make up your mind??

And where did this notion of ‘beating’ came from?

What are we fighting for?!?

One last thing.
‘Why me?’ is a very good question.
Because there’s no one else!

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

People who have never experienced communism speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

People who have no real idea about what fascism/nazism was about speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

While there is a consensus about communism being a ‘far left position’, fascism is usually – but not unanimously, considered to be ‘far right’. Some even speak about a ‘third position‘, whatever that might mean.

The way I see it, what we have experienced as fascism is what Marx had in mind when he wrote the Communist Manifesto.
According to Marx, at some point in what he hailed as ‘the future’, the middle class was going to become poorer and poorer. All the wealth generated by the capitalist economy and governed by the increasingly imperialist/monopolist states was going to be herded into fewer and fewer hands.

As a consequence, once impoverished, people until then belonging to the middle class were supposed to realize they had been duped and let themselves be led – out of misery – by the communists. ‘The most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country …’

What Marx was prophesying had soon enough come to be. The post WWI German and Italian peoples had lost their hopes and allowed themselves to be led by those who pretended to put ‘the best interests of the people’ above everything else.

Same thing happens whenever a crises is deep enough to impoverish a significant number of people. Who loose their hopes and allow callous political operators to advance closer and closer to power.

What we have experienced as ‘communism’ was a Leninist short-cut.
In Marx’s view, communism was going to happen after economically advanced societies had reached a certain pinnacle.
Lenin – and Mao, had introduced ‘socialism’ and ‘popular democracy’ as intermediary stages between their underdeveloped societies and what Marx had in mind.

So no, there is no such thing as a ‘third position’. We have democracy – where left and right cooperate towards the common good, and authoritarianism.
While democracy is clear and transparent, authoritarianism hides its true nature under a chameleonic cloak. Painted, by the spin doctors who run the show, in whatever hue happens to be more attractive to the masses which are about to be fooled.

Afterthought. I googled ‘third position’ and found out that:

“In the last few years of the 20th Century, according to an article by Chip Berlet, a new form of fascism emerged in a period of resurgent neo-fascism. Called the Third Position, it seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or supremacist religious nationalism.”


Any way you look at what’s currently happening, it doesn’t make any sense.

Forget about ‘we’re throwing away 30% of the food we produce while a third of us die of hunger’.
That’s ‘peanuts’. Not for those whose children go to bed hungry but…

People living on the northern side of the Mediterranean Sea had accomplished something marginally short of miraculous.
They had come up with an ideology which convinced them to respect each-other. Christianity.
They had been able to develop the best mechanism for allotting resources. The ‘free market’.
And the best mechanism for reaching decisions for the entire community. Currently called ‘democracy’.

In their attempt to understand, they have devised an extremely original manner of looking at things. ‘Science’.
Based on what they had learned through ‘science’, they had developed ‘technology’.

Working as a team – they used to respect each-other, as children of the same god – and making ‘good’ use of their technology, they had been able to conquer the rest of the planet.

At some point, Europe used to export almost everything – including coal, and import inconsequential things. Silk, spices, tea, sugar, cotton and tobacco.
At that moment, England was considered the factory of the world. It used to manufacture and export the most technologically advanced ‘wares’. Fabric, ‘china’, steel products, machinery, chemicals… And coal! Which was warehoused around the globe and used, eventually, by the English steamships plying the seas for commerce. And for war…

Look at us now!
We depend on our former colonies for much of our energy. Oil, that is.
We depend on the rest of the world for much of the fancy foods we currently eat. Brazilian beef, tropical fruit, fancy sea-food…
And we depend on China for cheap manufactured goods. From clothes to cameras to cranes. ‘White goods’, electronics – computers included, and almost everything else which is sold at decent prices.

Not to mention the fact that Europe had been the flashing point for three World Wars. I, II and the Cold one.
Not to mention the fact that as I write the biggest country in Europe – Putin’s Russia, is trying to annex some 15 % percent of one of its neighbors. Ukraine, also an European country.

If any of this does a modicum of sense to any of you… please let me know!

I, for one, am at a loss. I understand what happened – stay tuned, but I have no idea when we’ll figure out we’re on the wrong track. Going in the wrong direction.

Can we do without it?
And if not, how much of it?

– If ‘no government’, then who would pay for the army we need to defend ourselves?

Ooops… you’ve just answered the ‘why does Russia ‘encourage’ the trolls who push ludicrous libertarian ideas’ question. Which trolls attempt to achieve two things at once. Weaken the concept of free government and give libertarian-ism a bad rep. Transforming libertarian-ism into yet another form of extremism.

Let’s get serious and try to find an answer to ‘why, and how much of it, do we need government?’

The boring one would be: ‘Whenever one government falls, another one takes over. The interregnum is always bad so… let’s get used to it’.

