Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Democracy Mission - A Conspiracy Theory

Amid the overwhelming Democracy narratives, even sensible skeptics tend to echo apologetically: “Of course we support Democracy! Who doesn’t? Just that our folks ain’t ready yet. Too stupid and uneducated you see. Sorry sorry. One day soon!” This unthinking concession, mostly a reaction to the intimidating pressure wave generated by an enormous propaganda turbine, is irrational and contrary to facts. The long-term effects of repeating the hypnotic mantra of Democracy include loss of judgement as well as the confidence to say black is black. 

What people should strive for is good governance, and a reasonably fair, rational, sustainable and civil society (which depends on the people as much as their government), NOT an ostensibly participatory Democracy controlled by greed, dominated by corrupt politicos and financial charlatans. The Chinese, having learnt numerous lessons in their long history, should feel qualified to explore a feasible balance for themselves. 

Whatever the merits of democracy, I’m more curious about its evangelical preachers. 

Democracy is a vague term, like “Christendom”, “Islamic World”, or “the West”.  Besides the democratic banner, the political landscapes of the USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, India. . . don’t share many common features. In the end, I suspect Democracy could be fantastic for some, at some point in time, and disastrous for others, under different circumstances. Any system, like its human inventors, would age, turn insufferable, then die one day. Some reincarnate, others don’t.

The brute force and passion with which democracies export their faith is bewildering, reminiscent of colonial missionaries. Is the missionary complex simply a hangover from the religious past? Could there be an element of altruism in their uncontrollable urge to share a great social discovery with the rest of humanity? But. . . come on, these are ruthless invaders, operators of 21st Century torture camps and lynching drones so. . .

What about more pragmatic motives such as security? If everyone adopted the same social values, some say earnestly, there’ll be no more conflicts. Universal peace man. However, Nazi Germany was democratic and Christian, just like the allies. History is full of similar examples.

It seems to me the only “party” with a material interest in globalising Democracy is the money powers that rule the “West” behind the scene. Opportunistic politicians and the noble free press are merely executives and marketing managers that can be bought and sold, hired and fired. Occasionally, they even get bumped off. The poor and unemployed, brainwashed and patriotic, are cannon fodder, as usual.

When an “undemocratic” regime has lost popular support, it risks revolt. China, portrayed as politically “conservative and backward” by the Democratic missionaries, has seen a few dozen dynasties in just as many centuries, making it rather revolutionary if one goes by track record rather than “Western” opinion columns. Just in the past few years, it has made a lot more substantial changes than Obama, who, ha! campaigned to change. 

On the other hand, in a matured democracy, the true powers that be have been consolidating for generations, while politicians bicker over trivialities and vain principles. By now, whoever wins the election ends up working for the invisible emperor. There is no option in practice. An elected individual, sitting in his monumental office, is pitifully impotent in front of the mega powers with a death grip on money, economy, natural resources, education, mass media, military industry. . . everything. Imagine, the American people don’t even control their country’s currency. Congress can’t audit the Federal Reserve — don’t dare to mention it in fact. Need one say more?

In a sophisticated network of Mafia politics, a politician with integrity won’t get past the municipal level. Even if he did by miracle, he won’t have the financial means to run for presidency. And even if he did, so what? Any fundamental change in a vastly complex system like the US would take consistent long-term commitment and painful compromises by all the President’s Bosses, not something that can be achieved in four years minus campaign time and endless politicking.

A matured democracy seems to me a boisterous dead-end (perhaps with the exception of some culturally homogeneous countries with a small population). It’s impervious to change, except in theory. Sure, stand up and be counted. You’re one in a hundred million. People Power! But once power has been divided into meaningless fragments, distributed among the masses in the form of ballots, people can only fight each other rather than the invisible Emperor — the guy sniggering backstage. Fed up with the Democrats, vote Republican. No good? Oh dear, do the opposite next time. Still the same? Hmm... 

Revolution is nearly impossible. Who could the angry masses behead? There’s the Rule of Law too you know, designed by lobbyists, stamped by elected representatives, backed by guns. So, people, the only option is to wait — wait for the next promise of change, and exercise your sacred democratic rights.

Change is just another empty slogan in democratic reality. But slogans are important in keeping the masses stupefied. Democracy is now a belief, succeeding Christianity.

If the entire world gets sucked into the democratic black-hole, the hidden Emperor may dream of effectively ruling it with fake money, on everlasting terms. Could this be the reason why they spread the Good News of Democracy with such uncanny fervour, often through the unwitting arms of poor American crusaders?

