Saturday, November 12, 2016

On the Election and the world events of the last years

I took me some days, and some judicious avoidance of politics on Facebook, to force down the authoritarian urge in me. But I do think I need to write some things and get them out. This will be a rant, and I am ashamed of that but I rather be shamed than suffer inner death.  I am posting it on Leadhead Phd, and not Sthomasmoi: What do we know about IR,  because Leadhead PhD is a blog closer to my inner world, than Stohamsmoi, which is closer to my scientific world. Also I respect my con-contributors on Stohamsoi, too much to mar that blog with such a selfish exercise. I would prefer not to put politics on Leadhead PhD. But I have not avoided that always (Defending Political Science in the past in these pages). And I need an outlet. Thus may the blog forgive me, and may those of you that come here for anything but politics. I apologize to you.

For that reason, all that I say here is not ex-cathedra. Konstantinos Travlos, holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, holder of a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, holder of Ptychion from Panteion University, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Ozyegin Univeristy, is not talking here.  Neither is Konstnatinos Tralvos, the wargamer, the scenario writer, the enthusiast of humanities military history.

Only Konstantinos Travlos, human, is talking here.  I am attacking everything.  This document is a massive exercise in smug elitism. Take it for what it is worth, which is not much. Do not read if you do not want to know my politics. 

1)      To those that say elections do not matter

If you are saying that, and you are not either 1) engaged in an armed insurgency 2) engaged in non-violent resistance you are either a) tolerably ok with the regime in hand or b) a coward. Either is ok, but you have to be upfront about it, rather than sell faux revolution. I for example am a coward. I do not want to end my life resisting Erdogan and his 50.000.000 supporters. I am upfront about it. You should be too.

 You also know nothing of history. Here are a couple of elections that mattered: If Adolf Hitler had lost the 1932 German elections badly many things that happened would not have happened. If Clement Atlee had not won the 1945 election, the British NHS and welfare state would not exist. If Erdogan had not won the last election in Turkey, things would be very different.  For specific issues and specific groups of people elections have major consequences. Do you really think that if John McCain had won over Barack Obama, the Defense of Marriage Act, that denied the legal rights of marriage to homosexual couples , would had been abrogated? Do you really think that if Labor had won the last British election Brexit would had happened? Do you really think that the victory of the Royalists in 1920 over Venizelos had no effect on the outcome of the Asia Minor Campaign in 1922? Do you really think that the Russian Civil War would had taken the form it did, and the Soviet Union the path it trod,  if the Bolsheviks rather than the Social Revolutionists had won the popular vote in the 1917 elections? I can go on, and on and on, but frankly I think deep down you all are authoritarians, just too cowards to say it out and loud.  I wish with all my heart that you live in a truly authoritarian regime. While no human being deserves it, it would be a good lesson.

2)      To those of you that are liberals and cosmopolitan that are now saying Democracy is bad.

Democracy (and only mass democracy is democracy), a ihmo system in which the majority decides the laws that bind us all, and in its basic form a system where the many have input into the decision made on them, is neither cosmopolitan nor liberal by default. If the people are illiberal, if they are nationalists, particualrist traditionalists , then democracy will support that structure. There is a very simple reason why the first era of mass democracy , in Ancient Greece, was an era of hundreds of small , isolationist communities. There is a reason why the preferred way for resolving deep political differences in ancient Greece was exile via colonization (and it why I believe that space colonization will be driven by politics differences, not economic opportunity).

But democracy is unavoidable if you are not seeking the massive death of millions of people. Amartya Sen, put it eloquently and in the clearest manner  in probably one of  the greatest piece of political science ever written, “Democracy as a Universal Value” ). It is the piece that finally turned me from my filtrations with liberal cosmopolitan authoritarianism (i.e Enligtened Despotism). Listen to me all of you, I know you think you know better what the people who voted for Trump, or for Erdogan, or for Putin need.  I fall into that fallacy many times. But you do not. You cannot. You are not them.  You might offer them things that they might need, you might point out that their priorities are wrong, or based on faulty information, but you do not ultimately know what they need. The Liberal Cosmopolitan elites that partook in the administration of India during the Raj, and of Ireland during its subjugation to Westminster, also thought they knew what poor Hindus and Muslims, or what poor Irish Catholics they needed. And the result was millions of people dying one the worse deaths possible. Starvation. Democracy for all its faults is one of the few empirically sound systems for us to learn what people want. Until we innovate an alternative, we are stuck with it as long as our goal is not the death of millions. I remind you that for the alt-right and for the futurist libertarians (Land) the goal is the death of millions. Ergo why they hate democracy. Do not fall down that path. It only leads to misery and death. Its leads to the eugenicists nightmares of early American progressives. Who wanted to correct the working class by castrating it.

Indeed the idea that you can expand Liberal Cosmopolitanism by authoritarianism has been proven foolish. Liberal Cosmopolitan authoritarianism is a thing. It is called Enlightened Despotism, and no greater fighter in this tradition  there was than Joseph II. 

