Oligarchy

The Mask Drops

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All we have of freedom, all we use or know—

This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—

Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing

Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,

How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom—not at little cost

Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,

Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue

 

 

Give an A to Sarah Conly for boldly proclaiming what many of our liberal elites believe but are too wise to state openly:

Since Mill’s seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law
I would review her book Against Autonomy, but I think I will call on three others to do the heavy lifting for me:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for
our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

The Lure of Authoritarianism

There seems an odd attraction towards Chinese-style authoritarianism among certain more technocratic/elitist segments of the left-leaning political elite. On the one hand we have we have people like Thomas Friedman arguing that Chinese one-party-autocracy is more efficient in passing the sort of regulations (“green” energy and nationalized health care) that he cares most about. On the other, we have Harold Meyerson’s claim that China is doing a better job of providing clean political process and economic recovery than the US, and that if Republicans don’t get in line behind Obama’s agenda the rest of the world will resolve to follow China’s autocratic example rather than American-style democracy.

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