I’ve Said it Before and I’ll Say it Again: Democracy Simply Doesn’t Work

I’m a classical liberal.  I support capitalism, free trade, flat taxes, low taxes (including low corporate taxes), minimal regulations, federalism, free speech, gun rights, individual freedom in general, government transparency, reasonable but not restrictive immigration limits (with preferences for culturally compatible immigrants), and a strong defense of those things from people who would like to destroy them.  I oppose communism, socialism, populism, economic nationalism/protectionism, fascism, public sector unions, ethnic nationalism, racism or bigotry of any kind, mandatory unionization, fear-mongering, demagoguery, appeals to emotion, inflammatory rhetoric, corruption, totalitarianism, speech codes, feminism, monarchy, giving politicians power on the basis of climate change, and universal healthcare.  Social issues aren’t of much concern to me, not even abortion, which I think should be illegal but I don’t care about it as an issue as much as most other things.

The funny thing about democracy is that, in order to elect the least of several evils (Stephen Harper, for example, who I’m not a big fan of due to his inaction on reforming the healthcare system), I would have to “work with” people are diametrically opposed to me, ideologically, merely because we happen to agree on who the least evil candidate is.  For example, a populist union guy who votes Conservative because he is concerned about women going around in burqas and other ethnic minorities “invading” the country, while supporting economic protectionism and other anti-capitalist, big government policies.  Or someone who votes Conservative out of a blind sense of loyalty to the party, because that is his “team,” and automatically supports whatever Harper supports.  Or someone who is conservative in the sense that she is categorically opposed to any kind of societal change, regardless of the actual merit of the change.  I have about as much in common with those kinds of people as I do with Liberal and NDP voters, and yet, they are on my “side” for some reason.  And, therefore, politicians I am forced to support because they are ostensibly not leftist pander to these people.  In fact, they likely make up the bulk of the electorate, because most people just don’t pay that much attention to politics, and they certainly wouldn’t put much thought into forming well-thought out, logically consistent political philosophies.

My complaint here isn’t just that I, and most things I support, pretty much lack a voice (especially in Canadian politics, which due to our dumb constitution is further removed from its classical liberal roots than the US is), but it’s also that what these people support affect me (and everyone else) in a negative way.  Because people who don’t think have power, freedom is restricted, and government eternally grows.  Not only are these not people who don’t consider individual liberty a priority, they probably couldn’t even accurately define that term.  Why should the “unalienable” individual liberty everyone is entitled to be subject to the whims of people who don’t put any thought into exercizing the power they wield?

Of course, democracy also gets you shit like Justin Trudeau, who has no business leading a Boy Scout troop, let alone a freaking country.  He’s really more suited to being a reporter for Entertainment Tonight.  And look at the US election.  Some possibilities for the next president: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush (family members/close personal friends of former presidents/prime ministers should probably be banned from running for office), and the damn socialist Bernie Sanders.  And look what’s happened to Ted Cruz.  Remember when he was a conservative?  Now he’s kissing the ass of someone who thinks Canada’s healthcare system is just dandy, while attacking someone who is far more conservative than Trump (i.e. Marco Rubio) and has done more than any other single person to destroy Obamacare.  In other words, he’s appealing to the lowest common denominator, because that’s what savvy politicians do.  And then there is the farce that was the 2008 US election.  Just like Canada in 2015, Americans elected a god damn celebrity to lead their country (with disastrous results).  All this is thanks to democracy.

By criticizing democracy, I’m not supporting authoritarianism or some other political system that lacks any voting.  Democracy is a necessary component of a functioning political system, but only if it works as a safeguard against tyranny.  It certainly shouldn’t be the whole political system, or have as much influence as it does now.  The actions of the government should be strictly limited by the constitution (as it is supposed to be in the United States), and the populace should be tought that.  Of course, I’m just speaking in terms of ideals, not what is actually feasible.  But that is all I can do to lessen my frustration at politics.

People are always saying that politicians ought to listen to their constituents.  The problem with that is that their constituents aren’t all telling them the same thing.  If you listen to one constituent, you piss off half of your other constituents, and probably strip all of your constituents of their natural rights.  Democracy is basically mob rule.  Why it is held up as the paragon of civilization is baffling.

