Populism, Plutocracy, and Oligarchy: The Fulfillment, not Betrayal of Democracy

Populism, Plutocracy, and Oligarchy: The Fulfillment, not Betrayal of Democracy
Bevin Chu
September 30, 2007


The “Goddess of Democracy” has feet of clay

Democracy, we are told, is hallowed.

Democracy, we are told, is sacred.

Democracy, we are told, must not be betrayed by populism (rule by the mob), by plutocracy (rule by the rich), or by oligarchy (rule by the few).

In fact, democracy is not hallowed.

In fact, democracy is not sacred.

In fact, democracy has never been “in danger of being betrayed” by populism, by plutocracy, or by oligarchy.

Democracy has never been in danger of being betrayed by populism, by plutocracy, or by oligarchy, because democracy is populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy.

Populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy can never “betray democracy,” because populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy is the fulfillment of democracy.

To paraphrase the Army recruiting slogan, populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy is democracy “being all that it can be.”


The moth in another guise


The caterpillar in another guise

Populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy is merely the moth/caterpillar. Populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy is merely democracy at a later stage of development.

Democracy is the merely the caterpillar/moth. Democracy is merely populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy at an earlier stage of development.

The essence of democracy is the violation of the natural rights and political liberty of the individual by the collective.

“Democracy,” as Benjamin Franklin astutely noted, “is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”

This brutal rape of the individual is given a veneer of moral legitimacy by pro forma rituals such as voting and term limits, none of which alter the fundamental immorality at democracy’s core.

Going through such ritual motions as voting merely adds a layer of hypocritical pretense to the process.

The ugly reality is that the collective has imposed its will upon the individual by means of brute force, the same way that a rapist imposes his will upon his victim.

I’m stronger than you. Therefore you can either submit, or be physically overpowered or even murdered.

The only difference is that society has “normalized” democracy’s systematic rape of the individual by the Leviathan State.

It has not “normalized” the rape of women by men. Or at least not as openly.


Ted Bundy (2002, directed by Matthew Bright, written by Stephen Johnston and Matthew Bright)


Big Brother is Watching You, from George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”

Democracy is not “the end of history as such.”

Democracy is not “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution.”

Democracy is not “the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government,” political scientist Frances Fukuyama and his fellow Neoconmen to the contrary notwithstanding.

Democracy is merely cannibalism with better table manners. Democracy is merely cannibals learning to use the proper knife or fork as they devour their fellow man.


“Saturn devouring his children”, Francisco de Goya


Democracy is merely cannibalism with the proper knife and fork

Why are we surprised that democracy has “degenerated” into populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy?

Democracy is destined to morph into populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy. Just as the caterpillar is destined to morph into the moth.

Shouldn’t we be more astonished if democracy failed to “degenerate,” i.e., metamorphose into populism, plutocracy, and oligarchy?

Libertarian Purity Test

Libertarian Purity Test
Bevin Chu
September 10, 2007

Market anarchist Bryan Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Caplan has posted a useful “Libertarian Purity Test” at his website.

See:
http://www.bcaplan.com/cgi-bin/purity.cgi

As Caplan explains:

“This is the Libertarian Purity Test, which is intended to measure how libertarian you are. It isn’t intended to be any sort of McCarthyite purging device — just a form of entertainment, hopefully thought-provoking. I like it a lot better than the more famous “World’s Shortest Political Quiz” because I haven’t stated the questions with any intent to give an upward bias to a test-taker’s score, and because it gives a clearer breakdown between hard and soft-core libertarians. Enjoy, suggest your friends try it out, and see how you compare to other test-takers.”

Market anarchists and non market anarchists alike may want to check it out and see how they score.

Chinese Liberalism vs. Western Authoritarianism

Chinese Liberalism vs. Western Authoritarianism
Bevin Chu
September 7, 2007

“It is by no means easy to feel one’s way into such a remote and mysterious mentality as that underlying the I Ching. One cannot easily disregard such great minds as Confucius and Lao-tse, if one is at all able to appreciate the quality of the thoughts they represent; much less can one overlook the fact that the I Ching was their main source of inspiration. I know that previously I would not have dared to express myself so explicitly about so uncertain a matter. I can take this risk because I am now in my eighth decade, and the changing opinions of men scarcely impress me any more; the thoughts of the old masters are of greater value to me than the philosophical prejudices of the Western mind”.
— Carl Jung, famed Swiss psychologist


300 (2006) directed by Zack Snyder, written by Zack Snyder & Kurt Johnstad


The Asiatic hordes arrive on the doorstep of the Civilized World!


