Saturday, February 18, 2017

Technocratic Socialism


Now, get seven million five hundred thousand votes to declare that two and two make five, that the straight line is the longest road, that the whole is less than its part; get it declared by eight millions, by ten millions, by a hundred millions of votes, you will not have advanced a step. Well, then, now you are going to be surprised. There are axioms in probity, in honesty, in justice, as there are axioms in geometry; and the truths of morality are no more at the mercy of a vote than are the truths of algebra. The notion of good and evil cannot be resolved by universal suffrage. It is not given to a ballot to make the false become the true and the unjust the just. The human conscience cannot be put to the vote.
Victor Hugo
The biggest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

If we are to examine the proper descriptions of statecraft then first we must briefly examine the notions of ‘ought’ pertaining to Sovereignty and rule.  What is the goal of politics?  Why ‘ought’ a Nation be democratic?  Is it because it is the best form of government in providing the most desired things (whether external or traits of the citizenry)?  Or is it similar to the notion that every man should be captain of his own ship even if he leads it into the rocks?  This then is not an argument of pragmatism but of “natural right” or responsibility.  That regardless of consequence, even if a citizenry creates Hell on Earth (or at least Hell of ‘X’ country, for the effects of a populous’ choices and actions in international affairs is another thing to consider), a people ought to govern themselves collectively just as a man ought to have autonomy over his own life regardless of the results.
It is not my purpose to argue for one ought and against another.  But, if pragmatism is to be our measuring stick, our presumed ought, then Democracy fails at its aim.  Its methodology is inherently arbitrary, and subject to the whims of the great mass of people who are on whole mediocre in intellect, selfish and morally corrupt – in another word, anything but great.
If the aim of life is to live well, and this wellness is dependent upon social features outside of our control, it stands to reason that those who both are the most knowledgeable and have the good of the people as their aim (for if a desired end is ‘X’ to have those in charge who do not work towards or desire ‘X’ is the height of foolishness – and yet that is the state of affairs in modern statecraft) should be those who manage society – not those who win popularity contests.  Those who are well liked and those who are capable and eager to create the ideal society (or at least the ideal society considering the far from ideal facts of this existence) share nothing necessarily in common.  In fact, since being well liked depends largely on “showmanship” or superficial qualities, and being competent and well-meaning has to do with virtues and character that are distinct from such qualities, and since to practice one excellence in human action and welfare is necessarily to become deficient in another, it stands to reason that those who are well-liked are likely to be less qualified than their alternatives.  If one trains in gladiatorial battle, one cannot at the same time study to be a proficient mathematician.  So, if being well-liked is in part a skill, that is learned, to engage in the social activity that stimulates this part of the mind is to become deficient or at least less well off in the descriptive knowledge necessary to operate an aspect of society (engineering for example).
Also, it is the superficial qualities of the race that are most attached to egoism and vanity.  Beauty and sociability are desired traits to possess if one is concerned with being well-liked, but this desire is fundamentally grounded in the most vane and shallow form of egoism; that base impulse present in every human animal that is contrary to the higher moral impulses necessary for noble statecraft.
So being well-liked not only makes one less likely to be knowledgeable, it makes one less likely to be truly of good nature – the very two qualities we established were desirable for leaders of a Nation if we desire to live well.  And yet this quality, popularity, is what determines the outcome of who is to have control of the Executive and Legislative branches of Government; also the Judicial branch since it is the President which appoints Supreme Court Justices.
Though it is popularity which chooses who is to lead, despite any veneer of Democracy the leaders make decisions contrary to public opinion routinely.  Instead of what is right or what is popular, it is ultimately corporate interests which largely decide what policies are chosen in the United States.  Democracy has only served to increase political corruption through misinformation and allowing men and women who are base and stupid to elect men and women who do not have the interests of the American people as their aim. 
It is the sin of human hubris that assumes the common man, a creature incapable of securing his own means of tranquil and virtuous living, will be motivated to let alone know what is good and just for the whole.  This same naivety and optimism can be said of all Stateless forms of Communism or Communitarianism.  The notions of all men being seen as brothers and given proper share of society without force of “right” or fairness is an absurdity.  The egotistical essence of humanity will have all argue for an increase in their station and argue for their lot over the lot of others.  Humans naturally have emotionally affinity and argue for the goodness (regardless of whether said goodness is present) of friends and family while give strangers occasional moral concern if any. 
The fact that the State is required for human beings to fund collective endeavors, even ones the majority profit from, over their own individual pleasures shows the stupidity and selfishness of the human race.  That force is necessary to secure justice and proper allocation of resources just as the brain is necessary to regulate proper distribution of blood throughout the body.  To leave the affairs of allocation and prioritization of resources to the working (non-intellectual) class is akin to the heart having the responsibility of managing all the elements of the blood rather than its mere circulation through the body – which it is designed by nature to do and not the brain just as the common man is meant to toil physically and not the intellectual class.
Similar to Schopenhauer’s remarks on Constitutional forms of Government, Social Anarchism and Stateless forms of Communism would be adequate and good if Man in his nature was selfless, rational and good[1].  But since Man is in his nature sinful, stupid and egotistical Social Anarchy is not for the race of Man.
Democracy, what is presupposed to be the freest and liberating form of Government for a free and liberal people has created the highest incarceration rate seen on the Earth.  Electing one’s leaders in no way presupposes individual freedom – in fact, considering the eagerness of people to be deceived it almost has built within a tendency to thwart all moral aims.  For if a man is capable of deception, and agrees to the word of goodness rather than the deed, then this almost guarantees that who will be elected will do anything but what is desired, for if they did they would perform the hypothetical action and there would be no distinction between word and deed.
