Wealth According to Seneca

Discussion of current events
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cassowary
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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by cassowary » Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am

neverfail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:07 am
cassowary wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:11 pm

The security and safety of the state was more important than any individual. That’s the Roman attitude.
Does that not describe how the Peoples Republic of China operates today?
Certainly.
if so, then does that not suggest that China has around 2,000 years of evolution to go through in order to catch up with The West? ;) :)
That assumes that the West will win against the system that China now has. I hope so. But I am not sure. Democracy is just a brief bright light in the long dark night of authoritarian regimes. How long has western democracies lasted? Athens went dark after a short time. Then came kings, Roman empire, feudal kings. The same is true in the rest of the world.

Who is the world's oldest surviving democracy? There are a few claimants. The US claims to be the oldest.

So do many others like the Isle of Man and Iceland. In 1900, only the US, Britain and its white parts of the Commonwealth, plus a few countries in western and northern Europe were democracies.

It has not been around very long and I can see it showing its age already. I have long argued in my book and here that democracy needs to be reformed because it has cracks that may cause its demise.

Remember what John Adams (one of America's founders) said.

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
The Imp :D

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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by Sertorio » Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:25 am

cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am

Who is the world's oldest surviving democracy?
Switzerland...

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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by neverfail » Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:08 pm

cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am

That assumes that the West will win against the system that China now has. I hope so. But I am not sure.
I am a little pessimistic too given that the (needlesly flawed and defective) world's most powerful democracy is currently leaderless and wallowing in internal ructions.
cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Athens went dark after a short time. Then came kings, Roman empire, feudal kings.
Historically inaccurate! Greece never experienced rule by feudal kings in the Middle Ages but went straight from being a Byzantine province to being an Ottoman Turkish one. How could the Greeks possibly develop a democratic form of government when, with government provided by foreign powers they were not free to choose?
cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Isle of Man and Iceland. In 1900, only the US, Britain and its white parts of the Commonwealth, plus a few countries in western and northern Europe were democracies.
Go back one century further to the year 1800 and how many of these were democracies then? Only Iceland; and that did not count for much given that Iceland was then an overseas dependency of Denmark and Danish soverign territory. The fact that in the course of the 19th century the number of democracies multiplied several fold incicates that history was trending in the right direction.

Yet in light of your private propaganda war against the Peoples Republic and all of its works I get the impression Cass that you think too much in terms of quantity (or numbers). I think more in terms of quality. For instance: among the recent former Soviet bloc entrants; while the Baltic republics look safe for democracy the likes of Poland and Hungary currently look set to regress backwards into more authoritarian modes of government (well, what else is new? These two did the very same during the inter-World War years).

Subtract maybe one or two exceptions to the rule and the Latin American republics pique my curiousity because of their historic propensity to waver and oscillate between being usually none too well governed democracies and more authoritarian modes of government such as military juntas and rule by demagogue political strongman. Democracy in Latin Ameirica has an insubstantial, will-of-the-wisp quality to it that makes be wonder whether it truly expresses the national will of the local populace; or at least of the local establishment.

I sometimes speculate that these countries only make the effort because they know that it pleases the boss :mrgreen: . In other words, it goes over well with the United States, making it easier for these governments to deal with that clossus. Surely not a legetimate reason for any country to pretend at democracy?

Then there is the United States of America: where various state governments have long made a science out of distorting the popular vote during US presidental elections (even before foreign powers like Russia and China got into the game) with snide tricks and where popular opinion has never been able to connect the concepts of elected government with that of good government.

May God spare us all!

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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by cassowary » Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:17 am

neverfail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:08 pm
cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Athens went dark after a short time. Then came kings, Roman empire, feudal kings.
Historically inaccurate! Greece never experienced rule by feudal kings in the Middle Ages but went straight from being a Byzantine province to being an Ottoman Turkish one. How could the Greeks possibly develop a democratic form of government when, with government provided by foreign powers they were not free to choose?
I was not referring to Greece but to the world in generally with a focus on western civilization. After the light of Athenian democracy flickered off and the demise of the Roman Republic, western civilization was ruled by Roman emperors. When the Roman empire fell, it was replaced by feudalism. Kings and Nobles ruled western civilization. It was the same for the rest of the world.

It was only in the 19th century that the first light of democracy was reignited with the US. Yes, Switzerland, the Isle of Man, Iceland and the Swiss all claimed to the be first. But it was the one in the US that eventually made a global impact. That's because of its massive GDP and wealth that came about because of capitalism.