Dilios: For 500 years they’ve served the dark will of Persian kings. Eyes as dark as night . Teeth filed to fangs. Soulless. The personal guard to King Xerxes himself. The Persian warrior elite. The deadliest fighting force in all of Asia. The Immortals …


… commanded by a ruthless and decadent Oriental Despot


… who “hates our freedoms”


Faceless ciphers, devoid of humanity and individuality


Monstrous subhumans


Queen Gorgo: Freedom is not free, it requires great sacrifice. The price is paid in blood.


King Leonidas: A new age has begun, an age of freedom. And all will know that 300 Spartans gave their last breath to defend it.


King Leonidas: This is where we hold them! This is where we fight! This is where they die!


Dilios: The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one. Good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a world brighter than anything we can imagine. Give thanks men, to Leonidas and the brave 300! To Victory!

See:
The ‘300’ stroke, Hamid Dabashi writes on pride, prejudice, Persia and other empires

Let’s try a little experiment.

Sit down in front of your PC and Google the words: “authoritarianism, liberalism, Western, Chinese”.

Type them into the search box in any order you choose, hit return, and see what you get.

Come to think of it, save yourself the trouble. I’ll tell you what you’ll get.

Except for a link to this article, and a solitary Wikipedia article on “Chinese liberalism,” you will get page after page on “Western liberalism” and “Chinese authoritarianism”.

Every one of these pages will assume that the West is heir to a noble tradition of democracy and republicanism rooted in Periclean Greece and Republican Rome. Every one of these pages will demand that a “congenitally authoritarian” China emulate the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave by adopting “American style democracy.”

Never mind that the Founding Fathers of these United States made quite clear that they detested democracy, and went to great pains to note that they founded a constitutional republic, not a democracy.

Every one of these pages will assume that China is heir to an ignoble tradition of “Oriental Despotism”. Every one of these pages will demand that China jettison its benighted “Oriental Despotism” in favor of enlightened “Western Progressivism”.

Never mind that China’s unfortunate “dictatorship of the proletariat” is a Western European political invention, devised in Great Britain by two progressive Western European political philosophers named Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

As the old joke goes, “When you assume, you make an ass of you and me.”

Economic history tells us a different story. It tells us that China, for much of her history, was as free or even freer than the West, “Athenian democracy” and “Roman republicanism” to the contrary notwithstanding.

China is the most populous nation in the world. More to the point, China has been the most populous nation in the world for most of recorded history. Most people are aware of this. But most people aren’t aware of its political implications.

Economics tells us that only a society that is free is capable of generating sufficient wealth to support a large population. Large human populations are simply unsustainable without freedom. Any society that limits freedom, limits economic productivity. Any society that limits economic productivity, limits its population, through a process called famine.

Without knowing anything else about a civilization, one can confidently conclude that if a civilization has a large population, it is free or was free in the recent past. This is not feel good speculation. This is hard economic fact.

And so it is with China.

China was a hereditary monarchy for millennia. But China was hardly alone. China in this respect was no different from Europe before The Enlightenment. China had her “Mandate of Heaven”. Europe had her “Divine Right of Kings”. China had her Son of Heaven. France had her Le Roi Soleil (Sun King).

Where was the legacy of Athenian democracy then? Where was the legacy of Roman republicanism then? Nowhere to be found.

In fact, the Chinese people often enjoyed a high degree of de facto freedom under China’s nominally “absolute” monarchy, as evidenced by the popular expression “Tian gao, huang di yuan”, meaning “Heaven is high, and the emperor is far away.”

This de facto freedom enabled the Chinese people to prosper and multiply, and enabled China to become the most populous nation in the world.

To be sure, the freedom the Chinese people enjoyed was not unbroken. It came and went, just as freedom came and went in the West. But when it came, it was real. And when it went, it was missed.

Between 1958 and 1961, a Western political system introduced into China by champions of Western style political reform caused widespread famine, resulting in an estimated 30 million deaths. The name of this Western political system was Marxism-Leninism.

The champions of Western values responsible for this man made catastrophe tried to blame Mother Nature, referring to it as the “Three Years of Natural Disasters”. More disinterested, less self serving observers say the disaster was 35% natural misfortune, and 65% the folly of central planning.

