Category Archives: democracy

On the Troubles of our Times


Back in January 2008, I took a verbal snapshot of the many bad things the UK government was doing to us at the time. Today, I’ll carry this forward to the present. My purpose is to gain a better understanding of the troubles we suffer under today – and not just in the UK. And thus, to try to fathom what is going on underneath. Read more

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Bernie’s Degeneracy: What Would George Canning Say?


©By ilana mercer

BERNIE SANDERS, the senator from Vermont, said he thinks “everyone should have the right to vote—even the Boston Marathon bomber … even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope.”

Bernie is right about a “slippery slope.” But the befuddled Bernie is worried about the wrong slope.

Denying the vote to some and conferring it on others is not a “slippery slope.” It’s exercising good judgment.

Insisting that the vote in America belongs to everyone, irrespective: now that’s a slippery slope, down which the slide is well underway.

As it stands, there are almost no moral or ethical obligations attached to citizenship in our near-unfettered Democracy.

Multiculturalism means that you confer political privileges on many an individual whose illiberal practices run counter to, even undermine, the American political tradition.

Radical leaders across the U.S. quite seriously consider Illegal immigrants as candidates for the vote—and for every other financial benefit that comes from the work of American citizens.

The rights of all able-bodied idle individuals to an income derived from labor not their own: That, too, is a debate that has arisen in democracy, where the demos rules like a despot.

But then moral degeneracy is inherent in raw democracy. The best political thinkers, including America’s constitution-makers, warned a long time ago that mass, egalitarian society would thus degenerate.

What Bernie Sanders prescribes for the country—unconditional voting—is but an extension of “mass franchise,” which was feared by the greatest thinkers on Democracy. Prime Minister George Canning of Britain, for instance.

Canning, whose thought is distilled in Russell Kirk’s magnificent exegesis, “The Conservative Mind,” thought that “the franchise should be accorded to persons and classes insofar as they possess the qualifications for right judgment and are worthy members of their particular corporations.”

By “corporations,” Canning (1770-1827) meant something quite different to our contemporary, community-killing multinationals.

“Corporations,” in the nomenclature of the times, meant very plainly in “the spirit of cooperation, based upon the idea of a neighborhood. [C]ities, parishes, townships, professions, and trades are all the corporate bodies that constitute the state.”

To the extent that an individual citizen is a decent member of these “little platoons” (Edmund Burke’s iridescent term), he may be considered, as Canning saw it, for political participation.

“If voting becomes a universal and arbitrary right,” cautioned Canning, “citizens become mere political atoms, rather than members of venerable corporations; and in time this anonymous mass of voters will degenerate into pure democracy,” which, in reality is “the enthronement of demagoguery and mediocrity.”  (“The Conservative Mind,” p. 131.)

That’s us. Demagoguery and mediocrity are king in contemporary democracies, where the organic, enduring, merit-based communities extolled by Canning, no longer exists and are no longer valued.

This is the point at which America finds itself and against which William Lecky, another brilliant British political philosopher and politician, argued.

The author of “Democracy and Liberty” (1896) predicted that “the continual degradation of the suffrage” through “mass franchise” would end in “a new despotism.”

And so it has.

Then as today, radical, nascent egalitarians, who championed the universal vote abhorred by Lecky, attacked “institution after institution,” harbored “systematic hostility” toward “owners of landed property” and private property and insisted that “representative institutions” and the franchise be extended to all irrespective of “circumstance and character.”

Then as now, the socialist radical’s “last idea in constitutional policy” is to destroy some institutions or to injure some class.” (Ibid, p. 335.)

And so it is with the radical Mr. Sanders, who holds—quite correctly, if we consider democracy’s historic trajectory as presaged by the likes of Lecky and Canning—that a democracy must be perpetually “expanded,” and that “every single person does have the right to vote,” irrespective of “circumstance and character.”

The vote, of course, is an earned political privilege, not a God-given natural right, as Bernie the atheist describes it.

The granting of political rights should always be circumscribed and circumspect; it ought to be predicated on the fulfillment of certain responsibilities and the embodiment of basic virtues. “Thou shalt not murder,” for example.

Indeed, the case of the Boston Bomber is a no-brainer.

