Duly Noted: Success Cannot Be Handed to You


George Handlery about the week that was. The terrorist‘s contempt. Might, modernization, and Russia and China. Abusing power through non-use. Honoring past tyrants and future policy. The homework of the Irish. Violence seldom remains unanswered.
1. Christian Klar, a famous terrorist of the German Red Army Fraction got life for the murder of nine persons. (He performed retail, not wholesale.) The German government, acting in the name of the unconsulted people, will let him go in January. Demonstratively, aside of his capture, the as-ever arrogant Klar, regrets nothing. One wonders whether some of his contempt is not justified in view of the imbalance between the forgiveness extended and his withheld recantation.
2. Modernization from above. In most instances modernization’s initial steps came not from below (USA, Switzerland) but, in an abounding number of cases, they were ordered from above. Indeed, the use of authoritarian power to nudge a society toward a system that lends it greater efficiency attracts by simplifying and accelerating the process of development. (Prussia, Russia.) This is the reason why “progressives” often support the benign individual or party that proclaims advancement to be its goal. Accordingly, after the fact, opinion makers like to tag such leaders with the adjective “The Great”. We have several examples in which progressive dictatorships have, albeit bypassing the original blue-print, converted into democracies. (Taiwan, South Korea.) This, however, is not part of the original plan of action. Democratization – limiting government power and upgrading people-power – represents regime change that dismisses those that had initially tackled the traditional order. Given this danger inherent in the approach, the question of the popularity of modernization by fiat arises. For one thing, claiming to modernize a traditional society with methods that are as harsh as the gut resistance generated by stand-pattish culture, international support but at least supportive understanding is elicited. (Castro, Mao, Stalin, Lenin.) This might appear to be surprising in the case in the circles that are critical of the application of power used to uphold the legal order of open societies but cheer any system that claims to serve “progress”. Second, since the industrial revolution, a traditional society is likely to be militarily weak. Modernization can enhance, besides morally justifying those holding power, a dictatorship with muscle. Stalin’s USSR shows how. Third, modernization validates the control of the previously private, that is, non-political aspects of life. Furthermore, it also puts the economy under government direction. If added up, we see why modernization from above does not intend to be altruistically progressive – especially in the political realm – and why it is frequently reduced to military-oriented upgrading. The foregoing is more than theory and generalization for its own sake. In the case of contemporary Russia and China, we observe centrally directed modernization in progress. The ultimate outcome of the divergent tactics exhibited by Moscow and Peking will, to no small extent, determine mankind‘s future.
3. Stalin’s resurrection to secular sainthood is furthered by the yahoos-inspired nationalism Russia‘s current rulers cultivate to secure their power. A democratic Russia, just like earlier a democratic Germany, is not possible unless the dictatorial temptation is rooted out. The prerequisite of that is the correct depiction of the past and the price paid for the successes of authoritarian rulers. (Given Hitler’s ultimate failure, here the Germans had an advantage as they successfully reviewed their record.) Today’s Stalin cult is supported by two factors. For one, before they hatched, as larvae, today‘s elite had a Stalinist past. The other one is that, given the political analphabetism of information-deprived Russian society, PR can divorce Stalin’s over emphasized successes from his soft pedaled mass murder. The beneficiaries of rewriting the past are those who have something to hide. And as long as the myth is allowed to stand, the Great Expansionist’s deeds are an inspiration for the insecure at home. Those witnessing the process from abroad are also affected: the Stalin cult is more than a nutty palliative for the confused on the home front. The present’s justification of historical tyranny by conquest abroad is, at the same time, also a program for the future.
4. The anticipated end of American unilateralism represents a challenge to the Atlantic Alliance. Until now, the US could be counted upon to act unilaterally once urgent action was needed while, due to the implied burdens, consensus for it could not be achieved. A possible retreat to some sort of Fortress America will deprive the alliance of the advantage of getting action without having to assume its risks. Unilateralism is also registered under the heading of “abuse of power.” One should add here the reminder that the non-use of power (when justified) also falls under the category of the “abuse of power”.
5. All parties in Germany, including those rated to be “right-of-center”, have drifted not only to the left but also into the left’s programs and assumptions. Concurrently, there is also a general anti-American shift discernible. Are we, as we notice these trends, looking at both “sides of the same medal”?
6. Will they catch on? Success cannot be handed to you. Accomplishment is dependent on an opportunity that is identified as such and then exploited by the qualified. The Roma is one of those minorities that have not become more successful than the majority around them. (Jews, Armenians, Koreans in the USA.) That is because the “opportunity” is not only allowed to pass but is also rejected. The writer read about a settlement where 51 out of 52 failing pupils are Roma. Girls marry at 14 partly so as to be freed from obligatory school attendance. Encouraging is that a Gypsy representative has proposed that the distribution of welfare aid be made dependent upon attending school.
7. Where violence rules, the insight is likely to spread that, its only effective antidote is counter-violence. Those who protest preventive and repressive actions that are within the legal framework do so with the slogan that “power is not a solution”. At the same time, they refuse to deal with the causes of general insecurity. The combination of these two attitudes suggests that, blinded by abstract theories, we are confronted with an inability to understand how the real world works. Concurrently there is a failure to comprehend that, tolerating criminal violence provokes its organized mirror image. Violence seldom remains unanswered.
8. We get explanations for the violence of Greek. They appear to be determined to erase whatever the Romans, the Turks, the Italians then the Germans – and perhaps worse of all, the tourists – have left standing. One articulated problem is that after school they need to attend expensive private tutorial programs. If so, on this level, they are not only victims of the economy and of corruption but of politics that might have given too much power to the educationists.
9. The Irish will hold a second vote on the European constitution. Consider this to be a generous offer. The first time around the Irish failed their “True and False” test and gave the wrong answer. Now they get a second chance to redeem themselves in a make-up exam. Presumably, if they mess up again they will be sent to the shed. How lucky that the corporal punishment of the insolent has been abolished!
10. Iran’s reaction to Obama’s initiative to talk without preconditions is emerging. The cause of the subdued manner in which the negative reaction is treated is that it does not “fit the concept”. The concept is that it is American intransigence that radicalizes sensible Iran. This trifle is, however, not a valid reason to spike the story. Iran unbendingly reminded the USA of her record under Carter. Reacting to the unprecedented detention of their diplomats, the Americans, wanting to talk, have been – purposely – humiliated. Tehran likes to remember this. Somehow that precedent seems to play a role in the framework according to which Iran prepares to handle Obama’s efforts to come to an understanding. Adding to the insult is that the Mullahs have also found themselves called upon (by whom?) to tell the world that Obama does not really represent Blacks (is he supposed to?) and that he is continuing Bush’s policies. In case you are unable to tag this as positive or negative: Iran rates Bush equal to a used Kleenex.


