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Understanding Democracy

For all the talk about democracy leading up to the Olympics, perhaps it is time – in the wake of the Olympics – to take a step back and ponder about what democracy really is.

An interesting article appeared in the New Yorker earlier this month about the process of politics. Digging under the hood of democratic politics, it tries to explore two strains of forces that in real life can be di-opposed: rough and tumble democracy v. good governance and social policy.

According to one theory:

All politics and all government are the result of the activities of groups. Any other attempt to explain politics and government is doomed to failure.

[You] can’t talk about public opinion, because there is no such thing as “the public” (there are only groups) and opinions don’t matter, only actions do. Abstractions like “the people” and “popular will” have no real content, either. “The public interest” is a useless concept … because “there is nothing which is best literally for the whole people.” You can’t talk about a society as a whole having a collective soul, or about events being moved by the “spirit of the age” or the “Zeitgeist” or by feelings, individual or collective. You can’t talk about race or other biological factors [since we must dismiss eugenics as silly] or about national character: it doesn’t matter what people are, it only matters what they do. You can talk about Presidents, parties, and other major political actors, but only if you understand them chiefly as mediums through which interest groups operate.

The standard objections [is that this] gives too little weight to the power of ideas and of social and economic forces, and that it leaves no room for morality. … What if there actually is such a thing as a policy that’s right on the merits? Shouldn’t we find a way to make sure that it’s enacted, instead of having to trust in the messy workings of the political marketplace?

[But you] can’t talk about morality as a force in politics, because such talk is almost always a cover for somebody’s interest. You can’t talk about progress, only about the waxing and waning of the power of different groups. You can’t talk about ideals—especially the ideals of the Founders of the United States, who represented just another collection of interest groups—as affecting the course of events.

[Besides there is also the problem that no] realm of government is immune to interest-group pressures, including the judiciary. (Liberals who, in the sixties and seventies, thought they could counteract the power of big business with institutions beholden only to the “public interest”—whether regulatory agencies or the courts—discovered that conservatives were capable of capturing any such apparatus.)

Here are a couple of thoughts.

In the big picture: what should be the purpose of governments? Should government be limited to providing a set of processes and institutions that normatively allocate power within a society or should government take a lead role of establishing a vision of a common good and leading the charge to execute that vision of the common good?

My tendency (and many Chinese on this board) is to believe the second. “So what if you are democratic,” we ‘d say. What is the proof that it guarantees better governance or social stability?

Many of us have reservation about the democratic process because “good” democracy seems to depend on a lot of stars aligning. The media has to be fair and objective to generate good public debates. The people have to be educated enough, well fed enough, and to care enough about the political process to participate in the political process. The people need to also have a healthy sense of social awareness and public duty to exercise their political power judiciously for the good of the people – not just for themselves.

But that doesn’t argue for authoritarian government per se because similar things can be said for authoritarian governments. For exampe, the leaders need too to have a healthy sense of social awareness and public duty to exercise their political power judiciously for the good of their country – not just for themselves. The leaders need to be competent enough, educated enough, and powerful enough to be able to do enough for the people.

I don’t mean this post to generate democracy bashing. Time will tell whether democracy – Western style – will be the savior of China.

For people who profess they love China, please consider the following quote from Prof. Chen Zhiwu in a piece titled Reflecting back on China’s “economic miracle”:

It is the tendency to “lift the stone and drop it on one’s own foot.” It is human nature “not to weep until you see the coffin.” Even when the situation is serious, if the current system seems sustainable then there is less and less potential for self-examination and innovation. This is particularly true this year, as people [in China] have generally taken a self-defensive posture, and have built themselves up in a frenzy of nationalism, so that they can’t stomach home truths (逆耳忠言). In such a situation, whatever road China wishes to take, those on the sidelines can only look on. When the rain is coming and the bride wants to wed, often times even though you know tragedy awaits, there is nothing you can do. Those who spend all day singing hymns of praise for China accomplish nothing for its progress. Saying pretty things is the easiest thing in the world to do. In fact, those who talk about China’s “coming collapse” are far more valuable for China. We can look constructively at them and try to understand the reasons and forms of collapse they’re talking about, and we can look at what we might do right now to help China avoid this trap.

As a parting note, I’d like to observe: if democracies consistently produce governments that have low approval ratings (as most western democracies seem to have), does it mean the democratic process as we practice them today can be too easily hijacked to serve the minority interests (hence the high general disapproval ratings)?

If so, what do we need to superimpose on top of it to make it more responsive? Can democracy be engineered to serve “the people” rather than just individuals?

And half facetiously, should we employ scientific approaches such as game theory techniques to try to understand the political process better and to try to prevent political hijacking from taking place?

  1. S.K. Cheung
    August 30th, 2008 at 09:09 | #1

    As with all “theories”, one needs to look at the premise from which any such theories arise, for if the premise cannot be accepted, so too any resultant theories. The premise here seems to be that “groups” drive government, but there is no “public”. Which makes me wonder, what do you call the people voting governments into and out of power? If that’s not the public, who exactly are they? And if you then say, well, in the last 2 elections, it wasn’t the “public” but the “group” of Republican voters was simply larger than the “group” of Democratic voters and hence we enjoyed 8 years of Bushisms, that would deny the entire concept of majority in a democratic system. So since I don’t buy the premise, the specifics of the remainder are also a tough sell to me.

    That’s not to say that special interests don’t exist; of course they do. A spate of rules govern lobbyists who work on behalf of such interests because of such recognition. Despite this, it remains a problem. Don’t know what to do about that. But vigilance and throwing the Cunninghams, Neys, and Abramoffs into jail is a start.

    But if you subscribe to the “theory”, which in part says “The public interest is a useless concept … because there is nothing which is best literally for the whole people”, then how can a government claim to have “a vision of a common good”? With that reasoning, there can’t be a common good. But if you think there is a “public interest” and a “common good” (and I do), then there’s something amiss with the reasoning.

    Besides, all of that aside, isn’t a government’s claim of a common good just a reflection of its own interests? In other words, the government is its own special interest group. Now, in a democracy, the public can do something about that, by the way they vote. In a one-party authoritarian state, what’s the recourse? You’d have to have an awful lot of faith that the government’s special interests mirror those of the public. If you’re in possession of such, good on ya.

    Hey, the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. So to ask for such guarantee before you take the plunge seems a biased pre-condition. So maybe the goal is not only democracy, but a good one. And when the time comes, hopefully China will have the wisdom to adapt a model (suitable for it’s own culture yada yada yada) taken from a good pedigree.

    As for your last point, I’m no Bush fan, but it seems his approval rating sucks because of Iraq and the economy. The first one is all him; the second, I dunno. But I’m not sure what either have to do with special interests. But if you believe there’s no public, and just groups, then why would you put weight in a public opinion poll of randomly selected individuals?

  2. MoneyBall
    August 30th, 2008 at 10:46 | #2

    Dumb people elect dumb government through democracy.
    Smart people elect smart government through democracy.
    Majority of Chinese are dumb at this point, say NO to general election or you’d have an ultral nationalistic anti-west anti-rich phony populist in power.
    Even smart people can be dumb at some time, ala USA 2004.

  3. wuming
    August 30th, 2008 at 11:45 | #3

    Look at the news from US election yesterday, in selecting Sara Palin as his running mates, McCain (or the GOP machine) managed to kill three birds with one stone:
    He took the spot light away from Obama’s acceptance speech
    He selected a social conservative, hence fulfilled a promise to the GOP base
    He selected a woman, hence give all those female voters that voted for Hillery because they can not vote for a black an excuse for doing so again.

    Somebody please convince me that this is a healthy political system.

  4. jack
    August 30th, 2008 at 12:51 | #4

    Actually what really eviscerated the China’s “democracy movement” in the 1990s is not the so called “Tian’anmen square massacre”, but what the USA and other western powers did to weaken, humiliate and
    blatantly pick apart a democratized Russia.That made Chinese intellectuals realize the possible calamitous
    consequence of a hasty political change. It also help Chinese people realize the western powers still are the pack of hyenas crunching on the bones of the poor and weak. You can not possibly believe the Iraq war is not about oil but sincere concern of the Iraqi people’s future. Why haven’t there ever been a USA-led or Nato-led military intervention in Somalia or Rwanda(please don’t say “black hawk down “)?

    Chinese people made a tough choice between democracy and stability. Perhaps one day China will grow strong enough to let its people feel confident enough to go democratic, perhaps China will find another political solution.

    For those who really care about China’s future, thank your concern .Although we still haven’t found the ideal political solution, as a people who has survived 5.000years, we are confident we will find it one way or another. China is not an arrogant nation, its people would like hear friends’ advice and draw on their experience. For those who have ulterior agenda against China and wish her ill, go away and fu*k themselves.

    PS, the USA-led pack kept push Russia around, turning a nascent democratized Russia into a vengeful beast, now it finally bares its still sharp teeth in Georgia.

  5. ChinkTalk
    August 30th, 2008 at 14:08 | #5

    Anybody can shed light on the Zhang Danhong case? The German always touted democracy and freedom of expression – when it comes down to the wire, speaking out is a no no with this German media.

  6. Wukailong
    August 30th, 2008 at 14:50 | #6

    Russia is always brought up in these discussions, but let’s have a look at what really happened in the country. It wasn’t just a quick change in itself, or a change for democracy, that caused it to crash. Some notes:

    * Gorbachev tried to reform the economy under communism by first doing very little, allowing creation of small enterprises with lots of restrictions. Seeing almost no effect, he made a bolder attempt at greater restructuring by making state companies self-reliant. What happened was not that the economy made great strides forward – they lost control over it, and hence it collapsed.

    * Then there was the attempt to create a market economy in around 200 days. Did any sensible person expect anything else than chaos?

    * Western experts told the Russian government to sell out their state-owned companies, and that they did, but without a legal framework in place, what happened was that a small bunch of oligarchs feasted on the companies instead, and funneled the money abroad.

    There are so many details to this that I could keep going for a long time. It wasn’t the introduction to democracy per se that caused this, but a misguided attempt at top-down shock therapy. I don’t think it was anyone’s intention to bring the country down. It was a result of a long chain of causes, some of them inherent in the original system. Remember, the Soviet Union had no “standard of truth” debate like China had under Deng Xiaoping – they first adhered to a rigid marxist system, and then wanted as rigidly to change it to its opposite.

  7. Wukailong
    August 30th, 2008 at 14:51 | #7

    I don’t want to sound too cynical, but the Soviet attempt at reform was about as good as the running of their nuclear power plants… 🙂

  8. TommyBahamas
    August 30th, 2008 at 17:02 | #8

    I hope this is not entirely off the topic on democracy and reality. I came across this rather disturbing article and thought I’d share with you folks whom I know are way smarter than me for your input:

    Extracts from Prof. James Petras’ latest book: August 29, 2008

    In recent days there is mounting evidence of the advance of totalitarianism in the political and media mainstream. All the major mass media have mounted a systematic propaganda campaign against China, supporting each and every terrorist and separatist group, and whipping up public opinion in favor of launching a New Cold War.

    The entire Western world, led by the United States, has embraced a Georgian regime, which invaded South Ossetia totally demolishing its capital city of 50,000 residents, assassinated 1500 men, women and children and dozens of Russian peace keepers.

    The US has mobilized a naval and air armada off the Iranian coast, prepared to annihilate a country of 70 million people. The New York Times published an essay by a prominent Israeli historian, which advocates the nuclear incineration of Iran. There is little doubt that this new wave of imperial aggression and bellicose rhetoric is meant to deflect domestic discontent and distract public opinion from the deepening economic crises.

    The Financial Times (FT), once the liberal, enlightened voice of the financial elite (in contrast to the aggressively neo-conservative Wall Street Journal) has yielded to the totalitarian-militarist temptation. The feature article of the weekend supplement of August 16/17, 2008 – “The Face of 9/11” – embraces the forced confession of a 9/11 suspect elicited through 5 years of hideous torture in the confines of secret prisons. Confessions extracted from torture, have no validity in any court, especially after 5 years of solitary confinement. What the FT calls “the super terrorist” based on his stated “desire for martyrdom” is the admission of an individual who has suffered beyond human endurance and looks to death to end his horrible sub-human existence. (James Petras’ latest book: Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power).

    Prof. Dr. James Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His initial appointment at Binghamton was in 1972 at the Sociology Department. During his life he received the Western Political Science Association’s the Best Dissertation award (1968), the Career of Distinguished Service Award and the Robert Kenny Award for Best Book of 2002.

  9. DS
    August 30th, 2008 at 17:35 | #9

    1st. I am a bit surprised that there exists such a calm site about China on the net. I have some thoughts about the democracy that I would like to share with you.

    The human race has been searching for acceptable forms of governance since we left the caves. This is not something that Biology or evolution can help. For the most part of our collective living, the “elitist” form has been the most dominant,such as in the case of China, leading to the world it was until the whole sale U.S. democracy came along. Having selected few to be in charge and the mass had no input in the choices has been a mixed bag of success and failure. But it has managed to produce a few civilizations at the great sacrifice of individual freedom, and at time brutal suppression. The U.S. style democracy on the surface is extremely appealing and has been very successful for about 100 years, in which the society moved forward rapidly and people enjoyed great freedom. Whether this form of governance can survive any longer depends on several issues. First, how much entitlement each of its citizens should be given at the expense of greater common good. 2nd. can people in the Western countries come to realize that democracy is not the purpose per se, and should have been a tool to reach equality. If the equality is reached otherwise, democracy itself can be a burden and nothing more than a political tool. 3rd. there has to be a continuation of government policies that escape the cycles of elections. For now, the elections elect the politicians but not leaders. I remain hopeful that someone in the West can see these points (even after some great pain and defeat), but frankly the hope is slipping away on a daily basis.

    The China’s case is different. It is the only major power in the world that has not been exposed to the Western democracy. The elitist government in Beijing is far better than any Western countries and cares far more about its people. Due to the historical background and a common sense of purpose, the country is doing well, and will soon emerge as the most desirable (or fashionable) form of governance. The problem is that this type of management, while at times good, has had its own boom and burst. While it is clear the Western style democracy looks lousy at the moment, I am not sure the Chinese model will come out any better in the end, just look back into its history. Seeing through the fireworks over the bird’s nest, the euphoria building in the country is seeding trouble for the future. Will there be a Mao?

    Thanks.

  10. pug_ster
    August 30th, 2008 at 18:11 | #10

    i think what Jack #4 said is right on.

    I think alot of Western Nations believes that democracy is a ‘cure all’ solution for all of the society’s ills. It is probably true in many in many of the richer Western Nations like in North America, Western Europe and Australia. Countries like in India, Philippines, Kenya, and Thailand are example of countries in which the countries’ economic and social development are hamstrung by democracy. China knows this, so they have a government that focus on economic and social development rather on its political development.

  11. wuming
    August 30th, 2008 at 18:48 | #11

    @DS — “The elitist government in Beijing is far better than any Western countries and cares far more about its people. …… The problem is that this type of management, while at times good, has had its own boom and burst. While it is clear the Western style democracy looks lousy at the moment, I am not sure the Chinese model will come out any better in the end, just look back into its history. …. Will there be a Mao?”

    I share most of your views. I would like to point out there are reasons to believe that the current Chinese governance can be more enduring:

    First, it is rule by a collective leadership, not by the whim of one strong personality. The last person could possibly rule like Mao was Deng Xiaoping, but he promptly retired after his set China on its current course.

    Second, it is a very adaptive government. SARS was the case and point, the government reacted slowly and badly in the beginning, but once it started to understand the potential threat, it acted decisively and effectively. Few more examples come to mind: it largely abandoned the Hukou system; waved tax on farmers; and just today, waved two fees that were imposed on the small family venders.