The bigger the GDP, the bigger your military. This made an impact on WWI. American influence demanded that the fallen Kings and Emperors me remade in the American image ie democracies. This failed eventually and you got the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. America had to do an European redo in 1945.

After WWII was concerned US military protected the nascent democracies in Europe from the USSR. Interestingly, the USSR was the culmination of the forces of another revolution - the French revolution which was partly inspired by the American Revolution in 1776.

Marx was convinced that the rich (then the kings and nobles of Europe) would be overthrown by the poor and came up with a stupid theory that still inspires people today eg Antifa movement. This led to the Cold War between the US and its allies against the USSR and its allies. The USSR lost thanks again to the much larger GDP of the US.

After the USSR fell, there was a flood of new democracies. As you said, the Latins and others wanted to curry favor with the world's largest power after the fall of the USSR. People stupidly thought that this was the "history" and democracy is the natural eventual evolution of human society. Stupid, stupid stupid. Democracy, in its current forms, is a very new affair for most countries. And it may not last. It is still an experiment.

(Aside from the Scandinavian inspired Things in places where the Vikings settled and the Swiss democracy, the current flame was ignited by the US. This did not even begin in the American revolution. At America's founding, only a few could vote. American democracy only started in 1860 (when all white males could vote), if you ignore the matter of women and blacks voting. Otherwise, American democracy only started in 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed assuring that all blacks could vote. )

cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Isle of Man and Iceland. In 1900, only the US, Britain and its white parts of the Commonwealth, plus a few countries in western and northern Europe were democracies.
Go back one century further to the year 1800 and how many of these were democracies then? Only Iceland; and that did not count for much given that Iceland was then an overseas dependency of Denmark and Danish soverign territory. The fact that in the course of the 19th century the number of democracies multiplied several fold incicates that history was trending in the right direction.
As I said above, history trended in that direction only because the chief promoter was the US which happened to have the world's largest GDP and hence military. What is going to happen when China overtakes America?
Yet in light of your private propaganda war against the Peoples Republic and all of its works I get the impression Cass that you think too much in terms of quantity (or numbers). I think more in terms of quality. For instance: among the recent former Soviet bloc entrants; while the Baltic republics look safe for democracy the likes of Poland and Hungary currently look set to regress backwards into more authoritarian modes of government (well, what else is new? These two did the very same during the inter-World War years).
Exactly. They will remain democracies only if the US is strong enough to protect them. Otherwise, they may find it necessary (because of survival needs) to become authoritarian again. As you yourself said, there is a certain amount of currying the favor of the US because it is the mightiest power. Singapore did that. When LKY locked up opposition politician Francis Seow, the US gave him a BIG scolding. After that, the government stopped detention without trial of opposition leaders. What would happen when China displaces America? I don't want for my country to go back to the bad old days.

I looked into Roman history. Rome was a Republic for a few centuries after it overthrew its last king. The Republic gave a degree of representative power to the people through the assembly, and elected magistrates. But the Senate was hereditary institution. This worked well when Rome was a city state. But Rome became an empire. To govern a far flung empire in the days without modern communications, they needed to vest enormous powers of their regional generals and governors. They can't refer time critical decisions back to Rome who in either case could not possibly keep in touch with what's going on in faraway provinces.

Without checks, the regional governors became very wealthy by squeezing the conquered locals. The disparity of wealth between the elite and the common Roman citizen became very pronounced. This led to instability. Populist politicians like Julius Ceasre championed the plebians. Riots in Rome were common. The Roman constitution became outdated. It could not cope. It could not bring stability. So after throwing out its last king, it had to revert back to monarchy with enormous power vested in one man - the emperor.

So you see Neverfail, things are always changing. When I talk to westerners on this subject, they can't believe that their system of government is not permanent, has flaws that need to be rectified. Look at Venice's long history too. It started as a rudimentary democracy, then became ruled by one man - the doge, then became a aristocracy. Things are always changing.

... I have to run an errand. More later.
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Sertorio
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by Sertorio » Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:39 am

Democracy does not happen by miracle, it comes through the will of the people and must be constantly defended by the people, or else it will be highjacked by the strongest and least scrupulous in the country. But only developed and educated people are capable of defending democracy, as only they know that with all its shortcomings democracy is the least imperfect of all systems. So they will resist all sorts of populism and authoritarianism. Now, the trouble is that very few peoples on Earth have reached the level of development and education needed to defend democracy. A few European countries, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Japan. But not the US, and that's why it is going through such a bad crisis. That is one reason why I am such a strong supporter of an European political union, so that there will be a state powerful enough to influence - influence, not try to impose - the rest of the world on the path to democracy.