‘Getting used to it’ works only for very short expanses of time. Left on its own, all ‘government’ becomes sloppy. So sloppy that it soon becomes such a burden that even the most ‘used to it’ lose their patience.
Government, all of them, need to be kept on a tight leash. Otherwise it will soon cease to perform as intended.

– But if you have to keep it on a tight leash, why bother with any in the first place?
Can’t we do without such a bothersome pet?
What’s the point of the whole thing, anyway?

Instinctively, we’re against ‘government’ for two reasons.
It costs us a lot and it used to represent the interests of the ruler.

Until 10 000 or so years ago, we didn’t need ‘government’.
People were living more or less like the modern day Sun People still do. In the Kalahari desert… small bands roam the place, living of the land. The bands are small – so that they might find sustenance, they don’t have any ‘private’ property to protect, hence they don’t need government. Neither did our ancestors.

As soon as people ‘invented’ agriculture – raising ‘tame’ animals at first and working the land soon after, things had changed dramatically.
The advent of agriculture brought two things. An increased productivity and private property.
Soil has not been born equal. Both pastures and arable land can be good, passable or bad. People wish to have the best. Those who already have it are willing to defend it and those who don’t are willing to steal it.
Increased productivity means that those who produce are able to hire people to protect their ‘means of production’. Their property. As a consequence of fighting for it, some people accumulate more and more of it.
More and more ‘means of productions’ – property, means an ever increasing need for ‘management’ and an ever increasing need for ‘protection’. Soon you have a very ‘wealthy’ owner – the lord of the place, call it what you like or use the name given to him by his subjects, the people who perform the day to day management of the ‘whole-sale property’ and those who protect it from ‘marauders’. Both the ‘managers’ – read ‘government’, and the ‘protectors’ – read ‘army’, used to be under the direct supervision of the local lord.
For a while – for as long as the lord kept everything in balance, everybody was happy. The ‘peasants’ were happy because thy were safe, the ‘managers’ were happy because the wise lord used to appreciate their work and ‘compensated’ them accordingly, the ‘protectors’ were happy because they were well fed and taken care of. According to this article, the great Egyptian had been built by willing people, not by slaves.
But soon enough, the lord had become estranged from his people. Government had become an instrument used to extract more and more wealth from the peasants while the army was used to protect the government against the people and, whenever possible, to increase the property of the ruling lord by stealing some from the neighboring ‘lords’. The ’empire’ was born.

But this development could take place only in certain circumstances. Where those below the ruling lord had nothing more to do than to obey. Where the best subject was the disciplined one. Where autonomous thinking and imagination were frown upon by the ruler. Where one mind was enough.
Whenever the ‘environment’ mandated the individuals to remain relatively autonomous, proto-democratic forms of self government had been experimented. From the nomadic pastoralists of the Central Asia to the sailing communities in Ancient Greece and Medieval Scandinavia. Those driving herds or sailing ships need to be a lot more independent-minded that those who just tile the earth. No offense intended here! Simple observation will notice that where the geography of the place had allowed it, somebody had ‘built’ an empire. The Nile Valley, the Middle East, the Russian plain, China, Mexico…
Where ever the geography of the place was fragmented enough by sail-able sea, proto-democratic forms of self-management had been developed. The sailing Ancient Athens versus the land-locked Sparta, Medieval Scandinavia versus Medieval France…

Fast forward to present day.
When we have two forms of government.
The more or less democratic ones. Those under whose ‘guidance’ discussions like the present one can happen.
And the more or less authoritarian ones. Which actively discourage autonomous thinking.

Mind you, there are no ‘perfect’ governments.
There’s no perfectly democratic arrangement anywhere on Earth. Because we are imperfect human beings.
And there’s no ‘perfect’ authoritarian government. Because no government can survive for long if it attempts to centralize the decision power. The closer a government gets to being perfectly authoritarian, the smaller is the crisis needed to topple it. Unless it is supported from the out-side but that’s another topic.

So. It is fairly simple to understand how authoritarian governments fail. Too much ‘stiffness’ makes it impossible for authoritarian governments to evolve. To find solutions for whatever challenges pop up constantly.

But what can go wrong with the collective forms of self-rule? With the participative forms of social self management? Otherwise known as democracies?
Lack of enough popular involvement. Due to a sense of apparent safety, initially. And to a feeling of apparent impotence, soon after.
Lack of enough fore-sight. Those who should know better become distracted, for whatever reasons.
Too much opportunism. More and more of the ‘insiders’ use ‘the power of the government’ to fulfill their own, private, goals instead of making sure that ‘government’ works properly.

And what does that mean?

A government works properly when the community which self manages itself using that particular (form of democratic) government survives in the long run.
When those momentarily working inside the government make things happen for the community at large.
When people, both inside and outside the government, follow, in spirit, Kennedy’s words.