Rabid Sinophobes would have us believe that China has never been free, that it has been either authoritarian or totalitarian for the entirety of its 5,000 year history.

But three short years of totalitarianism caused the death of 30 million Chinese. If China was no freer during the remaining 4997 years of her history, how did she get to be most populous nation on earth? Obviously these self appointed “champions of freedom and human rights” are asking us to ignore a total non-compute.

In case anyone thinks the de facto freedom individual Chinese enjoyed in ancient times was mere accident, mere happenstance, mere serendipity, think again.

Ancient China had no lack of philosophical arguments for individual liberty. Western critics of “congenitally authoritarian” China to the contrary notwithstanding, the earliest arguments in favor of small government (limited government, or minarchism) and no government (anarchism), were advanced by Chinese, not Western political philosophers.

The ancient Chinese philosophers Laozi (老子), Zhuangzi (莊子), Bao Jingyan (鮑敬言), and Sima Qian (司馬遷) were the first explicit champions of libertarianism and anarchism in recorded history.

As the late, great Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard wrote in Chapter One of his book, “An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought”:

The Taoists (Daoists) were the world’s first libertarians, who believed in virtually no interference by the state in economy or society.


Laozi 老子 (Lao Tzu), the World’s First Libertarian

To the individualist Lao Tzu, government, with its “laws and regulations more numerous than the hairs of an ox,” was a vicious oppressor of the individual, and “more to be feared than fierce tigers.” Government, in sum, must be limited to the smallest possible minimum; “inaction” became the watchword for Lao Tzu, since only inaction of government can permit the individual to flourish and achieve happiness. Any intervention by government, he declared, would be counterproductive, and would lead to confusion and turmoil. The first political economist to discern the systemic effects of government intervention, Lao Tzu, after referring to the common experience of mankind, came to his penetrating conclusion: “The more artificial taboos and restrictions there are in the world, the more the people are impoverished. The more that laws and regulations are given prominence, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

The worst of government interventions, according to Lao Tzu, was heavy taxation and war. “The people hunger because theft superiors consume an excess in taxation” and, “where armies have been stationed, thorns and brambles grow. After a great war, harsh years of famine are sure to follow.”

The wisest course is to keep the government simple and inactive, for then the world “stabilizes itself.”

As Lao Tzu put it: “Therefore, the Sage says: I take no action yet the people transform themselves, I favor quiescence and the people right themselves, I take no action and the people enrich themselves.”


Zhuangzi 莊子 (Chuang Tsu), the World’s First Individualist Anarchist

Two centuries later, Lao Tzu’s great follower Chuang Tzu (369—c.286 BC) built on the master’s ideas of laissez-faire to push them to their logical conclusion: individualist anarchism. Chuang Tzu, who wrote in allegorical parables, was the first anarchist in the history of human thought. Chuang Tzu’s fame spread far and wide throughout China.

Chuang Tzu reiterated and embellished Lao Tzu’s devotion to laissez-faire and opposition to state rule: “There has been such a thing as letting mankind alone; there has never been such a thing as governing mankind [with success].” Chuang Tzu was also the first to work out the idea of “spontaneous order,” independently discovered by Proudhon in the nineteenth century, and developed by F.A. von Hayek of the Austrian School in the twentieth. Thus, Chuang Tzu: “Good order results spontaneously when things are let alone.”

Chuang Tzu concluded, the world “does simply not need governing; in fact it should not be governed.”

Chuang Tzu, moreover, was perhaps the first theorist to see the state as a brigand writ large: “A petty thief is put in jail. A great brigand becomes a ruler of a State.” Thus, the only difference between state rulers and out-and-out robber chieftains is the size of their depredations. This theme of ruler-as-robber was to be repeated, as we have seen, by Cicero, and later by Christian thinkers in the Middle Ages.


Bao Jingyan 鮑敬言 (Pao Ching-yen), China’s own “V”
no image available

Taoist thought flourished for several centuries, culminating in the most determinedly anarchistic thinker, Pao Ching-yen, who lived in the early fourth century AD. In the earliest days, wrote Pao, “there were no rulers and no officials. Placidly going their ways with no encumbrances, they grandly achieved their own fulfillment.” In the stateless age, there was no warfare and no disorder.