I need to clarify my position. I don't entirely reject everything democratic. This would be reasonable to let people decide about their life in the small regions. Let them to vote on such issues that they could understand, which of course would be in agreement with constitution. While they should not be allowed to decide about policy of central government (with very limited competences), they  have no idea about foreign policy, military issues or economy. Obviously I reject concept of representative democracy  in any kind of parliament.


 I would also like to notice that originally Americans created republic which later degenerated into democracy. This was not like today that every idiot can vote. Of course I agree that cultural heritage is crucial, some societies cannot stand democracy in any form. All I appeal is a bit of reason, because there are some intellectual  barriers that masses are unable to skip.

 I completely agree with your last paragraph. Thus I say that this is absurd to allow masses to decide about policies of the central government. This is conservative perspective, I'm aware that for the left this is key element to accomplish their goals.


I need to add that I don't advocate any radical solutions. When I think about revolutions I think about anti-French revolution or Bolshevik revolution, two absolutely disgusting events. Conservatives should create enough populous      elites that would be able to establish monarchy when the right moment would come. This is absolutely clear that this is not tomorrow, democratic regimes would unite to crush us. Conservatives should wait till socialism will collapse again, this is more than obvious that we will witness such moment. This opportunity cannot be wasted once again.

However to take advantage of the situation conservatives must reject they concept of democracy that is widespread today. Democracy in this form was invented by the anti-French revolution and the left, thus this is system destined for the left. They feel like fish in the water in democracy, we witness this all the time. 

