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If most Western liberal democracies have taken the view of von Clausewitz that wars are an extension of politics, rendering a military’s commanders subordinates to the civilian government, and that total war is an untenable military or political posture, then does that not render a conversion to full-on libertarian, Athenian direct democracy a geopolitical impossibility (short of majority-mandated nuclear hellfire)?

Of course, the libertarian response, and it’s as good one, would be that nation states would play a much smaller part in each others’ domestic affairs than they do now. But still assuming there has been a full return to direct democracy (my conceit here is the assumption that the advancement of libertarian ideals would involve the overhaul of representative democracy/republicanism), then I highly doubt that there would be no highly influential, highly populous voting demographics in the U.S., much less any other nuclear-equipped nation, that won’t harbor a knee-jerk, button-press approach to foreign affairs. In that sense, libertarianism then faces the same problem Marxist-Leninism did: the justification that communism cannot work unless the entire world is communist.

Republican Spain had a democratic army. George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia speaks of it positively, primarily for the fact that it worked as well as it did, but of course we all know how well it panned out for Republican Spain.

This is all pure speculation.


“Periods of transition are always periods of mismanagement; thus the predominant demand of the time was for efficiency. Acutely conscious of the prevailing insecurity, that small section of the populace which exercised its influence was in general prepared to accept any government which could guarantee peace and order.”

“Few men are so disinterested as to prefer to live in discomfort under a government which they hold to be right rather than live in comfort under one which they hold to be wrong.”

– C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War (pg. 19)

In the past two or three years I’ve grown increasingly skeptical– or simply cautious– of the distinctly modern worldview that views liberal democracy as the best recourse for effective governance the world over. Of course, this was a keystone in the now largely defunct Neoconservative philosophy for foreign affairs, but in another way it seems to have become part of the First World Left’s philosophy (only as much as the First World Left can be said to have a coherent philosophy, which is mostly does not anymore) as well.

The usual example cited in your run-of-the-mill Tyranny of the Majority criticisms of democratic systems is the one of the Nazi Party being democratically elected to office. The important part to remember about the Nazis’ ascension is that the citizenry of Germany had been suffering under the ineptitude and crippled nature of the Weimar Republic ever since the end of the First World War. To say they hungered for efficiency is most likely an understatement– and of course the Nazis marketed themselves as “National Socialists,” socialism being the Platonic image of efficient governance at the time (Market liberalism was not exactly in the hottest of states in the 1930s, was it?) Of course, I am not condoning the Nazi Party or any of their philosophies, but simply look at it from a Machiavellian viewpoint (something more intelligent people should be doing about more issues more often): For much of the 1930s provided one fit the ethnic, social and political criteria for Nazi affiliation, life in Germany was relatively good.

In Turkey, multiple presidents have been deposed by a largely independent military for attempting to betray the constitution of the Turkish state, in particular the clause establishing secular rule. As journalist and author Robert Kaplan describes in his book Eastward to Tartary, the majority of commissioned officers in the Turkish military are progeny of an established intellectual class: committed to democratic ideals, but even more committed to the preservation of secularism. And a majority of Turks support these somewhat systematic coup de’tat moves. Really, can you blame them? I’ve found that I cannot. After all, we’ve seen the effectiveness of theocracies in providing their subjects a stable, prosperous quality of life in the Taiping Rebellion and the reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan, not to mention most all of Mesopotamia’s history since Hulagu Khan’s sacking of Baghdad in the 13th Century.

After all, aren’t all governments founded on violence either explicit or implicit? Social contracts are well and good, and I don’t say that sarcastically, but look at it practically: what is a law in its rawest form other than a promise of implied violence attached to a self-evident moral code of culture in which it is established? Again, that’s not to say that laws are ludicrous– I’m more or less through with anarchism– but is it not important to attempt to see things as they really are? (“Reality” is the providence of journalists, “truth” that of philosophers)

There are already books out that imply that the system which governs a polity is more attached to that state’s cultural and physical geography more than impersonal international political philosophies (Neo-Marxists are you listening?) With things going the way they are, I figure more books are on the way.

This is all pure speculation.

Postmodernism claimed: “[Given that you can liberate from the real by ensuring yourself a good supply of everything you need] the real isn’t real, it’s just something we make up”, then quietly forgot the section in brackets.” – Mike John Harrison, Uncle Zip’s Window

This is quoted from an email I received this morning:


    March 21, 2007 • SPECIAL EDITION


    • 94% vote to support a strike; voter turnout is 81%; bargaining
crisis inspires 1,300 new members to join the union

    Any lingering questions about the solidarity and resolve of the
California State University faculty were answered resoundingly Wednesday
by the results of the first strike vote in the history of the California
Faculty Association.

    A stunning 94% of the voters agreed that the CSU’s professors,
lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches should initiate rolling
walkouts if the CSU administration continues to reject bringing their
salaries in line with their peers across the country.

    More than 8,000 voters—an extraordinary 81% of the CFA
membership—turned out to send an unmistakable message to Chancellor
Charles B. Reed.

    Here’s how CFA President John Travis summarized that message: “Faculty
don’t want to strike, we want to teach. But in my 30 years at the CSU I’ve
never seen us more united. Faculty members are taking a stand and it
starts with insisting that the chancellor make us an equitable salary
offer. We won’t settle for less.”

