Some Requirements For Political Stability

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In recent weeks I have had a chance to visit for a short time a few of the republics in Central America:  Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia (South America, but close enough), Guatemala, and Mexico.  I have been trying to upload a podcast I recorded on the subject, but internet connections are so slow that I will have to wait a bit more on that; the upload times are just too long.  I’ve been posting photos on my Instagram account for those who are interested in seeing them.

I have been traveling by cruise ship, and this is the first time I’ve done something like this.  It’s a totally different experience from how I normally travel; but sometimes you have to try different things.  Even though I’ve only spent about a day in each of these countries, it still is possible to see a few things and draw some basic observations.  After leaving Nicaragua, I thought more and more about why some countries have stable political institutions and others do not.  It seems to me that stable republics all have certain features in common.  It goes without saying that there are countless factors that influence the stability equation, but it would nearly impossible to find a successful republic that did not have most or all of these qualities.

Middle Class.  This is of critical importance.  Stable political institutions cannot flourish in conditions where a country has only the super-wealthy and the  super-poor, with nothing in between.  When this type of polarity exists, the two extremes of the “poles” are always at odds with each other, pulling each other in different directions.  The Roman historian Sallust noted (Bel. Jug. 41) that after the destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C. the politics of the city became fatally polarized. The rich exploited the state for their own benefit while the plebs seethed with anger and resentment.  The result was eventual descent into social strife and class antagonism.  A civic-minded middle class that cares about the country and participates in it is vital for the continuation of republican governments.

Freedom From War.  There is a huge difference in the feel of Nicaragua and, say, Guatemala or Costa Rica.  Nicaragua was been suffering for a very long time; in the 1960s and 1970s the government was repressive.  Then there was the Sandinista revolution in 1979, followed by more war and insurgency as the “contras” fought them for control of the country.  This did nothing to help the society.  Things were so bad that in the early 1990s one of the Nicaraguan ministers sold off all of the country’s railroad stock as scrap metal, thereby helping to ruin its infrastructure.  It can be said that a little bit of war does a republic good, in the sense that it fosters a sense of cohesion and common purpose; but if this little bit becomes too much, then vital institutions are destroyed or degraded.

Things were not always this way.  In Leon, Nicaragua, I visited house of Nicaraguan author Ruben Dario (the founder of the “modernist” movement in Spanish literature in the twentieth century); he died in 1916 at the age of 49.  I had never heard of him before, but the more I learned about him, the more I realized that old Nicaragua had once been different from what we see today.  He was a brilliant man who learned to read at the age of three and had published works while still in his teens.  He traveled extensively in South America and Europe and greatly influenced his fellow literary figures.

From what I could tell, it seemed that Nicaragua was actually better off in his day than it was in the late 20th century.  Progress is not always linear.  In any case, the point is that a republic needs an environment that permits the growth and maintenance of sound institutions.  To take another example, consider Afghanistan.  In the 1970s, it actually was a reasonably stable civil state by central Asian standards; photographs of the period tell the tale.  But since the wars of the 1980s up to the present, it has been nothing but a tale of woe.  War came and never left.

Institutions That Do Not Depend On Personalities.  For sound institutions to exist, they must be able to survive the people who sit in such offices.  The institutions should not be so “personality-dependent” that when the person dies or leaves, the office dies too.  This is a major problem in countries in different parts of the world.  Leaders focus too much on consolidating their power, and not enough time on building institutions.  The judiciary, executive, and legislative branches of government must be truly independent and capable of surviving challenges to their integrity.

It seems to me that the current president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, is slipping right back into the habits of his predecessors in that he is not building institutions; he is only enriching his own family.  The manner in which the alleged new canal project that the Chinese plan to build in the country illustrates this.  The contract for the project was awarded as a result of nepotism and insider dealings that took no account of the needs of the average Nicaraguan.

In the same way, many of the Arab states suffer from a chronic inability to build resilient institutions that can survive the shocks of war or political upheaval.  The ruling styles depend too much on one man; and while this is a problem in much of Asia, it was put on display to a great extent in the uprisings that shook the region after 2011.

Respect For Authority And Tradition.  Institutions are no good if the people are unaware of them.  They are also no good if no one respects them.  In Thailand, the monarchy is universally respected; even factions that have political differences can agree that the throne in the one institution that unites Thais.  It is critical that the young people in a country have respect for its institutions and are educated thoroughly in their importance.

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When I was walking around Acapulco today, I saw two very long lines of young men queued up in front of a military official.  All of these men were waiting patiently and politely.  I was told that this was the day for these men to register for their military service, which is compulsory in Mexico.  Each man must do at least 12 months, I was told.  Service for females is optional.  I happen to agree with universal military service; but even if one does not, it is still critical for the citizenry to be aware how their country functions.  States begin to decline when respect for their history, traditions, and cultures is neglected.

When these requirements are found in a republic, it will almost certainly be stable and successful.  Good institutions are both the rudders and the bulwarks of states:  when they are in place, a state can survive many disasters, including a succession of fools or idiots on the throne.  I am not saying that these are the only requirements for a stable republic.  Doubtless a state will need much else.  But I feel confident in saying that every stable political system has all (or most) of these characteristics.  It is also true that states that lose these features begin to decline.  Democratic institutions cannot survive in conditions where these things–noted above–are absent.

2 thoughts on “Some Requirements For Political Stability

  1. I was a former upper middle class white man. Good career, home owner, small business owner, patriotic, tax paying, married, and a believer in America. Now, there are not words to describe the loathing I have for the land of my birth. How could such a drastic change occur?