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Toxic Emotion

I admit, I used to subscribe to in the “burn it down” school of thought.  After all, if the current system is too corrupted to be fixed, you might as well scrap it and start over, right?  I was an optimist back then.  But optimists are fools, at least when it comes to politics.  The fact is, politics attracts the very people who are exactly the people you don’t want to have power.  It can’t be reformed into anything else.  Sure, there are ways to fix that, but only to an extent.  That is possibly the biggest argument against socialism I can think of (other than maybe the legacy of mass-murder and the denial of basic freedom).

The “burn it down” philosophy is essentially an expression of frustration.  Contrary to what I may have argued in the past, it has no rational foundation (like theoretical socialism in its mindless utopianism).  It is purely emotional.  If you have any principles at all, it is pretty much inevitable that politics will frustrate you.  Well, aren’t you special.  You’re frustrated at the “Republican establishment” or whatever.  Well who, among the segment of the population with a conscience, isn’t?  Trump supporters, and anyone else belonging to a similar political movement, like Bernie Sanders supporters, are basically just infants throwing tantrums because not everything is exactly how they want it to be.  It’s so unfair!  Given that a lot of these people are apparently otherwise intelligent, successful adults, you would think they would be more mature than that.  But I guess not only young people are millennials (who don’t know how the real world works).  Or maybe all this massive Trump support is just an illusion created by the fact that a lot of people probably aren’t paying close attention to politics and Trump is merely the only person they’ve heard of, or they at least want to support an outsider but haven’t been paying attention to how abjectly dumb (not to mention leftist) Trump is.  Still, the fact that so many people would actually be willing to vote for someone who is essentially a reality TV star that is only famous because of nepotism is troubling nonetheless.  But I guess this isn’t the most appropriate place to talk about Canada’s recent election.  Anyway…

The thing that motivates me more than anything else to speak up is anger or frustration.  And I admit that is a weakness of mine.  But it is normal to want to say something when you are frustrated, especially when that frustration is based on something reasonable.  Actually acting on that is completely different, and giving no thought to your actions is reckless.  I have nothing but disdain for the kind of person who gauges the legitimacy of his or her actions on their emotional state at the time.  Frankly, I don’t give a shit what your feelings are, and neither should any competent adult with a functioning brain*.  That’s not how adults behave.  Conservatives are supposed to be the responsible people saying stuff like that, not the ones engaging in the adolescent behaviour.  This isn’t meant to be condescention; I would hope this stuff is blatantly obvious.  But apparently not.

Emotions are what leftists operate on.  The right ought to value reason and facts, not petty self-indulgent tantrum-throwing.  That does nothing but cede ground to the leftists.  I guess my main point here is that all the Trump-supporters who are supporting an actual leftist who supports universal healthcare, abortion, and economic protectionism merely because he “fights” and therefore validates their feelings are essentially leftists themselves, who don’t want to admit it.  After all, leftism and nationalist populism are merely closely-related branches of the same authoritarian ideology.

*In the sense that society doesn’t, not necessarily people who legitimately care about you.

An End to the Left’s Hegemony over Academia is Necessary

Universities offer courses on things such a women’s studies, gender studies, and all other kinds of nebulous, pseudo-scientific “academic disciplines” that are not only heavily biased towards a particular viewpoint, but entirely based upon them.  I mean, women’s studies, for example, is explicitly feminist.  And feminism isn’t exaclty “objective.”

However, these inherently ideological academic studies are all leftist (unless maybe you go to Hillsdale College, BYU, or some other non-leftist university).  And even nominally “objective” social sciences, such as linguistics and (especially) sociology can be influenced by (particularly leftist) ideology.  These so-called “soft-sciences” are so-called because their experimental results can (and usually are) highly susceptible to personal bias.  To be fair, even the hard sciences are susceptible to personal bias and it is never possible to be completely objective, but the hard sciences tend to deal with more concrete (i.e. experimentally replicable) or logical (i.e. logically or mathematically demonstrable) subjects.  Whereas the social sciences tend to deal with more nebulous subjects, like society.  That isn’t to say that social sciences have no value; they often produce valuable insights.  And things like women’s studies can’t even be considered soft-sciences.  There is nothing scientific about the methodology of women’s studies, and they are explicity derived from inherently subjective assumptions.  But again, that isn’t to say that such fields have no value.  Even if I don’t agree with the ideologies such fields are based on and even if I think such fields often have pernicious consequences, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to the different ways of thinking such fields tend to produce.