    Third, it is non-ideological. It draws lessons from historical and world wide successes and failures. It is proved to be willing to adope useful element from government of any ideological stripe, from dictatorship to liberal democracy.

  12. JL
    August 30th, 2008 at 22:46 | #12

    In these discussions people often seem to confuse the *system of government* with the *current executive leadership and its policies*.
    DS曰 “The elitist government in Beijing is far better than any Western countries and cares far more about its people”
    But surely this is a comment on the current leadership, and not the system in general. DS’s view is not a comment I agree with by the way, but leaving aside that disagreement, don’t you think that the same state system that China has now could also produce an executive leadership that is quite different (much worse or just much differently focused) from the current crop of leaders? The policies Wuming outlines (and I think its stretching it to say that “it largely abandoned the hukou system), are policies of specific leaders, not the system in general.
    Therefore, strictly speaking I think that mentioning how great (or terrible) the current leaders are is quite irrelevant to a discussion of constitutional law.

    And Wuming: I really don’t agree that China’s leadership is non-ideological, simply because every politician is ideological. Patriotism is an ideology, as is the kind of GDP-focused development-ism pursued by many governments. It only looks non-ideological because you happen to share the ideology

  13. S.K. Cheung
    August 30th, 2008 at 23:05 | #13

    “Chinese people made a tough choice between democracy and stability. Perhaps one day China will grow strong enough to let its people feel confident enough to go democratic, perhaps China will find another political solution.” – let’s hope so.

  14. DS
    August 30th, 2008 at 23:19 | #14

    JL:

    Actually, it is precisely my point. The Western style democracy is coming to an end due to its irreversible trend towards individualism and personal gains (basic premise for someone to get elected). The Elitist system is sustainable, but one must be lucky to get good leaders. Timing is important too. When the country is strong and admired, arrogance and negligence will grow. Who is there to prevent the 2nd coming of a bad leader or jingoism ?

  15. JL
    August 31st, 2008 at 01:03 | #15

    DS– so we’re pretty much screwed either way?

  16. TommyBahamas
    August 31st, 2008 at 01:10 | #16

    JL Says: August 31st, 2008 at 1:03 am

    DS– so we’re pretty much screwed either way?

    LOL ! You took the words out of my mouth. How long before China, being strong and admired, atrophy from negligence and arrogance. USA appears to be stuck in political and economical quick sand right NOW. How will it pull itself out short of resorting to greater militarism?

  17. Wukailong
    August 31st, 2008 at 03:01 | #17

    DS: We should compare not just the US and China. Also, a system isn’t just it’s group of leaders and their debates, but also how well it handles day-to-day problems, corruption, social conflicts etc. I think the Chinese system has improved in the latter ways, but it’s far from a supreme system in any sense of the word – many other countries, including most developed once, had a high growth rate for several decades.

  18. August 31st, 2008 at 03:52 | #18

    @DS

    … as in the case of China … Having selected few to be in charge and the mass had no input in the choices has been a mixed bag of success and failure. But it has managed to produce a few civilizations at the great sacrifice of individual freedom, and at time brutal suppression.

    First of all – welcome to the Board. I hope you will stay for a long time to come.

    Now back to your comment. I disagree with you that throughout history China had developed at the expense of personal/individual freedom.

    I am constantly surprised in America how people talk about freedom – reproductive freedom, freedom of religion, freedom to be gay, etc. I am impressed because these freedom don’t have that much meaning in the Chinese psyche. These freedoms mean so much in the West because in the past, religion has been has a dominant part of Western politics and culture that “freedom” was invented to check such social and political controls.

    Throughout most of Chinese history, however, religion is not the primary tool depended upon to control the populace. Instead it is the Confucian values and a host of rituals and rites developed around Chinese high political life. As long as you subscribe to that political order – you can believe in and do whatever you want – really!

    Today the communist fears religion, because religion, through the influence of the West, can be hijacked as a political tool. In China, you can still believe in whatever personal god you want. But when the religion is used for political leverage – that’s when it becomes problematic.

    In general, freedom can really be broken down into two classes – personal freedom and political freedom. For the average Chinese Joe, we really care only mostly about personal freedom – the freedom to be free from hunger, the freedom to give your child an education, the freedom to have a decent quality of life, the freedom to travel, etc. And since most of these daily and individual freedoms can arise only from a certain degree of economic security, most Chinese are so focused on economic development.

    Now as for political freedom – well, I really think it’s a mirage that the average American have that much. When the average American lives paycheck to paycheck, are in large debts, and have an attention span of less than a minute – very few Americans actually exercise their political rights. Most Americans depend on mass media for their news, subscribe to 30 second sound bites, and select their candidates based on what their party selects. There are so much backroom dealings – both in the halls of congress as well as in the two political party systems – that I don’t think political power in America really reside with the people…

  19. 游子
    August 31st, 2008 at 04:00 | #19

    @DS — “The elitist government in Beijing is far better than any Western countries and cares far more about its people”

    --作为一个一直生活在中国土地上的中国人,看到这句话都不禁脸红。
    一些生活在西方的中国人(华人)能说出这样的话,如果不是欠缺基本的中国生活经验,就是与“The elitist government in Beijing”有某种利益关系吧。
    通过本论坛,我对某些海外华人有了更深的认识。“blog for china”——本人作为中国人,对此名称表示抗议,因为这里的”china”只是某些海外华人心目中的”china”而已。

    Translation by Nimrod: — As a Chinese who has always lived on Chinese soil, my face turns red to see this sentence.
    That some Chinese who live in the West can utter such things, is either due to a lack of basic life experience in China, or maybe due to having certain connections with “the elitist government in Beijing”.
    Through this forum, I have a deeper understanding of certain overseas Chinese. “Blog for China” — as a Chinese, I protest this name, because “China” here must only be the “China” that is in the minds of certain overseas Chinese.

  20. Wukailong
    August 31st, 2008 at 04:36 | #20

    @Allen: If political freedoms were not personal, I doubt anyone would fight for them. But that’s also a good reason why any Westerner fighting for human rights in China doesn’t have much of a following, because the term sounds abstract and separated from reality.

    Also, I guess I should learn more about the US. It seems almost everyone here is just discussing the US versus China, and I simply don’t have enough knowledge about the US to go into discussions.

    @游子: There are many different opinions here. I agree that “[t]he elitist government in Beijing is far better than any Western countries and cares far more about its people” is quite an extreme thing to say, but give a counter-argument instead of giving up. 🙂

  21. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 05:09 | #21

    @Wukailong

    If political freedoms were not personal, I doubt anyone would fight for them.

    Pardon my cynicism, but freedom is the mass opium of the West. Once people are convinced they are free – then people are happy even if their life sucks. We live in the Free world, they say. We are FREE…

  22. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 05:26 | #22

    Karma

    It seems to me that people in the US (don’t know about the rest of the ‘west’) are becoming more open to giving up ‘freedoms’ for the perceived greater good (“terror”-free). To extend your statement, once people are convinced that they are free, they aren’t bothered about being ‘less free’. To be truely free, we must be less free…

    The fact is that people seem to be willing to sacrifice 20% to guarantee 80%. Maybe 30% to guarantee 70%.

  23. Chops
    August 31st, 2008 at 05:41 | #23

    Dr. Sun Yat-Sen wrote in “The Three Principles of the People”:
    “Why, indeed, is China having a revolution? To put the answer directly, the aims of our revolution are just opposite to the aims of the revolutions of Europe. Europeans rebelled and fought for liberty because they had had too little liberty. But we, because we have had too much liberty without any unity and resisting power, because we have become a sheet of loose sand and so have been invaded by foreign imperialism and oppressed by the economic control and trade wars of the Powers, without being able to resist, must break down individual liberty and become pressed together into an unyielding body like the firm rock which is formed by the addition of cement to sand. Chinese today are enjoying so much freedom that they are showing the evils of freedom. This is true not merely in the schools but even in our Revolutionary Party. The reason why, from the overthrow of the Manchus until now, we have not been able to establish a government is just this misuse of freedom.”

  24. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:03 | #24

    @Chops

    Yes, I think Dr Sun had a point but how much of that can be said about China today? China is no sheet of loose sand in today’s world, therefore the argument against freedom, as (not really) defined by Dr Sun, is as outdated.

    I’m not sure i’d agree that the ‘liberty’ enjoyed by Chinese in the early 20th century is the same ‘liberty’ denied to Europeans in the 18th. As with ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, and ‘human rights’, ‘liberty’ means a thousand things to a thousand people. We need to work to define and then refine the definitions of such words to our mutual understanding.

    Not accusing Dr Sun of failing to do such things as i realise what a learned and multi-cultural person he was, but I think in writing this he was appealing to a certain cause.

  25. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:17 | #25

    @wuming (#3)”Somebody please convince me that this is a healthy political system.”

    The US system is only one example of one form of democracy (representative democracy). The system may be limping in some ways, but the underlying principle is sound. Think of it as “democracy with American characteristics”. It’s not the end all and be all of good government and there are many other examples which could be considered.

    To paraphrase Moneyball (#2), in order for a democracy in the modern age to work well, there needs to be a number of butressing institutions in place, e.g. a free media, unfettered competition in elections, balance and checks on power, a strong legal system above everyone, and, yes, a strong education system which informs people about their responsibility in a democratic system rather than indoctrinates them into current thinking.

  26. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:19 | #26

    To Allen:
    when, exactly, does religion become “political”…seems a common refrain, but without a reasonable measuring stick. Ok, Falwell and the Moral Majority comes to mind, but that’s pretty blatant. Is China really at risk of a similar development? Or is it just a convenient excuse to suppress it?

    As for these classes of freedom you define, the first set aren’t freedoms at all. Hunger? That’s a physical state. Educating kids? Of course it’s preferable, but is someone preventing that from happening? Are Chinese not “free” to do that already? If you’re saying that some in China can’t fulfill those things due to economic constraints, then that obviously needs to be addressed. But at best, those are “capacities” (the capacity to cure your hunger; the capacity to educate your kids); those aren’t “freedoms”.

    As for political freedoms, yes Americans have it. Whether you choose to exercise those freedoms and rights is an individual prerogative. But just because many choose NOT to exercise them doesn’t mean they aren’t worth having. And just because the American political system may not be perfect doesn’t mean that the Chinese system must maintain the status quo.

  27. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:29 | #27

    @S.K. Cheung,

    Good point about distinguishing capacities v. freedom (i.e. suppression) point. But I merge them on purpose because at the end of the day, it’s really about semantics. Freedom and empowerment – in the end – are one and the same…

  28. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:33 | #28

    To Karma:
    if people are “happy”, then to them, their lives probably don’t suck. And how is freedom a drug? If it is a drug, then it is one with no perceptible effects. I doubt people wake up and think…wow, I’m free. We just are, it’s par for the course. In fact, I think freedom is something you don’t realize you have until you no longer have it. The reason why we realize that we live in the free world, and are actually in enjoyment of this vast array of freedoms, is because there’s something on the other side of the pond to compare to. If anything, China is a useful political cautionary tale…we need to nurture our system, imperfect as it may be, cuz look at the alternative.

  29. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:37 | #29

    Allen

    “There are so much backroom dealings – both in the halls of congress as well as in the two political party systems – that I don’t think political power in America really reside with the people…”

    To some extent I think you’re right. So long as politics remains middle of the road in the US, people are happy to let politicians just get on with it. And so it is with China. But what happens in these two countries when ‘the government’ and ‘the people’ have a real disagreement…. that’s different. It could be said (though i’d have to think hard whether i agree or not) that a benevolent dictator is better than the apathetic enfranchised, but in politically dischordant times that apathetic enfranchised has a mechanism to express themselves without (too much) fear of losing their lives / livelihood.

    In sum, the political backroom dealers run things at the pleasure of the apathetic enfranchised, a priveledge that can be reigned in or revoked when needed without too much muss or fuss or bloodshed. Therefore political power does reside ultimately with the public.

  30. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:42 | #30

    @Michelle,

    In sum, the political backroom dealers run things at the pleasure of the apathetic enfranchised, a priveledge that can be reigned in or revoked when needed without too much muss or fuss or bloodshed. Therefore political power does reside ultimately with the public.

    Fair enough. The problem with China’s traditional concept of the “mandate of heaven” is that the only way to take away the mandate is through rebellions and natural disasters…

    There really ought to be a easier and less bloody way to transition government in a modern China!

    Regarding your last sentence: I think you will find even the emperors of China past will agree with you that power does ultimately reside in the people (“public”)…

  31. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:43 | #31

    To Michelle:
    and hopefully (in the US at least), they’ll be exercising their privilege a little more intelligently than their last attempt 🙂

  32. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:46 | #32

    @S.K. Cheung,

    hopefully (in the US at least), they’ll be exercising their privilege a little more intelligently than their last attempt 🙂

    Ouch…!

    But I guess since America is a democracy, all us Americans need to owe up to putting Bush up a second term…

  33. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 06:51 | #33

    To Karma:
    well, only the ones who voted for him. The Kerry voters can’t be blamed for that…and they were probably busy burning Nader in effigy anyhow.

  34. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:00 | #34

    SKC:

    Reow.. Anyhow, i agree. It’s tough for Americans sometimes to be under the microscope so much (much more scrutiny than our friends in China – they should steel themselves should they continue their current trajectory) but we do have to owe up to and own our decisions (… mistakes?). Those of us about to dive headlong into prep for that first Tuesday in November will find trying to do that objectively and intelligently is one of the biggest challenges we face.

    Karma: Yes, right. The emperor ultimately reigned at the pleasure of the people… But displeasure could be made easier to manage and less disruptive with the right mechanisms.

  35. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:04 | #35

    SKC: Kerry voters still must reconcile themselves with and defend the system which put Bush in office.

  36. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:04 | #36

    And don’t get me started on Nader! 🙂

  37. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:08 | #37

    To Michelle:
    yup, the vote can’t some soon enough. They’ve been yakking about it for so long. Poor McCain, you’d think he’d get a little love for putting a woman on the ticket…only to have Gustav blow in…literally. And instead of an army of reporters fawning over him next week at the RNC, a bunch of them will be standing somewhere on the Gulf Coast, filing live reports with variations of “yep, it’s windy down here”.

  38. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:15 | #38

    I think that is an example of the strength of the (American) democratic system. I’m sure a lot of Kerry voters wanted another 4 years of Bush as much as they wanted another root canal, but they let the system work, and there was no “instability”. Heck, Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but once the Supremes spoke, the people listened. How much more “stable” a society could you ask for? If China is bent on stability, then those aren’t bad examples of what Uncle Sam can give you.

  39. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:16 | #39

    Please.. McCain deserves no love *just* for putting a woman on the ticket. I’d love to see more women in high level politics but i’m sure as sugar not going to vote for someone just because she’s a woman or worse because he chose a woman to be his running mate. Wonder if Gustav is going to draw Katrina parallels in the press (no doubt) and to what extent it will matter.

    I’ve got primary fatigue – they *have* been yakking for far too long.

  40. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:20 | #40

    Oh, I’m not saying to vote for the guy. Just that it was a somewhat noteworthy thing to do, only to have a natural disaster steal his thunder. Maybe it’s an omen…

  41. Wukailong
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:22 | #41

    @Karma: “Pardon my cynicism, but freedom is the mass opium of the West.”

    I would say “democracy” is in Europe, and “freedom” in the US. Still, like S.K. Cheung argues, freedom, like health, is something you begin to cherish only when it’s threatened. I mind the lack of freedom in China because it shows in a very tangible way – Internet censorship, being persecuted just for suspicion of belonging to FLG or having contacts with “international anti-China organizations” (yes, a friend of mine got in trouble for a whole year because of such a thing, though he was later cleared of all charges), not being able to get some books or movies just because the government doesn’t like them, and so on.

    I think I just want to be left alone by the government. I can honestly say I personally don’t care about much other freedoms than that.