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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by neverfail » Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:12 am

cassowary wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:17 am
neverfail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:08 pm
cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Athens went dark after a short time. Then came kings, Roman empire, feudal kings.
Historically inaccurate! Greece never experienced rule by feudal kings in the Middle Ages but went straight from being a Byzantine province to being an Ottoman Turkish one. How could the Greeks possibly develop a democratic form of government when, with government provided by foreign powers they were not free to choose?
I was not referring to Greece but to the world in generally with a focus on western civilization. After the light of Athenian democracy flickered off and the demise of the Roman Republic, western civilization was ruled by Roman emperors. When the Roman empire fell, it was replaced by feudalism. Kings and Nobles ruled western civilization. It was the same for the rest of the world.

It was only in the 19th century that the first light of democracy was reignited with the US. Yes, Switzerland, the Isle of Man, Iceland and the Swiss all claimed to the be first. But it was the one in the US that eventually made a global impact. That's because of its massive GDP and wealth that came about because of capitalism.

The bigger the GDP, the bigger your military. This made an impact on WWI. American influence demanded that the fallen Kings and Emperors me remade in the American image ie democracies. This failed eventually and you got the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. America had to do an European redo in 1945.

After WWII was concerned US military protected the nascent democracies in Europe from the USSR. Interestingly, the USSR was the culmination of the forces of another revolution - the French revolution which was partly inspired by the American Revolution in 1776.

Marx was convinced that the rich (then the kings and nobles of Europe) would be overthrown by the poor and came up with a stupid theory that still inspires people today eg Antifa movement. This led to the Cold War between the US and its allies against the USSR and its allies. The USSR lost thanks again to the much larger GDP of the US.

After the USSR fell, there was a flood of new democracies. As you said, the Latins and others wanted to curry favor with the world's largest power after the fall of the USSR. People stupidly thought that this was the "history" and democracy is the natural eventual evolution of human society. Stupid, stupid stupid. Democracy, in its current forms, is a very new affair for most countries. And it may not last. It is still an experiment.

(Aside from the Scandinavian inspired Things in places where the Vikings settled and the Swiss democracy, the current flame was ignited by the US. This did not even begin in the American revolution. At America's founding, only a few could vote. American democracy only started in 1860 (when all white males could vote), if you ignore the matter of women and blacks voting. Otherwise, American democracy only started in 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed assuring that all blacks could vote. )

cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Isle of Man and Iceland. In 1900, only the US, Britain and its white parts of the Commonwealth, plus a few countries in western and northern Europe were democracies.
Go back one century further to the year 1800 and how many of these were democracies then? Only Iceland; and that did not count for much given that Iceland was then an overseas dependency of Denmark and Danish soverign territory. The fact that in the course of the 19th century the number of democracies multiplied several fold incicates that history was trending in the right direction.
As I said above, history trended in that direction only because the chief promoter was the US which happened to have the world's largest GDP and hence military. What is going to happen when China overtakes America?
Yet in light of your private propaganda war against the Peoples Republic and all of its works I get the impression Cass that you think too much in terms of quantity (or numbers). I think more in terms of quality. For instance: among the recent former Soviet bloc entrants; while the Baltic republics look safe for democracy the likes of Poland and Hungary currently look set to regress backwards into more authoritarian modes of government (well, what else is new? These two did the very same during the inter-World War years).
Exactly. They will remain democracies only if the US is strong enough to protect them. Otherwise, they may find it necessary (because of survival needs) to become authoritarian again. As you yourself said, there is a certain amount of currying the favor of the US because it is the mightiest power. Singapore did that. When LKY locked up opposition politician Francis Seow, the US gave him a BIG scolding. After that, the government stopped detention without trial of opposition leaders. What would happen when China displaces America? I don't want for my country to go back to the bad old days.

I looked into Roman history. Rome was a Republic for a few centuries after it overthrew its last king. The Republic gave a degree of representative power to the people through the assembly, and elected magistrates. But the Senate was hereditary institution. This worked well when Rome was a city state. But Rome became an empire. To govern a far flung empire in the days without modern communications, they needed to vest enormous powers of their regional generals and governors. They can't refer time critical decisions back to Rome who in either case could not possibly keep in touch with what's going on in faraway provinces.

Without checks, the regional governors became very wealthy by squeezing the conquered locals. The disparity of wealth between the elite and the common Roman citizen became very pronounced. This led to instability. Populist politicians like Julius Ceasre championed the plebians. Riots in Rome were common. The Roman constitution became outdated. It could not cope. It could not bring stability. So after throwing out its last king, it had to revert back to monarchy with enormous power vested in one man - the emperor.