Joseph II, the face of Liberal Cosmopolitan Authoritarianism

He was better than any of us, the greatest Liberal Cosmopolitan mayhaps. But his attempt to force his disparate people to love each other by diktat failed. It failed so much that he ordered that his epitaph read

"Here lies Joseph II, who failed in all he undertook."

The failure of Ataturkism in Turkey, the failure of Liberal Elites in Latin American, Brexit, the rise of Vladimir Putin, and so many other  examples gross as the Earth,  should put to rest the idiotic idea that we can build a liberal cosmopolitan world by ignoring the “masses”.

3)      To those of you that think Democracy without Liberal Cosmopolitanism is great

Expect if you seek the death of millions it is not. Liberalism, the belief that human individuals have an inherent dignity and value, that comes from their nature as human individuals, that no one should be able to encroach on, is a powerful antidote to authoritarianism.  Authoritarianism kills. Whether it is of the few (1%) or of the many (99%) it kills. It is one thing for Communists, Nationalists, and other authoritarians to support it. There system is predicated on the extermination of the 1%, or the 10%, or the 49%. It is another for most of you to say so. Are you really saying so? Look deep into yourself and answer. Illiberal Democracies have killed and ruined the lives of millions. The millions of Muslims expelled, massacred by the Balkan illiberal nationalist states (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria). The millions of Muslims, Armenians and Greeks massacred and expelled by the illiberal Turkish nationalist state.  The millions of Jews exterminated by pogroms and Holocaust. The millions of Slavs exterminated in the name of Nationalist. The millions expelled and killed by majoritarian authoritarianism (Democracy for the radial Left) in the USSR, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, and Socialist Maoist China. Whenever Democracy has sacrificed liberalism it has become a killer.  
Whether National Liberal (a most idiotic term that must be expunged from our philosophical view), or Communitarian, or Traditionalist, Democracy without Liberal Cosmopolitanism is a regime of death.

Perhaps your thirst for the blood of your fellow human being. Perhaps for you a person, who was unlucky enough to bear different levels of melanin in their blood, speak a different language, indulge in metaphysics different than yours,  has no dignity and their life is ruin-able and take-able when you decide it is. I have nothing to say to you. For you are alien to me, as I am to you.  And between us there can be only separation or war.

But do all of you thinking that illiberal demoracy is great subscribe to such views? I do not believe that. So I ask you to think.

4)      To the  Leftists  who are protectionists

You are either fools, or biased in your readings of history, or blinded by the pain you witness (an attack that can also be made on me I guess). Every social scientific indicator we have points to open  trade being a force for peace and for benefit for the average human. Yes there are many who lose from it. And the solution to that is to craft compensatory domestic regimes that help those people survive. But closing borders, enacting tariffs, starting trade wars will not benefit the most vulnerable in society. You need surplus for development, and except if you all share the Malthusian goals of the ecological Left (who are for me just another part of the elitist, let the masses die ideology), until you find an alternative that works without producing the costs of the Soviet states, free trade is one of the ways to produce surplus. And Malthusian economics are death economics. Much more than anything then capitalist free trade has produced. Add all the people who have died from famine between the advent of social life and the 1800s, and then compare the numbers to all the people who have died from the Industrial revolution and free trade.  Truly tell me you really prefer that world! Yes we must redistribute the wealth created by open trade to compensate those who lose from it. It is not just the right thing to do, it is also the practical thing to do. But killing open trade will not bring your utopia to bear, just the charnel house of the famine corpse pit.

5)      To Libertarians.

You are liars. You have been liars for a very long time, but now your lies are becoming dangerous. Your lie is simple “The Market is Fair”. No, it is not. The only thing the Market is, is “efficient”. And efficiency has nothing to do with fairness. When you tell people that a Market based society will correct the ills of mutli-centuries or millennia of economic discrimination (whether of people of African descent, whether of women, whether of people of poor descend) you lie. The weight of history is not so light that no taxes, no welfare state, no regulation, no redistribution, will dent it. Just as the winners of the English enclosures that created your “free” market system where the winners of the old system (the nobility and country squires) , so the winners of a free market system plugged into the 300 years of racial and gender discrimination in the US will benefit the winners of that system. It is “efficient”, it is not fair. It is one thing for those libertarians who are elitists to perpetuate that lie. They expect the poor to be exterminated. They relish it. But why do those of you that actually do want the betterment of humanity, why lie? The market is efficient, it is not fair, plug it on an unfair older system and it will probably not be fair. Political action (the distribution of scarce resources on principles other than violence, or the interaction of supply and demand) is thus unavoidable. It can go too far yes. But it is unavoidable.  The world we grow up in, the world on which we want to place our systems is not tabula rasa. It is world of fire and blood, of sweat and death, of immense privilege and bone-crushing discrimination. And neither socialism, or the Market, or any ideology can simply eradicate that.