  42. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:24 | #42

    @S.K. Cheung

    when, exactly, does religion become “political”

    One thing I missed in my earlier comment about religion is that the communist party, in its effort to break the bind with the past, is also interested in getting rid of superstition – which it deems to hold people back.

    Perhaps we should have a post of superstition v. religion. But from the secular / communist perspective: religion is just another type of superstition that can hold a society back…

  43. Daniel
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:26 | #43

    To be a little off-topic but somewhat related comment I want make…
    I remember when people at home were sprouting the expressions of “freedom isn’t free” and how much ridicule as well as praise it got, even though that term didn’t quite make sense. It sort of took me a while to understand why and how did such a phrase became reason for many. I’m sure many took it as a joke or cliche but there were a lot that used this as one of their significant reasons to support war.
    Later on I gave up until I noticed that a lot of people will say things which on the outside doesn’t make sense, but if you think more deeply regarding the people, it can be understandable, though not necessary justified.

    I am coming close to a conclusion that freedom to some people in the States, in their mindsets…may actually mean their way of life. Some people don’t know or don’t care about the history nor reasonings for our system(s), they only care about their “capacities” or “freedom” to not just eat and feel safe, but also to eat greatly and feel so safe that no one can mess with them, even if they were to mess with others.
    I know and many of you all know, that this silly comment of mine doesn’t apply to all, but really for some, a siginificant some, of people, this is what they percieved “freedom” to be.

  44. August 31st, 2008 at 07:28 | #44

    I’m inclined to think that democracy is a blip in history particularly the US form of democracy with separation of powers and it is the USA that will become like China not China like the USA. At some point you need to pay the bill for your mistrust of your leaders a cost that is born by being much less efficient. In the long run an inefficient system will be overcome by a more efficient one – however long that might take.

    I would not say that the Chinese government cares more – but it has the potential to make tough decisions like building the three gorges dam that democracies cant manage complex and consistent policies.

    In China corruption is part of the culture but in the US corruption is a part of the system. US lawmakers have to fill laws with pork (effectively bribes to various constituencies of various members) to get them passed even if under a situation like that in the UK with people with very similar culture that pork would never have been created.

    However I think that China will become a better ‘communist’ government, a more open, less ‘corrupt’ and more effective one.

  45. Wukailong
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:30 | #45

    @Daniel: Indeed. I read an article in a Swedish newspaper about the American obsession with the word “freedom”, in which a journalist asked this random guy on the street what he thought freedom was. After some thinking, he answered: “To get into my car and drive anywhere I want.”

  46. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:33 | #46

    To Karma:
    but Chinese people are as superstitious as they come! Don’t take a bath cuz it might wash away your good luck; take a bath cuz it’ll wash away your bad luck; put on a sweater cuz you might catch a cold (one of my personal favourites); don’t leave the house for 4 weeks after you give birth (one of my wife’s favourites, to which she appropriately said screw that noise). I’d like to see China ban superstitions…I wouldn’t agree with it on principle…but it would be quite funny….and at least China would be consistent on her principles.

  47. Karma
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:33 | #47

    @Wukailong,

    I mind the lack of freedom in China because it shows in a very tangible way – Internet censorship, being persecuted just for suspicion of belonging to FLG or having contacts with “international anti-China organizations” (yes, a friend of mine got in trouble for a whole year because of such a thing, though he was later cleared of all charges), not being able to get some books or movies just because the government doesn’t like them, and so on.

    I think I just want to be left alone by the government. I can honestly say I personally don’t care about much other freedoms than that.

    In the American context – I consider myself a Liberatarian. So I think I understand where you are coming from.

    But regulations of activities (one neighbor can’t be too loud if the other is free to quiet enjoyment of his property, for example) is always a cost of freedom.

    In China – the cost of freedom to build a better life – for themselves and their children – is a strong state because having a strong country is the ticket for people to build a better life (travel around the world, you will see, the citizen’s quality of life is clearly correlated with the strength of their country).

    As China becomes stronger – it will feel less threatened – and it will loosen the restrictions. For now – sorry if I sound so apologetic for the CCP – the cost of the freedom to build a substantially better life is a bunch of restrictions to ensure a strong state.

  48. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:34 | #48

    I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t vote for McCain – but vote on merit not some stunt. Some of my friends would probably argue that such ‘tokens’ are the first step, and in the future when a woman is nominated it won’t be seen as a tactic. (Some might say that Palin’s selection wasn’t a tactic and that I’m being cynical). Ditto for minorities. I loved the Dem primaries this year because with no white male in the mix we could get away (as much as American’s are capable) from the fact that a candidate happens not to be white and male. A glimpse into the future?

    Anyhow, I’m drifting away from China. A good blog entry might be how Obama and McCain’s presumptive China stance might affect China.

  49. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:35 | #49

    As much as Americans are capable… not American’s…. Sorry lah!

  50. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:38 | #50

    To Daniel:
    I think people do confuse rights and freedoms. And one of my pet peeves over the years has been that people are quick to exert their rights, but slow to fulfill their responsibilities.

  51. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 07:43 | #51

    Wukailong: ” I read an article in a Swedish newspaper about the American obsession with the word “freedom”, in which a journalist asked this random guy on the street what he thought freedom was. After some thinking, he answered: “To get into my car and drive anywhere I want.””

    Geez I hope they didn’t just select the dumbest response to bolster their impresson of dumb Americans. While I have no doubt that a blue blooded American said this, very few of the Americans I know would give such an answer. Hope there was balance in the article – Don’t be too Svenska Dagbladet!

    🙂

  52. NMBWhat
    August 31st, 2008 at 08:25 | #52

    Man, the system in the U.S is being manipulated on so many levels by the secret societies it’s not even funny. People are really asleep in the states right now. They refuse to see the truth.

    When you have a shadowy government that pulled 911, the anthrax attacks, war profittering, etc, what the fuck is the meaning of anything anymore?

    It’s all bullshit.

    We’re heading towards another cold war, shit, probably a world war.

    It’s going to a wild ride!!! I’m jetting to Costa Rica when they come for us for the FEMA camps. I got plenty of ammos. Fromt there I’m going back to China, HAHA!

  53. NMBWhat
    August 31st, 2008 at 08:29 | #53

    Seriously, ya’ll people are talking about fucking applying game theory, LOL. The game theory here is there is the NWO, and it’s going to fuck us all.

    I mean I can try to read that stupid article on the “New Yorker” -a fucking worthless piece of shit that one of my professors used to read- but what is the point. It’s all just fucked anyway. Like we can seriously debate this whole democracy bullshit when the puppet masters are pulling the strings, LOL.

  54. wuming
    August 31st, 2008 at 08:32 | #54

    Michelle

    I will be the reverse 游子 and give you a dose of reality here in US. I recently drove from Ohio to New York City, the AM radio consist entirely of Rush Limbaugh. Only when I was within 50 miles of New York City, I found NPR and my breath.

    The coastal liberal elites enjoy the illusion of functioning democracy between the elections. This illusion can be easily crushed once you exercise the “To get into my car and drive anywhere I want” freedom and drive inland by more than 50 miles.

  55. NMBWhat
    August 31st, 2008 at 08:56 | #55

    I believe in individual freedom. I don’t believe in the state. All forms of government is bullshit. They all gravitate towards special interest groups and will ultimately become authoritarian (completely against what I consider individual freedom). And since the people are so easy to manipulate, the logical conclusion is ever expanding Machiavellian maneuvers by the elites, resulting in the eventual dominance of the shadowy control matrix…And this is what happened…

    Your government slang drugs.
    Your government purport to support the “rule of law,” yet break laws at every opportune moment.
    You government uses depleted uranium weapons and tells you that it’s safe.
    You government don’t love you.
    Your government does not support the Constitution.
    Your government is being manipulated by a bunch of occult believing loons.

    The only solution is to fight back. Or be prepared to die in a concentration camp.

    And NPR sucks balls, it’s pure media bullshit.

    The left-right paradigm is an illusion.

    Shit, but I believe it’s all pointless. They are going to release bio-weapons. It’s going to fuck us all.

  56. NMBWhat
    August 31st, 2008 at 08:59 | #56

    And this site rules. You guys don’t censor.

  57. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 09:02 | #57

    Wuming,

    Yes, perhaps i’m guilty of being a coastal liberal ostrich. However, I think that if anyone thinks the US is going to hell in a handbasket, it’s more likely to be coastal liberal elites. And if theres anyone who’s likely to think things are ok in the good ol US of A, it’s likely to be those 50 miles inland. So those who enjoy the illusion of functioning democracy are not people like you, coastal liberals who can’t stand to be 50 miles away from NYC.

    Interestingly, according to media surveys, the two US media outlets that enjoy a 50-50 red-blue following are CNN and NPR. And both could use some work IMO.

  58. Wukailong
    August 31st, 2008 at 09:03 | #58

    @Karma: I agree with you, mostly. The CCP is doing well, and should get more credit than they do in the Western media. I believe things will continue to open up, but there’s a difference between whether the nation as a whole feels less threatened, and the party itself.

    As for being a CCP apologetic, I’ve found myself in that situation quite often recently. 🙂

    @Michelle: The European press certainly has its own anti-American bias, but from what I remember that article was quite OK. I think that guy was mentioned as an example of some of the more clueless people. Svenska Dagbladet’s editorials resemble Rush Limbaugh’s, btw – they’re horribly conservative. 🙂

  59. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 09:04 | #59

    NMB What:

    Can I interest you in a cabin in Montana?

  60. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 09:09 | #60

    Wukailong

    Clueless indeed. I remember one time watching Jay Leno once (lord knows why) in China with a group of Brits and Austrailans and they did the ‘jay walking’ thing where he asks a simple question to the man on the street and gets all sorts of rediculous answers. Fine for domestically consumed humour but not good for export! I did not hear the bloody end of it.

    Sigh…

  61. Michelle
    August 31st, 2008 at 09:10 | #61

    oops ridiculous. Feel free to ridicule me.

  62. Jerry
    August 31st, 2008 at 13:54 | #62

    @Wukailong, @Karma, @Michelle, @S.K. Cheung

    #20. Wukailong, I agree that there are many opinions here. And we are talking about democracy. Yeah, it is messy, but it sure beats one authoritarian, autocratic opinion/viewpoint.

    #21. Karma, I disagree with the generalization, “freedom is the mass opium of the West”. Some people do fit this description. I know people who don’t. Having freedoms also means you have responsibilities to defend these freedoms and use them judiciously. There are no panaceas.

    #22. Michele, I agree with you on “are becoming more open to giving up ‘freedoms’ for the perceived greater good”. Patriot Acts 1 and 2, the Presidential signing letters, along with the recent overhaul of FISA court’s wiretapping law are evidence that this is too prevalent in the US. Two quotes from that inimitable, lovable rascal and scoundrel, Ben Franklin. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” And, “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.”

    #25. Hear, hear, Michele, on “To paraphrase Moneyball (#2), in order for a democracy in the modern age to work well, there needs to be a number of butressing institutions in place, e.g. a free media, unfettered competition in elections, balance and checks on power, a strong legal system above everyone, and, yes, a strong education system which informs people about their responsibility in a democratic system rather than indoctrinates them into current thinking.”

    I wrote over on http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/08/23/lots-of-us-want-to-love-and-respect-china-but-right-now-china-isnt-helping/ about media consolidation, Bill Moyers comments on journalism and Walter Lippmann’s treatise on how the ruling class should use the media to educate the public.

    #31. S.K. Cheung, I hope you are right.

    #35 & #36. Michelle, I voted for Kerry and have regretted it ever since. In 2000, I voted for Nader. I have voted since the 70’s. That Nader vote is the one presidential vote about which I feel very good. But, I lived in the state of Washington at that time, worked for Microsoft (I have since retired from Microsoft). Nader called Microsoft the “Great Satan”. I don’t know if they were in 2000 but they were certainly headed in that direction at the time I retired.

    #39. Michelle and S.K. Cheung, I am no fan of McCain. But please don’t lump Sarah Palin in with conventional Republicans. I have been reading about her since 2006 and she seems a breath of fresh air in a state with corrupt GOPers like Murkowski and Stevens. Democracy is messy and complex.

    ####

    General comments.

    Democracy, personal freedoms and rights: We must be continually vigilant. We need a diverse, open and robust press. The media is one of the great tools for democracy. God bless the likes of Studs Terkel, Bill Moyers and Amy Goodman.

    I am a Russian Jewish American (secular) living in Taipei. I retired from Microsoft 2 years ago. My Russian Jewish grandfather and grandmother immigrated to the US in the early 1900s, nearly 50 years before I was born. It was one of the best things to ever happen to my life.

    My grandfather Mike sat down with me when I was 12 years old. He went on and on about how he loved America, the late FDR and all the wonderful freedoms and rights he had since he came to the US. He told me never to forget or take America for granted. He did not speak quite as clearly as I write. It was a combination of Yiddish and English with an Eastern European accent. Which I understood fluently.

    My late mom told me a story about Mike. He was living in Cincinnati and owned a small but very successful grocery store. Once a week, all the Jews in the neighborhood would get together. Shortly after WWII, at one of these get-togethers, one man asked Mike how he managed to be so financially successful during the Depression. After all, he bought cars. His kids always had nice clothes. And they ate very well. Some people, including Jews, barely made it through. My grandfather looked carefully at the man and responded, “You think that was a depression?? You should try growing up Jewish in Russia! Now that was depressing!”

    My dad, now 87, has a saying, which also applies to the ups and downs of freedoms and democracy. “It is not important how many times that life knocks you down. What is important is how many times you get back up.”

  63. Chops
    August 31st, 2008 at 13:55 | #63

    ‘The practice of limiting the length of time that a public official can serve dates back to ancient Greece.

    “Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, two early civilizations which had elected offices, both imposed limits on some positions. In ancient Athenian democracy, no citizen could serve on the council of 500, or boule, for two consecutive annual terms, nor for more than two terms in his lifetime, nor be head of the boule more than once.

    “In the Roman Republic, a law was passed imposing a limit of a single term on the office of censor. The annual magistrates—tribune of the plebs, aedile, quaestor, praetor, and consul—were forbidden reelection until a number of years had passed.”

    In the United States, Presidents have been limited to two terms since the passage of the 22nd amendment to the Constitution in 1951.The change in the Constitution was a reaction to the four-term President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died 82 days into his fourth term. There is no sentiment today for repealing that Amendment; it is viewed as a safeguard against dictatorship.

    President Vladimir Putin of Russia, facing a two-term limit, avoided the restriction by switching to Prime Minister and took the power of the presidency along with him…’

    http://www.nycivic.org/articles08/081408.html

    China’s Presidency apparently also implemented a two-term limit later, mindful of another Mao.

  64. wuming
    August 31st, 2008 at 14:30 | #64

    It has been observed here that all the western democratic nations happen to be among the most prosperous. Therefore here is a chicken and eggs problem: Is the prosperity the result of democracy; or democracy the result of prosperity? Or is it possible it is purely coincidental (“stars aligning” in Allen’s words) that two occurred in the same places?

    20 or 30 years ago, the answers appeared to be obvious. But the rising China and other intervening histories have challenged the premises of the current framework for a democratic system. Isn’t it why we are having this discussion here?

  65. Ted
    August 31st, 2008 at 14:35 | #65

    This is the kind of post I like, a big question open to a range of opinions.

    a) “In the big picture: what should be the purpose of governments? Should government be limited to providing a set of processes and institutions that normatively allocate power within a society or should government take a lead role of establishing a vision of a common good and leading the charge to execute that vision of that common good?

