John Derbyshire has a piece up starting with the anniversary of Tiananmen Square, moving into the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese model and finishing with this.
Universal-suffrage democracy may have been a good idea 120 years ago, when most adults did productive work into their sixties, then died. In today’s top-heavy welfare states, it just empowers tax-eaters to loot the national wealth.
Tomorrow’s politics will be the art of providing make-work for as many as possible of the employable minority while pacifying the un-employable majority with a state dole. In that world, universal-suffrage democracy will be untenable.
Already, unconsciously, we are making appropriate adjustments. Our universities, after a few aberrant decades of experimenting with open inquiry and the advance of knowledge, have reverted to their medieval purpose (the purpose that Chinese higher education always had): to train an intellectual elite for the propagation and defense of the state ideology. Then it was Christianity (in China, Confucianism); now it is utopian egalitarianism—“political correctness,” the Narrative. The advance of knowledge can go hang.
Since we are already making cultural adjustments to the inevitable future, can the political adjustments be far behind?
There’s a branch of the dissident that holds a view of the intermediate future that is a mix of District 9, Elysium and Terminator. They think most of us will be thrown into camps without regard to race, sex, age or ethnicity. We’ll live on garbage from the other group of humans, the elites. The elites will rely on super smart robots to keep their position and keep the rabble in their camps. Some small servant class will exist to maintain the robots and tend to the elite.
Some put greater emphasis on the robots, while others underscore the camps. There are surely others who have a combination of favorites, with some other elements added into the mix. Either way, the future is Hell, as they imagine it. Nordic people imagined Hell as barren and cold, while south people imagined it hot and fiery. People’s sense of the horrible future is a reflection of what they imagine to be a horrible present. The future is what you fear now, not what you’ll fear tomorrow.
One common thread that runs through the various subcultures that make up the dissident right is a rejection of democracy. Most people outside conventional poltics styart with the assumption that democracy is a terrible idea. Seeing people you know are struggling with the basics of living, in-line to vote makes plain that democracy turned self-government into a lottery. The capable have to hope the incapable tick the right box or they are tricked into it by the parties.
That said, you can’t argue with the results. Life in Europe and America is vastly better now than 1900. People are healthier, better fed and we live much longer. Outside of the urban reservations, violence is no longer a factor. In 1900 a person traveling alone cross country needed to be armed and prepared to kill. Today, a person traveling cross country only has to worry about what sights to see on the way.
Rule by dimwit seems to be working out, despite it all.
On the other hand, to the people in a car heading for a cliff, the ride may seem like it is going very well. Democracy in America is a relatively new thing. The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. The woman’s vote did not emerge as a force until after the second world war. Minorities were prevented from voting until the 1960’s. Our experiment in universal suffrage is only a couple of generations along. Maybe it just takes a few generations for democracy to nuke itself.
The real problem is what it does to the governing institutions and the ruling class in control them. In the 19th century, both political parties catered to the property holders, business men and the educated elite. That’s where the votes were so that’s where the politicians went looking for votes. The result was the parties were representative of the nation’s various interests, all of whom had the same general goals in mind. As a result, national politics was regional, not tribal.
Once you flood the voting booths with millions of people lacking an ownership stake in the country, politics becomes tribal. The parties seek to assemble collection of tribes, even though they may not have shared interests. This attracts a different class of politician. In order to get white union guys to vote with black welfare queens, you have to be cunning and persuasive. The appeal is emotional, not logical. The result is what we see. Both parties are dominated by sociopaths.
Democracy has its place and it is a requirement of civilized governance. It must be tempered and that’s what we lack. Returning the Senate to the states, for example, would cripple the federal welfare system. States would never tolerate the meddling in their affairs we see now. Of course, the Senate would attract a different class of politician. Low-life grifters like Chuck Schumer and John McCain would be of no use to their respective state legislatures.
The conditions under which we re-apply the brakes to our run-away democracy is the mystery. Maybe that’s where the doom and gloom set has it right. History is not exactly full of successful reformers steering their society away from the rocks. Instead, it is the story of one crash after another. A societies are boon, prosper and then die. It is the cycle of history that has been observed over and over. Maybe it is not doom and gloom, but a fatalistic acceptance in the arc of history.