But what we in politics wish to know is whether Mr. Minister X understands his business, whether he has initiative, whether he is informed, whether he steals more than is absolutely necessary, whether he lies more than is publicly beneficial, and so on …
— Eric Voegelin
In other words, just tweak a few things here and there and make sure you get the right politician (read: less evil than most) into office. Then the state will work fine — ordered liberty will be achieved; society and market will flourish; Leviathan will be indefinitely averted.
Paradox: How to achieve this when statist political systems favor the unscrupulous, incentivize their seeking and maintaining office and increasing their power, steadily erode what moral fiber they may have, and make useless or harmful to their political careers any truly important knowledge or skills (such as of economics or how to actually be productive in society).
That, at least, was my impression of the worry expressed in a recent Wired.com article, “Real-Time Debate Feedback Distorts Democracy.”
What’s all the hoopla about? Well, you may recall that back in the 2008 presidential election CNN debuted a new ratings-capturing gimmick below the bloviating candidates: “A real-time graph depicting the averaged reactions of 32 supposedly undecided voters, who expressed favor or disfavor by turning handheld dials as they watched.”
A study by British scientists purports to show that a relative handful of indecisive common folk can “unduly” influence millions of their equally indecisive fellows around the country with this real-time feedback. Wait, we needed what was probably a tax-funded scientific study to tell us that?
Anyway … this, apparently, is BAD FOR DEMOCRACY™.
We can’t have WE THE PEOPLE™ influencing WE THE PEOPLE™ while a “debate” is going on! Oh noes! It’s the job of the elites — in the media, in politics, in government bureaucracies, in academia, and in think tanks — to influence the people before and after the “debates.” Now that’s democracy!
There’s no room for violence in our political discourse? But politics is merely war by other means. Political discourse within the state inherently involves the threat of violence and is ultimately backed by it.
In his paper “America’s Ruling Class – and the Perils of Revolution” Professor Angelo Codevilla offers an excellent analysis of the causes and forms of government encroachment into the basic traditional liberties of Americans, and a very good sketch of the reasons why big government ideology succeeded in imposing its tenets upon the country, despite overwhelming opposition by Americans. The problem America faces, according to him, is nothing less than a complete usurpation of power by an alienated elite: the ideologues of big government and the politicians that work in concert to subvert the structure of the American constitution, and to rule over the great majority of Americans against their will. Professor Codevilla paints a very grim (and very true) picture of the complete breakdown of the constitutional form of government in America, under the assault of the modern statist ideology, delivered in a bipartisan manner, and garnered with political corruption. But he fails to provide prescriptions radical enough to deal with the problem, perhaps because he too is a member of that big-government-worshiping elite.
Ivan Jankovic is a graduate student of Political Science at the University of Windsor, Canada. Originally from Serbia, he has published in the fields of Austrian economics, public choice, and classical liberal philosophy.
Read the Full Article by Ivan Jankovic
Afterwards, discuss it below.
A Chinese libertarian, Nicolas Dong, who recently did a Mandarin translation of one of my IP articles, recently told me this in an email regarding my earlier post, Don’t Bet on China:
I agree most part of your point of view about China. I believe that after the bust of the current housing bubble and high inflation, there will be much more unrest. The costs to maintain a “stable” social order have exceeded the cost of maintaining the army. Great changes may occur after the Xi Jinpin administration. But democratization will probably make China more socialist, for reasons explained in Hoppe’s Democracy: The God that Failed. There are just too many mobs here. And many social democrats are controlling the media, preaching democracy and equality instead of liberty. Fortunately, some influential media have libertarian-leaning editors or columnists. We also have libertarian and classical liberal university professors. We are trying our best to have a greater influence.
Also, regarding the libertarian perspective on intellectual property and my anti-IP article that he translated, he said:
They [the Chinese libertarians] debated for a while, and now, most libertarians in China are anti-IP.
However its influence is limited since we are just circulating it in our circle, and posting it on websites. Most people in China don’t know what libertarianism is, and they may not capable of catching the idea in the article.
… You know, something nice is that those who control the internet here don’t know what libertarianism and the Austrian School are; thus, most of those sites are not prohibited. The Austrian School does have some influence in academia here, albeit mainly Hayekian.