6)      To the people who are opposed to what they call “Political Correctness”

If the state is not putting you to a wall and blowing your brains out for your behavior or words, than no you damn fool, your freedom of speech is not violated. Freedom of Speech is a concept that only makes sense against the State, that entity that has the legal right to end us. When someone is telling you are racist, or homophobic , when they refuse to associate with you, that is not your freedom of speech being trampled on. It is social discrimination, it is social prejudice. Here is the one fair thing you can accuse us liberal cosmopolitans off discriminating against you: We lie when we say all cultures and ideas our welcome in our society. You are right either. But you lie when you are saying this is about freedom. It is not. It is about which social prejudices will be dominant. It is a sad truth that no human society to date has been able to accommodate all. There have always been people considered deviants , who have been socially discriminated against. In a liberal political system, that actually works and is not a sham, the state acts as a check on that social prejudice, but it cannot eradicate it. I do not care if you are socialist, feminist, nationalist, and traditionalist society. You will screw people over. Period. A good state  gives space for all to find their niche, and avoids killing people simply because they are seen as deviants by the majority.

So let us see what behaviors we want to socially punish: Calling human beings dykes, niggers, etc. Claiming you represent all humanity when you do not. Being ok with violence. Telling human beings that they are inferior because of the level of melanin in their blood. Telling them they are evil because they do not share your metaphysical ideas. Telling them that they do not belong because they look different, speak different, and maybe eat different. Telling women that they must always bring to term pregnancies because it is the right thing to do. Beating people up because they are “girly”, “wimpy”. And many more.

Let us see what you want to do that Political Correctness stops you from doing : Telling human beings that they are inferior because of the level of melanin in their blood. Telling them they are evil because they do not share your metaphysical ideas. Punishing women for not bringing pregnancies to term, punishing human beings for not being heterosexual (either through shame or violence). Glorifying violence. Engaging in violence. Telling people that because of their gender they must do certain jobs etc.

We know your world. For 3000 years we lived in it ,and many billions still leave in it. The world where being homosexual either led you to the hang-man’s noose (the UK up to the 1840s), social exclusion leading to suicide (The west to the 1960s), or the lunatic asylum, the death penalty for abortion, the death penalty for a woman owing property (partly the story of the Witch hunts) the world were Sotiris had to become Sam, Konstantinos had to become Gus, Ebizimor had to become Ben, just to gratify your prejudices. And perhaps our world will be just as bad. There are radical Feminists, radical nationalist representing those you, or your fore-fathers, repressed that terrify me. And perhaps not. Not all of us calling for respect want to kill Whitey, or kill Man. But  remember, we know your world, we have seen it. The cemeteries are full of its victims. We do not know ours. As long as the State does not add its immense power to the immense of society, as long as it is society you have to deal with only, you are getting a much better deal than the one your co—ideologues gave those like us for millennia.

I wish I could build a society with no exclusions. I wish you could. But we live in this universe, not the universe we want. And the awful weight of history the chain on Prometheus. We failed to break, but you failed to do so much earlier.  Maybe we will one day. But until then, yes those of you who are racist, those of you who believe human beings should be actively prosecuted because of gender, religion, consensual sexual preference , the color of their skin, the language they speak, those of you will be the ones society will be prejudiced with in a liberal cosmopolitan world. But I promise you this. The Liberal State will not partake, it will always be a succor when society becomes overwhelming. A succor you denied to homosexuals, women , people you considered of lesser races, or lesser classes for millennia.

7)      To the Radicals in our mists
You are my foe as much as they who oppose Liberal Cosmopolitanism. You will break humans in the rush for righting wrongs, and thus build our great city on foundations of resentment. You will discriminate as much as they have, kill as much as they have.  Your passion and fire is awe-inspiring thing. And a terrifying  thing.  It will burn millions. I wish you could see it. I wish you could understand that only a conservative temperament, conservative in the sense of working to change minds and eschewing coercion, can build things that last. But it is not your nature to do so, anymore than mine.  On one point you are a boon for us. On another, one day we will have to reckon with each other. A sad day, but a day that must dawn.

I have been tired. Tired of the elitism on all sides, tired of the prejudices shown left and right, tired of my own prejudices, my own elitism, tired of the empty anti-intellectualism, tired of my blindeness and that of others, whetehr Trumpists, Clintonites, Bernienites, Ataturkists, Communists, Socialists, Nationalists etc.  Tired of the inanity of social media  on politics, tired of every conspiracy presented as fact, tired of the anger, the grief, the stupid joy I see around me, tired by the inanity of mainstream media and  alternative media. The events in Turkey and the USA in the last year have brought me close to a part of me I hate, a part that terrifies me. The part that thinks, it is not so bad to be Joseph II, for is not a moment of bliss, bought by iron force, worth an epitaph like "Here lies Joseph II, who failed in all he undertook." 

But that is no way for a human to live, and it is unfair to the millions that toil. I have no answers beyond the ever present belief that a liberal cosmopolitan society married to a state of liberal democracy of checks and balances, markets and politics, and federalism, is the most humane human culture we have found to date.  Where that takes me from now I do not know. Let this rant be the only gratification of my exalted self-worth. A self-affirmation to liberalism, cosmopolitanism, and democracy. I shall retreat to my social science for a while, to find succor in the works of the mind applied to the past.