Political parties moving to the left?

5. Somebody please tell me about such state with parliamentary system where political parties moved to the right? This is always other way around, the leftist populism gaining conservative ground. Traditional conservatives should really reconsider democracy, because this is suicidal direction. Don't listen to neocon fifth columnists, they are leftists in 'neo'-disguise, they in fact hate everything Christian.  They same about European Christian-Democratic parties, they are traitors of the conservative cause.

Reconsidering democracy

I would like to take up Monarchist's invitation to reconsider democracy. We don't really know how separate governmental functions emerged, so we may start for purposes of argument at Aristotle's abstract and ahistorical typology of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Monarchy resolves disputes regarding discerning and choosing the good by giving the choice to one man, while aristocracy and democracy distribute the tasks of discerning and choosing the good over the few or the many. Now, if Jesus ruled, we would not need to assign discernment and choice to any individual or group because we would be ruled by someone with perfect knowledge and a perfect will. In his absence, we need to assign these functions to human beings and/or institutions.

There is an optimization problem here, if you are familiar with the term from calculus. Discerning and choosing the good should be confided to those who will best accomplish the task. At what point does enlarging the political community cease to serve the purpose of approximating the good and instead exacerbate the contest of wills and our native ignorance of the good? That depends on the culture. Colonial Americans were religious and literate and oriented towards a virtuous life with liberty to choose the good. Democracy--broad if not universal participation in government--made sense in that context. Men could consent to being ruled by the majority if the amajority was limited in its constitution to relatively like-minded men and in its jurisdiction to a few necessary functions. In a culture where people are not oriented towards the good but towards securing the wealth of others, democracy, as you said, is a suicide mission. We need to: limit participation to those who can contribute, and improve the people so that they are oriented to discerning and choosing the good.

The gist of this argument is that democracy is not a universal right, but a means of accomplishing certain essential tasks if the necessary conditions are present.

RE: etc

2.  Ostensibly Mr. Handlery is referring to "authoritarian capitalism" - the latest challenge to the Western democracies. If Francis Fukuyama was correct, then the West has nothing to fear from either Moscow or Beijing, as authoritarianism will erode and democracy will gradually succeed in Russia and China. However, if it is possible that some people tend to democracy and others - irrespective of a minority of dissidents - tend to conformity - ...


3.  Mr. Handlery is quite correct here. Germans cannot associate either Hitler, the NSDAP, National Socialism or the Third Reich with German "greatness" due to the spectacular defeat, war crimes guilt and decades of foreign occupation. Stalin's was ultimately a "successful" dictatorship in that Stalin died from natural causes secure in his power. Moreover, Stalin's initial ineptness in preparing for and countering Operation Barbarossa is glossed over due to the victorious outcome of the Great Patriotic War. And yet millions more could have survived had Stalin taken the German threat seriously and not purged the officer corps.


4.  By far, the prime value of the United States to European security is its nuclear deterrent. Irrespective of whether the United States is prepared to undertake "humanitarian intervention" adventures in the future, such as in the former Yugoslavia, the ICBM silos in the Dakotas will always come to Europe's defense if need be.


6.  The Roma have had centuries to "catch on". They remain an undesirable minority prone to unemployment and crime.


8.  If the Greek "anti" youth throngs are so eager to take on authoritarians, then perhaps the police need to fire more than mere tear gas.


9.  The Berlaymonster knows best. Doesn't it.


10.  Since when is Iranian discourse newsworthy?

No. 4

If a powerful nation's non-use of power can be considered an abuse of power--and it probably can in some circumstances--then the methodical refusal of some wealthy nations to establish a power base at all is off-the-charts insidious.

RE: 1

These situations are a reason why I support capital punishment in certain cases. We all recall the chatter surrounding Saddam Hussein's trial and execution. Suddenly it cut out after the hangman had done his business. Capital punishment provides victims justice and prevents the possibility of an unearned reprieve. Whereas Karadic and Taylor will likely die before ever seeing their trials through, the justice meted out to the Ceaucescus was swift and final.