    In my opinion, these two questions do not recognize that a Democratic government does establish a vision of a common good and does lead the charge to execute that vision. A major difference between democratic and authoritarian governments is that democratic governments are generally designed to temper their own own certitude. I think this sentiment is best expressed by the quote “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

    Given the last eight years I can understand the cynicism of those who argue that the average American doesn’t have a voice. However, those who “didn’t have a voice” integrated schools, promoted women’s suffrage and… yes… even put their leaders in power.

    China on the other hand seems to take steps now and again to remind the average person that they don’t have a voice. Just as people here write that outsiders should understand the Chinese reaction negative media coverage, hopefully Chinese can understand that it is a jarring experience for many westerners to see how the Chinese government speaks to its citizens.

    Comments in this forum often state that the US government and Western Governments are forcing their vision on other countries. As a nation, China is stepping into a Democratic system and it is a Democratic system that China is using to advance its people. I think the question most people have for China is, what will China promote with its voice?

    b) “…So what if you are democratic, we ‘d say. What is the proof that it guarantees better governance or social stability?…

    Internally? Consistent innovation and growth, continuous open discussion and progressive resolution of social issues. I think many westerners are confounded when someone looks at an open social issue and sees instability in the system. Maybe this is the same confusion some feel when the Western media writes stories about grannies getting arrested.

    c)…As a parting note, I’d like to observe: if democracies consistently produce governments that have low approval ratings (as most western democracies have), does it mean the democratic process as we practice them today can be too easily hijacked to serve the minority interests (hence the high general disapproval ratings)?”

    Here again may be a fundamental cultural difference but I personally think that whenever a country is operating with a very high approval rating (US after 9/11 and ostensibly, China today) someone is about to be stepped on. High approval if a country is not a major economic power will probably only yield internal strife, but if the country holds a commanding presence on the world stage, its not just the locals who suffer (US/Iraq, China/Sudan).

  66. Ted
    August 31st, 2008 at 14:37 | #66

    Wuming #11: “First, it is rule by a collective leadership, not by the whim of one strong personality.”

    I have to disagree with this view of Democracy. The U.S. might be shaped by a strong personality (Cheney, not Bush) but it it certainly isn’t ruled by one. Many Presidents have influenced the U.S. but, thus far, attempts to rule outright have been kept in check.

    “Third, [China’s Government] is non-ideological. It is proved to be willing to adope useful element from government of any ideological stripe, from dictatorship to liberal democracy.”

    Its ideology would then seem to be self-preservation. I would argue that a fundamental strength of Democracy is that it is individually self-defeating but collectively sustainable. The leadership of a democratic society can hand over the reigns of control as long as they know their voice is still heard. Applied internationally, this philosophy would then guarantee that U.S.’s influence will wax and wane but it will always have a voice.

  67. wuming
    August 31st, 2008 at 14:57 | #67

    @Ted,

    You misunderstood my list in #11. I was not comparing political systems, but arguing that the current Chinese system has more sustaining power than DS has assumed in #9.

    I also have problem with defining ideology in such broad terms, you may just as well say that the absence of an ideology is an ideology as well. For me, communism is an ideology, the radical religious fundamentalisms are ideologies, liberal democracy as being pushed now is an ideology.

  68. Ted
    August 31st, 2008 at 15:26 | #68

    @wuming:

    You’re right about the misread of your first quote.

    Apologies for the sarcasm. So China’s government would be adaptive rather than non-ideological?

  69. DS
    August 31st, 2008 at 15:47 | #69

    Thanks Allen. I hope I will continue but I also need to make a living as well. We shall see.
    Turning the computer back on after a few hours, the U.S. democracy has worked as prescribed on this blog. It is calm fair enough, but still going no where, in this case the central topic of this blog (I mean no insult).

    Imagine we lived in a certain western country some years after the industrial revolution and before the cowboys came to the party. 99% the catchy phrases on this blog wouldn’t be here. Life back then was equally meaningful and rewarding. The U.S. style democracy has been an accident that happened to come to play during a period of technological advancement and human productivity gain. It puzzles me why someone would think there is any causative relationship between the two. In the most majority of the countries that it has been transplanted to, it has had disastrous results. In cases like Japan/Taiwan, would any one really believe that they would have accomplished less had they not copied the U.S. model? I say the opposite is true.

    The danger lies when someone entrust their decision making to a selected few. It is safer in the sense that one has a few thousand years to look back, knowing that you are living a lucky or unlucky period, but ultimately the form of governance will sustain. The central argument I would like to put forward is that the elitist governance started with extreme brutality, and has gradually evolved to be more accommodating. The changes have not been the result of man’s good nature; they have come as a reflection of the destructive cycles and governing bodies’ attempts to improve their sustainability. Along the way a few good things have come to us, such as the private ownership and the rule of law. The latest mirror is the U.S. style democratic government. The erratic/suicidal manner of the U.S. is not because someone is stupid in the government, it is because an experiment coming to the end and not sustainable, they don’t know what to do next. Their decision making on domestic and international issues is frankly quite bizarre and defies common sense. This is a sure sign for us to begin the reflection process. My personal hope is that this time around the human race can come away with an insurance policy that relatively good/able persons are in charge. How this is going work, I have no answer as it has never been done before. A Confucian system at the core in my view is a good start.

    Ample will not be time given to us to decide what to do, as China is advancing rapidly. While I have no answer, one thing particularly dangerous comes to my mind is the miasma of relentless promotion of the western style democracy. Engaging in a war with that particular school of thinking is extremely counterproductive and may ruin this golden opportunity that is afforded the human race once every several centuries.

  70. Ted
    August 31st, 2008 at 16:45 | #70

    DS

    “The changes have not been the result of man’s good nature; they have come as a reflection of the destructive cycles and governing bodies’ attempts to improve their sustainability.”

    I think its also worth noting the increasing speed with which these cycles are taking place.

    Re: what to do next, I think a fundamental, yet potentially constructive, difference between China and the “the west” are the differing positions on interference/non-interference. The U.S. and Russia were forced to collide because both systems were operating on the premise that they were morally obligated to “help” other countries address their social issues (by adopting the “right” form of government).

    Now along comes China, which is morally obligated to let you deal with your own problems… interesting.

    Both views can be misused or steered to serve special interests, the U.S. was “obligated” to help the people of Iraq. China was/is “obligated” not to interfere in Sudan but I think this is an area in international relations that is currently lacking a healthy balance. I for one welcome China’s voice.

  71. August 31st, 2008 at 17:54 | #71

    @DS

    Both views can be misused or steered to serve special interests, the U.S. was “obligated” to help the people of Iraq. China was/is “obligated” not to interfere in Sudan

    I think a more apt comparison is: the U.S. was “obligated” to help the people of Iraq. Western Europe was “obligated” to help the people in Kosovo. Russia was “obligated” to help the people in South Ossetia.

    China has not been obligated to step out of its borders to help anyone yet… despite violence against the Chinese diaspora over the years…

  72. Daniel
    August 31st, 2008 at 18:10 | #72

    Mind if I ask, but whether it’s sooner or later, will China actually flex it’s muscles outside it’s territories? (excluding the Taiwan debate).

    I’m leaving my question in an neutral stance because in some ways, it can be viewed negatively or positively or both. I’m still wondering how does a country getting richer and stronger, giving it’s geographical location and history, will be able to tolerate the non-interference politcy. Not necessary that they are “obligated” but more like the US and other countries, it must have a lot of self-interests around the world, and potential enemies due to that. What would have happen if let’s say the tragic events of 9/11 or the violent hostage situations in Russia were to happen in one of the major Chinese cities?

  73. August 31st, 2008 at 18:48 | #73

    surely, Hegemons MUST flex their muscles outside their territory, their interests just get far too intertwined with those of the world. Otherwise they will get burnt very badly by terrorism or nuclear proliferation or maybe a massacre of the Chinese diaspora or some other crisis. At some point it will become very easy to interfere and there will be no one else willing to fix the problem.

    At the moment the US is there and China doesn’t want to start the big struggle until it knows it can win.

  74. DJ
    August 31st, 2008 at 21:15 | #74

    Daniel,

    China has done so, in the Korea war, the Vietnam war (against US again), and later fighting against Vietnam directly.

  75. NMBWhat
    August 31st, 2008 at 21:50 | #75

    So, people can be modeled as a system of interacting entities. We can further abstract it by grouping and calling it interacting groups. I believe then that you can pull the string at critical points in the system to cause emergent changes in the system. Similar to cellular automata’s, where if you tweak one position at a certain point you can see a cascading change in the system. Or any highly complex systems with deterministic dynamics.

    So what this means is that a group of puppet masters, by maniuplating various groups (that they control), can create dynamics that is advantageous to them.

    So what’s the big fuss. Puppet masters control the matrix, through the media, religion, the fiat money system, and government. It’s the only logical conclusion.

    My personal theory is that similar to how humans can develop systems of rules such as government, or religion, humans has also developed a system of control that is ‘hidden.’ This is the summerian-babylon system (at least in thew west). During a time long ago, someone or a small group of people figured out the form of ultimate control. Which is to manipulate the system through hidden means. And through the ages they have passed down this system of control. From the Egypt, to the modern day U.S. Okay, given there are so many huge holes with this, but hey it’s my fanciful thinking, so bite me.

    It’s just a system, like farming or some shit.

  76. Nimrod
    August 31st, 2008 at 22:19 | #76

    “What would have happen if let’s say the tragic events of 9/11 or the violent hostage situations in Russia were to happen in one of the major Chinese cities?”

    +++++
    It’s not like it hasn’t happened, especially in southern Xinjiang. You’ve seen how China deals with this, SCO and coordinating with Central Asian states and military ties with Pakistan.

  77. S.K. Cheung
    August 31st, 2008 at 22:58 | #77

    To NMB What:
    you sound like you’ve merged the Matrix and the Da Vinci Code. And now I feel like taking a red pill, then taking a sledgehammer to the bottom of the Louvre to dig up Mary Magdalene’s remains. Nothing wrong with that…the former is an awesome movie, the latter an awesome book.

  78. TommyBahamas
    August 31st, 2008 at 23:18 | #78

    @NMBWhat,

    You sound like you are a fan of Michael Tsarion or Jordan Maxwell, or perhaps even David Icke?

    It is bizzarre that despite the fact that the top executives are caught lying and stealing over and over again from the tax-payers the people still has so much faith in this full-of-holes system.

    I was reading some old record and was reminded of something, which I still find disturbing. And it’s about the next VP of USA., most likely, anyways. She is someone who has committed numerous federal election law violations, has lied about them to cover them up, all culminating in what might be felonious conduct on her part. And it is all the illegalities that elected her to the Senate and the obstructions of justice that keeps her there, and as a result she is now moving up and on to possibly becoming the next VP of USA! (The full documentary, at (www.hillcap.org) and (www.peterfpaul.com) — Banned by the Mainstream Media!)

    Will the media continue to do its best to bury what might be the largest election fraud in US history?
    .

    On the other hand, the Mainstream Media, in this case the Financial Times, would shamelessly publish an article entitled, “The Face of 9/11” – embracing the forced confession of a 9/11 suspect elicited through 5 years of hideous torture in the confines of secret prisons. What the FT calls “the super terrorist” based on his stated “desire for martyrdom” is the admission of an individual who has suffered beyond human endurance and looks to death to end his horrible sub-human existence!

    Freedom of press? Human Rights? Democracy? Rule by and for the people? Sometimes Yes, and sometimes no.

  79. TommyBahamas
    August 31st, 2008 at 23:56 | #79

    (Jerry): Moneyball (#2), in order for a democracy in the modern age to work well, there needs to be a number of butressing institutions in place, e.g. a free media, unfettered competition in elections, balance and checks on power, a strong legal system above everyone, and, yes, a strong education system which informs people about their responsibility in a democratic system rather than indoctrinates them into current thinking.”

    Totally agree. But…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u6lCBnRoHQ

    George Carlin comically speaks the truth, no? By his deductions, the Chinese have every reason to complain, but most don’t. Well, not openly anyway..Smile.
    As for Education, Carlin nails it again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KReZyAZLI0&feature=related

  80. S.K. Cheung
    September 1st, 2008 at 00:15 | #80

    To Tommy Bahamas:
    doesn’t look like “she” will be the next VP of anything at this point 🙂

    “It is bizzarre that despite the fact that the top executives are caught lying and stealing over and over again from the tax-payers the people still has so much faith in this full-of-holes system.” – first of all, fraud on the part of executives is a white-collar crime issue, the presence of which should hardly serve as an indictment of a democratic political system. Second, while the presence of such crimes is distressing, one might actually take solace in the fact that some are caught and punished. Probably not all; probably not even most. But our criminal justice system works, albeit slowly, and perhaps not all the time. So we should improve our system, and not discard it.

  81. NMBWhat
    September 1st, 2008 at 00:33 | #81

    Well, someone mentioned game theory, and I was trying to look at it from that point of view – a model of human group behaviors.

    Except I don’t know much about game theory or anything like that. But I do know if you try to model humans say using a multi-agent system that is dynamic over time, or something silly like that. Then I see it is possible that you can have a group of puppet masters that determines the interests of all the interest groups in order to manipulate the dynamics of the system. It’s possible.

    According to this guy’s article, group dynamics of various interest groups is the only meaningful frame-work to explain things. Well, then it is also possible that they is a super-group that manipulates. Arghh, I’m going to stop now, I’m just repeating myself now.

    Yeah, I heard of Jordan Maxwell, Alex Jones, and some David Icke, etc…

  82. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 00:38 | #82

    S.K. Cheung —

    “doesn’t look like “she” will be the next VP of anything at this point ”

    True.

    “So we should improve our system, and not discard it.”

    Touche. Any idea how? I mean, before / in case America goes to war again – ?

  83. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 01:08 | #83

    Hi, NMB What ,

    The stuff you’ve been sharing are fascinating. Some of the theories a lot of people would just brush off as “Conspiracy theories.” I don’t live in North or South America, so, I have no idea how well known the above mentioned “branded” Conspiracy theorists are. Some of their stuffs are pretty far out, and I don’t know if they have any real solutions to any of the problems or conspiracies they unearthed. I guess in a democracy, re-education does play a big party in affecting changes. But then again, there are so much information and disinformation out there – it’s all very confusing.

  84. Ted
    September 1st, 2008 at 02:39 | #84

    Allen #71:

    Hopefully I’m not ruffling feathers with the US/Iraq, China/Sudan comparison. What I mean is that, in Iraq the U.S. in interfering to its own advantage. In Sudan, China is not interfering to its own advantage. Given that China is an emerging nation trying to establish a precedent, the scale of the respective material gain from Iraq or Sudan is proportional to relative international presence.

    Russia/South Ossetia, US/Kosovo, USSR/Afghanistan, US/Vietnam are examples of competing groups citing the same principle to justify their actions … we are morally obligated to help people in need (especially if interference promotes our own economic development).

    On the other hand, China/Sudan and US/Iraq represent competing groups operating guided by different principles. China’s position in Sudan is… we are morally obligated to let them resolve their own problems (especially if interference inhibits our own economic development).

    China holds a perfectly reasonable position and when appropriately balanced with the western system, I think the two could keep each other in check.

  85. S.K. Cheung
    September 1st, 2008 at 03:09 | #85

    To Tommy Bahamas:
    well, I dunno. The American legal system is one of deterrence. The penalties are supposed to deter crime. The American tax system is an honour system. You report your taxes, and you may or may not be picked for a random audit, and you’ll get spanked if we catch you cheating.
    I think these are things one could work on. Greatly increase the penalties for white collar crime, hence increasing the effectiveness of deterrence. Greatly increase your auditing and monitoring capacity, so that even if the boss of the next potential Enron wants to pull a Kenny Lay, the next Arthur Andersen won’t play ball because of the increased likelihood of detection and the increased harshness of penalties.
    The corporate culture aspect is a tougher one. Companies want to reward execs for good earnings, but that very enticement for high performance is also an invitation for bad behaviour. Not sure how to draw that balance.