So you see Neverfail, things are always changing. When I talk to westerners on this subject, they can't believe that their system of government is not permanent, has flaws that need to be rectified. Look at Venice's long history too. It started as a rudimentary democracy, then became ruled by one man - the doge, then became a aristocracy. Things are always changing.

... I have to run an errand. More later.
An overtly simplistic overview of history full of oversimplications and half truths. The only point I agree with unequivocally is your final contention that things are always changing.

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Re: the democracy that endured.

Post by neverfail » Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:04 pm

The much publicised but overrated "male free citizens' democracy" of peroclean Athens did not outlive the generation that founded it. It could not have been otherwise as it was constitutionally ill-conceived.

By contrast, another democracy of ancient lineage has endured to this very day:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Althing

The Alþingi (parliament (Icelandic) and anglicised as Althingi or Althing) is the national parliament of Iceland. It is the oldest surviving parliament in the world.[1][2][a] The Althing was founded in 930 at Þingvellir ("thing fields" or "assembly fields"), situated approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of what later became the country's capital, Reykjavík. Even after Iceland's union with Norway in 1262, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1800, when it was discontinued. It was restored in 1844 and moved to Reykjavík, where it has resided ever since.[4] The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, made of hewn Icelandic stone.[5] The unicameral parliament has 63 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation.[6]
It matters not that until 1944 Iceland was not even a soverign state in its own right. The point is/was that except for just over 4 decades in the 19th century it has been in session for well over a millenia.

(...and for most of its history since Viking settlement; far from being a country endowed with great wealth Iceland was a dirt-poor society of fishermen living very much on the very edge of existence - yet they still maintained a democratic tradition throughout.)

It seems that whenever a Nordic people innovate institutions of government they are designed to last forever. (unlike that onetime, will-of-the-wisp experiment in the eastern Meditteranean. :D )

Considering that modern one-man-one-vote erupted into being from the mid-19th century onward and have proven to be most functional and enduring in lands that have to a greater or lesser degree some Nordic cultural heritage; I am led to the impression that modern democracy is NORDIC in its roots and to try and make out that Peroclean Athens lent any inspiration at all is nought but a historical hoax.

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Sertorio
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Re: the democracy that endured.

Post by Sertorio » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:29 am

neverfail wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 5:04 pm
The much publicised but overrated "male free citizens' democracy" of peroclean Athens did not outlive the generation that founded it. It could not have been otherwise as it was constitutionally ill-conceived.
What was ill-conceived in the democratic Constitution of Athens? I'm curious to know...

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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by cassowary » Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:40 am

neverfail wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:12 am
cassowary wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 1:17 am
neverfail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 4:08 pm
cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Athens went dark after a short time. Then came kings, Roman empire, feudal kings.
Historically inaccurate! Greece never experienced rule by feudal kings in the Middle Ages but went straight from being a Byzantine province to being an Ottoman Turkish one. How could the Greeks possibly develop a democratic form of government when, with government provided by foreign powers they were not free to choose?
I was not referring to Greece but to the world in generally with a focus on western civilization. After the light of Athenian democracy flickered off and the demise of the Roman Republic, western civilization was ruled by Roman emperors. When the Roman empire fell, it was replaced by feudalism. Kings and Nobles ruled western civilization. It was the same for the rest of the world.

It was only in the 19th century that the first light of democracy was reignited with the US. Yes, Switzerland, the Isle of Man, Iceland and the Swiss all claimed to the be first. But it was the one in the US that eventually made a global impact. That's because of its massive GDP and wealth that came about because of capitalism.

The bigger the GDP, the bigger your military. This made an impact on WWI. American influence demanded that the fallen Kings and Emperors me remade in the American image ie democracies. This failed eventually and you got the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy. America had to do an European redo in 1945.

After WWII was concerned US military protected the nascent democracies in Europe from the USSR. Interestingly, the USSR was the culmination of the forces of another revolution - the French revolution which was partly inspired by the American Revolution in 1776.

Marx was convinced that the rich (then the kings and nobles of Europe) would be overthrown by the poor and came up with a stupid theory that still inspires people today eg Antifa movement. This led to the Cold War between the US and its allies against the USSR and its allies. The USSR lost thanks again to the much larger GDP of the US.

After the USSR fell, there was a flood of new democracies. As you said, the Latins and others wanted to curry favor with the world's largest power after the fall of the USSR. People stupidly thought that this was the "history" and democracy is the natural eventual evolution of human society. Stupid, stupid stupid. Democracy, in its current forms, is a very new affair for most countries. And it may not last. It is still an experiment.