First Posted on Guo Du 14 Feb 2011
Rev A 9 Mar 2011
Rev B 9 Aug  2013

Update Sept 2014
According to the latest Gallup Poll, American confidence in their congress has fallen from 42% in 1973 to the current historic low of 7%. Yes, 7%! Helpless Americans are evidently waking up to the con game, but what can they do? Keep voting?

Update May 2015
Since this piece in 2011, I've been looking for evidence to disprove my conspiracy theory, so that I could write an update with more peace in mind. Unfortunately, I've found none. Instead, a subsequent event strengthened the conspiracy theory last year. See Mini Memories and the significance of Snowden

What has universal data theft got to do with the Democracy scam? So what if the NSA has a detail file on everyone on this planet? "Just junk," you might think. "Let them look!" However, should you become politically ambitious and successful one day, but refuse to think correctly, then your history could remerge to haunt you, especially in populist politics. Even the mother of god has at least a few megabyte of dirty laundry. Career politicians normally have container loads, or terabytes, of stuff deemed unsuitable for voters, especially in societies with unreachably high moral facades. Hey, mission accomplished. Long live Democracy!


Anonymous said...

Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have already been tried..

So, do you have a proposal for something better ?

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Democracy is far from worst. It has served many countries well for period, under certain circumstances, and continues to be an optimum selection mechanism for many small European countries. But all human social experiments have a shelve life (some longer, some very short). Whatever we try, the objective should be to chose “leaders”. The current method of the Democracy Empire appears to be consciously selecting “opportunistic followers” rather than leaders. I for one find it puzzling, especially in the challenging environment that the global community faces.

A more important point is that we should leave each other to experiment the way each sees fit. Trial and error, learning from mistakes, diversity of ideas, cautious adjustments and bold changes, and luck, are essential features supported by the human spirit.

I personally believe the current Chinese way is a rather sensible experiment for now, for them, given their circumstances. It should not be a direct competition with other political ideologies. We can’t say which system is better for how long. Only time will tell. Let history be the judge. If Democracy turns out to be the first "everlasting" good system Homo sapiens have discovered. Many countries would voluntarily emulate. No preaching or violent interference would be required.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the "except for all those others that have already been tried" - the sentence by the way is not mine but Churchill's.

As for the rest of your arguments, although I agree in principle, I cannot help but notice that they are somewhat romantic (especially coming from a self professed cynic)..

If I were to compare the current state of affairs in the no. 1, and no. 2 economies in the world, I'd see little substantial difference in who wields the power. The monied elites direct/influence politics in the US, while in China political elites direct the economy to serve their economic interests. There does not seem to be much difference at the most fundamental working level - apart of course from the level of perceived "personal freedom" enjoyed by the "average" citizen (and that again maybe subject to many historical and cultural biases).

So, the question is why is there so much apparent animosity between proponents of both systems ?

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Funny Churchill should say that, monarchies being the most tried and failed system in human history.

Hey! I actually like to think I'm romantic, rational, and bluntly realistic. But nowadays, realism is generally labelled cynicism so I voluntarily short-circuited the process by calling myself a cynic. Thanks for noticing :)

I agree with your 3rd paragraph 95%. I think with time, it might become 100%. Right now, because of Mao having pressed the reset button, the Political Elites are only coalescing to form a more durable power bloc. That takes a generation or two. Once that has happened, my prediction is what you said will become 100% correct. In fact, without the "disruption" of the communist revolution, that would have already happened. There would be a China National Reserve Bank controlled by the Chiang and Song families and other familiar global names. Controlling the currency and fiscal policy of a country means a LOT more than just being hugely influential.

I could answer your final question with another long-winded essay. Briefly, China is not interested in converting the "West" to their system. If the Chinese believe they have found the ultimate good system, they would prefer to keep quiet about it. China had pragmatically cherry-picked the many good and sensible things about the Western systems, and never denied. On the other hand, the real power behind the Democracy Empire has been trying to "convert" China to their system, thereby opening it to their (by now) rather transparent "attack". That's my conspiracy theory anyways.

Ordinary Americans have no vested interest in this "invasion", but they are victims of very sophisticated brainwashing for decades. Democracy has been moulded into a secular hangover of an overwhelming religious past to many, even those who have removed god from the equation; hence the inevitable "moral" facade and double-standard hypocrisy.

Without this "hidden agenda" and missionary complex, I believe animosity will become more pragmatic and rational, if not dramatically less.