Into this idyll of peace and contentment, wrote Pao Ching-yen, there came the violence and deceit instituted by the state. The history of government is the history of violence, of the strong plundering the weak. Wicked tyrants engage in orgies of violence; being rulers they “could give free rein to all desires.” Furthermore, the government’s institutionalization of violence meant that the petty disorders of daily life would be greatly intensified and expanded on a much larger scale.

To the common charge that he has overlooked good and benevolent rulers, Pao replied that the government itself is a violent exploitation of the weak by the strong. The system itself is the problem, and the object of government is not to benefit the people, but to control and plunder them. There is no ruler who can compare in virtue with a condition of non-rule.

Pao Ching-yen also engaged in a masterful study in political psychology by pointing out that the very existence of institutionalized violence by the state generates imitative violence among the people. The common idea, concluded Pao, that strong government is needed to combat disorders among the people, commits the serious error of confusing cause and effect.


Sima Qian 司馬遷 (Ssu-ma Ch’ien), the World’s First Laissez-Faire Economist

The distinguished second century B.C. historian, Ssu-ma Ch’ien (145-c.90 BC) was an advocate of laissez-faire, and pointed out that minimal government made for abundance of food and clothing, as did the abstinence of government from competing with private enterprise.

He saw that specialization and the division of labor on the market produced goods and services in an orderly fashion. To Sima this was the natural outcome of the free market. “Does this not ally with reason? Is it not a natural result?” Furthermore, prices are regulated on the market, since excessively cheap or dear prices tend to correct themselves and reach a proper level.

But if the free market is self-regulating, asked Sima perceptively, “what need is there for government directives, mobilizations of labor, or periodic assemblies?” What need indeed?

Sinophobic “champions of freedom and human rights” assume that China is heir to a long and unsavory tradition of “Oriental Despotism”. They demand that Beijing jettison its “Oriental Despotism” in favor of “Western Progressivism”

Their simplistic calculus is:

China is Communist
Communism is authoritarian
China is congenitally authoritarian

The first problem with this facile calculus is that Chinese Communism was not a Chinese form of authoritarianism. It was a Western form of authoritarianism, correction, Western form of totalitarianism, imported into to China.

In a sense, it was a lot like the opium imported into China at gunpoint by Great Britain. To turn Karl Marx’s aphorism back on him, “Marxism was the opiate of Western style reformers.” Today of course, the opium being imported into China by Western reformers is not Marxism, but another defective and dysfunctional political system known as “democracy”, or is it “Democracy”?

The second problem with this facile calculus is that China is not “congenitally authoritarian”. China does not need to emulate an “intrinsically liberal” America. China boasts an ancient and venerable tradition of liberal political thought all its own.

Did I say liberal political thought? That is far too mild. That is damning with faint praise.

Ancient China boasts a legacy of hardcore individualist thought, libertarian thought, anarchist thought. This priceless legacy may serve China well in the coming century. More importantly, it may serve mankind well in the coming millennia.

Who knows? The day may come when Googling the words: “authoritarianism, liberalism, Western, Chinese” may yield page after page on “China’s Historic Contribution to Global Freedom in the 23rd Century.”

See:
It all began, as usual, with the Greeks: Taoism in Ancient China, by Murray N. Rothbard

He’s Acting Pretty Normal Today

He’s Acting Pretty Normal Today
Anonymous
Rewritten by Bevin Chu
September 06, 2007

One day President Chen Shui-bian inspected a mental hospital.

The mental patients lined up along the corridors, grinning broadly, waving wildly, shouting: “Long live Chen Shui-bian! Long live Chen Shui-bian!”

One mental patient however stood arms crossed, with a sullen expression on his face, totally ignoring A Bian.

A Bian noticed this and asked the director of the mental hospital: “What’s wrong with that patient? Why isn’t he cheering? Is he not feeling well?”

The director answered: “Him? Oh no, he’s acting pretty normal today.”


Robert De Niro as Paul Vitti in “Analyze That!”

他今天精神非常正常!
由匿名
2007.09.06

有一天陳水扁總統前往某家精神病院視察

所有的病患都站在走廊上高 聲歡呼
:「陳水扁萬歲!陳水扁萬歲!