  86. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 04:14 | #86

    A) we are morally obligated to help people in need (especially if interference promotes our own economic development).
    B) China’s position in Sudan is… we are morally obligated to let them resolve their own problems (especially if interference inhibits our own economic development).

    Thanks, Ted, for the above comment. They make sense to me. I dropped in Richard’s blog (PekingDuck)briefly only to jump right back out – Poor Richard, his blog is infested with very emotional commentors!
    Thank goodness this blog attracts much more mature participants.

    S.K. Cheung — “The corporate culture aspect is a tougher one. Companies want to reward execs for good earnings, but that very enticement for high performance is also an invitation for bad behaviour. Not sure how to draw that balance.”

    I know what you mean, the headaches of accountibility and legal loopholes that’s inherent with Laissez faire / free-enterprise systems and policies. For example, the HK Chief Executive is currently being severely criticized for overpaying his appointees. Wonder how much longer before the cliche “but the alternative would be worse,” will become obsolete? Perhaps never, for greed which fuels ambitions also produces toxics that poison human characters; there’s another cliche.

  87. Michelle
    September 1st, 2008 at 04:29 | #87

    @Ted
    “What I mean is that, in Iraq the U.S. in interfering to its own advantage. In Sudan, China is not interfering to its own advantage.”

    Why interfere if it is not to your advantage? Wouldn’t it just be called helping? China is in Sudan and Africa as a whole for natural resources. They don’t do it wrapped in the flag of philanthropy though. China is just playing America’s old game who’s playing Britain’s old game, whos…..

  88. Michelle
    September 1st, 2008 at 04:40 | #88

    .. that is not so say I prefer either style. However, I think China’s way of doing it is certainly worth thinking about though I’m not sure if it’s accurate to call it a policy of non-interference.

  89. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 05:01 | #89

    @TommyBahamas, @Michelle, @MoneyBall

    #79. Thank you so much, TommyBahamas, for your contribution of the Carlin links. His dissertations on “Not Voting” and the “Problem with Education” are priceless. He brings up so many good points. But his most dead-on comment, IMHO, is the one he makes about the ruling elites in the second video.

    The ruling elites don’t want a well-educated, crtical-thinking citizenry. They want good worker bees. This ties in completely with Walter Lippmann’s 1922 treatise on how the ruling elite can control the masses, “Public Opinion”. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman have laid it out in their 1988 tome, “Manufacturing Consent”.

    Back to George Carlin. He often gets compared to Lenny Bruce, who was great. But he may have been the Mark Twain of our times. Whatever he is, he lifts my spirits when I listen to and watch him. Many thanks, TommyBahamas.

    While out watching the videos, I saw one of my favorite routines. “Saving the Planet” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw&NR=1). It is a point I often have made. We do at times tend to take ourselves too seriously, perhaps? ::big smile::

  90. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 05:49 | #90

    @S.K. Cheung, @TommyBahamas

    #80 & #82

    I agree: Try to improve the system. IMHO, Sarbanes-Oxley was a very weak attempt to improve the system. I was thrilled with the efforts of Spitzer and Cuomo using the existing laws of the State of New York to go after business criminals. That is part of the system, too. Use the laws you have.

    Regarding executive white-collar crime not serving as an indictment of democracy, I agree. But the system as constituted barely punishes the top executives, who are part of the ruling elite of the US. Corporate governance of large companies resembles an aristocracy, hardly what shareholders, employees and all stakeholders deserve.

    I wonder what would have happened to Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron, Bear Stearns management, Lehman Bros. management if they were in China. Death penalty? The use of hedge funds, auction-rate securities, and credit default swaps could end up costing billions of dollars, or as the case with CDSs, trillions of dollars. How would the Chinese government deal with this? Jokingly, and using a Bush administration term, maybe we should “rendition” these criminals and mis/mal-managers to China? ::TIC:: Just wondering.

    Regarding how to improve the system, I don’t know how other than exposing the weaknesses in the systems. Then kvetch, kvetch, kvetch!!!!

  91. S.K. Cheung
    September 1st, 2008 at 06:24 | #91

    To Jerry:
    if some of your examples happened in China, I suspect heads would roll, literally. And if execs in similar circumstances in China were practitioners of such Chinese traditions as saving face and not sullying the family name, perhaps there would even be some hari-kari going on. And I don’t think too many tears would be shed if such a fate befell some of the esteemed gentlemen you named. Perhaps there are merits to the Chinese system after all…

  92. S.K. Cheung
    September 1st, 2008 at 06:30 | #92

    To Ted #84:
    I agree, I think every nation is driven by their self-interests. The promotion of such self-interest may require action in some circumstances, and inaction in others. But I don’t think any country goes around strictly being a nice guy, with no ulterior motives.

  93. Michelle
    September 1st, 2008 at 06:51 | #93

    No country of any power is afforded the possibility of non-interference. E.g. UN resolution votes – you are taking action (interfereing) regardless of how you vote, or don’t vote. A policy of non-inteference which can be chosen is not true non-interference.

  94. S.K. Cheung
    September 1st, 2008 at 06:56 | #94

    To Michelle:
    that is the problem with veto power among Security Council members (the permanent ones, at least). If China wanted to proclaim “non-interference” because it happens to suit her, she would just veto any resolution that requires otherwise. Too bad the Security Council resolutions don’t go by majority.

  95. September 1st, 2008 at 07:02 | #95

    @Michelle,

    No country of any power is afforded the possibility of non-interference. E.g. UN resolution votes – you are taking action (interfereing) regardless of how you vote, or don’t vote. A policy of non-inteference which can be chosen is not true non-interference.

    No, no, no …

    I think you are getting confused between deciding and not deciding. No one can escape making a decision. I agree. Even abstaining on the UN security council for example is still a decision.

    However, there is a real line between interfering and not interfering.

    as nondecision

  96. September 1st, 2008 at 07:04 | #96

    Please ignore the last words “as nondecision” in my previous post – it was a typo that shouldn’t be there.

  97. Michelle
    September 1st, 2008 at 07:13 | #97

    I see your point, Allen. Anyhow, I guess my point is that I don’t see anything that China does in, say, Africa, Myanmar, North Korea is truely non-interference. It’s selective interference.

  98. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 07:30 | #98

    @S.K. Cheung, @TommyBahamas

    #85 & 86. S.K. and TommyBahamas, I just saw these. Your discussions are excellent. Increasing the penalties is a very good idea. It may be hard to get through in the present environment in Congress. Most of these Congressional folks have been bought and paid for. The people doing the buying are the very people we want to nail. We just have to be persistent. Regarding A. Anderson, the penalty for their conviction on the Enron shredding was death, death of the partnership. Convicted felons can not audit the books of public corporations.

    So sometimes I wonder. There are probably laws we can improve. But maybe we have a lot of laws that just need enforcing? I wonder?

    How to change corporate governance, culture and transparency? I wonder about that one, too. I wonder what would happen if we went back to sunsetting corporations every 5 years or so. Every 5 years or so, we make them justify their existence. Don’t even know what exactly that would mean now. Hmmm?

    Life, law, governance and fighting corruption are messy, full of headaches and frustrations. A lot of thankless toil with occasional victories, joy, pain, sadness, happiness and numerous disappointments. But as my grandfather would say, “You’re here, aren’t you?” So what are we going to do, ignore this crap or do the best we can? I opt for doing the best we can.

    Like you say, greed, the love of money, and the love of power are poison to the soul. And human beings have amazing, creative capabilities to justify their own actions, no matter how egregious, and rewrite/repaint history. Mazel tov to us all. A bi gezunt. As my Grandmother Sarah would say, “Be happy, baby!”

  99. Daniel
    September 1st, 2008 at 07:34 | #99

    Yeah, reading back on the comments and reminded again of history, I guess it was a little too simplistic to ask whether China will flex it’s external muscles when it already has. I don’t know, I guess I was thinking in a bigger sense. Although if you think about it, there’s nothing really small or to belittle regarding international affairs.
    If I remember correctly, both the Vietnam and Korea campaigns had something to do with territory as well(as in one of the bigger causes)…although it’s a little shaky with the latter country.

  100. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 08:14 | #100

    Jerry— maybe we should “rendition” these criminals

    Problem is the CIA, FBI NSA, MI5-6 or whatever, always seem to “rendition” the WRONG guys, it seems….LOL~!

    Refering to # 8

    ” feature article of the weekend supplement of August 16/17, 2008 – “The Face of 9/11” – embraces the forced confession of a 9/11 suspect elicited through 5 years of hideous torture in the confines of secret prisons. Confessions extracted from torture, have no validity in any court, especially after 5 years of solitary confinement. ”

    S.K. Cheung Says: if some of your examples happened in China, I suspect heads would roll, literally…. Perhaps there are merits to the Chinese system after all…

    I’ve always thought so…For obvious reasons, as a compliment, Chinese are sometimes called the Jews of the East for sharing similar business & academic acument and long history – I hope I am not talking absolute nonsense here, as someone not trained in the law, from my casual observation and limited understanding, I kinda see paralells in the practice and principles of Chinese laws and the Mosiac Law. Am I completely crazy for saying that? My apologies in advance, in case. Smile

  101. Wukailong
    September 1st, 2008 at 08:33 | #101

    Vietnam is an interesting case because it was a punitive expedition against the Vietnamese because of their invasion of Cambodia (which in turn was an intervention on their part against the Khmer Rouge), even though the Chinese describe it as a war of self-defense.

    Then there’s the Sino-Indian conflict 1962, which was also an invasion on China’s part, though it might also be called a war of self-defense or possibly a retribution against Indian provocations.

  102. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 08:52 | #102

    Wukailong — Then there’s the Sino-Indian conflict 1962, which was also an invasion on China’s part,

    I wonder if a lot of what we think are facts are in fact Myth or misinformation? Here’s an article on the greatest modern western myths on China and what really happened in the Square …to the so-called Chinese aggression you mention above:

    This is not the first time Beijing has been condemned for something that did not happen. Perhaps the worst example was the Sino-Indian 1962 frontier war. As China desk officer in Canberra’s foreign affairs bureaucracy at the time, I had to watch on impotently as the world, including Canberra, accused China of making an unprovoked attack on India when the evidence in front of me proved clearly that it was India that had first attacked China, across even the furthermost line of control demanded by India. It would be more than a decade before that evidence finally found the light of day. In the meantime, the myth of Chinese aggressiveness would be used to justify a raft of Western atrocities in Asia, the Vietnam intervention especially.
    Gregory Clark is a former Australian diplomat and vice president of Akita International University. http://www.gregoryclark.net

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20040915gc.html

  103. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 09:13 | #103

    @S.K. Cheung, @TommyBahamas

    #100. TommyBahamas, I am LMAO. No wonder a Russian Jewish American like me ends up in Taipei! “Jews of the East”: now I have never heard that one. I kind of like that. I have noticed similarities in our cultures since I have been here. You are not talking nonsense. Old Testament Judaic law, via the Torah and Talmud, is very authoritarian. Remember, we had the angry Yahweh always pushing on us. The Jewish version of Chinese “face”. Furthermore, we tended to fear our dead ancestors and we have abnormal guilt; that ties in with “face”, too. The Jews also have a very collective nature that we have blended with individualism. A lot of the “Jewish” personality is driven by these factors along with the persecution we suffered and our migration to the US and Israel. We are a driven, strange lot of people.

    You are not crazy at all. No apologies needed. You know far more about the nature, laws, practices, and culture of the Chinese than I. Even at 57, this is a big learning experience for me. Fool’s Mountain is a big help to me. Learning our similarities will help bring us together as people.

    One similarity I notice about East Asians and Jews is classical music acumen. Every time my daughter and I attended the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (I love classical music and jazz), I marveled at the number of talented Chinese and Jewish musicians. What an orchestra, what a hall they play in. And last time I was there, they played Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin”. What a coincidence. And Yo Yo Ma was the artistic director of the CSO and put together a wonderful yearlong project, “The Silk Road Project”. He also has the “Silk Road Ensemble”. I love listening to both Itzhak Perlman and Yo Yo Ma, because they are such wonderful musicians and such wonderful people.

  104. NMBWhat
    September 1st, 2008 at 09:27 | #104

    “Lord” Brzezinski had a direct hand in the atrocities in Cambodia by suggesting to the Chinese that they support Pol Pot. Crazy, crazy.

    Also Chinese invasion of Vietnam was rumored to be because old man xiao ping wanted to give a “gift” to the great and knowledgeable and benevolent “lord” Kissinger.

    I’m not anti-usa. I’m just anti the fucking evil sicko that controls it.

  105. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 10:46 | #105

    NMBWhat — I’m not anti-usa. just …the… evil sicko that controls it.

    Yep, the US govt is involved in alot of small, medium and large scale inhuman covert activities. I dunno how these people can lie straight face to the AMerican people day after day, for decades and sleep at night. I will never forget the President who got-me-convinced & fooled with his righteous indignant look and diction, “I did not have sexual relationship with that woman.”

    According to famous reporter, John Pilger, The US actively supported the Khmer Rouge genocidal force, –helped create conditions that brought them to power in 1975 & then btwn 1980-86, financed them to the tune of $85 million!!!! In 1981, Zbigniew Brzezinski, said, “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot,”
    as proxy to hide the US gov’t’s sinister covert involment.

    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/UncleSam_PolPot.html

    John Pilger’s one of my fav.(war) reporters

  106. Ted
    September 1st, 2008 at 10:55 | #106

    Michelle #88 & S.K Cheung #92

    Absolutely agree. My position is that, compared with the USSR, China’s policy of non-interference doesn’t put it on a diplomatic collision course with “the West”.

    The U.S. wouldn’t describe it’s actions in Iraq as interference just as China wouldn’t describe our actions as helpful. Western powers say China should help in Sudan, China says it shouldn’t interfere. Perhaps the words interfere and help could be neutrally replaced with “intervene”.

    Maybe its just semantics, but a few words provide a gray area that everyone can work in without having to choose sides or contrast ideologies (China’s neutrality to date on South Ossetia provides a great example). Overall, I think this will promote a healthier diplomatic atmosphere than that of 1950-1990. So what is the appropriate balance between helping and non-interference? I like that question more than who is right and who is wrong.

  107. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 11:42 | #107

    Jerry — One similarity I notice about East Asians and Jews is classical music acumen.

    Please forgive my ignorance. Are Jews, (Hebrews?) or Jewish culture considered Eastern or Western????
    I remember reading that the Chinese translation of the Hebrew Torah and Talmud, or maybe it was the bible (can’t quite remember) is in fact closer in nuances than the many English translations because ancient Hebrew culture, well, being very old, are very compatible.
    Did you know that the red paper banners Chinese people place on their doors and door posts to ward off evil have some correlations with the blood of the passover on the door posts ? Even the traditional chinese character for redemptive justification is made up of the character for “me” and “Lamb,” the act of sacrificing of lamb to “god” for the forgiveness of sin. I am an agnostic, but I remember reading something like that when I was very young.

  108. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 12:21 | #108

    @TommyBahamas, @NMBWhat, @Wukailong

    #101, 102, 104, 105. Sometimes I wonder how crazy my country is when it comes to foreign policy. Zbig and Henry have got to be as arrogant as they come. Actually, the term “war criminal” comes to mind. A modern Nuremberg trials, maybe?

    I have read John Pilger’s work in the past. Thanks for the link, TommyBahamas, on the Cambodian/American aspect. I have heard the stories in the past. It is nice to have the link

    Wukailong, I don’t know which came first: China attacking Vietnam on the northern border or Vietnam’s “incursion” into Cambodia?

    But relationships between the countries in the area are pretty screwed up, too, based on what I saw.

