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Friday, 15 February 2019

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HL Mencken, SOB..."Sage of Baltimore"
Does democracy die by suicide or from natural causes?

Yes, so why the hysteria over 52 vs 48 %?

You've been sounding like an old Bolshevik banging on about "democratic centralism", the Leninist foundation ...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_centralism

..., for two and a half years, making Dad's Army and the Bolsheviks look indistinguishable and equally unappealing, and then you lift and shift an outstanding belter like that!

Democracy is only useful for one thing: Changing the executive without violence. In all the other respects it is held in awe of these days it is over-rated.

SoD

Some related Mencken quotes:

"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage."

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

These seem particularly prescient:

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Ann Coulter doesn't have Mencken's intelligence or way with words, but David is correct that she does have her moments:

"Forget the fact that he's digging his own grave. The only national emergency is that our president is an idiot."

"[T]he goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years."

https://dailytimewaster.blogspot.com/2019/02/perspective-is-important.html

Thanks, David!

Whitewall, perhaps the answer is that natural causes eventually make democracies commit suicide. Ours seems to be headed that way.

Was that liability inherent? Could it have been avoided? I've been stewing over that one for a while now:

Was the Founding itself a wrong turn? Were the axioms and premises behind the architecture of the United States sufficiently flawed as to doom the whole enterprise ab ovo?

For the dominant faction of the contemporary American Right, the answer is simply No, and that’s that. We have strayed, and all of the nation’s contemporary ills are the result.

For the radical Left, the answer is a resounding Yes; indeed the mere fact that the nation was designed by white men, some of whom were slave-owners, is enough to taint the whole thing beyond any hope of redemption. It all has to go, root and branch.

The question is also an open one, though, for those of us to the right of the Right. Clearly we have strayed from the Founding, a very long way indeed, with many injurious consequences. But was this inevitable? Is it irreversible? What is the way forward? (What, exactly, do we want, anyway?) Look at the Declaration of Independence, which has been, up until my time at least, the American equivalent of Scripture. It is a stirring document, but it is also an article of revolutionary propaganda, arguably containing many testimonial falsehoods. More to the point, though, its preamble, which has reverberated throughout the history of the American nation, declares as “self-evident” a set of propositions that a rational observer could not only call into question, but believe to be self-evidently false. Upon how solid a philosophical foundation, then, was the American nation actually erected?

It's "Godel's loophole", that's the one that's gonna really do you in ...

https://www.quora.com/What-was-the-flaw-Kurt-Gödel-discovered-in-the-US-constitution-that-would-allow-conversion-to-a-dictatorship

The prez who goes for that one will reside in historical infamy for as long as mankind exists on this earth.

Gets everywhere that Godel, doesn't he?

SoD

SoD,

We probably wouldn't go to the trouble, but I see Godel's point. It's much easier to use tried-and-true tactics like scapegoating, demagoguery, big lies and coming up with a costume for followers like brown shirts or red caps.

And thanks for the "democratic centralism" link. It reminds me of the "third way" used by the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair: Simply choose 3 or 4 of the most popular items from column left and column right and pretend that taken together they represent centrism.

Gödel's loophole only continues to be of interest so long as we all consent to be bound by the Constitution in the first place; as far as a lot of folks are concerned, the fusty old thing passed its sell-by date once we collectively emerged from darkness and ignorance, blinking, into the sunlight of moral clarity, universal benevolence, and objective wisdom. (I didn't quite notice when that happened, exactly -- but I think it was sometime between the inauguration of Barack Obama and the canonization of "Caitlyn" Jenner, and was of course sealed for the ages by the anointment of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.)

Already I suspect that Stalin's approach may come to the forefront before long:

"The Constitution? How many divisions has it got?"

Lots of little tyrants working around it sates them thereby diminishing their ardour for one big tyrant to perform the knockout blow.

Yep, I'd go with that.

She's a dirty old copper-green these days, but so long as she's still under there holding up the torch there's hope.

SoD

SoD,

Have a cigar. Trump displays a lot of the characteristics of a despot, but they're all in the service of salesmanship and moneymaking. His worst feature is a complete naivete with respect to history, other countries and world leaders.

The much more potentially dangerous situation is economic. After 40 years of "trickle down" we are at levels of income inequality not seen since just before the Great Depression. The timing of a possible crash could determine a major swing either left or right.

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