Anyway, my point in all of this is that there is no well-established ideological academic discipline on the right.  I would argue, in order to gain more of a foothold in academics and present alternate theories to those presented by fields like women’s studies, and even to advance the intellectual side of the right, such disciplines should be established.  One reason women’s studies has been so influential is that it influences people when they are young and tend to be more impressionable, creating a lasting impact on the paradigm from which they view things.  And given that the right-side of academics isn’t well established, it might also have the effect of leading to novel ways of thinking about things.

I’m approaching this from maybe more of a hard-sciences perspective than others might, because I am a chemistry student and I have little exposure to humanities and soft-sciences (although I do have exposure to those things, even in an academic context, having taken some social science classes in the past, specifically geography and linguistics.  But given that the social sciences/humanites are less removed from society than the hard sciences are, especially if you are as into politics as me, it’s hard not to be exposed to some of their aspects).  It’s also hard to completely divorce my ideological and moral views from the hard sciences, not because science is ideological or supports my views (ideological is something that science should, ideally, never be, although it is inevitable that it sometimes will appear to be.  But when it does, that is a good indication that it’s junk science), but because my views are based on the same principle that led to the philosophy of science.  Namely, “objective” reason.  Of course, “objective reason” is barely a real thing in actual science, and when you start clouding it with less concrete concepts, it strays farther and farther away from that ideal.  That is important to keep in mind, and it is something I am cognizant of as I write the following.

A coherent ideology should be derived from first principles (some relatively simple assumptions, observations,  objectives, etc).  This is probably the biggest factor in determining your political views, because what first principles you subjectively decide are the most important to base your ideology on will vary.  If you develop your ideology from the objective of equality of outcome, your ideology will be very different from one that makes the assumption that equality of outcome is impossible to attain.

The more “intellectual” variety of modern American conservatism is often informed by the founding principles of the United States, the most important of which, I would argue, is natural law.  Conservatism also often draws inspiration from other sources, such as Christianity, but I will leave those kinds of conservatism be because those aren’t the ones I am advocating for and thus I have no interest in addressing them.  Because “conservative” is often non-specific, I tend to use “classical liberal” to describe my views nowadays, since that is more specific.  The term “conservative” is often interchangeable because natural law is fundamentally classically liberal, and the natural law-based constitution is what is being conserved in this case.  But if the “conservatism” being referred to is based on the principle that things should not change due to possible unexpected consequences, that is not at all what kind of conservatism I am addressing here.  Ultimately, though, these are just labels, and labels aren’t very important.

Back to science, the fundamental principle of science is that there is some objective reality (even if that objective reality sometimes relies on randomness).  The nature of this reality can often be elucidated through experiments or logic (an example of a logically elucidated objective reality is the existence of black holes, which was predicted mathematically as a means to explain observed phenomena and only experimentally “confirmed” after the fact, not that anything can really be proven beyond all doubt), and sometimes it can’t be, but the main idea is that all of reality can theoretically be elucidated with those things.  That is, reality has some kind of objective, predictable order to it (again, not predictable order in the sense that every outcome is predictable or deterministic.  That statement simply means that things are a certain way and that is possible to know what way things are).  That is an assumption made in science, and it usually seems to be correct, basically on humanity’s ability to explain a whole crap ton of phenomena using scientific inquiry and develop technology using that knowledge.

The assumption of an objective reality is the first assumption natural law is based on.  As I said before, no ideology can be completely objective, but objectivity is the ideal of the ideology.  That means that subjectivity is meaningless, just like if someone was convinced that water is made of fire.  Just because that person believes water is made of fire doesn’t mean that water is actually made of fire.  Subtectively, to that person, water might be made of fire, but objectively, water is not made of fire.  That person’s subjective “reality” has no impact on actual, objective reality.  Water isn’t made of fire simply by decree of that person.  Therefore, any one person’s subjective “reality” doesn’t supersede any other person’s subjective “reality.”  No one has the ability to decree that reality is a certain way because they arbitrarily believe that is how it is.