    I have a dear friend (A Cambodian woman who is like a daughter and little sister to me), Sona, who lives in the Seattle area, where I lived, with her husband, Corey, and 2 young daughters. Corey is also Cambodian, although both are American citizens now. Sona’s Cambodian mother, Hamas, and some of her family were raised for a while in Hanoi. Hamas speaks Vietnamese.

    I have a dear Vietnamese friend, Hien, who is like a niece to me and calls me Uncle Jerry. She has told me much about Vietnam. She is from Hanoi. I also have a close Hanoian friend, Hong Ha, who has told me much about the history of Vietnam. I have another close friend, Hai Ha, who also lives in Hanoi.

    I have a friend, Holly, who is Khmer Chinese, who lived in the house in Hanoi I shared with a nice Vietnamese family. The father was Vuu and the mother was Tra. Holly left Phnom Penh as an 11 year old, moved to LA knowing no English. Her family was escaping Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. 10 years later she graduated from UCLA with a dual major. Several years later, she graduated from law school. Holly has lived and worked in LA, New York, PP, Shanghai, Hanoi and currently resides in Shanghai.

    I spent 4 months in Hanoi last year. I spent 3 weeks in PP, most of it with Sona, her mother and her extended Cambodian family.

    I have read, sometimes through tears, Chanrithy Him’s (a Cambodian living in Eugene, Oregon) book, “When Broken Glass Floats”, the story of her family’s struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge. I read an equally sorrowful book, “The Sorrows of War”, by Bao Ninh. It is the story of one young Vietnamese man’s life from childhood to adulthood during the American War (what the Americans call the Vietnamese War). I have been to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in PP with some of Sona’s cousins. What a haunting tour. Sona’s cousin, Mom, was scared of the spirits she sensed there.

    Now for the relationships: Cambodians, in general, do not trust the Vietnamese. Sona and her family have warned me not to trust the Vietnamese. When Sona was 9 months old, the KR swept through her area and started to ritualistically murder Sona’s village out in a field. The only thing that saved them is that the Vietnamese Air Force started bombing and were followed very quickly by the Army. 30 minutes later, Sona’s family would have been wiped out. The VN AF and army saved her life.

    Cambodians like the Thais, I think because they are wealthier and do business in PP. The Thai army beat the crap out of teenaged and adult Cambodian males in refugee camps on the Thai border. Corey and several of his family were beaten. Corey has no use for the Thais. Corey came to this country as a 13 year old. He married Sona in an arranged marriage when he was 30 and Sona was 19. They have been married 14 years.

    Holly does not like or trust any Vietnamese person in Hanoi. Tra’s mother did not like Holly and let her know so. Tra and I intervened. Vuu said that Tra’s mom does not like Cambodians or Chinese. Double bogey for Holly. She loves Shanghai. She just thinks that most of the Shanghaians are very rude.

    Hien can get along with anybody. She has Cambodian and Chinese friends.

    Hong Ha has an intense distrust of the Chinese. It is through her I have become aware of the various Chinese domination/occupation/puppet regimes over many centuries. Ha works for a Japanese construction firm and is fluent in English, Vietnamese and Japanese. She loves Japan but not her Japanese employer. But sometimes she appreciates her Japanese boss.

    Hai Ha works for a Taiwanese firm which has offices located in Hanoi. Hai Ha seems to get along ok with her bosses in Taiwan. Sometimes. They do put her under a lot of stress. She is the manager in Hanoi.

    Vuu is in the upper management of one of the Vietnamese government’s bureaus. He has told me never to trust the Chinese. Even the Chinese in Taiwan.

    And most Vietnamese seem to like Americans, in spite of 3 million Vietnamese dying in the American War. They have lots of involvement with the Japanese now, despite 2 million Vietnamese dying during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

    The Vietnamese say they want peace. They mean it. They have an army of 450,000 soldiers, the sixth largest land army in the world.

    My assessment: Go figure. I am confused. It is way too complex for me to even begin to assemble some rational picture.

  109. Jerry
    September 1st, 2008 at 13:26 | #109

    @TommyBahamas

    #107. Disclaimer: I am not a Judaic scholar. I am not a Hebrew scholar. I am not a scholar of the Talmud or Torah or Kabbalah. I grew up on the west coast of the USA in Portland, Oregon. I am not an expert on the diaspora. Please forgive my ignorance. Finally, I told you we are a strange lot. ::big smile:: I hope that I don’t confuse you more with the following information.

    Here are things I do know.

    Jews and Arabs are Semites. We have a common ancestor, Abraham. We started in Egypt, as far as I know. Are we considered East or West? I am not sure. Ashkenazim are the diaspora that settled in Eastern and Northern Europe. Sephardim settled in Spain and the Middle East. I don’t know what that makes us, East or West. I guess I have never had this discussion with other Jews. I have a friend who was born in Israel, his mother in Poland and his step-father in Yemen. They are all Jews. My grandparents were born in Russia and my dad in Cincinnati. What does that make us? Don’t know. Maybe this is why I don’t know distinctions. We are used to picking ourselves up after we get knocked down. That I do know.

    I almost forgot the Mizrachim, who are Middle Eastern and Northern African and Hasidim are from Poland. Let us also not forget that the Moors, who were Muslims, allowed the Sephardim to roam freely in their Mediterranean realm. Add to all of this, nobody has a clear definition of Jewishness. A strange lot, if ever there was.

    I am probably closer to being an atheist, much like my father and grandfather (God bless the defenders of Judaism in Russia. That is a conversation for another day. There are good reasons why there are secular Jews.)

    I did not know about the connections with the Chinese and Passover-like banners. I am learning about some of these things for the first time. Which is one reason I am glad I am in Taiwan. Probably would never happen in the US. Thanks for your help in my education.

    Do you have anything comparable to mezuzahs on the doorposts of your houses?

    “On the doorposts of traditional Jewish homes (and many not-so-traditional homes!), you will find a small case. This case is commonly known as a mezuzah (Heb.: doorpost), because it is placed upon the doorposts of the house.”

    Does anybody wear yamulkahs, the little round headpieces?

    Curious?? I am going to have to tell my dad some of this stuff. Very curious.

  110. Wukailong
    September 1st, 2008 at 14:18 | #110

    I know there are different interpretations of these parts of history. There is no claim about Chinese history regards to border disputes (or what we are to make of them) where there does not at least exist 2 different versions. Nothing new to me, and I have heard the other version of the Sino-Indian conflict (but thanks to TommyBahamas for posting it again).

    As for the Chinese claims about the “war of defense” or “Northern war of aggression” (as it is called in Vietnam), I do not really think they make much sense. It did come after the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, however. The Vietnamese had several reasons to occupy Cambodia, one of them the border incursions of Khmer Rouge, but also because they have been a local hegemon for centuries.

  111. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 14:50 | #111

    @ Jerry

    Re: Mezuzah, what comes to mind is the small red box that house a diety (Earth god, usually with tangerines as offerings and burning incense / joss-sticks) that is placed afixed on the ground by the front door frame of traditional Chinese houses.

  112. NMBWhat
    September 1st, 2008 at 18:40 | #112

    There is a giant elephant in the room…

    And it is:

    The Chinese WISH THEY WERE A FUCKING 1/10TH LIKE THE JEWS. The Chinese wished they got the presidents of the U.S.A (and candidates) on call.

    Am I racist for saying this? I’m not racist. I don’t hate the Jewish people. I don’t hate anyone. I just want to have a discussion. Am I right for thinking this way, or is it because I’ve been “brain-washed” by some of the out-there theories? You tell me.

    I respect and love the Jewish people. They have contributed tremendously to our modern society. But at the same time, people claim that the Jews rule the world, with respect to the theories that supposes the big Jewish families such as the Rothschild’s being the masters of all.

    Another weird theory is that the Queen of England is the direct descendant of Abrham, and thus have the divine right to rule due to God’s promise that the descendent’s of David shall rule forever. This theory claims that Abraham was a Hyskos king. And everything described in the bible actual parallels real events in history, for example, that mosses and them are really pharaohs of Egypt. This theory says that stories in the bible are a mash-up of real history and fiction, packaged together in a nice package.

    The proponent of these theories gives out some evidence such as when the Queen of england ascending her throne, she ascended a stepped pyramid, paralleling traditions described in the bible. They also claims that the royal rod and whip are those used in Egypt, connecting her to that. Also, they claim that U.S.A is still really under the control of England, through the secret societies. This is called the Empire of the City – Washington (district of columbia, why would they call Columbia? Columbo… hehe) D.C as the war center, City of London, the financial and seat of royal power, and the Vatican, to rule all that is religious.

    Another far out aspect of this theory is that Jesus Christ was really the child of Cleopatra and Juilius Cesar, hence the initials J.C. The whole genesis of Christianity was to take back the Roman empire, which surprisingly merely 100 or so years after J.C the Roman empire became a de-facto Christian empire.

    And no, I’m not sure if I really believe in all that… And no, my history is very bad, so what I just said is probably laughable at best (insane more like it).

    Then you got the things about fore-knowledge of 9/11. How there is a huge Israeli spy net-work in the states. According to some, Israel spys much more so than the Soviets ever did, or something like that. They also claim that this company Amdocs, and also Converse infosys… arghh blah. I’m tired of writing. Download Fabled Enemies and check it out.

  113. Karma
    September 1st, 2008 at 18:47 | #113

    @Jerry and TommyBahamas,

    George Carlin is definitely very funny – and unfortunately (or fortunately) not that far off the truth…

  114. NMBWhat
    September 1st, 2008 at 18:49 | #114

    And when the Jews take over the world, so as long as I believe in Kabal I will be spared???

    And some of my Jewish friends really believe in magik.

  115. TommyBahamas
    September 1st, 2008 at 22:06 | #115

    I don’t hate anyone. I just want to have a discussion. Am I right for thinking this way, or is it because I’ve been “brain-washed” by some of the out-there theories? You tell me. NMBWhat says

    @NMBWhat , I find it near impossible to get people to engage in what you ‘ve discribed because it is all very hard to prove. BUT, the FEDERAL RESERVES , and how Truman betrayed America is a good start. Cheers.

  116. Jerry
    September 2nd, 2008 at 04:05 | #116

    @NMBWhat, @TommyBahamas

    #111.
    Thanks, Tommy, for your reply.

    #112, 114, 115.
    Chuckle, chuckle, sob. Somebody is loaded for bear, here. ::smile::

    The Chinese WISH THEY WERE A FUCKING 1/10TH LIKE THE JEWS. The Chinese wished they got the presidents of the U.S.A (and candidates) on call.

    The ruling elite have direct access to the White House. There are Jews in the USA ruling elite. AIPAC definitely has presence in the ruling elite. Consolidation of the media has definitely benefitted both the ruling elite and AIPAC. AIPAC has used their bully pulpit to force politicians, if not into their way of viewing the world, at least into funding Israel’s military. There are also ruling elites who are WASPs who have direct access to the White House.

    Let me digress for a bit here.

    In 1922, Walter Lippmann, a Jew, wrote “Public Opinion” in which he literally mapped out how the ruling elite can use the media to control the public. Consolidation of the media has definitely help bring about the media control which Lippmann sought. Noam Chomsky, another Jew, and Ed Herman, wrote the book, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media”. They chose that title because Lippmann coined the term, “the manufacture of consent”. They write about Lippmann at length.

    I describe Lippmann as “Machiavellian”. Nonetheless, I believe that Lippmann was genuinely concerned about the complexity of policy making, and the seeming indifference and incapability of the public to deal with the complexity. Such opinions happen when viewing and listening to the world through hubristic and elitist eyes and ears. I myself occasionally fall into that same trap.

    Noam Chomsky, on the other hand, sees it differently. He has learned, through his esteemed study of linguistics, that the use of language requires an innate, sophisticated intelligence. Thus Chomsky sees the public as very intelligent. I admire Chomsky’s work very much. Not only that, I appreciate much his foreign policy and political science talks because they are so detailed and complete. Chomsky will never be accused of giving a 30-second sound bite. Amusingly, his children had to suffer similarly detailed, prolonged reprimands when they misbehaved. That’ll teach you to misbehave. ::smile::

    Israel is the “Promised Land” to a lot of Jews. They see it is payback for a many centuries of suffering and wandering. Yes, many Jews are overachievers, my father, Lippmann, Chomsky, my daughter (who at 26 years old is an orthopedic surgery resident) and myself included. Yes, there are Zionistic Jews. Yes, AIPAC and its members exhibit paranoid-like tendencies. I believe that all Jews are at least mildly paranoid. Based on our history and experiences, I believe that is pretty normal. It will take a long time to get over that. The Jews are a dichotomous and paradoxical group of people. And I believe that, like most humans, we each have our paradoxes, dichotomies and conundrums. I know I do. I know my family does. As I have said above, we are a strange lot.

    Back to the matter at hand.

    As human beings, we are both rational and irrational. I tend to believe that our irrational side is even larger. I believe that we must deal with both sides. The irrational tends to be more painful to deal with.

    NMBWhat, if you believe something, then you believe something. If you want to rant, that is ok with me. Calling you a racist or anti-semitic or whatever is not going to promote understanding or discussion. If you want a discussion, I am all for it. As I have said before, since coming to Taiwan, I am seeing similarities between Jews and Chinese. Sure, there are differences. That’s life.

    I believe that some of these so-called theories play on our worst fears. Nonetheless, I try not to dismiss them out of hand. I just keep them in the back of my mind. I am a scientist by nature. I am continually observing, learning, drawing inferences, speculating/concluding. Nothing seems to be written in concrete for me. Life is complex and full of surprises.

    Some of these theories that you mention might have some truth in them. I don’t know. There are good and bad people of all ilk. And good and bad people have good and bad inside themselves. What a paradox. Greed, the love of money, the love of power, paranoia, etc., can bring out some not so wonderful (sometimes terrible and evil) parts of ourselves. I am being nice here.

    I am sure that the Israelis are spying on the US. The Mossad and Shin Bet are probably very active. There have been occasional criminal trials, such as Jonathan Pollard’s spy trial. There is a new case this year involving a man named Ben-Ami Kadish. I am just as sure that the CIA, FBI, DIA and NSC are spying on the Israelis.

    Personally, I have never heard about some of these theories, like Queen of England, the US under the control of the UK and that Jesus Christ was the child of JC and Cleo. I have heard rumors about the Vatican, Opus Dei, the Templar Knights, the Priory of Sion, the Medici’s, Machiavelli, Rasputin, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the Rothschild’s, the Louis-Dreyfus’s, the Bilderbergers, the Illuminati, the CFA, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucian’s, Art Bell, HAARP, UFOs, Kabbalah, etc., etc., ad nauseum. I am sure that Tom Hanks, Nick Cage, Harrison Ford and the movie industry are very appreciative of these rumors. Sorry if I missed some of your favorites.

    BUT, the FEDERAL RESERVES , and how Truman betrayed America is a good start. Cheers.

    Tommy, I know about the mess we call the Federal Reserve (Again, can you say “Ruling elite?” I can. ::LOL::). Are you referring to the Truman Doctrine in 1947 and its many dire consequences? Or one of the other numerous “faux pas” of the Truman administration? I am not including the MacArthur controversy. Doug was a little bit too egotistical for my blood. Eisenhower was much more statesmanlike and naïve. Ike learned a lot from his years as president, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks. And speaking of betrayal, what about FDR, Churchill, Stalin and Yalta? Dire consequences for Europe, and Eastern Europe. And indirectly China.

    Tommy and NMBWhat, it is good to have discussions. We can all learn from others and learn about ourselves in these discussions. I keep learning all the time here. This forum, Fool’s Mountain, is one of the best, most civil forums out there, no matter what the topic. This one ranks right up there with the WELL bbs, IMHO.

    Mazel tov! A bi gezunt! Gān bēi (乾杯)!

