Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Institutions’

Is Oligarchy Intrinsically Evil?

January 28, 2016

Yes and no. Unjustifiable Oligarchy Is Intrinsically Evil. Unfortunately, be it in China, Russia, the USA, the EU, and nearly all states, this is what we are enjoying now. Here is a little recapitulation of why it’s deeply inhuman, and unfathomably stupid. Considering the mental crisis out there, it’s something to fix as a priority.

Oligarchy is the rule of the few (oligo in Greek). The fundamental problems of the concept of oligarchy are two:

First, the rule of the few is fundamentally anti-humanistic. Human beings evolved in smallish groups. Various experiments have shown people cannot know more than around 150 people. Beyond that human neurology cannot handle it.

Second, in these small human groups, brains were made to be used in parallel: everybody think, their thinking is considered more or less equally, and the best ideas blossom out of debates. One can see this, if one thinks carefully. Moreover, an experimental proof has recently surfaced. It has been discovered, last year, that the most important decision making in baboon societies, where to go, is made DEMOCRATICALLY.

The Problem Was Not Just With Hitler. All Present Regimes Have It, More Or Less. One People, One Kingdom, One Guide. However One Brain For Tens of Millions Proves, Unsurprisingly, Brainless

The Problem Was Not Just With Hitler. All Present Regimes Have It, More Or Less. One People, One Kingdom, One Guide. However One Brain For Tens of Millions Proves, Unsurprisingly, Brainless

Let me give a few details on research recently published. It was made possible by fitting all the 25 adults of a baboon troop with GPS receptors endowed with a precision of 30 centimeters (a “foot”), recorded every second. It is well known that alpha males often dominate the rest of the troop for acquiring food or mates (they are also prominent for defending the troop) . However, and that is stunning, the alpha males do not  monopolize the decision-making for the all-important function of determining where to go!

A new distinction has appeared in baboon society: the “INITIATORS”. Just as there are alpha males (and alpha females, often mothers of alpha males), there are baboons who specialize in showing the way.

Notice the difference with today’s human society where the alpha males (those Obama, and not just Obama, calls the “leaders”), and the “initiators” are the same who lead the way to implementing new ideas.

In all of the world’s countries, politicians dominate. Even in the USA. The USA has the world’s largest government in money spent, as it spends more, than the entire GDP of Russia. It is actually about as large as Germany’s GDP. In fiscal year 2015, the federal budget is $3.8 trillion. These trillions of dollars make up about 21 percent of the U.S. economy. Much of them are distributed at the discretion of a handful of politicians, who, in turn decide who to finance (Elon Musk’s Space X, Tesla, and Sun City being examples of firms partly financed by the state) or who not to prosecute (the various technology monopolies being another example; in another times, under other governments, they would have been broken up).

Another way to think about it is that one fifth of the U.S. economy is directly controlled by the a few politicians. (Or maybe just one, the president!) That’s about 65 million people whose livelihood depends only upon the government of the USA, at the whim of just… one man.

Instead of going into detailed examples, as I often do, squeezed between bronchitis, antibiotics and a lack of time, I will just evoke fateful choices presidents of the USA made recently. To wit: deregulating finance (Clinton), invading Iraq, without, moreover, imposing order there (Bush), letting the derivative madness and banks run amok (Clinton-Bush), a liberal killer drones policy (early Obama), dropping fuel cell research (Obama), privatizing space (Obama), cutting down taxes on the hyper rich (Bush-first term Obama) etc. Obama did just one notable positive (besides following France on Libya): breaking the incredibly disgusting practice of American health insurance companies to insurance only healthy people… (OK, that was a tiny, but decisive step.)

Instead I will wax philosophical, going back to Socrates. The executed philosopher spent a lot of his philosophical time whining that Athenian Direct Democracy could not work. Socrates’ arguments were correct: if you want a good general, you should not elect him because somebody who talked well wanted to be a general.

The Roman Empire, followed by the European Middle Ages, and especially France, the successor state of Rome, found a solution. What I call “Democratic Institutions”. Those are meritocracies of expertise, organized as oligarchies. Guilds were examples in the Middle Ages. Medical Associations, for centuries, have decided who was a medical doctor in good standing, and who was not. Similarly for masons (free or not), architects, barbers, etc.

