Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Opening Shot?

I've speculated (in my more pessimistic moments) that - with the "Great Recession" continuing to deepen - we would start see high-ranking members of "The Elite" vocally losing faith in democracy and advocating (gently) the end of representative government in America.

If that's the case, Thomas Friedman's newest column might be an opening shot...

"There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today."


Yep, Friedman says it.

And why are things better in China?

Because the current "reasonably enlightened group of people" in charge of China, at the moment, can just impose "politically difficult but critically important policies" like raising gas prices to encourage clean power investment and so on.

Yep, that's fine, Mr. Friedman.

One-party autocracy? Check.

A Global CO2 Budget for Every Man, Woman and Child? Something to consider.

Just don't forget to bring back the "punisher God!"


**UPDATE, SEP. 9, 2009**

A few musings from The Corner...

Jonah Goldberg: “I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it's the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn't picky in this regard). This is the argument for an "economic dictatorship" pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It's the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.”
Mark Steyn: The technocratic argument — that there are no legitimate philosophical or policy differences, merely correct solutions that all experts agree on and that democratic politics merely obstructs — has been used to justify totalitarian regimes from Germany and Italy to the rinky-dinkiest post-colonial African basket-case backwater [TW note: This is consistent with my theory that modern liberalism is a product of relativism. See my essay, From Rorty to Obama to Beyond].

But what's even weirder about Friedman's valentine to the Politburo is that on his big bugbear — "climate change" — the Chinese have explicitly rejected the cap-&-trade/emissions reduction regime he urges upon us. Having no public opinion or Friedmanite media to worry about at home, the ChiComs told the "international community" to go take a hike.
Dan Blumenthal at the EB (via Goldberg):

Just in the past few months Tom Friedman’s “reasonably enlightened group” of Chinese dictators has jailed blogger Wu Baoqun for posting information that the government forced Chinese peasants to sell their land at extremely low prices, so that the Communist Party could auction that land off for a hefty profit.

But complaining about government expropriations from peasants is not all the CCP has been up to. Let’s take one of Mr. Friedman’s pet issues, the environment. His favorite enlightened despots have sent Sun Xiaodi , a Gansu environmental activist and recipient of the 2006 Nuclear-Free Future Award and his daughter Sun Haiyan, to re-education-through-labor camps for exposing official corruption and nuclear waste pollution in Gansu Province. Likewise, the CCP has sent activists Wu Lihong and Tang Zhirong to jail for for complaining about industrial pollution.

It appears that for the enlightened dictatorship that rules China, one is free to build electric cars and solar panels, particularly if these products can make a hefty profit for the CCP and businessmen connected to the Party. An added bonus for Chinese producers of alternative energy is positive press in the New York Times. But if you are just an ordinary Joe (or Zhou) seeking some recourse against industrial pollution and hazardous waste, jail time is the most likely outcome.

More Goldberg: The best example of greens growing weary of democracy I know of is the book The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy.

From the publisher's book page: Having argued that democracy has failed humanity, the authors go even further and demonstrate that this failure can easily lead to authoritarianism without our even noticing. Even more provocatively, they assert that there is merit in preparing for this eventuality if we want to survive climate change…

The authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power.

And here's one of the co-authors:

The savvy Chinese rulers may be first out of the blocks to assuage greenhouse emissions and they will succeed by delivering orders. They will recognize that the alternative is famine and social disorder

Let us contrast this with the indecisiveness of the democracies which together produce approximately the other half of the world’s greenhouse emissions. It is perhaps reasonable to ask the reader a question. Taking into account the performance of the democracies in the reduction of emissions over the past decade, do you feel that the democracies are able and willing to reduce their emissions by 60-80 per cent this century or perhaps more importantly by approximately 10 per cent each decade?

If you say “yes” then you fly in the face of a track record of persistent failure in a wide range of environmental management.

Kenneth Anderson, The Volokh Conspiracy...

There is the dismaying whiff here of the 1930s and the loss of faith in those years by political elites and the chattering classes in the future of parliamentary democracy as measured against the robust and healthy decision-making processes of those, uh, non-parliamentary systems.

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