Am I being naive?
Maybe… But wouldn’t it be a nice thing to have?
A nice thing to chase, anyway?

And what better way to chase ‘it’ than voting for people who at least pretend to be honest? Who at least make the ‘right’ noises? Whom we can hold accountable whenever they break their promises?
Instead of voting for those who promise barrels and barrels of ‘pork‘?

Ideological pork or hands-on pork, I don’t know which is worse…

Isn’t the other party always the guilty one?

Or, otherwise put, Musk – who in 2008 was left of center, currently finds himself in a moderate conservative position because the woke progressives have displaced the center. To the left of where Musk was in 2008. And where he still is…

This might have not been uttered by Churchill but nevertheless rises some questions…

‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.
If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

What? The cartoon wasn’t Musk’s to share in the first place? He had just ‘borrowed’ it from somebody else?!?

And here’s what ‘Big Data’ has to say about the whole thing.

To make sense of that we have already passed through?

What does ‘worst’ mean in this circumstances?
Until now, I was under the impression that ‘critics’ were good.
That in a democratic setting, the critics are those who pull at our sleeves when we go astray.
That the critics are those who bring us back to the straight and narrow.
How can ‘critics’ become ‘bad’? Let alone “worst”…

“”Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by…””

As many of you already know, I grew up under a communist regime. In Ceausescu’s Romania.
That was were I learned to decipher messages transmitted using the ‘wooden language’.
Or, in Orwell’s parlance, “newspeak”…

Here’s what I make of Elon Musk’s words:

‘From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” is mine. Mine to make what I see fit of it. To “make better” under my own terms. And if you don’t like it, keep ‘barking’. There’s nothing you can do to me. I’m going to make Twitter ‘private’. A.k.a. free from any ‘market interference’. Furthermore, your ‘barking’ will only increase the traffic. Hence the money I’ll be making on the back of your ‘free speech’.’

Twenty four years ago, in 1998, I spent a fortnight visiting Tunisia. I still remember the discussions I had with my wife. In our native Romania, we – the country, not the two of us – already had a couple of malls – which were quite new for us.
Each time that we entered a Tunisian suk – also known as a bazaar, we felt like strolling through a mall.

In the Middle Ages, a suk was the property of the local sheik. Even if each ‘stall’ was operated as an individual business, the whole thing was run at the whim of the local ruler.
According to the laws of the land, but still at the mercy of the landlord.

Each mall, the building, is owned by a company. And, the business, operated by another. Usually by a chain. Hence the ‘freedom’ of the individual businesses ‘housed’ by each mall is ‘defined’ by the rules put in place by the owners and the operators. Under the laws and by laws valid for the physical location of the building but still at the ‘mercy’ of those who own/operate the mall.

From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of the mankind” are ‘freely debated’ by us will be owned and operated by yet another one of Elon Musk’s enterprises.
Who, for now at least, promises to welcome his “worst” critics, whatever that might mean.

And an after thought.
A way shorter translation of Musk’s words might be: ‘Freedom of speech means being able to say ‘those who criticize me are bad people”. With the corollary that some are worse than others…

Just came across this meme.

It was shared on a FB-wall and somebody had commented that “Institutionally they are not your friends.”

My ‘jerked’ comment was:

“Institutionally, cops should be your ‘last resort’ friends.

The fact that too many of them are not, and the fact that too many of us consider them, as a category, to be unfriendly, is proof of how dysfunctional our society has become.

Cops used to be ‘unfriendly’ when I grew up. In communist Romania. When the cops were used, by the communist state, to preserve their power. The communist power over the entire society.

In the free countries of today, the cops are the sole barrier separating our persona and private property from the hands of the criminals.

Without their presence…

Or, putting it the other way around, we have but the cops we deserve. Train and motivate them properly and you’ll have good cops!”

At a second glance, I had an inkling.
Is it possible for the whole thing to be nothing more than a ‘marketing campaign’? Organized by the only people interested in increasing litigation?

Interested in altering the relative stability of our political establishment?

The police, by properly performing their duties – the world over, not only in the communist countries, contribute to the political stability of those respective countries.
For the police to properly perform their duties, there must to exist a proper trust between the general population and the police itself. The population must see the police as their friends of last resort while the police must see the general public as both their employer and their responsibility.
The population must be open in their relationship with the police while the police must treat respectfully every individual, including the suspects and the convicts.

In the communist regime I grew up, the police couldn’t fulfill its duties. Exactly between there was a ‘trust’ barrier between the general public and the police. Between the oppressed and the armed hand of the oppressor.
The communist regime I grew up under, in Romania, had eventually collapsed.
Exactly because of the malignant mistrust between the general public – The People, and the government. The police being nothing but a portion of the government itself.

Who is interested in the collapse of the democratic regimes?
Who is mostly interested in wedging apart the government from The People?

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