  117. September 2nd, 2008 at 06:45 | #117

    @ NBMWHAT
    then I guess the Chinese are coming to save you Chinese might be 1/10 right now but in 30 years or so they will be much more and the Rothchilds can’t stop that.

    Watch out for those Koreans though – they are damn smart (and hot too)…

  118. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 07:03 | #118

    Hey Jerry, I’m really crazy sometimes and the absolutely worst ridiculous crap comes out of my mouth.

    Have you guys noticed how they flipped the U.S flag? I’ve first noticed this on my buddies army uniform a few years back. I ask him about it, and dude is just like it’s nothing. It’s everywhere now. Crazy part is those command planes flying during 911

    The world is just not right anymore. I’m a bit freaked out.

  119. NBCWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 07:08 | #119

    So I’m sorry. Being anonymous online makes me into an asshole I guess.

  120. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 07:25 | #120

    And seriouly, I’m just trying to figure out what the heck is going on really since 9/11. I guess from there things just get crazy and there is a lot of connections. It’s scanner darkly 1984 the matrix all rolled into one, I don’t know what. UFOs…

    But it has been like that … forever. Is it because reality is cruel? Is this is what humans do? Satanic forces? Aliens? Extra-dimensional entities?

  121. Jerry
    September 2nd, 2008 at 13:26 | #121

    @NMBWhat,

    #118, 119, 120
    No need to apologize. I have a temper, too. I am human, just like you.

    Regarding the flying of the American flag upside down (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=american+flag+upside+down&aq=1). Several sites report that “It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.” Maybe your buddies are sending a message?

    What do you mean by “Crazy part is those command planes flying during 911”?

    Regarding “The world is just not right anymore”: I think the world has been crazy for a very long time. Why haven’t we noticed this as much before? Here are some possible ideas as to why. We have more people and more technological power than ever before now. The population has doubled from 3.08 billion people in 1961 to 6.3 billion in 2003. We are overshooting the capability of this planet to provide for our needs; essentially, we are using more resources than the earth can sustain (Global Footprint Network http://www.footprintnetwork.org/). We now have access to 24/7 news and communication capabilities. The news media seems to be more sensational in its reporting because sensationalism sells and the competition is fierce. Sensationalism has always been with us. We just have more media channels fighting more intensely for your attention. Maybe we are over-reporting and creating hysteria and paranoia. George Carlin had a few words on “Saving the Planet” and our over-reaction (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw&NR=1). Essentially, it appears that we are more stressed out than before.

    So maybe we should slow down in our reactions and reflect more. A case in point is the Russia-Georgia-South Ossetia affair. Many in the media and political circles jumped to the defense of Georgia. Several days later, it became very clear that this was a muddled, unclear, complex military engagement with long-term implications. A little reflection is not a bad thing.

    I have a hard time wrapping my head around arguments which involve Satanic forces, UFOs, aliens and ET extra-dimensional entities. George Orwell is easier for me. So is acknowledging reality as a complex, maybe cruel concept. Theoretical physics talks about humans existing in multiple dimensions, dimensions beyond the 4 “normal” ones. There are several interpretations of quantum mechanics which address the multi-verse. Who knows what the answer is to, “And seriously, I’m just trying to figure out what the heck is going on really since 9/11.” I certainly have no definitive answers.

  122. TommyBahamas
    September 2nd, 2008 at 13:40 | #122

    Theoretical physics talks about humans existing in multiple dimensions, dimensions beyond the 4 “normal” ones. There are several interpretations of quantum mechanics which address the multi-verse.

    Glad you brought up the scientific aspect of the unknown, (Man, we’ve totally go off topic, haven’t we?)a great deal of which seems to be have been due to the result of an elaborate gov’t covered-up scheme, if you follow me. May be this video will get you excited as a scientist, Jerry.

    If what the folks in this “project” have been disclosing are true than I wonder if Democracy will become obsolete — in an instance — one fine day??????

    Enjoy.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p60xkTxi0Y

  123. Daniel
    September 2nd, 2008 at 17:45 | #123

    Wow, these are some interesting comments…in a strange way, some of it is on and off-topic soI think it’s ok to type it.

    Since you all mention it already, I too am seeing many similarities between Jews and Chinese. When I mention this to someone online who claim to be a Judaic Scholar, he said it was only superficial. I agree a little bit but then the more material I read, the more familiar and undertandable it appear to be. A few college courses I took require me to read up on the history, religion and culture of these people. Also, a friend of mine (who wants to be more observant) show me some orthodox websites to explain their way of life, thinking, etc. It’s very interesting how fairly “open minded” and reasonable a lot of their beliefs are, although some seems a little weird and illogical, I’m not surprise at all for such an ancient culture. I’ve been reading for over 4 years, and frankly, beyond the good merchant, studious, diaspora, etc. similarities, other than the obvious differences, they can relate to each other pretty well.
    I’m also not surprise if a Chinese translation might be closer to the original scriptures than other languages. (a very big maybe).

    Anyways, back on topic, I have read and heard about so many “democracies” around the world where it is a big platform for the elite in their society. Personally, I can’t say whether this is good or bad, in an extreme case. If you ask a lot of people, I think they too would rather have someone who has a very strong background and credibility concerning the education and “resume” of their leaders. However, I don’t know how other countries work. The social mobility in the States is a bit more fluid, yet it’s pretty much common sense that for those who are already rich and powerful, they wouldn’t want to give that up, nor would their descendents.

  124. totochi2
    September 2nd, 2008 at 19:14 | #124

    Huiguan, China – When Fang Zhaojuan began organizing her neighbors here to impeach village leaders whom she suspected of corruption, she had no idea that the challenge would lead her first to the hospital and then to jail.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0903/p01s01-woap.html

  125. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 22:15 | #125

    Jerry,

    #121.

    I’ve known for a long time since middle school that the government is crazy and has done a lot of ‘bad’ stuff. However, I still had some reservations, I still had this foolish notion that America still was great – a shinning example of freedom (i.e. comparing with the evil-communist-china, student crushing evil bastards) that is mostly still the freedom and rights of it’s citizens. But 9/11 really woke me up. We’re all pawns. It’s ALL BULLLSHIT. None of it is REAL.

    There is no way you can convince me that 9/11 was NOT AN INSIDE JOB. If you look at all facts, it is obvious. Disregarding all the other stuff by just looking at the 9/11 commission report, the FEMA report, and the NIST report. IT’S ALL BULLSHIT. Full of contradictions and generalizations. Just take the new explanation for WTC 7. They claim a single beam caused an ‘extraordinary event’ which lead to a new definition they dubbed ‘global collapse.’ It’s bullshit! And, you telling me that they spend 3 years on a super computer (I used to work at a super computer simulation lab) simulation of the collapse of WTC 7 yet their simulation only shows initial failure and do not show the entire collapse sequence? Bullshit. WHY??? Because they know it’s bullshit, that it is physically impossible for WTC7 to collapse in the way that it did. Note, it is possible for it collapse, (IF YOU ASSUME THAT THIS IMPROBABLE COLLAPSE HAPPENED) but IMPOSSIBLE for it to collapse the way it did, basically collapsing and turning into dust, in near free fall speed. By what? Magical fire apparently…

    And from there I have been trying to figure out the ‘world.’ 9/11 was the catalyst, it’s driving me insane. It’s like I woke up in a Philip K. Dick novel.

    I don’t think it’s merely a symptom of exponential increase in ‘novelty.’ Or that I’m unable to handle ‘reality’ in an increasing strange and changing world (I DO NOT WATCH ANY T.V, maybe occasionally but…). I believe there IS something deeply evil behind it all. What the media is doing is simply there to generate false fears. To trap the common people into their mind prison…

    Everything else is just my theories. When I mention aliens etc… there are just my way of trying to wrap my head around it. So my theory behind the supposed “Zonist control.” That’s because I’m trying to figure thing out.

    F*** THE WORLD IS SCREWED UP…

  126. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 22:26 | #126

    Look up Steven Jones for another damning ‘evidence’ of controlled demolition. Basically they found evidence of thermite in the dust around WTC. END OF STORY.

    And if you read slashdot, there was a story on the new NIST report. THe comments for that article was just page after page of +5 insightful comments basically all claiming that what I just said was bullshit. Yet none of them really give good explanation of what I just described above. Namely the impossible collapse of WT7 and the evidence of thermite.

    Also, earlier when I was talking about the flag I didn’t mean the flag is upside down. It mean it’s rotated on the Z axis 180 degree so the flag pole part is facing the other way. Now I remember tho that he did mention it is because when on the right arm, the flag looks foward in the direction of motion. The reason being that the old way made them look like a retreating soldier. Well, that makes sense but still. Last night in my mind set it just connected like man, it’s flip-mode. The world is flipped!!!!

  127. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 22:36 | #127

    And those of you thinking I’m just a fool who knows how to put together an equation or two, that I have no critical thinking abilities… Whatever. Given the choice of the official story (blue pill) and physics (red pill), damnit I take physics!

  128. NMBWhat
    September 2nd, 2008 at 22:40 | #128

    And the thing with Georgia… It’s just a new chapter in the game they’re playing. U.S, blah blah now has a philosophy of preemptive nuclear strike. And they surround Russia with all this crap. Of course it’s going to raise the level of paranoia for everyone. I’m not supporting Russia, but why is the U.S freaking with them? WHY???

    WHY???

    WHY IS THE WORLD SO SCREWED UP???

    We are nothing but pawns.

  129. TommyBahamas
    September 3rd, 2008 at 02:37 | #129

    NMBWhat , There is HOPE for mankind.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p60xkTxi0Y

    There is HOPE — THe crazy ruling class are NOT in total control –Ex-US military personel (ranking from Generals, Colonals to nuclear operators to radar operators all witnessed INTERSEPTIONS of Nuclear ICBM in flight at 14,000MPH & rendered useless…. / ICBM Silos experienced blackout and out of the military’s control.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUvri31HRUg&feature=related

    Carlos Diaz extraordinary story of hope and the coming global paradigm shift.

  130. NMBWhat
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:09 | #130

    Tommy, thanks bud, I will check those out. I’m aware of the Disclosure Project. Also know the thing about UFOS shooting down ICBM’s. But let’s keep it quiet tho. I get the feeling that these ‘super-intellectuals master race’ types around these parts here look down on our kind… They probably think we all wear tin-foil hats and suffer from schizophrenia.

  131. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:09 | #131

    @Daniel,

    #123.
    Yes, some of this has been off-topic which, at times, is ok with me. How we see and experience the world, and how we react to the world color our views of democracy, too. They also impact democracy, the qualities of its manifestation, its future, whether or not it comes about, whether it flourishes, or whether it just dies.

    As I have said, before, I am no Judaic scholar or expert. Heck, the bigger my picture, the less I know for sure. I would advise directing skepticism at anyone who claims to be a scholar or expert. I think it was the notorious Henry Kissinger who said (I am paraphrasing this from memory), “An expert is someone who can repeat back to those in power what they wanted to hear in the first place.”

    I seem to relate well to the Chinese here. One of the reasons I live here is that “it just seems to fit.” It is more comfortable than others think. The most oft-asked question I get from Americans, ex-pats, and the Taiwanese is, “Why did you retire to Taiwan??” Causes them to scratch their heads. The next question from the Taiwanese is, “Why don’t you have a wife?” ::big smile:: Too bad the great comparative mythologist, “Joseph Campbell”, is not around on this blog. Joe would be able to intellectually explain a lot of this. Based on what I have gleaned from Campbell’s writings, we have far fewer differences than we could ever imagine. He learned a lot from his friendship with J. Krishnamurti.

    Regarding democracies, the ruling elite and their control of the media: I prefer a critical-thinking, actively engaged citizenry. I prefer a robust, active, diverse media which challenges us to think. I prefer a level playing field. As the Carlin videos (links above) indicate, the ruling elite don’t want the rabble to interfere or become educated in thinking critically. They want good worker bees who just don’t interfere, and are just smart enough to do their jobs and go to the mall regularly. I almost forgot, they want the bees to tune into the nightly news to get their instructions. You must keep those bees in line, like the title of a collection of Chomsky transcripts, “Keeping the Rabble in Line”. You gotta love the ruling elite and their compassion for us poor twisted souls.

  132. NMBWhat
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:12 | #132
  133. Wahaha
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:19 | #133

    Jerry,

    The relation between Chinese and their government is different from that in West.

    In West , government (not elite) is people’s enemy; but, at the same time, people expect government pulling them out of mess if they are in Trouble.

    In China, government (elite) is described as a boat on a stream of water (people). Water can hold the boat, but it can also flip the boat.

  134. September 3rd, 2008 at 03:21 | #134

    As this thread winds down, I want to make one final observation regarding democracy and freedom vs. authoritarianism.

    Many times, leaders of the West like to describe the West as the “free world” – the “free loving people” – casting the West in International geopolitics as in the right and on the “right side of history.”

    This is not helpful.

    Whether your believe in liberal democracy or Confucianism (or communism for that matter) – our goal is the same: we are all ultimately looking for political solutions that serve the people. As the emperors of ancient China knew: without support of the people, the “mandate of heaven” can and will be taken away.

    Democracy is but an experiment. The West has been privileged to have so many stars align for its people to be served so well in the last few centuries. But the West must be vigilant to ensure the democratic experiment continues to be a success. Democracy does not per se guarantee good governance. And the West must not be so snobby as to believe democracy is the cure all and be all for everyone around the world.

    For the Chinese, the journey to find a political system worthy of its people and heritage continues . Greater China – encompassing both the mainland and Taiwan – has tried both modern authoritarianism as well as modern democracy. But as many Chinese are realizing, both form of governments have much to be desired.

    Authoritarianism Confucianism may be a solution. Such a system would aim to create an accountable government by endowing the leadership with a high sense of civic duty. Whether this works or not – however, time will tell.

    Whatever the future of China, I hope the people of the West – which still has so much to offer to the people of China – will be a partner rather than a nemesis to China’s development.

    Each of us here can be a bridge between the West and China. I hope such conversations as the above will help more and more to see that whatever form of government we believe in, we really all do have one common goal: to find political solutions that serve the people.

  135. Wahaha
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:23 | #135

    “Democracy is but an experiment. The West has been privileged to have so many stars align for its people to be served so well in the last few centuries.”

    On the misery of other people.

  136. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:34 | #136

    @totochi2,

    #124,

    Thanks for the article from the CS Monitor, a very good newspaper.

    This kind of sounds like stories of the past from Chicago, New York, the South, etc. The terms KKK and “lynch mob” are burned into the soul of the South.

    Laws do not make democracy work and thrive. It is the hard work and suffering of people like Fang Zhaojuan that make it work. There is no magic. Her vigilance is heroic.

    Tuesday, in St. Paul, Minnesota, police arrested and detained Amy Goodman, one of the best journalists in the world (IMHO), near the Republican Convention (http://www.freepress.net/). Amy is the head of Democracy Now, her news organization. http://www.democracynow.org/

    Democracy requires vigilance and suffering. I wish it were easy.

  137. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 03:53 | #137

    @Wahaha,

    #133,

    Wahaha, I respectfully disagree with your comment, “In West , government (not elite) is people’s enemy”. I have detailed my opinions above about the US ruling elite, Walter Lippmann, etc. I don’t want to waste space and time repeating this. The ruling elite have bought and paid for the politicians and government. Whether they are enemies of the people, that is a complex question. But they are certainly not friends of the public. What is going on in China and other countries in the West? I don’t know enough to comment.

    Several comments, most of which I have discovered from my reading of Howard Zinn’s work. The Constitution was written and signed by a number (39 out of the 55 authors) of rich white guys who overthrew King George and the British. Many of these men were also slaveholders. They designed a form of government that would enhance their positions and also prevent the public from doing to them what they had just done to King George.

  138. Wahaha
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:01 | #138

    Jerry,

    I was refering to how people view their government, maybe “enemy” is a word too strong, but certainly people in West never consider their government as their friends.

