Political Meritocracy & Authoritarian Democracy
This week on Facebook: Last week Murray N. Rothbard wrote in the introduction to La Boetie’s Discourse that, How can a free and very different world be brought about? How in the world can we get from here to there, from a world of tyranny to a world of freedom? This prompted me to republish the following quotation made fifty-seven years ago by Aldous Huxley at Berkely University:
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. (Aldous Huxley – Berkeley 1962)
In Rothbard on Voting the view is held by Murray N. Rothbard that those who vote do so subject to the coercive system imposed by the State. Views which no doubt influenced his introduction to La Boetie’s Discourse, in which it was stated that democracy is of no benefit to those enfranchised. A man may cherish democracy during his time in the majority and worship it when his views are no longer in the majority. But is this freedom? Is liberty nothing more than accepting the majority at all times, under all costs?
Democracy, after all, is simply a method of choosing governors and issues, and it is not so surprising that it might have value largely to the extent that it serves as a means to other political ends. Rothbard on Democracy
The above applies to a political meritocracy, an authoritarian democracy, or any other political system that would claim to be democratic. The best political system — however undemocratic it may appear — may be moot to the successful majority who live in them. Globally it seems that whatever system of public administration is implemented by the State, people (the demos) are moving towards a choice of increasingly undemocratic political systems. Whatever political system is chosen by the demos, they all increasingly suppress freedom of expression while claiming a legitimacy of being democratic¹:
Chinese Democracy Isn’t Inevitable: The Chinese government introduced village elections in the late 1980s to maintain social order and combat corruption among local leaders; by 2008, more than 900 million Chinese villagers had exercised the right to vote. Voters don’t choose among political parties; instead, they directly nominate candidates and vote by secret ballot for a committee of candidates who serve three-year terms. Turnout has generally been high, and the conduct of elections has improved over time.
China’s Political Meritocracy Under Xi Jinxing: A ruler for life, even one as qualified as Xi, puts to the test the notion that the top of the political hierarchy will always be populated by the best, brightest, and most virtuous. It also jeopardises China’s collective leadership and rotation of power, imperfect but important meritocratic mechanisms nonetheless put in place during the reform period to ensure the country’s disastrous experiment with authoritarian populism never gets repeated.
Are China’s Leaders Better Than Ours? We’re very attached to our democratic way of doing things—chainsaws, bacon and all. But how confident are we that we’ve gotten it right? How certain are we that whichever leaders come out of our process, of whatever party and persuasion, can stand on equal footing with whomever comes out of theirs?
China and the Future of Democracy: China’s approach, which has delivered the goods for two generations now, has more going for it, especially from the perspective of poor countries where sustained growth is the priority. This makes it inevitable, it is said, that more countries will emulate Chinese governance. And this observation casts grave doubt on the future of democracy.
The Uncertain Future of Democracy: Trust in political institutions — including the electoral process itself — are at an all-time low. New converts to democracy in Europe and the Middle East are sliding back into authoritarian rule. And populist leaders who are expected to curb certain civil liberties are winning votes. Societies the world over are experiencing a strong backlash to a system of government that has largely been the hallmark of developed nations for generations.
Referenced Articles, Books, Videos: Article, book or pdf (usually free), video, or simply a url that may sometimes link to a download that may be free. Sometimes a link to JSTOR is used, this lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹The China Model Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy (2 free videos): Westerners tend to divide the political world into “good” democracies and “bad” authoritarian regimes. But the Chinese political model does not fit neatly in either category. Over the past three decades, China has evolved a political system that can best be described as “political meritocracy.” The China Model seeks to understand the ideals and the reality of this unique political system. How do the ideals of political meritocracy set the standard for evaluating political progress (and regress) in China? How can China avoid the disadvantages of political meritocracy? And how can political meritocracy best be combined with democracy? Daniel Bell answers these questions and more.
A.P. Herbert AI Albert Haddock Banks blog book books budget budget deficit C.S. Lewis censorship Charles Dickens China Civil Service constitution Crime CRT cryptocurrency CWG debt deficit democracy economics economy education ethics EU euro fiat money Film France freedom of expression gdp government history human-rights internet J M Keynes language Law Ludwig Von Mises Margaret Thatcher Matt morality music Musical national debt New Labour NHS opinion parody PFI poetry police Police & Crime Commissioners politics Quantitative Easing research school Screwtape Sir Ethelred Rutt K.C. social-media Social Media Social Welfare statistics T.E. Utley taxation terrorism Thatcher UK Unemployment USA Victor Hugo war war on terror
© Peter Barnett and Aasof’s Relections. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Aasof and Aasof’s reflections with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.