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Oh, BTW, I do know that being "romantic" and "bluntly realistic" are conventionally regarded opposite but like I confessed in the self-intro I am comfortable living with contradictions :)

Anonymous said...

On Churchill: Yes he said that in his concession speech to the parliament when he lost the elections post WW2 - he had a sense humour even when bitter :-).

I agree with most of what you say.. However I disagree on the "conspiracy" part. To me, the cultural/economic "attack" does not seem to be organized or masterminded, but is the natural state of the "western" way of thinking. The society believes that it is better off and (with a somewhat missionary zeal) needs to "share" or to "convert" others. Economic interests occasionally utilize that tendency to their own advantage, but the desire to convert others is genuine, and that is what fundamentally makes it more potent.

As for the US: It seems to me that people in China want to portray it simply as a continuation of the European colonial powers (British, French, German). However, the reality is more nuanced - the US being both a more reluctant and naive empire/superpower than e.g. the Britain of old. Chinese "neo-nationalists" tend to not see (or conveniently ignore) that. But that is another debate..

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

A conspiracy theory is only a theory of course, just one way to illustrate a vastly complex picture with very limited pixels. Nobody knows what the full truth is, if it exists, perhaps not even the “conspirators” themselves. But politics have certainly become more absurd, even surreal, as more people choose to sleep through it rather than waking up to it and face the helpless feelings.

I fully agree with you that the US (by that I mean the American people) is a naive and reluctant empire. The whole world once shared their dream. That's why the disappointment is global, not just American. Perhaps that's why I place so much blame (and give too much credit) to the Cartel for having effectively "conquered" the US and ruined the ideal. But even if this "conspiracy" vision is mostly true, the Cartel is also made up of mortals. They would face the same problems all empires faced. They would also age, and rot, all by themselves. Perhaps that is happening.

Chinese feelings cannot be taken out of historical context but like you said, that's another debate.

Just read Neil Postman's "Amusing ourselves to death". Great book. I strongly recommend it. It puts the power and charm that once symbolised rational America (without presidential candidates telling everyone "what a great nation we are" every five minutes) into historical perspective. It's amazing how accurately he foresaw the present socio-political landscape from 1985. For people who love a good rational (now old-fashioned) debate (thank you for this BTW!), the book is somewhat nostalgic.

Finally, just watched a brief video on Ralph Nader: He certainly shares my conspiracy theory but expressed it in better American terms.

Anonymous said...

If you liked Postman's book, you might also like "The culture of fear" by Barry Glassmer..

I think you are too pessimistic... I am a foreigner I live in the US and amongst all the decline I can see the signs of hope: the (somewhat naive) OWS movement, the voices of reason (and conspiracy) like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Robert Reich and many others. I just heard on the radio a Thomas Ricks interview where he seriously proposed re-instating the military draft as a way to save democracy and avoid misadventures like Iraq. The argument was convoluted and maybe counter-intuitive but convincing enough. The point being not everyone in the US is in stupor. People are thinking but the majority of the population does not feel the need to act yet because things are not unbearable.

You have to keep in mind, that the situation in the US looked a lot worse during the Guilded age or the roaring 20's. At that point, when the people had enough the country changed (nonviolently to a large degree). That can happen again - in fact I am betting that sooner or later it will happen again. Things are not bad enough yet - and for that the elite in the US has to partially thank China's elite. They keep buying US IOUs to finance the purchase of ever cheaper stuff, thus keeping the population in China at peace. That symbiotic relationship is my "conspiracy theory" :-) Of course all of your disclaimers apply on that one too..

We can have the discussion about why I think that the Chinese "neo-nationalists" (with their blind hate of the West/US are as misguided and dangerous as the Mao youth was once) another time..

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look for Glassmer's!

Anonymous said...

Churchill died in 1965, almost 50 years ago. When he said ... "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have already been tried..". He obviously did not know the current Chinese system. I believe whatever he said then is no longer relevant today.

James Tam 谭炳昌 (过渡) said...

Yes the world has changed a lot both in form and substance, for better or worse, since Churchill. He was after all born before the television, and grew up in a privileged household without air-conditioning or a credit card. In his younger days, Britain still felt like the centre of planet Earth. China was probably at her most humbled in two millennia, struggling for painful rebirth.

Although I think all systems could work for a while, then age and rot regardless, needing "resetting", it is in accordance with our highly self-praised human spirit to keep learning, experimenting and changing in response to the circumstances and experience. Refusing to deviate from a system that is far from perfect because it is the "best we know, uh, half a century ago, by people living in a drastically different world, would be turning the pragmatic business of organising society into "faith and worship".