  139. S.K. Cheung
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:09 | #139

    To Allen:
    “Democracy is but an experiment” – if that’s the case, then absolutely everything everywhere is an experiment. And with any experiment, you look for measurable endpoints. I’d say more often than not, for democracy, those endpoints have been good. But if we’re an experiment, than China is definitely still very much in the process of conducting hers, and though recent endpoints on the whole give rise to some hope, she is way farther from completion than the west.

    “endowing the leadership with a high sense of civic duty.” – how do you do that? And doesn’t the current leadership possess same already?

    That being said, definitely agree with your last point.

  140. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:23 | #140

    @Allen,

    #134,

    Thanks, Allen. You have made some excellent comments. I love this blog; I am very grateful I found this.

    The West is often hubristic beyond belief. To believe that you know what is best for someone else is arrogance beyond belief. Kind of like, “God is on the side of the Notre Dame football team”. Except last year. ::smile::

    “Government serving the people” is also a great idea. I would like to see more of that for people everywhere.

    Democracy is a grand experiment, a “work in progress”. Yes, the West has been privileged and should always remember to be grateful and humble. I have a saying in my life, “Every day is a gift.” No “ism”, including democracy, is perfect. There are no panaceas, no cure-alls, no magic answers. And any “ism” can be corrupted by humans.

    I have no advice for how the Chinese should best govern themselves. And the questions and possible solutions may change in the future.

    I, too, hope that the Chinese people and Western people can come together. We have much to learn from each other. And we have global work to do which affects everybody’s future.

    I keep learning a lot from our discussions and writings here on this blog. I hope that we all treasure this blog and help it flourish in the future.

  141. S.K. Cheung
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:28 | #141

    To Jerry:
    god hasn’t been on the side of the Irish for quite some time now 🙂

  142. S.K. Cheung
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:36 | #142

    I should clarify that I was referring to the Fighting Irish football team, lest someone think I was referring to the people.

  143. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:43 | #143

    @S.K. Cheung,

    #141,142

    LMAO

  144. DS
    September 3rd, 2008 at 04:54 | #144

    Allen: DS 1:0.
    You lead for now. I was a bit too much

  145. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 05:06 | #145

    @Wahaha,

    #138,

    Wahaha, now I understand your remark. The US public does seem to have a negative viewpoint of government. Why is that so? Perhaps, the media, much of which is owned and controlled by the ruling elite, wants to create that impression. Thus the public’s attention is focused on “bad government”, not the shenanigans of the ruling elite. It reminds me of the line from the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Many have speculated if the book by Frank Baum, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” is not just a collection of children’s stories, but also political satire. I vote for the political satire. But then, I am forever the cynic and skeptic.

    Wow, this is the blog that just won’t die.

  146. Wahaha
    September 3rd, 2008 at 05:22 | #146

    “Why is that so? ”

    Cuz those officials are voted into the office, that gives people a sense that officials in government are their SERVANTS.

  147. S.K. Cheung
    September 3rd, 2008 at 05:50 | #147

    To Jerry:
    pardon my ignorance. Not much of a texter. What does LMAO mean?

  148. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 05:52 | #148

    @Wahaha,

    #146,

    Why is that so? ”

    Cuz those officials are voted into the office, that gives people a sense that officials in government are their SERVANTS.

    Perhaps the media plays on that frustration. Hence, the public is focused on a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

  149. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 06:07 | #149

    @S.K. Cheung,

    #147

    LMAO = laughing my ass off

    Variations

    LOL = Laughing out loud

    ROFL = rolling on floor laughing

    Below are some references for the obtuse, obscure, obfuscated form of communication known as Acronymish (Remember, I retired from Microsoft, the king of three and four letter acronyms, otherwise referred to as TLAs and FLAs. We are a sick bunch, both current and former. )

    For a list of some common ones: http://www.pb.org/emoticon.html. You can also look up any acronym at http://www.acronymfinder.com/.

    I never give the simple answer, do I? Must be too many years reading and listening to Noam Chomsky? When all else fails, blame Noam. Nasty habit. ::big smile::

  150. S.K. Cheung
    September 3rd, 2008 at 06:27 | #150

    Thanks Jerry. Learn something new everyday. I’m not as old as you (not that you’re old or anything), but I’m also old enough that I actually talk on my cellphone. Hence the ignorance.

  151. September 3rd, 2008 at 07:54 | #151

    @DS,

    We don’t keep personal scores here. The only score we keep is on creating camaraderie, building mutual understanding, and having fun while doing it. I hope we are even in terms of that score! 😉

  152. September 3rd, 2008 at 07:55 | #152

    @Jerry,

    I, too, hope that the Chinese people and Western people can come together. We have much to learn from each other. And we have global work to do which affects everybody’s future.

    I keep learning a lot from our discussions and writings here on this blog. I hope that we all treasure this blog and help it flourish in the future.

    Thanks for your comments…

    See you around! 🙂

  153. Jerry
    September 3rd, 2008 at 13:12 | #153

    @NMBWhat, @TommyBahamas

    #125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130

    I agree that the government has done bad things. I am very skeptical about the “official” interpretation of the events of 9/11. I distrust those in power, generally. I am always asking questions.

    We may be pawns. Yes, the ruling elite have a lot of power. But occasionally the American people wake up. That is why Nixon left office. That is why the Vietnam War came to an end. That is why the FCC ran into a stone wall of resistance when Michael Powell wanted to further increase media consolidation. Admiral Fallon was not willing to fall in line with Bush’s desire to attack Iran. Brent Scowcroft, twice National Security Adviser, was a leading critic of US policy towards Iraq before and after the 2003 invasion. Scowcroft was NSA during George W Bush’s father’s, George H W Bush’s administration, when the US first invaded Iraq in 1991.

    I suspect that the ruling elite are not monolithic. One of their organizations, the Council on Foreign Relations is known to have very vigorous debates. The elites have common interests and they have dissimilar interests. Scowcroft and Fallon demonstrate their willingness to go against the grain.

    I am familiar with Steven Jones’ work. He has raised questions on the WTC building collapses which are not answered by the mainstream theory. I have not seen the research. He has a reputation for being a careful scientist. Thus I suspect that his research is rather rigorous. One thing about scientific debate. It is rigorous, lengthy, prolonged, argumentative and generally bores the public to death because they want instant answers. Nothing in science is quick and easy.

    I observe many of the same things you do. My tendency is to reach conclusions slowly. I know that rush to judgment usually does not pay off well. I form hypotheses/ideas and test them out. I do this all the time when I write on this blog or talking with friends. I throw out ideas and see how they are received and what comes back. The scientific method, while laborious and slow, works better for me than quick, impulsive responses. That is how I approach this blog. That is how I have approached the original request made by Allen.

    For all the talk about democracy leading up to the Olympics, perhaps it is time – in the walk of the Olympics – to take a step back and ponder about what democracy really is.

    Matthew Fox, former Dominican theologian, has a saying, “One plus one equals three.” What he means that you bring 2 people together, each with an idea. After discussion of the ideas, you can develop another idea. 1 + 1 = 3. To me, this ties in with the scientific method.

    Tommy and NMBWhat, I can’t explain the observations of the people in the Disclosure Project. I know little about it. Sometimes it takes me a long time to make sense out of something like this. Sometimes I never can. I have heard about Greer and this project before. I don’t have any conclusions or explanations of ETs and UFOs. I know some concepts in quantum mechanics and theoretical physics that might possibly be used to explain ETs or UFOs, someday. Michio Kaku’s book, “Hyperspace”, touches on some of these concepts. A lot of phenomena which is now unexplainable could be very rationally explained sometime in the future. Just like eclipses were long ago; people thought that some god or monster was eating the sun (solar eclipse) or darkening the moon (lunar eclipse).

  154. Wahaha
    September 3rd, 2008 at 14:30 | #154

    MODERN democracy means EVERY individual has the right to claim WHATEVER HE BELIEVES belongs to him, with no regards to the interests and benefits of majorities.

  155. skylight
    September 3rd, 2008 at 23:02 | #155

    @wuming,

    Abu Dhabi GDP $ 71.000 per capita is the second highest in the world in 2007. It is not a democracy.

    India GDP $ 977 per capita. It is a democracy.

    The western leftist marxist intellectuals idealizing communism in Soviet Union and China during the 1960s and 1970s has been replaced by western disillusioned intellectuals in the 2000s idealizing authoritarianism in China.

  156. TommyBahamas
    September 4th, 2008 at 01:34 | #156

    Jerry, “I suspect that the ruling elite are not monolithic.”

    I think not either…but we are not entirely unfamiliar with some of these individuals. “Not armies, not nations, have advanced the race; but here and there, in the course of ages, an individual has stood up and cast his shadow over the world.”

    “The truth of the matter is that a fianancial element in the large centers
    has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson.”
    FDR, 1933

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dmPchuXIXQ&feature=related

    There is something behind the throne, greater than the King himself.

  157. RMBWhat
    September 5th, 2008 at 18:32 | #157

    The ruling elite is monolithic in that they want to kill us all.

    I’m not joking man.

    Eugenics is real. They have plans to kill 80% to 90% of earth’s population. You have all these bio-weapon researchers who comes out and say that they want to KILL YOU.

    The U.S government has document that says that they want to KILL YOU. Why? Because the people behind it are all in this Luciferian cult.

    I can’t articulate very well. But it’s real Just Wake UP!!!!

    You thought chemtrails were not REAL? They just came out and basically saying they plan to use chemtrails to prevent global warming. THeir methods is exactly “chemtrails.” People used to think it’s all a conspiracy theory, but now we know it’s REAL.

  158. RMBWhat
    September 5th, 2008 at 18:43 | #158

    Also you know what they want? They want to become Gods. I believe that in the near future technology will become available (trans-humanism) such that you can inject yourselves with nano-machines to extend your life indefinitely, enhance your brain with machine intelligent, etc.

    This is what they want! Can you imagine the gap between the Rich and Poor when this kind tech becomes available? We will have a REAL MASTER RACE on our hands when this happens.

    They don’t want to distribute this tech to the earth population. WHy? Because it would be too resource intensive to have a planet of immortal super-intelligent super-humans. Thus, to become God they must eliminate US. THE ELITES DO NOT WANT TO FIND SOLUTION TO THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS. Instead, they want a shortcut, eliminate the problem, eliminate the population.

    This is NOT A JOKE.

    I’m fatalistic. Perhaps this IS the only logical ‘evolution’ of intelligence. That is to say, upon reach a certain point on the curve, before the singularity, the situation is forced into a solution, the death of most population. THIS follows from my thinking on the Elite control being the result of human growth.

    So we’re ALL DOOMED.

    This also could explain drake’s equations. Why we don’t find the universe to be full of life.

    God is Satan. Satan is God. And Satan is keeping us from the TRUE GOD.

  159. RMBWhat
    September 5th, 2008 at 18:47 | #159

    THIS IS THE BRAVE NEW WORLD!

  160. raventhorn4000
    April 27th, 2009 at 22:43 | #160

    Democracy, is only necessary, if one’s primary goal is survival of the individual.

    But if one’s primary goal is the survival of one’s collective beyond one’s life time, or even at the cost of one’s life, then Democracy is not necessarily the best mode of governance.

    If one analyzes via the “scientific method”, all the successes and failures of past civilizations and nations, one can deduce that “Democracy”, is but an abnormal temporary state between periods of wars and dictatorships.

    “Democracy” functions best when there is little viable external threat, no significant internal crisis, ie. no need for substantial centralized decision making for a collective.

    Even US is not a true “democracy”, but a “representative democracy”, or “Republican form of Democracy”, where the extent of power elitism exists only to the point to accommodate most of the crisis.

    It is only efficient in the sense that the organization of the government allows for relatively high individual contribution to the collective decision making process, thus providing some synergy of the organization.

    But that is not the ONLY possible efficient form of government.

    Form of organization depends on purpose. For example, the military command structure of US and most Western nations are still very much centralized and dictatorial in nature. Similarly as are MOST of the large fortune 500 privately/publicly held companies’ management structures.

    The key to efficient government is “decentralization” and “balance of power”.

    “Decentralization” allows for maximum individual contribution of energy, and avoids possible stifling effect of rigid top-down government structure.

    “Balance of power” requires that no individual sub-organization becomes monopolistic in power.

    Multi-party democracy can be said to achieve both objectives. However, multi-party form is not always true multi-party.

    the 2 party democracy system in US has lost its meaning.

    While the Chinese Communist Party can be more accurately described NOT as a single party, but a multi-factional political conglomerate.

    And in that sense, Chinese form of “democracy” is very similar in nature to the US form.

  161. raventhorn4000
    June 10th, 2009 at 15:48 | #161

    On the basic theory of “democracy”:

    Government, in 1 theory, is a social contract. By implication, law of contracts applies, and the government is thought to be a contract between individuals to impose rules of power sharing and delegation.

    Assume the truism of “social contract theory”, then the question becomes, what is a valid legal requirements of such a “contract”?? The main focus is of course, whether the “social contract” had the assent of the people.

    If the Modern Contract laws are analogous, then the central issue is how do we know the existence of “assent of the People” in such a “social contract”??

    If a “vote” is the manifestation of “assent”, then according to multi-party contract theories, ALL parties bound by the “contract” must assent, or it cannot bind those parties who refused to sign the contract.

    Yet, a “vote” can ignore minority votes and also those who did not vote.

    Then the theory applied in “democracy” is not true “manifestation of assent”, but rather “IMPLIED manifestation of assent” in a “contract”, whereby, those who did NOT vote are implied to have acquiesced to a contract by silence. And those who voted against, are IMPLIED to have agreed to acquiescence if they did not win the vote.

    *”IMPLIED manifestation of assent” in contract is NOT new, and NOT unusual. Actually, many contracts involve IMPLIED agreement of parties.

    Consider the Uniformed Commercial Code, universally adopted by all US states, dealing with transactions of goods:

    (a) 1 party may agree to contract by performance.
    (b) between merchants, some terms of contracts can be changed by 1 party, and the other party would be implied to have agreed unless objecting within 10 days.

    Indeed, in most of the world’s commerce, strict written manifestation of agreement to contracts is not preferred, because it increases cost of contracts.

    Consider also, the commodity exchange, where the price of commodities change every second. Parties agree to contracts by gestures and signs. Prices are dictated by whatever is on the board.

    *Then the question is, is a “VOTE” the only valid manifestation of “assent of the People” in a social contract?

    Of course, contract theory suggests NO.

    A “VOTE” itself is NOT even a 100% manifestation of “assent”, when it obviously also use IMPLIED “assent” in its core.

    “Democracy” also uses IMPLIED “assent” through representation, when passing laws.

    **As contract laws vary across nations, some cultural preferences also slip into the formation of contracts.

    For example: Buyers Beware, warranty of merchantability, Titles, and Trusts.

    The point is, There is no 1 form of preferred contract assent, it depends on the circumstances.

    Similarly, there is no 1 form of preferred social contract assent.

  162. George Monser
    April 15th, 2010 at 06:24 | #162

    @wuming

    Wuming, I hear what you are saying. Much as I love my country, I despair at some of the news. More than ever, I realize the genius of the men who wrote our Constitution. As you know, our government is divided into three parts – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial – also each of the 50 states is semi-autonomous. Otherwise we could have gotten stuck with a dictator for life, with the IQ of Sarah Palin and the emotional qualities of John McCain.

  163. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 07:33 | #163

    @wuming
    wuming…it was Obama who killed three birds. He showed that America can stand up against the loudmouths that the are the Republicans, he showed that America has moved beyond the racism that persists in countries like China, where only millionaire foreigners can become citizens, but with no hope of joining the government, and he showed that Sarah Palin could not sway voters with her supposed good looks and tales of moose hunting.

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