June 05, 2014

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He is surely right, though, that the West has some deep systemic problems of its own.  He even fails to note some things the ChiComs are getting right that we are getting wrong. They may face demographic decline, but they are facing it when technological progress makes ever-swelling populations pointless. And they are attending to population quality while we, in our folly, are importing masses of future “€œuseless mouths.”€

No, I don”€™t think the CCP offers any kind of model for the future, even for China’s future. I do, though, with a grudging nod to Eric Li, think their Staatskunstwunder might prompt us to think more critically about our own problems. If authoritarian rule by technocratic clones with Swiss bank accounts is not the way of the future, neither is universal-suffrage democracy.

Here’s George Walden reviewing Micklethwait & Wooldridge’s The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State in the Wall Street Journal the other day:

This book’s message is simple but severe: If the state promises too much to too many, cynicism grows, and democracy is damaged. Unless the ballooning state is punctured, there is a risk that our wealth will shrivel and our power will decrease while more focused and less democratic regimes grab the baton.

Universal-suffrage democracy may have been a good idea 120 years ago, when most adults did productive work into their sixties, then died. In today’s top-heavy welfare states, it just empowers tax-eaters to loot the national wealth.

Tomorrow’s politics will be the art of providing make-work for as many as possible of the employable minority while pacifying the un-employable majority with a state dole. In that world, universal-suffrage democracy will be untenable.

Already, unconsciously, we are making appropriate adjustments. Our universities, after a few aberrant decades of experimenting with open inquiry and the advance of knowledge, have reverted to their medieval purpose (the purpose that Chinese higher education always had): to train an intellectual elite for the propagation and defense of the state ideology. Then it was Christianity (in China, Confucianism); now it is utopian egalitarianism”€””€œpolitical correctness,”€ the Narrative. The advance of knowledge can go hang.

Since we are already making cultural adjustments to the inevitable future, can the political adjustments be far behind?


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