Tsarnaev came from a family of Chechen grifters. He got the gift of American political and welfare rights, no strings attached, no questions asked. That’s how we roll. That’s how little these rights have come to mean.

Yet Dzhokhar Tsarnaev didn’t merely pick a quarrel with one or two fellow Americans or with their government; he hated us all. If he could, Tsarnaev would have killed many more of his countrymen, on April 15, 2013.

But for a radical leveler like Mr. Sanders, virtue has no place in a social democracy. Sanders’ project, after all, is “legislating away the property of one class and transferring it to another.”

Since Bernie Sanders was so perfectly serious in protesting the removal of the Boston bomber’s political privileges—he should not be taken seriously.

***

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Interview: Analysing ‘Democracy, The God That Failed’


By Andy Duncan, Vice-Chairman of Mises UK

With the PFS 2018 conference rapidly coming up at Bodrum, I thought it might be worth dusting off an interview I did a couple of years ago with a friend of mine, Greg Moffitt, from the Legalise Freedom podcast.

Greg had earlier contacted Professor Hoppe to ask whether he could interview the current Dean of the Austrian School about his books, particularly, Democracy – The God That Failed. To my great personal surprise, the professor had then directed Greg to contact me instead, to sort of stand in as an ‘Ersatz’ Hoppeian!

As an Austrian, and as a believer in a totally voluntary society, it’s really difficult to think of any higher honour, so I stepped manfully into the breach.

In preparation for the interview, I re-read all of the main Hoppe books, and then in this quite extensive interview, we discuss most of them, with me in an unfamiliar role as a podcast guest rather than in my more familiar role as a podcast host.

Although most of the podcast is dedicated to DTGTF – along with Hoppe’s other major works – we also cover a number other books, by various other Austrian luminaries, so it really is quite a smorgasbord of Austrian economics.

Anyhow, that’s enough talking, here’s the podcast:

Whodunit? Who “Meddled” With Our Democracy? (Part 2)


©2018 By ILANA MERCER

Not a day goes by when the liberal media don’t telegraph to the world that a “Trumpocracy” is destroying American democracy. Conspicuous by its absence is a pesky fact: Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

One of the ways in which the republic was destroyed was through the slow sundering of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. The 10th was meant to guarantee constitutional devolution of power.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The de facto demise of the 10th has resulted in “constitutional” consolidation.

Fair enough, but is that enough? A perceptive Townhall.com reader was having none of it.

In response to “Whodunit? Who ‘Meddled’ With Our American Democracy” (Part 1), the reader upbraided this writer:

“Anyone who quotes the 10th Amendment, but not the 14th Amendment that supplanted it cannot be taken seriously.”

In other words, to advance the erosion of the 10th in explaining who did our republic in, without mentioning the 14th: this was an omission on the writer’s part.

The reader is admirably correct about Incorporation-Doctrine centralization. 

Not even conservative constitutional originalists are willing to concede that the 14th Amendment and the attendant Incorporation Doctrine have obliterated the Constitution’s federal scheme, as expressed in the once-impregnable 10th Amendment.

What does this mean?

You know the drill but are always surprised anew by it. Voters pass a law under which a plurality wishes to live in a locality. Along comes a U.S. district judge and voids the law, citing a violation of the 14th’s Equal Protection Clause.

For example: Voters elect to prohibit local government from sanctioning gay marriage. A U.S. district judge voids voter-approved law for violating the 14th’s Equal Protection Clause.

These periodical contretemps around gay marriage, or the legal duty of private property owners to cater these events, are perfectly proper judicial activism. It flows from the 14th Amendment.

If the Bill of Rights was intended to place strict limits on federal power and protect individual and locality from the national government—the 14th Amendment effectively defeated that purpose by placing the power to enforce the Bill of Rights in federal hands, where it was never intended to be.

Put differently, matters previously subject to state jurisdiction have been pulled into the orbit of a judiciary. Yet not even conservative constitutional originalists are willing to cop to this constitutional fait accompli.

The gist of it: Jeffersonian constitutional thought is no longer in the Constitution; its revival unlikely.

A Court System Centralized

For another example of the endemic usurpation of The People, rendering the original Constitutional scheme obsolete, take the work of the generic jury. With his description of the relationship between jury and people, American scholar of liberty Lysander Spooner conjures evocative imagery.