Philippe Le Bel arrested all the Templar at daybreak on Friday, 13 October 1307. It was a beautiful, and the first, example of a national police in action. The police of a state is another democratic institution.

Direct Democracy has to work hand in hand with Democratic Institutions. One cannot just decide what is the truth, just because it happens to be popular. Otherwise Kim Kardashian’s buns would be the only truth to be had.

But one has to keep in mind that Oligarchy is intrinsically anti-human. Not just anti-humanistic. It is deeply averse not just to our species, not just to our genus, but even to the order of primates.

And why is that? Because intelligence has been the evolutive strategy which has propelled the humanoids to supremacy over the biosphere, and now made us strong enough to be the main factor influencing it. Intelligence is higher, the higher, better, more subtle, richer, more powerful the ideas it produces are. Such ideas are born from the minds of the many, because they need debates, the equivalent of sex for ideas, to advance towards greater understanding.

Direct Democracy enables initiators all over, initiators of ideas, it’s the best enabler higher civilization ever had. And believing that oligarchy is better, the greatest enemy civilization has: not only it ends up promoting plutocracy, but, first of all, and worst of all, stupidity itself.

Notice this, though: most of the world society and economy is organized along oligarchic lines (although they are often hidden in suitably dark pools). It’s time to turn politics on its head.

Patrice Ayme’

A Long & Windy Road For Tunisia, Egypt…

February 15, 2011

 

Democracy Needs Institutions. Democracy Is Adverse To Army, Plutocracy & Superstition. A Tall Order For The Lands Where Theocracy Reigned.

***

Abstract: God destroyed most books, and killed most of its numerous enemies. But that was not enough. The Franks subdued God in 486 CE. Thereafter, the Franks made God eat in their secular hands.

However that charming scene was true only in the Imperium Francorum (Empire of the Franks), centered around Francia (modern France). The rest of the theocratic, fascist Roman empire kept on sinking in the Christian superstition, like a hopeless mammoth in the tar of ever increasing stupidity.

The theocratic dictatorship based in Constantinople was able to keep on imposing its holocaust, cloaked in superstitious terror. Under the fanatical terrorizing Christian-in-chief, emperor Justinian (483-565 CE), who reigned 40 years, much of the Roman empire was reconquered (Justinian attack all, but the Franks, who represented Roman authority just as well, but a Frankish army attacked Justinian’s forces in Italy).

Justinian caused great religious oppression, in the name of his triple headed god (does that make the Christian god a hydra?). He committed massive exterminations in the name of superstition, killing millions. Intellectuals fled to Persia, which, long the enemy of Rome, became, paradoxically, the protector of Greco-Roman intellectual treasures (that’s how the "Golden age of Islam" started, with the much older Zoroastrian civilization proving more mentally sustainable that the Greco-Roman folly; the former was founded by a philosopher, the latter corrupted by slave masters).

Ultimately the South East corner of the Greco-Roman empire, starting in Gaza (!) rebelled. That rebellion was exploited by Muhammad, and his cousin, a Christian monk. It is now called Islam. But it was all too similar to what it replaced, Christian terror. In particular Islam followed Constantinople’s degenerate idea of civilization, imposing a theocracy.

When God rules, the People does not. Theocracy prevents the growth of DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS, which are crucial to overcome Plato and Socrates’ objections to democracy. Whereas in Occident, democratic institutions steadily grew in power, respectability, and inevitability. Democratic institutions make expertise compatible with one person-one vote, one person-one voice…

Egypt, and all lands conquered by Islam, have a long way to go. They are going to vote, but their democratic institutions are weak, or inexistent. Those lands have to do to Islam what the Franks did to Christianity 15 centuries ago: put it in a tool box. Then build democratic institutions. Maybe their growth can be accelerated, thanks to the worldwide web.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian army is a plutocratic device with its head in Washington. It is also a democratic device, as younger officers and soldiers are not as corrupt. This sort of contradictory situations has often happened in history. The most spectacular case was Athens herself, as her Navy was both highly democratic, but also insidiously betrayed by its leaders, rich men fatally attracted to plutocracy (who succumbed to the ancient charms of Antipater, one of the old generals of Alexander and his father).