If the assumption is made that there is such a thing as “human rights” (and the basis of that assumption is more complicated than what I want to get into right now, so I’ll just summarize my thoughts on it quickly by saying that human rights exist because humans have nominally free will, and according to that will, humans do not want to be subjugated), and there is an objective reality, then it follows that the definition of human rights does not get to be arbitrarility made by one person.  It also follows that the natural state of being is one in which no one human has any rights that aren’t available to all other humans, because any other state would require the supersedure of one human’s rights over another’s.  From this basic premise, almost everything else pertaining to law and government can be derived.  Or, at least, it should be able to, theoretically.  That doesn’t mean it will always be clear.  And that is one reason why I believe there should be academic disciplines devoted specifically to this kind of thought, so the many questions left unanswered by it can be answered.  If the premise is that there is only one objective reality, no other manner of thinking is completely valid.

More importantly, though, the left’s hegemony over the humanities and social sciences is harmful not only to people who disagree with the left, but also to the state of ideas in general.  There is little alternative presented to things like women’s studies in an academic context, which is potentially intellectually limiting and therefore dangerous for everyone.  While the concept of natural law used to be common, it would be alien to most young people today.  All the implications of such a radical way of thinking don’t need to be considered right now, but it is important to get some kind of foundation in place so better solutions that don’t rely on the paradigm that “the government is needed to solve society’s problems” can be conceived of.  Regardless of how effective that paradigm actually is, approaches to solving society’s problems should never be that constrained.  As a society, it seems that we have collectively succumbed to tunnel vision when it comes to thinking about policy (and I’m not saying that everyone always goes to the government to solve every societal problem, but reducing government’s role certainly doesn’t seem to be an option and it is turned to solve many problems that it shouldn’t necessarily be).

NOTE: I also want to draw a fundamental distinction between the kind of thinking I propose above and the kind of thinking that occurs in fields like women’s studies.  Women’s studies draws from critical theory, which is meant to observe society and “criticize” it (hence the name).  I don’t think that is the way to think about society.  Instead of reaction to society being foundational, foundational principles should be established beforehand and then solutions to societal problems should be proposed based on those principles.

It’s Now Politically Correct to Be Racist

Not to mention politically incorrect not to be racist.

This isn’t anything new, but just another reminder that we are all doomed.  The University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point has a new chart to apparently instruct faculty on racial microaggressions (h/t Andrew Stiles).  It helpfully instructs faculty, who might inadvertently commit the sin of not being a racist, to avoid the following offensive mistakes, among others:

  • “When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
  • “There is only one race, the human race.”
  • “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
  • A college or university with buildings that are all names after White heterosexual upper class males.

Some of the things it lists are legitimately racist.  But, by these standards, Martin Luther King would have been considered a virulent racist.  I’m not trying to say that I know exactly how he would have reacted to this kind of thing, but his message was pretty clear: people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  It is just infuriating that such a noble principle has been relinquished in favour of what is essentially the opposite.

I’m not going to deny that a lot of racial minorities have it worse than a lot of white people, and they often have to deal with systemic and cultural racism. But as with anything, one’s attitude towards this issue should be based on logically coherent and consistently applied first principles.  And the only morally defensible first principles relating to race are those that state racism is unacceptable in all its forms.  People are all different; just because two people might have the same skin color (even if it is a minority skin color), that doesn’t mean they are at all similar or grew up in a similar environment.  Or that two people who have different skin colors doesn’t mean they are very different or grew up in different environments.  It is a superficial generalization that ultimately has nothing to do with people’s character or abilities, which, to society, are what is really important.  Even if the people who push this kind of convoluted social justice nonsense have good intentions (which I’m not convinced is the case), or even if there may be some truth to what they are saying (see first sentence of this paragraph), it is inconsistent to believe that people should not be judged based on their skin color and then use any justification (regardless of how compassionate it sounds) to judge people based on their skin color.  Which is what the left now apparently wants people to do. Is considering “a person of color’s racial / ethnic experiences” any different from looking at a Black person and assuming they grew up in the ghetto?