A jury is akin to the “body of the people.” Trial by jury is the closest thing to a trial by the whole country. Yet courts in the nation’s centralized court system, the Supreme Court included, are in the business of harmonizing law across the nation, rather than allowing communities to live under laws they author, as guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

States’ Rights All But Obliterated 

Like juries, states had been entrusted with the power to beat back the federal government and void unconstitutional federal laws.

States’ rights are “an essential Americanism,” wrote Old Rightist Frank Chodorov. The Founding Fathers as well as the opponents of the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists, agreed on the principle of divided authority as a safeguard to the rights of the individual. 

Duly, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison perfected a certain doctrine in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798. “The Virginia Resolutions,” explains historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., “spoke of the states’ rights to ‘interpose’ between the federal government and the people of the states; the Kentucky Resolutions used the term nullification—the states, they said, could nullify federal laws that they believed to be unconstitutional.”

“Jefferson,” emphasized Woods, “considered states’ rights a much more important and effective safeguard of people’s liberties than the ‘checks and balances’ among the three branches of the federal government.”

And for good reason. While judicial review was intended to curb Congress and restrain the Executive, in reality, the judicial, legislative and executive unholy federal trinity has simply colluded, over time, in an alliance that has helped abolish the 10th Amendment.

Founding Faith Expunged  

And how well has First Amendment jurisprudence served constitutionalists?

Establishment-clause cases are a confusing and capricious legal penumbra. Sometimes displays of the Hebraic Decalogue or manger scene are taken to constitute the establishment of a state religion. Other times not.

This body of law forever teeters on conflating the injunction against the establishment of a state religion with an injunction against the expression of faith—especially discriminating against the founding faith in taxpayer-supported spaces.

The end result has been the expulsion of religion from the public square and the suppression therein of freedom of religion.

On the topic of religious freedom, Jefferson was prolific, too. The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a crowning achievement for which he wished to be remembered, along with the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the University of Virginia.

Jefferson interpreted “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the exercise thereof”—as confirms by David N. Meyer, author of Jefferson’s Constitutional Thought—to guarantee both “an absolute free exercise of religion and an absolute prohibition of an establishment of religion.”

Yet somehow, the kind of constitutional thought that carries legal sway today prohibits expressions of faith or displays of a civilizing moral code in government-controlled spheres. Given my libertarian view of government’s immoral modus operandi, I find this amusingly apropos. Still, this is not what Jefferson had in mind for early Americans.

Indeed, why would anyone, bar Nancy Pelosi and her party, object to “thou shall not kill” or “thou shall not commit adultery, steal or covet?” The Ten Commandments can hardly be perceived as an instrument for state proselytization.

Nevertheless, the law often takes displays of the Decalogue or the nativity scene on tax-payer funded property as an establishment of a state religion.

“I consider the government of the U.S. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercise,” Jefferson expatiated.

He then gets to the soul of the subject: “This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise of religion but also from the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to the states [or to the people] the powers not delegated to the U.S.”

So, dear reader, if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that the Russians didn’t deep-six our republic of private property rights and radical decentralization; we did.

***

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Trashing Populism: Dim-Bulb Academic Vs. Deplorables


By ilana mercer

To say that academic elites don’t like ordinary folks is to state the obvious.

To them, Lanford, Illinois—the fictional, archetypal, working-class town, made famous by Roseanne and Dan Conner—is not to be listened to, but tamed.

A well-functioning democracy depends on it.

Taming Fishtown—Charles Murray’s version of Landford—is the thread that seems to run through  a new book, “The People vs. Democracy,” by one Yascha Mounk.

You guessed it. Mr. Mounk is not an American from the prairies; he’s a German academic, ensconced at Harvard, and sitting in judgment of American and European populism.

If only he were capable of advancing a decent argument.

“The number of countries that can plausibly be described as democracies is shrinking,” laments Mounk (“Populism and the Elites,” The Economist, March 17, 2018):

Strongmen are in power in several countries that once looked as if they were democratizing … The United States—the engine room of democratization for most of the post-war period—has a president who taunted his opponent with chants of ‘lock her up’ and refused to say if he would accept the result of the election if it went against him.

 

Elites ensconced in the academy are likely selected into these mummified institutions for a certain kind of ignorance about political theory or philosophy.