    I discovered the hard way that our Constitution is a meaningless piece of paper. The intent of that document was to protect the citizenry from the power of the state. First hand experience with being declared an “enemy of the state” proved beyond any doubt that the institutions entrusted to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution have turned that sacred document on its head. The ordinary American citizen is nothing more that grist for the institutional mill, raw material for the police state, and cannon fodder for the kleptocracy that runs the world.

    As usual, our erudite site host is spot on. America is quickly devolving into exactly what Orwell cautioned about in 1984. As a high school freshman in 1970 I read the book and considered it a relic of the past. I had no idea it would become a “how to” manual.

    When Bush #1 left office the reins of power were handed over to the baby boomers. The WWII generation bequeathed an America that had defeated communism and straddled the globe as an unequaled economic and military behemoth. Bill Clinton was sworn in as president in 1993. A new president will be sworn in very shortly. What has happened to my formerly beloved country in the intervening 24 years?

    The cultural Marxist believing and kleptocratic self absorbed baby boomers have sold the entire country and culture down the river for a combination of childish altruism and unbridled greed. Let’s see what they have done.

    One half of the citizenry has been declared as yet uncharged criminals due to their genitalia thanks to the Violence Against Women Act. This abortion of legislation (pun intended) also guts the 2nd Amendment by disallowing possession of a firearm for a man convicted of no crime. And the institution entrusted to enforce the Constitution, SCOTUS, has blessed it. I have read hundreds of SCOTUS rulings and a very scary phrase is continually cropping up – “the compelling interest of the state”. Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave.

    Next, the sheeple have NAFTA forced down their throats. Ross Perot was right when he warned that if passed there will be a “giant sucking sound” of American jobs going to Mexico. NAFTA has done more to destroy middle America than nuclear war with the Russians. Nuclear war would galvanize the American people into a unified force and they would recover. NAFTA has driven the people into a soul and spirit crushing cycle of never ending poverty and despair.

    VAWA and NAFTA were birthed by Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Let’s see how Bush #2, a Republican, has betrayed his people.

    In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush gave the neocons exactly what they wanted – the American military firmly ensconced in the Middle East for the the protection of their only true allegiance, Israel. Afghanistan is not known as the “Graveyard of Empires” for no reason. Alexander the Great couldn’t beat them in antiquity. The British couldn’t do it with the Industrial Revolution backing them. The Russians couldn’t do it with a modern and ruthless war machine. And Bush thought he could. The Taliban is staging a comeback.

    Then there is Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11. This was nothing other than a never ending Seder for the neocons based upon the flimsiest of excuses. Trillions of dollars and rivers of American blood have achieved what? Clearing the way for ISIS?

    He also gave us the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Both of these instruments of internal control have only served to militarize every police department in the country and subject every American to electronic intrusion into their lives by a never ceasing, forever expanding surveillance state. Personally, I don’t fear Islamic terrorist. But I do fear my local police and Google building a dossier on me – all in the name of national security of course. “A people who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”.

    Then we get Obama and the holy frail of the Afforable Care Act. When this abortion of blatantly unconstitutional legislation made it to SCOTUS, what did that esteemed institution do? Did they rule on it as it was passed? Oh, no. As written they knew it would in no way, shape, or form, meet Constitutional muster. So they decided to betray the citizenry in favor of the power of government and rewrote the legislation themselves so they could bless it. Let me get this straight. The author, Chief Justice John Roberts, who violated his oath to the Constitution is a patriot, but Snowden, who exposed the truth the American people is a traitor? Huh? What?

    Then we get the 2010 elections where the people gave the House to the Republicans with instructions to stop Obama using the power of the purse, just as the Constitution intended. What did they do? They rolled over for the status quo.

    Then in 2014 the people gave the Senate to the Repubicans with clear, unmistakable instructions to stop this Obama sell out of the country. What did they do? Again, nothing but preserve the status quo.

    In 2016 the people put Trump up as the Republican nominee. The Republican establishment turned on him like a pack of rabid dogs. Now that Trump has been elected, what is the Rublican establish doing? They are agreeing with this “fake news” nonsense and doing their best to tie Trump’s victory to the Russians. Thanks Lindsey Graham and John McCain.

    Our institutions only serve themselves. Our two party system is in reality a one party system. The evidence for the two proceeding sentences is clear and undebatable. Facts are facts. Actions are actions. Just that simple.

    So yes, America and the culture of the West is doomed by its own hand. The grand experiment of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” as established by that group of Enlightment geniuses known as the Founding Fathers is at an end. When asked what type of government had been established, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it”. We have proven we can’t.

    When a man such as myself no longer gives a flying fuck about his country, alarm bells should be going off somewhere. And they probably are – in the headquarters of the thought police when they read this. They may come for me, in the middle of the night, with guns and dogs. Hopefully they will just kill me for I do not fear death. What I do fear is the fate of Winston Smith – read 1984.

    It’s time to make a drink, kick back, and enjoy the show. This will be my last post explaining the obvious. Cheers, and MGTOW from here on out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s worth noting that when the nature of Rome’s legions changed from essentially a citizen militia to a professional army, the legions became essentially institutions unto themselves, separate from the rest of the citizen body, which charismatic or well-coined commanders could use to do their own bidding against the better interests of the state, a situation that lasted until (and contributed to) the end.

    And the fact that there was perpetual, spiteful and petty gridlock made those matters worse.

    Like

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