Apart from the most important individual values, optimal orgasms and a gentle death, the most important social values are freedom and safety. In many instances, safety is a prerequisite to freedom, which is why a strong government is usually needed.
People often equate strong government with a lot of government interference with their personal freedom. But the equation is illogical. Whether a strong government interferes with the personal freedom of the people over which it rules depends on whether the strong government wants to interfere with the personal freedom of the people. As a matter of fact, if a strong government is guided by an ideology of not interfering with the personal freedom of the people, it can do just that: not interfere.
A government can come into existence via different routes. One of the possible routes is to be elected, more or less directly, by the people. This is what we call a democracy. Whether this government later interferes with the personal freedom of the people or not has very little to do with the fact that it was established in a democratic way.
As a matter of fact, a democratic route of establishing a government often has lead, and leads, to governments that interfere to a high degree with the personal freedom of the people. Hitler was democratically elected. Saddam Hussein came to power in a democratic succession. The Iranian government is democratically elected. All of these governments have not been, and are not, dedicated to preserve or grant personal freedom.
The US is a democracy, but it also is the world’s most advanced police state. Whether a country is a police state or not has nothing to do with the question of how a government came into power, whether democratically or by any other way. To characterize a country as a police state just means that the police have wide-ranging power over the lives of the country’s citizens. And this is certainly the case in the US.
It doesn’t really matter where the power of the police originates from. Whether it stems from power vested into the police by summary decree, or from a huge body of written legislation and regulations, as in the case of the US.
It’s a very common misconception anywhere in the world to equate “democracy” with “freedom”. Democracy just means that a large number of largely incompetent voters are allowed to decide who should lead a government.
In the Philippines, largely incompetent voters often elect movie stars as president, senators, mayors, and even city councilors. Stupid Filipinos just vote for their favorite actors, and want to know nothing about the potential leader’s political ideas.
In Indonesia, former dictator Suharto always enjoyed much backing from the female part of the population. Why? Because he was perceived as being good-looking.
In Islamic countries, when the people are called for to elect leaders in a democratic process, they vote for those candidates recommended by the prayer leaders in the mosques, because people are misguided into believing that it will give them credit with god.
Any in many poor and ethnically or religiously diverse countries, people just vote for candidates who promise to make life harder for the “others”.
Skilled fascists have always had, and still have, a comparatively easy time to win elections, whether in Europe (Italy) or Southeast Asia (Thailand), as there is a fascist history of knowing the tricks. Preach hatred and hand out cheap gifts to a country’s poor.
So, I can state blatantly that often enough, democracy leads to bad government and a lot of interference into the personal freedom of the people. If democracy leads to good government that allows people a high degree of personal freedom, it’s not because the government was democratically elected but because incidentally, those who where elected were enlightened, benevolent people.
But I think that personal freedom is too high a value to entrust it to a game of chance, or to a popularity contest, or, for that matter, to democracy.
So, what are the alternatives.
One would be a powerful freedom-centered constitution, which, however, should not be subject to a democratic contest. As a matter of fact, the best constitutions have often been imposed by victors after a country lost a major war. And this attitude does date back to Napoleonic times.
But let’s face it. The best constitution is only as good as a Supreme Court can guard it and a government wants it guarded. At the end of the day, the freedom of the people does depend on those in power. If they are strong, the government itself may infringe liberties, and if they are weak, they can’t provide the safety to stop neighborhood rule by mafia types, talibans, feudal landlords or other repressive micro-organizations.
Plato, who felt contempt for governments established by a vote of unqualified people, recommended that benevolent philosopher kings hold power.
OK, I admit that the concept of monarchies is outdated. But the essence is that government should be by an institution that is enlightened and benevolent. I say: an institution, for three reasons: 1. there is a larger potential of abuse of power if the government is provided by individuals, 2. there should be continuity beyond the lifetime of a single person, and 3. decision-making should withstand collective scrutiny.
So, what are the options?
No, not a dedeified Catholic Church. Much rather a non-Communist Leninist Party.
Actually, I couldn’t think of a better alternative to the second option.
What is needed is a party that can provide strong government by professional politicians, an educational infrastructure, and some degree of democracy. And, most importantly: a party that is strongly guided by an enlightened ideology.
A Leninist party is a working, history-tested structural model.
But how about Communism?
Communism as it was implemented in the Soviet Union and her vassal states doesn’t work. The economies of countries are too complex to press them into 5-year plans of a central government. In China, the Leninist party has realized that Communism isn’t adequate before they would have lost power.
But the Leninist structure survives and functions well.
The Chinese are a bit slow, though, with updating their ideology, and in absence of a viable alternative system, they still teach Marxism.
I see this less as an anachronism than your standard TV commentator, especially on the BBC. Marxism contains many progressive elements, apart from simplistic ideas on how a collectivization of the means of production should affect the character of people.
And therefore, Marxism still is a foundation on which a Leninist party could operate with a new ideology: one that recognizes the personal freedom of a country’s citizens, in a climate of personal safety, as the most important social values.
Whether such a party comes to power in a democratic election or by other means is less relevant than that it guards the freedom of the people.