Plainly put, a chant, “lock her up,” is speech, nothing more. This Trump-rally chant might be impolite and impolitic, but on the facts, it’s not evidence of a “strongman.”

Notice how, deconstructed, nearly every utterance emitted by the technocratic and academic elites turns out to be empty assertion?

Even the subtitle of the book under discussion is sloppy political theory: “Why Our Freedom is in Danger and How to Save It” implies that democracy is the be-all and end-all of liberty. Quite the opposite.

America’s Constitution-makers did everything in their power (except, sadly, heed the Anti-Federalists) to thwart a dispensation wherein everything is up for grabs by government, in the name of the people.

Today,” claims our author,  “the popular will is increasingly coming into conflict with individual rights.” To this end, “liberal elites are willing to exclude the people from important decisions, most notably about immigration in the case of the European Union.”

He has excluded Americans from the immigration, decision-making equation. But they, too, have been eliminated from decision-making on these matters. Perhaps the anti-populism tinkerer, for Mounk is no thinker, views the levels of “exclusion” in the US, on this front, as acceptable.

Perhaps he thinks that the flow of up to two million into the US every year—changing it by the day—is done with the right degree of democratic inclusion. (How about a federal referendum on immigration, to test that?)

The popular will is fine—provided it restores the obligations of government to its constituents, not to the world, protects nation-state sovereignty, respects the founding people of Europe and the West; and protects their traditions, safety and identity. For example, by eliminating the weaponization of political concepts against The People. In the context of immigration, constructs that have been weaponized are multiculturalism and diversity.

If anything, populist leaders who want to denuclearize constructs which have been weaponized by the state are authentic leaders. The opposing elites are the interlopers.

Your common, garden-variety academic is selected and elevated in academia precisely because of a pre-existing condition: a globalist, deracinated disposition.

For that matter, humanity does not have a right to immigrate en masse to the United States or to Europe. There is no natural right to venture wherever, whenever—unless, perhaps, migrants can be confined to homesteading frontier territory.

Regrettably, the developed world is running out of frontier territory to homestead.  Besides, the only potential immigrants who still have that frontier spirit are South-African farmers. But American and European elites are uninterested in refugees who are ACTUALLY and actively being killed-off.

That would be too much like preserving “white privilege,” which is certainly not what Mounk’s about. He moans, instead, about dangerous populists, and how they’re “willing to dispense with constitutional niceties in the name of ‘the people.’”

Which “constitutional niceties” have populists dispensed with? Repealing statutory, man-made law the Left, invariably, depicts as fascism, when in fact repealing positive law is often liberating; strengthening the natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“Politics,” our author continues, “is defined by a growing battle between illiberal democracy, or democracy without rights, on the one hand, and undemocratic liberalism, or rights without democracy, on the other.

It’s hard to know what to make of such bafflegab, only that the author’s political theory has been through the progressive smelter. Democracy unfettered—social democracy, Third Wayism—adopted by all “free” nations, the US as well, in antithetical to the liberty envisioned by the American Founding Fathers.

Why so? Because in this fetid democracy, every aspect of individual life is up for government control. The very idea that a few hundred clowns in two chambers could represent hundreds of millions of individuals is quintessentially illiberal. And impossible.

The kind of “undemocratic liberalism” the author sneers at is likely the classical liberalism of the 19th century, where the claims the mass of humanity could levy against individuals in a particular territory were severely curtailed, if not non-existent.

Finally, what would an academic be without a brand of demeaning, economic reductionism? The lumpenproletariat are economically distressed. That’s Yascha Mounk’s final diagnosis. That’s why populism is surging.

Tossed in their direction, Chinese-made trinkets will do wonders to improve the mood of this seething, racist, mass of Deplorables. Then Mounk and his friends can move in to make the right decisions for us.

Harvard’s Chosen’s One chalks populism up to “the laws of globalization.” Deal with it or die.

Or, as advocated by Kevin D. Williamson, a NeverTrumper formerly of National Review:

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets … The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.” (“The Father-Führer,” March 28, 2016.)

 

You see, working-class “losers” are being labelled illiberal fascists for—wait for it!—wanting a local economy around which to center flesh-and-blood communities.

A real Heil-Hitler moment!