    The pro-strike-authorization numbers rang across all 23 CFA chapters.
On only one campus was the vote in favor of striking as low as 79%.

    An equally telling number is the 1,300 faculty who have been moved to
join CFA during the recent months of the bargaining crisis and impasse.
Taken together, the landslide strike authorization and the union’s growing
ranks leave no doubt that faculty have the capacity to shut down the
university if an agreement cannot be reached, and reached quickly, said
CFA Vice President Lillian Taiz.

    “There will be hundreds of faculty and supporters from other unions on
the picket lines,” predicted Taiz, a leader of CFA’s field operations,
“and we think they will be joined by students and staff who are as fed up
as we are.”

    • Chancellor Reed blasted at Capitol hearing

    There was great symmetry in Wednesday morning’s historic events. Even
as Travis, Taiz and other CFA leaders were announcing the League of Women
Voters-certified strike-vote totals at Dominguez Hills, Charlie Reed was
getting grilled at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

    At a special hearing of the Senate Education Committee’s subcommittee
on the budget, legislators pressed Reed about his scandalous “Executive
Transition Program” handouts to CSU executives, and the chancellor
struggled with evasive and incoherent responses.

    But when the hearing ended, Reed got no relief: he was immediately
encircled by scores of reporters insisting on his reactions to the strike
announcement just issued in Southern California. The San Francisco
Chronicle called it a “one-two punch.”

    A sampling of the media coverage of today’s historic developments can
be viewed at

    CFA’s news release about the strike vote is at

    Clearly, Reed’s policies and style have united CSU faculty as never

    • CFA Board votes to implement rolling strikes on all 23 CSU campuses
as 10-day “quiet period” ends

    On Wednesday evening the CFA Board of Directors met and, by unanimous
vote, made it official, turning the strike authorization into a strike
plan with teeth.

    The Board empowered the CFA officers and Field Team (who organized the
strike vote) to make a final decision on which days and which campuses
will begin the two-day walkouts in the initial round of job actions. Out
of necessity, planning has been under way for months.

    The first walkouts are expected in April but may occur sooner. Once
the fact-finder’s recommendations are made public this Sunday, at the
conclusion of the 10-day “quiet period” mandated by state law, the faculty
are legally entitled to undertake job actions—to go on strike.

    The expectation is that Chancellor Reed will ignore the
recommendations of the fact-finding report and quite possibly attempt to
unilaterally impose working conditions on the faculty.
If he does either, a strike will begin shortly thereafter."

A polyglot public letter writer in Ho Chi Minh City bridges different worlds — connecting people across the planet with his fountain pen. His profession may be dying, but in his 60 years on the job, he has created many marriages.

It’s interesting to see how with all our talk about the slow advent of post-literate society, there are still pre-literate “vestiges” out there. Vestiges in this case would mean “most of the world” but when doesn’t it anymore?

“And in a single breath this world is gone.” – New Order

“Architecture is frozen music.” – Random anonymous reviewer on a random pop music review website

The Temple of Heaven is a quintessential Beijing Landmark-site. A squarely symmetrical, sprawling construct of wood, stone and marble all painted, carved and hewn into a man-made landscape that outlives the empires that built and maintained them.

Vivid restored dragons of hundred-year-old lumber gaze glassily out from their secure wall mounts at the crowds of wheezing foreigners crowding the pavilion. They are parsed out along vague lines linguistic and ethnic demarcations. It makes it much easier for the chartered tour guides to know which language to dictate through their headsets and belt-mounted amplifiers. So dehydrated Westerners slouch in place in the Beijing sun in pursuit of the slim red nylon battle standards that guide them across a couple hundred years of vacuum-sealed history.

Between the broad figures of the Minnesotan family, I spy two sweat-streaked Vietnamese kids in tiny soccer jerseys staring at our overweight, out-of-shape procession from across the impossible distance of the pavilion.

Gary, our masterful tour-guide, a graduate and repository of Middle Kingdom history and survivor of the tail-end of the Cultural Revolution, informs us through his mic that the Temple was constructed without a single metal nail in its foundations.

Streetside outside a new commercial concession mall (with magnificent air conditioning). Despite the pounding afternoon heat, four old grandpas squat on vulcanized rubber stools and play xiangqi. It’s a game designed almost specifically for streetside or park-front game sessions. They are quick round– the leapfrog whirlwind moves of the cannons and the paranoid right-angled hurtling back-and-forth of the rooks see to that.

They, the players, hurtle to and through from quiet intensity of purpose in ignorance of the roaring street traffic and guttural cicadas only to burst into explosive combustion of pressure relieved as the big wood block pieces are shuffled by gnarled long-fingered hands to start anew. Places on the rubber benches are switched and swigs are taken from transparent bottles foggy with condensation and ages of teabags. The game starts anew with new players.

They’re as thin as Olympic swimmers under the damp white undershirts they reach underneath to scratch.

– California 2007

Yes, congratulations!! You’re the person of the year plucky industrious threadbare Bangladeshi youth fighting over Unicef water bottles in the alleys, picking through landfill and being sold into Thai sex slavery without having ever seen a computer in your life except perhaps upon the peeling canvas of a streetside billboard!! Your contributions to Web 2.0 new standards such as YouTube, Facebook, and your Myspace have allowed you to join the”many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”!

The other weblog.

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