In Imperial Rome, the army had also replaced, and displaced, the People ("Populus"), as it quarreled with the Senate, for 5 centuries or so, to see who was going to eat more of the cheese.

Thus it is not clear how things will turn out throughout the lands submitted to overwhelming, crushing, anti-intellectual superstition for 17 centuries. There will be a battle royal. The plutocracy which is trying to subdue the West, and has done an excellent job at it, cannot be too happy as it sees its greedy tentacles bruised overseas. Especially considering that is where the oil it buys its own serfs with, comes from.

Then again, as was done last week, the Obama administration could help the force(s) closest to democracy. That closest force, last week in Egypt, was, indeed, the army (as it was in Tunisia a few weeks before). If the USA, and the EU, help democracy as much as they used to help the oil men and Israel, much unexpected good could come out.

***

***

Republican and democratic practices in Western Europe are not yesterday’s papers. Republican and democratic practices in Western Europe are about 27 centuries old. That is, older than the Bible. They preceded similar practices in Rome, and even Athens.

Of course, the Germans lived under a sort of democracy in their forests. But they hardly had a modern state. Actually they had no states at all.

However, the Greek colonies in southern France, such as Massalia (from the Greek: Μασσαλία), or Nice (Νικαία, Nikaia, "Victory" in Greek) were combative republics, surrounded by enemies (Carthage one of them). They built an empire which collided with Carthage in Spain.

Republic and democracy are not invented overnight. The memories of what happened before was not fully erased later. Just the opposite: it stuck around, a fog of truth from the past. Southern France would stay persistently more democratic in its institutions, and people from there would make the English parliament into an institution which could rule (that would take another 4 centuries).

Some Neoconservatives who used to love invading the Middle East with giant armies have somewhat repented (an example is Roger Cohen of the New York Times). Their new sing song is to say that the USA brought the Egyptian revolution, after trying everything else under Bush, from billions of dollars thrown at the problem to outright invasions.

This is a misreading of history. Bush’s predecessors, other American presidents, starting with Roosevelt, FDR, had succeeded to subjugate the Arabs, using a hefty dose of support for old fashion Islam (Salafism) to do so (FDR himself inaugurated the method in 1945). The American presidents also used highly hypocritical anti-Europeanism masquerading as holier than thou anti-colonialism (somewhat reminiscent of when Hitler posed as a liberator of oppressed populations, to better invade and subjugate; Europe ought to remember how the USSR and the USA cooperated during the Suez-Hungary crisis, and the dictators in Moscow threatened to atom bomb Paris and London, with apparent American encouragement).

This American system of oil procurement and control worked well, and for a very long time. However, it carried within the germs of its own destruction. Enormous American hubris showed up in somewhat crazy support for Salafism. It backfired already when the Iranian Shiites proved to be ingrate. And so it was with Saddam Hussein, who used to obey, and shake the hand of Rumsfeld with enthusiasm (Rumsfeld being Bush II’s defense minister later).

American exploitation of Salafism backfired further when Osama Ben Laden and his colleagues, employed by the USA to defeat the Soviets, realized that they were instrumentalized by American plutocrats: they were tools of American plutocracy, and could sit at a table, but not the highest one.

Salafists and Arab nationalists came to understand that the American plutocratic plan was forever an exploitative order, where the oil would flow as long as it could, as cheaply as needed. That hurt the pride of Arab war lords, especially after their huge army had done the heavy lift in Afghanistan. When they tried to do a similar job, on their own, in, say, Algeria, they saw the Americans lining up behind the French to support the military dictatorship there. A civil war that killed much more than 150,000, led nowhere the French did not want to go.

So the Salafists friends of the USA soured on the USA. The same happened in Iran. Next Saddam Hussein, long a Euro-American strong man, and an enemy of the Salafists, also soured on the USA. His attempt to switch to the European currency for the oil payments was a final insult that the USA was not going to tolerate (as it threatened the world dollar system; something that the USA cannot afford is to pay its oil in Euros).