(Aside from the Scandinavian inspired Things in places where the Vikings settled and the Swiss democracy, the current flame was ignited by the US. This did not even begin in the American revolution. At America's founding, only a few could vote. American democracy only started in 1860 (when all white males could vote), if you ignore the matter of women and blacks voting. Otherwise, American democracy only started in 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed assuring that all blacks could vote. )

cassowary wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 8:57 am
Isle of Man and Iceland. In 1900, only the US, Britain and its white parts of the Commonwealth, plus a few countries in western and northern Europe were democracies.
Go back one century further to the year 1800 and how many of these were democracies then? Only Iceland; and that did not count for much given that Iceland was then an overseas dependency of Denmark and Danish soverign territory. The fact that in the course of the 19th century the number of democracies multiplied several fold incicates that history was trending in the right direction.
As I said above, history trended in that direction only because the chief promoter was the US which happened to have the world's largest GDP and hence military. What is going to happen when China overtakes America?
Yet in light of your private propaganda war against the Peoples Republic and all of its works I get the impression Cass that you think too much in terms of quantity (or numbers). I think more in terms of quality. For instance: among the recent former Soviet bloc entrants; while the Baltic republics look safe for democracy the likes of Poland and Hungary currently look set to regress backwards into more authoritarian modes of government (well, what else is new? These two did the very same during the inter-World War years).
Exactly. They will remain democracies only if the US is strong enough to protect them. Otherwise, they may find it necessary (because of survival needs) to become authoritarian again. As you yourself said, there is a certain amount of currying the favor of the US because it is the mightiest power. Singapore did that. When LKY locked up opposition politician Francis Seow, the US gave him a BIG scolding. After that, the government stopped detention without trial of opposition leaders. What would happen when China displaces America? I don't want for my country to go back to the bad old days.

I looked into Roman history. Rome was a Republic for a few centuries after it overthrew its last king. The Republic gave a degree of representative power to the people through the assembly, and elected magistrates. But the Senate was hereditary institution. This worked well when Rome was a city state. But Rome became an empire. To govern a far flung empire in the days without modern communications, they needed to vest enormous powers of their regional generals and governors. They can't refer time critical decisions back to Rome who in either case could not possibly keep in touch with what's going on in faraway provinces.

Without checks, the regional governors became very wealthy by squeezing the conquered locals. The disparity of wealth between the elite and the common Roman citizen became very pronounced. This led to instability. Populist politicians like Julius Ceasre championed the plebians. Riots in Rome were common. The Roman constitution became outdated. It could not cope. It could not bring stability. So after throwing out its last king, it had to revert back to monarchy with enormous power vested in one man - the emperor.

So you see Neverfail, things are always changing. When I talk to westerners on this subject, they can't believe that their system of government is not permanent, has flaws that need to be rectified. Look at Venice's long history too. It started as a rudimentary democracy, then became ruled by one man - the doge, then became a aristocracy. Things are always changing.

... I have to run an errand. More later.
An overtly simplistic overview of history full of oversimplications and half truths. The only point I agree with unequivocally is your final contention that things are always changing.
Oversimplifications? Like what? Nevermind, neverfail. The point you agree with is the my conclusion that things will change. Just as the Roman and Venetian Republics involved from something that has a degree of civic representation to something else less democratic as well as the Anglo example of the reverse ie from a monarch to a democracy proves my point that things will always change.

You must not get complacent that the current forms of representative governments is the end stage of human political development that all countries will mature into. Sometimes things can go in the opposite direction.

Now that China is rising, I fear that the world will slide towards a less representative, less democratic government. You yourself said that the Latin Americans may have democratized to curry favor with the Americans. I agree. So did my country. But now that China, an autocratic government is rising and will overtake the US in economic and thus in military power, I fear that the tide is turning in the wrong direction.
The Imp :D

neverfail
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Re: Bogus democracies?

Post by neverfail » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:39 am

cassowary wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:40 am

Now that China is rising, I fear that the world will slide towards a less representative, less democratic government.
Your fear might be well grounded - but will it matter? (Please read on.)

cassowary wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:40 am
You yourself said that the Latin Americans may have democratized to curry favor with the Americans.
An idle speculation on my part. I cannot prove it.

cassowary wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:40 am
I agree. So did my country.
The worst possible reason to adopt a particular constitution is to please (or deceive) a foreign power. The country that lies, misrepresents itself, even in its constitution is bound to come to a bad end.

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