Saturday, April 09, 2016

The Global Spring?

Why people are drawn to candiates like Trump and Sanders who promise to radically change the system:

It’s still early in 2016 and already it’s been a banner year for stories about worldwide corruption (see: FIFA. Also see: Brazil). But these stories seem pretty piddling compared to what the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) just published[.]

These Panama Papers highlight massive corruption.

Laws are for the little people. People with power and money can get around the obstacles the laws put in place.

That's been my complaint for a long time. Restrict campaign contributions? Little people get nailed and the big fish set up the Clinton Foundation to Hoover up money from around the globe like a White House intern.

No doubt people are drawn to communists and clowns who rail against the system as practiced. Who can't be upset with this?

And this is a global reaction to elites gaming the system they made and enforce.

I'd rather have a nation of rule of laws that keep the laws at a minimum and enforce them against all. I don't think a clown or a communist can provide a solution to the problem they exploit.

Needless to say, a corrupt politician is no alternative if you are concerned about corruption by the elites.

We have a problem. For God's sake, have an actual solution and not just an angry reaction to the problem that rightly angers you.

Perhaps the Arab Spring was just the leading wave of people upset with the status quo that benefits elites at the expense of people. Note that those who turned to the Islamists who exploited the angry reaction to the problem got zero--or worse--for their choice.

Or maybe Europe is patient zero?

Is it older than that?

Is the post-Cold War era not an interim era of nothing defining it between a Cold War and a future era really an Age of Revolution that we have yet to fully define as it breaks out in different forms in different places?

We should keep our powder dry, is all I'm saying.

[In a pre-publication update, Austin Bay has thoughts on the Panama Papers and the "Age of Awkward Revelations." That name doesn't quite work for me, but it is surely a good start to the question raised by so many corrupt elites.]

UPDATE: The Arab Spring represented a failure of reality to match lofty hopes in a short period. But the hope is not dead:

In meetings with U.S. Congressional delegations this week, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi argued that "democracy is an ongoing process and cannot be realized overnight," elaborating that Egypt is committed to "striking the balance between enhancing security and stability and upholding rights and freedoms," according to a statement from his office.

The idea has a philosophical foundation: just as democracy is about more than elections and cannot allow an unbridled dictatorship of the majority, so must freedom not be allowed to become anarchy.

Critics dismiss such talk as self-serving, a conflating of criticism and sedition typical of elites trying to hang on to privilege. But the go-slow approach does find quiet defenders not only among the wealthy and connected who benefit, but also among educated people who simply don't fully trust the masses at the moment.

It is true that autocrats can use a "go slow" approach to extend their rule. But that doesn't mean the basic point isn't grounded in reality.

As I've long written here, both regarding Iraq and about the Arab Spring, democracy is more than voting. Democracy requires rule of law. Otherwise voting is just the tyranny of the majority.

Remember that our Electoral College is a remnant of fears of such a tyranny of the majority trampling rule of law.

I count it as hopeful that there is a growing recognition in the Arab world that democracy is better than autocracy or Islamist rule.

Remember, there was a time when people thought Latin Americans and Asians weren't suited to democracy and needed strongmen to rule them without disorder.

Arabs are like anyone else. They need institutions to support their hopes for democracy.