This populism-detesting academic (Yascha Mounk) is a theoretical utilitarian and bad one at that. He refuses to “grapple with the nuances” of the issues that make for misery or mirth among ordinary men and women. Instead, he grumbles that his gang of “technocratic elites” needs to moderate its ambitions, given that they’re not working with much (dumb Deplorables).

Here’s the truth about the nationalism against which the political and pedagogic elites rail:

[It] has often been cast by the historically triumphant Left as fascistic. Yet historically, this Right rising has represented broad social strata: It has represented the bourgeoisie—middle-class, liberal and illiberal, standing for professional and commercial interests. It has stood for the working class, the landed aristocracy, the (Catholic) clergy, the military, labor unions, standing as one against the radical Communist or anarchist Left, which promised—and eventually delivered—bloody revolution that destroyed organic, if imperfect, institutions. (“The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed,” p. 234

***

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube

Whodunit? Who “Meddled” With “Our Democracy”? (Part 1)


By ilana mercer

Republicans have revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) treats Americans not as citizens, but as subjects to spy on. I’d expect nothing less from a Court created and perpetuated by George W. Bush and his Republicans.

But, what do you know? Following Barack Obama’s lead, President Donald Trump and his Republicans have renewed FISA Section 702, which, in fact, has facilitated the usurpations the same representatives are currently denouncing.

Also in contravention of a quaint constitutional relic called the Fourth Amendment is Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has taken possession of “many tens of thousands of emails from President Donald Trump’s transition team.” There is no limit, seemingly, to the power of the special counsel.

Look, we’re living in a post-Constitutional America. Complaints about the damage done to our “democracy” by outsiders are worse than silly. Such damage pales compared to what we Americans have done to a compact rooted in the consent of the governed and the drastically limited and delimited powers of those who govern.

In other words, a republic. Ours was never a country conceived as a democracy.

To arrive at a democracy, we Americans destroyed a republic.

The destruction is on display daily.

Pray tell where-oh-where in the US Constitution does it say that anyone crossing over into the US may demand and get an abortion? But apparently, this is settled law—a universally upheld right, irrespective of whose property and territory it impinges.

The only aspect our clodhopper media—left and right—deign to debate in such abortion-tourism cases is the interloper’s global reproductive rights. So, if abortion is a service Americans must render to the world, why not the right to a colonoscopy or a facelift?

Cannabis: The reason it’s not in the Constitution is because letting states and individuals decide is in the Constitution. That thing of beauty is called the Tenth Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That’s right. In American federalism, the rights of the individual were meant to be secured through strict limits imposed on the power of the central government by a Bill of Rights and the division of authority between autonomous states and a federal government. Yet on cannabis, the meager constitutional devolution of power away from the Federales and to states and individuals Republicans have reversed. Some are even prattling about a constitutional cannabis amendment, as if there’s a need for further “constitutional” centralization of authority.

After 230 years of just such “constitutional” consolidation, it’s safe to say that the original Constitution is a dead letter; that the natural- and common law traditions, once lodestars for lawmakers, have been buried under the rubble of legislation and statute that would fill an entire building floor. However much one shovels the muck of lawmaking aside, natural justice and the Founders’ original intent remain buried too deep to exhume.

Consider: America’s Constitution makers bequeathed a central government of delegated and enumerated powers. The Constitution gives Congress only some eighteen specific legislative powers. Nowhere among these powers is Social Security, civil rights (predicated as they are on grotesque violations of property rights), Medicare, Medicaid, and the elaborate public works sprung from the General Welfare and Interstate Commerce Clauses.

The welfare clause stipulates that “Congress will have the power … to provide for the general welfare.” And even though the general clause is followed by a detailed enumeration of the limited powers so delegated; our overlords, over decades of dirigisme, have taken Article I, Section 8 to mean that government can pick The People’s pockets for any perceivable purpose and project. Witness a judiciary of scurrilous statists that had even found in the Constitution a mandate to compel commerce by forcing individual Americans to purchase health insurance on pains of a fine, an act of force President Trump has mercifully repealed.

So you see, Rachel Maddow, it’s not the Republicans who’ve ruined our system. Sean Hannity, it’s not the Democrats. It’s not even “the Russians.”

At root, they all did. It happened over time and is a fait accompli. The reality today is that there’s simply no warrant in the Constitution for most of what the Federal Frankenstein does.

