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Thread: Democracy vs the One-Party State

  1. #1

    Default Democracy vs the One-Party State

    Interesting article to get a discussion going:





    Polarization in Poland: A Warning From Europe - The Atlantic



    “Monarchy, tyranny, oligarchy, democracy—these were all familiar to Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago. But the illiberal one-party state, now found all over the world—think of China, Venezuela, Zimbabwe—was first developed by Lenin, in Russia, starting in 1917. In the political-science textbooks of the future, the Soviet Union’s founder will surely be remembered not for his Marxist beliefs, but as the inventor of this enduring form of political organization. It is the model that many of the world’s budding autocrats use today.

    Unlike Marxism, the Leninist one-party state is not a philosophy. It is a mechanism for holding power. It works because it clearly defines who gets to be the elite—the political elite, the cultural elite, the financial elite. In monarchies such as prerevolutionary France and Russia, the right to rule was granted to the aristocracy, which...



    “Lenin’s one-party state was based on different values. It overthrew the aristocratic order. But it did not put a competitive model in place. The Bolshevik one-party state was not merely undemocratic; it was also anticompetitive and antimeritocratic. Places in universities, civil-service jobs, and roles in government and industry did not go to the most industrious or the most capable. Instead, they went to the most loyal. People advanced because they were willing to conform to the rules of party membership. Though those rules were different at different times, they were consistent in certain ways. They usually excluded the former ruling elite and their children, as well as suspicious ethnic groups. They favored the children of the working class. Above all, they favored people who loudly professed belief in the creed, who... As Hannah Arendt wrote back in the 1940s, the worst kind of one-party state “invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”

    “This mockery of the competitive institutions of “bourgeois democracy” and capitalism has long had a right-wing version, too. Hitler’s Germany is the example usually given. But...”


    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...zation/568324/


    Bolding mine
    Last edited by KC; 29-09-2018 at 07:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    all governments are authoritarian, the question is who has the authority. in china, zimbabwe, ussr, venezuela, it's the people and the majority's interests that are pursued. in the US, canada, and europe it's families with inherited wealth and billionaires and their political lackies who pursue their own personal wealth creation.

    it was also anticompetitive and antimeritocratic. Places in universities, civil-service jobs, and roles in government and industry did not go to the most industrious or the most capable. Instead, they went to the most loyal. People advanced because they were willing to conform to the rules of party membership. Though those rules were different at different times, they were consistent in certain ways. They usually excluded the former ruling elite and their children, as well as suspicious ethnic groups. They favored the children of the working class.
    this literally describes capitalism, minus the exclusion of forming ruling elite (i mean, do you want the british monarchy to continue to rule canada? why would the people of russia wanted representation from a family that brutalized them for centuries?)

    also, hannah arendt is almost as bad of a historian as solzhenitsyn
    Last edited by bicycles; 30-09-2018 at 06:17 PM.
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  3. #3

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    Arendt is old and out of date. She may have witnessed the death of a system in one place, but she had readily preferable alternatives elsewhere that she wasted no time in choosing. I'm not sure we have that luxury here and today.

    I suppose I give the impression sometimes of preferring a one-party state. But I don't.

    Today's political hyper-partisanship probably does mark the final stage of our pluralism; but still we shouldn't condemn it too easily. Superficial critics place the form of governance over its function, and despise partisans for behaving like sports fanatics. Politics is only shallowly a team sport. Deeply it's a matter of faith: it is a kind of religion.

    Religion organizes and channels faith in the next world precisely as politics organizes our society and channels our faith in it. Spirits, deities, and supreme beings transpose rulers, ministers, and the government service; divine commandments are explicitly laws; dogma is regulation. Both politics and religion function only so long as their sustaining faith endures. Gods and rulers alike betray the our faith through lies or indifference. Politics also collapses with loss of faith.

    But politics is more difficult to despise than religion: its workings are much more immediate. If faith sustains politics, then politics justifies faith, for our society collapses quickly and with great suffering when its political organization fails. And, in faith, to be partisan is merely to embrace what is right and reject what is wrong. That's why I'm partisan. Aren't you?

    So whether to condemn partisanship is a truly vexing dilemma. Let's not be blind to the faults of pluralism, even though we choose to believe in it. Ignorant opinion forces decisions, ambition climbs without limit, and absolute ambition corrupts absolutely. Consider friendship, which forgives everything until it can forgive nothing; but friendship too is faith, most blind near its end. Extreme partisanship is the final means by which tired political faith manages to survive.

    So long as we have some hope in the system left, partisanship proves the system still, somehow, endures. Let us not condemn it.

    ---

    It doesn't matter whether Solzhenitsyn was a bad historian or not. He reached certain conclusions from what his life doled out to him, and he tried to communicate these conclusions. What more can you ask?

    I have nothing to say about what "bycicles" thinks of the system here and in the other places, except that I think he reinforces what I said about partisanship -- from the other side. Or, perhaps, what I said about the loss of hope.
    Last edited by AShetsen; 30-09-2018 at 09:06 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bicycles View Post
    (i mean, do you want the british monarchy to continue to rule canada? why would the people of russia wanted representation from a family that brutalized them for centuries?)
    Saying that the British monarchy rules in Canada is like saying that "the people" rule in the USA, because it's formally "the people" listed as litigants in criminal-law cases and whatnot.

    Were Canada to get rid of the monarchy, we'd likely just switch to a weak-president republic, like Ireland or Italy, which is basically the same thing as having a figurehead monarch, minus the inherited status. He or she might actually be elected, but it wouldn't make any difference as to how the country is governed, as real power would still reside with the prime minister and parliament.

    In the Repubic Of Korea, there is a lot of nostalgia for the days of the royal dynasties, as witnessed by countless TV shows, movies, books etc about the doings of various kings, queens, court figures etc. But very little support for returning to even a figurehead monarchy, which might indicate that how people feel emotionally about monarchs doesn't always translate into what they want politically. (re: the argument that Russians don't want to be governed by monarchs because the Romanovs etc were so bad, which might be true about Russia, but wouldn't neccessarily apply everywhere.)

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