If I would briefly summarize my political philosophy with the given end, or ‘ought,’ being the well-being of all who live in the State and which at its core gives three fact as its core premises:  A – Knowledge is above all other things a tool for human beings to achieve their desired ends.  B – It is a person’s character rather than virtue (knowledge being a virtue) which is the main determiner in their course of action for it is a person’s character which determines their motives; it is our motives which lead us rather than our abilities.  And C – most people are inadequate or not constituted in their character and abilities to operate in the political life of the State.  Or in other worlds, given the presumed ‘ought’ of human well-being in the State, only those who are of impeccable virtue and saintly character should legislate, observing the data and having the good of the people as their desired end.
For those who find that the role of the State is to be the enforcer of the collective will (general will as Rousseau puts it) then consent is what makes a State legitimate.  However, if one is to rely on more Pragmatist and Consequentialist notions, then it seems like consent cannot be the primary arbitrator of legitimacy but instead merit to execute action and policy which will bring about desired ends (whichever they may be) is what is what makes rulers of a State legitimate.
It is the philosophy of Rousseau which espouses the Classical Liberal idea that legitimacy of rulers is a matter of consent rather than a matter of competency and it is this that must be done away with if we wish to live well rather than living according to the wishes of the majority.  Rousseau’s optimism in the will of the majority is much like his optimism in human nature before corrupted by civil society – with very little empirical backing and a great deal of backing to the contrary.
Rousseau is optimistic about the inherent good will of the majority, but also seems to be naïve in thinking that once the well-being of the group is each individual’s aim (an impossibility) than the answer should be obvious and unanimous votes (or close to it) would proceed[2].  As if once all normative questions have been decided the answer should be obvious since there will be no debate on questions of descriptive accounts.  Also he believes that though there is a moral dilemma between the group’s interest and a sole soul’s interest, the lone man will choose to act in the interest of the group because it’s in his interest to do so[3]If he were to claim the man would choose the public good over his own he would be naïve; for Rousseau to claim to choose the public good over his own for his own good is to have a supposed master of education fail elementary logic.
Others like Bakunin have also criticized Rousseau for creating a template of “democratic authoritarianism” or mob rule.  It depends of what area of his work is in question.  There is the question of “forced to be free” quote and of later portions of the work.  In regards to the former however, I don’t think this stands if we accept two things.  A – The acceptance of the need of might or force to enforce what has been decided by any political body for any reason regardless of that bodies’ validity or the validity of their reasoning.  And B – Freedom is not merely Negative Liberty, or “Natural Liberty” as Rousseau calls it.  If “freedom” is something that is more than free action, then Rousseau’s statements stand[4].  When we force a child to attend school to attain an education are we forcing them to be free or forcing them to attain a state contrary to freedom?  It cannot be both.  If we educate our children for their sake and not some higher end, then either we are educating our children in hopes that they become free or we are letting go of freedom for a perceived higher good for our children.
Evidence of authoritarianism and more lapses in logic however can be found further in the work[5].  To say that freedom is not identical with Negative Liberty is one thing.  To say that a man gives consent even when he refuses is entirely another.  It is this slaughter of logic that Rousseau uses to destroy or completely do away with the question of whether or not it is the general will (popular consent) or general good that we seek.  For clearly the two can be in conflict.  But for him, the general will is to have what is good for the population (and by some miracle of knowledge know what the good is) and all individual wills both have it without showing it and any show of something that is contrary to the general will is not important.  They have it without showing it and by being logic of having what they don’t show they consent and are free.  Their “better selves” consent to be punished.  Socrates argued that a just man should want to be punished for his crimes.  Not that all men do even when they claim they don’t.  The difference of statements here is equivalent to the difference of saying that Jim wants beer because he’s an alcoholic and saying that Jim always wants beer even though he’s always spoken against drinking because the general will makes him an alcoholic.
Just as we protect children out of concern for their well-being, so it goes that the majority of the human race should be protected by their respective Nations[6].  For the majority are like children, largely impulsive and short in attentiveness.  Minds that are weak in intellectual power, uninterested in the proper study of questions pertinent to politics, and both incredibly self-interested yet routinely voting against their own economic self-interest out of deception and stupidity.
A truly wise and practical man acknowledges and is honest about all shortcomings, and we must accept the general shortcoming that some are far better in some qualities and capacities than others.  If Descartes was correct and the reasoning faculties of all men and women were comparable then Democracy may be the ideal state of affairs – but we must live life with what we are given not with what we should have, and this applies to the social as much as to the individual.
Not only would an undemocratic arrangement free the non-intellectual masses from burdens they are unequipped and unqualified to handle, it liberates the intellectual minority to pursue with passion the aims which are not only a good for them in enjoyment but the good of the Nation through achievement and proper implementation of knowledge.  Just as there are tests in Plato’s Republic so citizens of a certain tier of society can move up or down a peg, so all who live in a Nation should receive regular inventory of their mental, physical and behavioral strengths and be assigned to roles which best fit their nature.  Reliance on money to receive a degree is the great sin of our society.  The fact that millions perform menial labor when in potential there are many which could be doing far more is a crime against the virtue of the individual and the welfare of the population at large. 
In conclusion, if we properly understand the “is-ought” distinction, we must recognize that how the world “ought” to be in a perfect State is quite different in what we “ought” to do or rather “ought” to attempt to achieve.  We must examine not only the oughts but the “is” of this world to figure out what is the closest approximation to the ideal this world is capable of sustaining.  To try to build Utopias out of a World of Sin is akin to trying to save all life from all illness – when Euthanasia is the best possible solution for many sufferers.