 

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube.

In Africa, You Oust A Tyrant, But Not Tyranny


By ilana mercer

READERS were angry. I had rained on their parade by venturing that the appointment of a new party boss to head South-Africa’s dominant party was an insignificant game of musical chairs.

But perhaps it is I who should have been annoyed. Nobody with a modicum of cerebral agility should see in the new South-African Strong Man, union boss-cum-tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa, a significant change of the guard.

Surely by now it should be common knowledge that in Africa, you replace a despot, but not despotism; you oust a tyrant, but not tyranny?

There’s a reason Ramaphosa riles crowds at a South African Communist Party rally just as easily as he excites the head of Goldman Sachs’s South Africa office. (For a clue, ask yourselves how a union boss becomes a tycoon.)

In the tradition of dimming debate, the chattering class has reduced systemic corruption in South Africa and near collapse in Zimbabwe, respectively, to the shenanigans of two men: Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe.

Emblematic of this is a thematically confused  article in The Economist, offering a description of the dynamics set in motion by the Zuma dynasty’s capture of the state.

At first, the magazine explains the concept of “state capture” as “private actors [having] subverted the state to steal public money.”

Later, the concept is more candidly refined: “The nub of the state capture argument is that Mr. Zuma and his friends are putting state-owned enterprises and other governmental institutions in the hands of people who are allowing them to loot public funds.”

Indeed. Corruption invariably flows from state to society.

And, “state capture” is quite common across Africa, even if “unfamiliar elsewhere in the world,” which is all the “context” The Economist is willing to provide.

“To avoid a dire, two-decade dynasty of dysfunction, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress should ditch the Zumas,” the magazine concludes.

That’s it? If only.

The Corruption of South Africa,” courtesy of The Economist, hurtles between being an excellent exposé, yet providing nothing more than reportorial reductionism.

Continental context, if you will, is essential if one is to shed light on the “Dark Continent.”

To wit, elections across Africa have traditionally followed a familiar pattern: Radical black nationalist movements like the ANC take power everywhere, then elections cease. “One man, one vote, one time,” to quote the book, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Or, if they take place, as they do in South Africa, they’re rigged, in a manner.

For a prerequisite for a half-decent liberal democracy is that majority and minority status be interchangeable and fluid, and that a ruling majority party (the ANC) be as likely to become a minority party as the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA). In South Africa, however, the majority and the minorities are politically permanent, not temporary, and voting along racial lines is the rule.

So, as the dictator Mugabe hung on to power for dear life, reasonable people were being persuaded by the pulp and pixel press that if not for this one megalomaniac, freedom would have flourished in Zimbabwe, as it has, presumably, in Angola, Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and the rest of strife-torn Africa south of the Sahara.

Reasonable people are also expected to infer from permissible analysis that now that Mugabe has been dislodged, his successor will not deign to commandeer the state’s security forces to subdue his opposition as his predecessor had done.

The pundit peanut gallery’s latest imperfect messiah in Zimbabwe is Emmerson Mnangagwa. His rickety political plank will promise indubitably what the majority of Zimbabweans want, including “equitable” land reform. A euphemism for land distribution in the Mugabe mold, this concept is anathema to private property rights.

Does Mnangagwa grasp that his country is bankrupt and that, unlike the mighty USA, Zimbabwe has no line of credit? Or that, as the great American writer Henry Hazlitt put it, “Government has nothing to give to anybody that it doesn’t first take from somebody else.” Or, that there are precious few left in Zimbabwe from whom to take?

The shortages and queues, courtesy of communism, exist in Zimbabwe as they did in the Soviet Union. Jokes from Hammer & Tickle, a book of black humor under Red rule, are not out of place in Zimbabwe:

“The problem of queues will be solved when we reach full Communism. How come? There will be nothing left to queue up for.”

Contrary to convictions in the West, any improvement experienced subsequent to the dethroning of the dictator Mugabe will be due to the West’s renewed investment in Zimbabwe and not to the changing of the guard.

For even if Mr. Mnangagwa proves no dictator-in-waiting, there is nothing in his political platform to indicate he will not continue to rob Peter to pay Paul until there is nobody left to rob.