Thus Bush’s feeble, disorderly military efforts, were an attempt to recover control. He did not. Far from it, he made a bad situation worse. The only thing that progressed was military technology, but, since no peasant army was planning to invade the USA, except for the unstoppable Mexicans, it was no use. Obama is now using cheaper and craftier methods. However, in great part thanks to the worldwide web, the collusion between the USA (and to some extent, France) and the dictatorships is better known.

The Egyptian army chief of staff was in the USA when the revolution started, the Egyptian army is formed by the USA, and the generals get retirement pay from Washington. Besides, the army is in direct business, in cooperation with American business interests.
The Tunisian revolution lighted up in Kasserine, and the poorest part of that poor city. The dictator, Ben Ali gave his goons order to shoot. 40 elite marksmen in Kasserine alone. French TV, in hidden camera took some in picture, standard military machine gun in the back, and long barreled sharp shooter gun in the front (to kill people from afar). The pictures and stories of the unarmed demonstrators were shown on the Internet. Associations allied to WikiLeaks, taught internet users how to turn around the internet embargo set by the Tunisian dictatorship.

The revolutions started in Tunisia and Egypt are secular. They came from young, unemployed, smart and educated youth. The revolutions have to do with poverty. They may not know it (although ElBaradei does), but they strive to undo 13 centuries of Islam supported dictatorships.

Make that 17 centuries of dictatorship in the name of Christ and then Allah. Islamist dictatorships were an outgrowth of the Roman Catholic empire, and its abominable theocracy (which had gone on for three centuries, when the Prophet Muhammad thrived).

Initially Alexandria surrendered to the Muslims because it was suffering under the atrocious "Catholic Orthodox" Roman theocratic dictatorship. The Christian fanatics had earlier burned the library, the largest in the world. They had butchered alive top intellectuals, such as the world famous Hypatia (Hypatia’s chief butcher is still a Christian so called "saint", so is that even bigger butcher, Justinian). Alexandria realized its mistake within 3 years, and revolted, but it was too late, and the Second Caliph, Omar, clamped down.

How does one create democracy? As Socrates sourly, and obsessively, repeated ad nauseam, one man, one vote is no panacea. The European Middle Ages retorted more subtly, by building many DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS. The guilds were an example. So were orders (lawyers, doctors).

The feudal system was itself somewhat democratic, because it rested mostly on oaths (namely contracts; the system originated with the Roman state contracting German micro nations for defense).

In theory the law of man applied to all equally. after the immensely wealthy Count of Coucy let a poacher hang, Louis IX informed him that next time it would be Coucy who would hang.

Athens had (mostly) two democratic institutions: the National Assembly of the People, and the Navy.

But, in Athens as in other Greek cities, would-be oligarchs and plutocrats were not far from the surface. At the battle of Plataea, a Greek army led by a 40,000 Spartan contingent (5,000 Spartans + attending Helots), and a considerable Athenian army, plus other cities, confronted Xerxes’ juggernaut (300,000 strong says Herodotus; that number has been contested, but I contest the contesters).

I find pretty telling that the horribly invading Persians had Greek allies, such as Thebes. And there was (Herodotus numbers again), 50,000 of them, Greek traitors (Herodotus admits that’s a guess). Why were so many Greeks supporting the horribly invading, fascist, plutocratic Persians? Because Thebes’ regime was oligarchic (that is the word, and concept, the Greeks used at the time to describe Thebes). Athens was a democracy, Thebes an oligarchy. In Athens the People led, and sometimes led like a mob. In Thebes, at the time, only a few ruled, so they became naturally friendly to the few who ruled Persia.

A plutocracy is an oligarchy, not all oligarchies are plutocracies. However, they tend to be friendly to each other, as the principle of the few who rule the many unite them. Modern representative democracies are, de facto, ruled by a few, so they are oligarchies. Thus no wonder that, like Thebes at Plataea, they love plutocracies. And that is a warning: people talk big, and they say we live in democracy. but the Athenians would have sneered, and enumerated a long list of reasons why democratic republics such as the USA and the EU are not democracies. (Many Europeans would readily agree about the EU.)

The Franks made a big deal that their presidents, which they called "kings" (or, more exactly, "Rex"), were theoretically elected. The French dropped the pretense after Philippe August (1223 CE), but, it was never far removed. The Franco-English civil war (the 485 years long so called "100 years war") started precisely because the rightful Franco-English queen, Isabelle de France, was refused her rightful inheritance, by a Paris based cabal. Henri III, before being called back to head France, had been elected king of Poland, and his chosen successor, Henri de Navarre, was pretty much (reluctantly) elected by the Parisians.