只有一名病患面無表情,對總統不理不睬。


陳水扁看到了,於是問院長說:「那位病人為什麼不對我歡呼呢?」


院長:「因為他今天精神非常正常!」

A Head Full of Rocks

A Head Full of Rocks
Anonymous
Rewritten by Bevin Chu
September 4, 2007

A manufacturer on Taiwan invents an IQ Testing Machine. He provides a prototype to the Republic of China Presidential Office. Presidential Advisor Chiu Yi-jen decides to give it a try. He puts his head in the machine. The machine announces in a mechanical voice “IQ: 86.” Chiu frowns, displeased. Vice President Annette Lu, never a shrinking violet, decides to give it a try. The machine says “IQ: 94.” Lu frowns darkly. Chen Shui-bian, seeing a gathered crowd, asks what’s going on, so they tell him. But as soon as he puts his head in the machine, it goes berserk. Lights flash, sirens wail, and the machine says “Warning! Warning! Do not put rocks in this machine!”

After this embarrassment, the manufacturer accelerates development, and turns out a second version. Chiu tries again. The machine says “IQ: 96.” Chiu frowns, saying “Close, but no cigar.” Lu tries again too. The machine says “IQ: 104.” Lu purses her lips but says nothing. A Bian thinks to himself: It’s been improved, I might as well give it another try. So he puts his head in the machine again. The machine remains silent for what seems an eternity. Finally it says “I know this rock!”

Having made central government officials look bad twice in a row, the manufacturer hires a team of outside experts. They develop a third version. Chiu gives it another try. The machine says “IQ: 106.” Chiu smiles, “That’s more like it.” Lu also gives it another try. The machine says “IQ: 114.” Mollified, Lu says “Yes, I agree.” They inform Chen. This time, A Bian decides to play it safe. Instead of putting his head in the machine, he orders Chiu to put in a rock. The machine goes berserk. Lights flash, trumpets blare, and the machine intones “Greetings Mr. President! We await your orders!”


“Presidential Advisor” Chiu Yi-jen


“Vice President” Annette Lu


“President” Chen Shui-bian


Digital IQ Testing Machine, Made in Taiwan

政治笑話
石頭腦袋陳水扁
由匿名
2007. 09.04

某廠生產了一種智商測試儀,獻給總統府。邱義仁要試一試,把腦袋往裡面一伸,機器說「智商85」,小邱很高興。呂秀蓮腦袋放裡面,機器說「智商90」呂也很高興。陳水扁見大家這麼高興致,也去試一試。腦袋往裡面一伸,機器說「儀器珍貴,請大家小心使用,請不要往裡面放石頭」。

上次事件發生後,廠家急忙升級,很快推出了2.0版本。於是,邱再來一試,機器說「智商90」,邱大喜「長了5分」。呂來一試,機器說「智 商95」,呂也大喜。阿扁一看,心想這次應該沒問題了,也來一試。機器半天不說 話,最後終於說:「這塊石頭好面熟」。

連續兩次讓中央領導出醜,廠家立刻高薪聘請專家,進行第三次升級。經過N位專家努力,終於推出了3.0版。於是,邱又來一試,機器說「智商95」,邱大喜「這次測得準」。呂來一試,機器說「智商100」,呂也大喜,也說「現在才測得準」。大家都叫阿扁來試一試,這回阿扁學乖了,先叫人往裡面放一塊石頭看機器的反應。只見機器立刻打 出10個大字「歡迎陳總統光臨指導」。

Of Geeks and Wonks

Of Geeks and Wonks
Bevin Chu
September 01, 2007


Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of http://www.Mises.org

“A Political Theory of Geeks and Wonks” by Jeffrey Tucker, editorial vice president of http://www.Mises.org., is one of the best articles ever posted at LRC.

It neatly sums up the psychological and philosophical dichotomy between Pragmatists and Idealists.

It correctly affirms that despite appearances, Pragmatists do not have their feet on the ground, and Idealists do not have their heads in the clouds.

It has far-reaching implications for the Democratic status quo and the inevitable Market Anarchist political future.

Market Anarchist Geeks may strike Democratic Wonks as Ivory Tower Utopians. But in fact Market Anarchist Geeks grasp the comparative merits of political systems far better than “realpolitik” Democratic Wonks.

Market Anarchist Geeks know that the structural defects built into conventional monopolistic forms of government such as Democracy doom them to eventual, inevitable failure. They know that in the long term, mankind will have no alternative but to adopt Market Anarchism, the only political system completely consistent with natural rights and individual sovereignty.

See:
A Political Theory of Geeks and Wonks, by Jeffrey Tucker