Seemingly absent from the repertoire of both Mr. Mnangagwa and Ramaphosa is an understanding that only the rule of law and the protection of individual liberties, especially private property rights—for wealth-creating whites as well—can begin to reduce the dizzying scale of the two countries’ problems. Without these building blocks and bulwarks of prosperity and peace—Zimbabwe and South Africa cannot be rehabilitated.

The seductive narrative about the ANC’s new boss, Cyril Ramaphosa, gets this much right: There is nothing new about the meaningless game of musical chairs enacted throughout Africa like clockwork. The Big Man is overthrown or demoted; another Alpha Male jockeys his way into his predecessor’s position and asserts his primacy over the people and their property.

Mobutu Sese Seko ruled Zaïre ruthlessly, only to be overthrown by Laurent Kabila. Under Kabila nothing changed except Zaïre’s name; it became the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Sandwiched between Nigeria’s Strongman Sani Abacha and Olusegun Obasanjo was one more general. Then military rule was abolished and Umaru Yar’Adua elected. Yar’Adua died in May 2010. Two others have come and one has gone since, but ethnic violence continues unabated; instead of extracting oil from the earth, Nigeria’s factions quarrel and kill over crude.

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki was opposed by one Raila Odinga. The latter is of the Kalenjin clan; the former of the Kikuyu. Even in one of Africa’s success stories it all comes down to tribal rivalries. A coalition was finally formed after Kenyan blood was spilled, and public office was soon being scavenged by two thieves and their gangs, instead of one. Last I checked, Uhuru Kenyatta had risen to rule, and Raila Odinga, the more progressive-minded Kenyan, had been locked out in an election declared invalid by the Kenyan Supreme Court.

The legendary Kenneth Kaunda oversaw the transition from a one-party state to the multi-party Zambia. But once the new Big Man on the block, Frederick Chiluba, was faced with an election, he banned the opposition parties—and Kaunda.

In Côte D’Ivoire, stability ended with Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s reign, after which a succession of leaders has consolidated power by siccing Christians onto Muslims.

While General Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, has allowed some traditional institutions to make a comeback, he conducts massacres against the aspiring kingdom of the Bakonzo, in the West. In league with Rwandans, Museveni preys on the Congolese. Another Homie who has pride of place in Uganda is Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LRA is in the business of … butchering and enslaving its countrymen.

The reputation of the Janjaweed militia of Sudan precedes it. Epic as well is the corruption that has been visited upon Angolans by their gilded elites. A new president has finally usurped José Eduardo dos Santos, after his 38 years in power. The new guy is busy … driving out “his predecessor’s clan,” and ensconcing his own.

Good news came when Zambians, under leader Rupiah Bwezani Banda, were no longer dying in large numbers through ethnic clashes. The bad news was that they began dying in large numbers from hunger, instead.

“Even when regimes have changed hands, new governments, whatever promises they made on arrival, have lost little time in adopting the habits of their predecessors,” observed historian Martin Meredith, in The State of Africa (2005).

One can only hope that Zimbabwe’s new leader measures up to Zambia’s relatively, and commendably, benign Levy Mwanawasa, Banda’s predecessor, who died in 2008.

Of the forty-four countries of sub-Saharan Africa, The Economist’s democracy index lists twenty-three as authoritarian and thirteen as hybrids. Only seven, including South Africa, hold notionally free elections. Only two, South Africa and Botswana, did Meredith single out as relatively well-managed African democracies. And that was back in 2005!

Propounded by Duke University scholar Donald L. Horowitz, the arguments against democracy for South Africa, in particular, have considerable force. Finely attuned to “important currents in South African thought,” Horowitz offered up an excruciatingly detailed analysis of South Africa’s constitutional options.

In A Democratic South Africa?: Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society (1991), Horowitz concluded that democracy is, in general, unusual in Africa, and, in particular, rare in ethnically and racially divided societies, where majorities and minorities are rigidly predetermined (also the dispensation presently being cultivated by craven American elites).

Prone to seeing faces in the clouds, the West, however, sees Sideshow Bob Mugabe’s epic villainy and Jacob Zuma’s confederacy of state-capturing knaves as nothing but a detail of history.

Lost in the din is the historically predictable pattern. Chaotic countries are hardly an anomaly in the annals of Africa south of the Sahara.

 

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly paleolibertarian column since 1999, and is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.

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