Two thirds of the Frankish empire, its middle and eastern part, kept on electing its emperors all the way until the Corsican dictator Napoleon from Ajaccio, much admired by the weak minded, discontinued the practice in 1806 (being a Corsican bandit, he gave all the top jobs to his family, and, to this day, Sweden is led by his descendants).

But let’s stop digressing. The Franks had forced, by law, all and any Christian organization to teach secularly. Even before that, the bishops of Gaul had understood belatedly that the Christian folly was destroying civilization. Frankish power protected them from the murderous madness of the Pope Gregory (so called ‘The Great"). That was facilitated as the Frankish state named as many bishops as it pleased.

Out of the cathedral schools grew Europe’s university system, which became a democratic institution. It took a few centuries to allow professors to marry officially, since the despicable Saint Paul put marrying just above burning. Christians, following Christ, love burning; emperor Justinian, the saint mentioned above, attended the burning of many individuals he did not like the religion of, such as Pagans, Hellenist (= secular humanists), Samaritans, and various Christian heretics. Calvin would do the same, 1,000 years later (proving, if need be, that it had everything to do with Christ)

Other democratic institutions which grew in the European Middle Ages were the state administration and hospices (some of which being direct survivors of the Roman state; although French police, by 1300 CE, had become more powerful than Roman police ever was, as proven the arrest of most Templar monks on Friday the 13th).

Democratic institutions could not grow in regions dominated by Islam. Because Islam claimed to be a political system. It’s intrinsically a superstition claiming to be a theocracy. The only sort of institutions compatible with the Qur’an are tribes (it’s mentioned there). They are hardly democratic.

The Occidental bishops had tried theocracy around 400 CE contributing to the disintegration of the Roman empire (bishop Ambrose of Milan excommunicated the mighty, notoriously Christian, emperor Theodosius, as the later had done a small holocaust somewhere; Theodosius had to beg to be forgiven and reinstated…).

The difference with the Oriental part of the empire is that in the West, the Franks, who obviously despised the Christian moral system and its superstition all along (while officially embracing it), took command, and established their secular state (with the Christian cross brandished high as a symbol of the new ethics, which had more to do with Franco-German ethics than Christ’s obscurantism).

In the Orient, the Roman Catholic Orthodox (that’s how they called themselves) machine had not been dismantled (although Muslims came close to defeating it, it suffered terminal defeat only in 1204, at the hands of the Franks, although the Franks had already saved its skin with the First Crusade).

The (present government of the) USA and its People (Peace be Upon It!) do not want a real Arab revolution.

Why? Because if the Arab speaking people took control, they would ask for as much money for the oil as the free market can take. That would mean oil at $300 a barrel (then the secondary sources such as the tar oils of Canada would become irresistible). It would also mean that Israel could not afford anymore its present leaders and their mean policies.
What we have right now, is a coup, not a revolution: we were threatened with Suleiman Aleikum, the Moo-Barack from behind, as I pointed out in a somewhat timely manner, 3 days before Suleiman’s grab for power came crashing down.
A last minute change put directly in control the only candidate for a democratic institution in Egypt, the army. Vice President Suleiman was livid, as he announced in a 40 second address, God’s mercy, Mubarak’s resignation, and his own personal eclipse.
Speaking of mercy, it would be merciful if my incendiary essay on the subject had been read in high places…
An obstacle is that the Egyptian army is not just obedient to American plutocrats, but itself plutocratic on its own. Generals are paid by Washington, especially when they retire. moreover, it is said that the Egyptian army controls as much as 15% of Egypt’s GDP, and thus is fully part of the worldwide plutocracy. So this plutocratic control is not over in Egypt.
It is far from clear that the Egyptian people will come out on top. A fortiori other Arabs. The obscene Mohammed VI is thriving in Morocco, having gathered 10% of GDP all by his little self. He is the Pope of Morocco. Like Justinian, a similar sort of Pope, he commands the army. History ought to write a warrant for his arrest.

***
Patrice Ayme