Bibliography
Schopenhauer – Government
Rousseau – Social Contract


[1] A constitution which embodied abstract right alone would be an excellent thing for natures other than human, but since the great majority of men are extremely egoistic, unjust, inconsiderate, deceitful and sometimes even malicious; since in addition they are endowed with very scanty intelligence there arises the necessity for a power that shall be concentrated in one man…
[2] But when the social bond begins to slacken and the state to grow weak, when particular interests start to make themselves felt and the smaller societies begin to influence the larger one, the common interest changes and comes to have opponents; votes are no longer unanimous; the general will is no longer the will of all; contradictory views are presented and debates start up; and the best advice isn’t accepted without question.
[3] Does it follow from this that the general will is exterminated or corrupted? Not at all: it continues to be constant, unalterable and pure; but it is pushed aside by other wills that invade its territory. Each man, in distinguishing his interests from the common interest, sees clearly that he can’t entirely separate them, ·i.e. that his pursuit of his own interests will have some negative effect on the common good·; but he sees •his share in the public misfortunes as negligible compared with •the private good that he is laying claim to. Apart from this private good, he wills the general good as strongly as anyone else because it’s in his interests to do so.
[4] To protect the social compact from being a mere empty formula, therefore, it silently includes the undertaking that anyone who refuses to obey the general will is to be compelled to do so by the whole body. This single item in the compact can give power to all the other items. It means nothing less than that each individual will be forced to be free. ·It’s obvious how forcing comes into this, but. . . to be free? Yes·, because this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence, ·i.e. secures him against being taken by anyone or anything else·. This is the key to the working of the political machine; it alone legitimises civil commitments which would otherwise be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to frightful abuses.
[5] The citizen gives his consent to all the laws, including ones that are passed against his opposition, and even laws that punish him when he dares to break any law. The constant will of all the members of the state is the general will; by virtue of it they are citizens and free.
[6] The question of the sovereignty of the people is at bottom the same as the question whether any man can gave an original right to rule a people against its will.  How that proposition can be reasonably maintained I do not see.  The people, it must be admitted, is sovereign; but it is a sovereign who is always a minor.  It must have permanent guardians, and it can never exercise its rights itself, without creating dangers of which no one can forsee the end.

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