Sunday, July 4

Ehrenreich

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/04/opinion/04EHRE.html

Read it. Now.

Later on, I'll have something to say about Star Wars, too. Right now, I have to go write some. Then I'll be back to talk about it.

13 comments:

Mastadge said...

And the Medium Lobster has something to say about that. . .God I love Fafblog.

Joe Crow said...

Good stuff. Not sure I agree with the last line, though. For a representative republic to function, its citizens need to do a lot more than just vote. They need to watch their governmental proxies like hawks on ritalin, and stomp them hard every time they step over the line. That's the problem with government of any kind, though. The amount of work required to keep it from descending into tyranny of one sort or another is prohibitive over the long term.

That's why I prefer anarchy. All anarchy needs is enough folks willing to shoot anybody who says they're in charge. Crude, but effective.

MWS said...

But anarchy -- both historically, and psychologically, for any real student of human nature -- is only a bridge to warlordism.

Democracy is better.

Joe Crow said...

Democracy, (well, representative democracy, anyway) does have its good points, but it never lasts. Once folks realize they can vote themselves other people's money, the whole thing starts to fall apart. At its root, any government is simply disguised warlordism, anyway. Representative democracy just hides the guns a bit better. The best thing about democracy is that it's very inefficient, and the more inefficient a government is, the safer its citizens are.

MWS said...

On this we can agree. Up to a point.

After all, if you want to see REALLY inefficient government, hang out in Mogadishu. I once spent a very informative half-hour in a cab with a Somalian refugee. And if you stop by Darfur, you might congratulate the Sudanese, too, on the inefficiency of their government.

Anarchy is a shitty answer.

Scott Lynch said...

Y'know, I'm inclined to think that one of the weaknesses of representative democracy is that if it works, its citizens eventually become pampered enough to start romanticizing the (very few) benefits of far crueler and more primitive forms of government.

Or perhaps that's not a weakness so much as a persistent aggravation.

Three guesses who I'm with in this conversation.

Cheers,

SL

Scott Lynch said...

Oh, I wanted to leave it at that, honest... but then I remembered this:

"The best thing about democracy is that it's very inefficient," ...

The only way you can characterize a representative democracy as "inefficient" in comparison with *every other form of government yet conceived by humankind* is to mistake deference to those in power for actual efficiency.

Anonymous said...

wow. i also wonder what would happen if they decide to go ahead with their contingency plan to suspend the elections, should there happen to be an attack or some other declared emergency just before November.

DesertJo

Joe Crow said...

Well, I'd define efficiency in government as "the tendency to accomplish the aims and objectives of governmental authorities". Representative democracies have a difficult time getting things that the representatives want done accomplished, largely because they've got to balance their desires against both those of other governmental factions and their need to preserve the illusion of consent from those they represent. Thus the inevitable shift towards more totalitarian forms ( whether overt or covert). Take for example our own beloved republic. Clinton had a good deal of trouble getting the things he and his cohorts wanted done, because he had to fight the republicans in congress. Bush, on the other hand, has a republican congress that's mostly willing to do what it's told. As a result, he can focus on the illusion of consent, and tends to get a lot more of the stuff he wants done. The fact that most of the stuff he wants done is stupid and counterproductive is immaterial. The trains run on time, even if they're headed off a cliff.

As for romanticizing crueler and more primative forms of government, I don't think so. I just object to being robbed and threatened by people who claim to represent me, and who claim to be doing it for my own good. Government is a racket, and government officials are gangsters with badges. The fact that most of the people around me get offended when I point that out I'm losing at least a quarter of my check a week for roads that don't work, a Ponzi scheme retirement plan that'll be bankrupt before I'm old enought to qualify for it, laws that don't make sense, armies that invade every country on the globe and piss off their inhabitants at me, and a government that no longer even pretends to obey its own laws just aggravates me that much more.

Ben said...

One of the core issues of the lack of connection between the people and the government is campaign finance reform. I honestly believe if comprehensive campaign finance reform was enacted, democracy would work a whole lot better in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Shevchyk, Who Is Too Lazy to Register:

Let's all look back, and remember that Aristotle himself felt that the three best forms of government are Monarchy, Aristocracy and Polity in that order, and that the three worst are Tyranny, Oligarchy and Democracy.

Not so much an argument, but just some to chew over as you read this. And besides, I'm tired of reading posts about the government. Get philosophical, bitches.

Ben said...

Aristotle? The dude who said that the natural state of all sublunary matter was at rest? I think Aristotle has been proved wrong enough that his opinions should not be taken as fact.

Anonymous said...

Shevchyk, Who Is Not At Rest:

Quit picking at irrelevant semantics that have nothing to do with what I said.