Racism is still obviously a problem in modern society, as is the fact that there is disparity between the races when it comes to things like income, education level, and incarceration rate.  But the solution to eliminate racism offered by leftists is literally to be racist.  I would suggest treating everyone equally.  Try to make it so that equality of opportunity is the reality.  Allow inner city kids to go to schools that aren’t terrible, eliminate the welfare state to eliminate dependency and promote self-reliance, eliminate the minimum wage to promote job availability, increase access to training and education, cut/eliminate businesses taxes and regulations to promote economic activity, privatize budget drains like pensions that are causing cities to default, etc. Those are just some reforms that I think might be helpful.  The cultural aspect will take care of itself; race as an issue would go away if people stopped thinking about it all the time.  Racism, like race, is a social construct that is not intrinsic within people.  The way attitudes towards different races have improved so drastically over the last century is evidence of that.

As I said, I’m not convinced that all this race stuff being promoted by the left is rooted in a desire to eradicate the inequity associated with non-white skin. Politically, it benefits the left (and the government) to divide society into groups and have those groups in opposition to each other.  Not only does that focus their attention away from the government, but it also makes people aggrieved, which allows leftists to come in and rescue them from their injustice. As long as inequality and injustice exist, people like Al Sharpton continue to have jobs and “relevance” and organizations like the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign continue to have a reason to exist.  I’m not accusing all people who believe in this social justice nonsense of such opportunism, but I’m completely convinced that that opportunistic element is a major force on the left.  On the right, we envision a society in which people are treated on their merits, accomplishments, and character without consideration of superficial qualities like skin color and sexual orientation. Well, most of us on the right envision such a society.  And we have ideas on how to acheive it.  The left likes to mock that vision, but I’m not sure what the problem is; it’s not as if true capitalism has ever actually existed (unlike true socialism, which has failed spectacularly every single time it has ever been tried.  On the other hand, systems resembling capitalism have been tried in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Switzerland.  Free markets have a pretty successful track record).

In summary, it is never morally acceptable to judge people on their skin color, which is exactly what this social justice stuff does.  I don’t care what your intentions are, it’s not acceptable.  Ever.  Period.

Conflating People with Ideology

I often see comments made by people growing up in “ultra-conservative” households or areas and becoming a “liberal” as a result.  Similarly, my early exposure to hippies living in the area of Nelson, BC was probably a major reason I was driven to the right.

There are still a lot of “conservatives” who are genuinely homophobic, transphobic, probably racist, or generally hold views that a lot of people would consider regressive.  On the right, there are people who consider faith more important than reason, people who put all their stock in tradition as opposed to what makes sense, people who think in terms of buzzwords and slogans, people who make personal attacks and fallacies in place of logical arguments, and people who seem to attack conservatives more than leftists.  In general, there are lots of people on the right who I do not agree with, as well as some that are rather despicable.

These kinds of experiences with people affect people’s perception of an ideology.  I like to think that I have arrived at my beliefs through careful, rational consideration, but I am not under the illusion that I haven’t been affected by this kind of thing as well.  As I said, I saw a lot of hippies when I was a kid.  Conservatism appeals to my personality; I am generally cautious and I don’t like to be the centre of attention, and thus I tend to wear pretty conventional clothes (that I buy at Walmart) and I speak quietly and generally fade into the background when I am around people.  I like to be in control and dislike chaos (one reason I don’t want the government to run my life for me; it takes control away from me).  And when I think of a leftist, I generally picture an unkempt and perhaps effeminate guy with a high-pitched voice who wears lots of bright-coloured clothes and hipster glasses.

But what kind of people you associate with a particular ideology or what kind of personality you might expect those people to have doesn’t have much to do with the underlying ideology.  Leftists can live like Mormons (or be Mormons) and conservatives can look like hippies (although I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a thing) or use drugs and have a lot of anonymous sex (with people of either gender).  I can understand the frustration you might get as a young person growing up in a strict, conservative household, but that doesn’t imply anything about right-wing ideologies.  Which are quite diverse, and conservative/right-wing people themselves are quite diverse (in many ways).

On the other hand, there is probably some kind of correlation between a political ideology and what kind of person it attracts.  People who like to be in control of other people might be attracted to totalitarianism of some kind.  But thinking about politics in terms of people obfuscates the actual merits or demerits of the ideology in question.  You don’t need to consider communists to realize that communism isn’t a good philosophy, for example.