Why is authoritarianism on the rise?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit from it:

You can scold the sympathizers for their naivete or illiberal tendencies, but there is a deeper truth. Individuals have a mimetic desire to copy or praise or affiliate what is perceived as successful, and a lot of our metrics of success have to do with power rather than freedom or prosperity. So if there is a powerful system on the world stage, many of us will be drawn to it and seek to emulate it, without always being conscious of the reasons for those attractions.

This process is actually not so different from how neoliberalism attracted greater support during the 1990s, when it was perceived as the major victor on the world stage. We neoliberals liked to think that the rest of the world “finally saw the light,” but a more sober retrospective assessment is that much of the popularity boom of neoliberalism was temporary, to be wiped out by status-lowering developments, including the financial crisis and slower real wage growth.

These chains of ideological influence can be remarkably indirect. For instance, it is commonly believed that the collapse of Soviet communism led to a softening of positions within the Irish Republican Army. It’s not that anyone ever expected the Soviets to intervene in the Irish conflict, but rather a role model of resistance had been taken away, and this ultimately made the peace process easier.

There is much more at the link, none of it especially cheery.  By the way, I hope you know better than to read the piece as recommending authoritarian economic policy — stay awake!


Faceless bureaucracies have been failing citizens of the western world for decades. Love Girard, but I don't think the theory of memetic desire is needed to explain the shift away from that mode of governance.

Poor governance. I really think we need a technocratic left-wing party instead of a left-wing interested mainly in culture war and dolloping on additional programs / spending.

Jerry Brown/Gavin Newsome might be role models of this.

Yes, they give SJW the proper due, but they also think government should kinda work and be financially solvent at some inherent level.

Would be interested to hear how you uniquely are able to know the evil intents of all liberals and why you failed to balance that with your knowledge of the evil intents of the Right.

I think the right can't do it.

Agreed. Gavin Newsom is the Dems' best hope for regaining the presidency, but he may need a few years in a higher profile job, might not be ready for 2020. But if anything has been learned in 2016, it's no one knows what to expect.

For example, the wild card for the Dems is Oprah Winfrey, who would win in a landslide and has said with Trump's win proving anyone can do it, she might.

Sent that money order to Prof. Cowen to pass along to a poor GMU student yet?

Dafuq? Usually your bitchiness has at least a tiny connection to what you reply to.

The Democrats actually have policy wonks, and most of the time the correct procedure is to ignore the SJWs, and concentrate on the wonks instead.

Had the Republicans been able to do that, they might have remained moored to policy, and governance, themselves.

"Had the Republicans been able to do that, they might have remained moored to policy, and governance, themselves."

Agreed, instead they'll have to console themselves with the Presidency, both Houses of Congress and a majority of state legislatures. Thanks Obama!

Kinda the point, right? In "control" but now at war with themselves.

Apparently they can't let go of the Ryan-care tarbaby.

Jerry Brown? How's that working out for California? No thanks.

Where I live a 4% unemployment rate and a home construction boom. Ymmv.

And a budget surplus

Generally speaking, "authoritarianism" is a dysphemism for the Wrong People winning democratically.

Thus Yeltsin calling in an artillery strike on the Russian legislature was "democratic," but Poland's social conservatives winning an outright majority in the recent election is "authoritarian."


The story since 2000 at the latest has been the massive comprehensive failure of the elites. The voters are looking for an alternative. The elites are trying to disqualify the voters.

The only real question is whether the elites will go into the dustbin of history peacefully or whether there will be bloodshed.

The talk of "the elites" is too fluffy. You can assign anyone you don't like as "the elites" to discredit them without having to offer any real argument.

Good point. That Trump and his cabinet are the epitome of "elites" is a very easy argument to make.

He ran on a populist platform. Also, liberals and elite conservatives control every institution: academia, big business, the bureaucracy. Trump is indeed elite, but his policy positions have been nothing but.

"Trump is indeed elite, but his policy positions have been nothing but."

With the exception of immigration policy, most of Trump's substantive policy proposals (for instance, on health care or corporate taxation) have been comfortably within the elite Republican mainstream.

The talk of "authoritarianism on the rise" is too fluffy. You can assign anyone you don't like as "authoritarian" to discredit them without having to offer any real argument.

At least "authoritarianism" means something. Is Hilary Clinton elite while Trump is not? Is Angela Merkel elite but not Xi Jinping?

"Is Trump authoritarian while Hillary is not?", and just as you would say "Yes", I could answer your question by saying that Hillary, Angela and Xi are elite.

So yes, I don't find the word "authoritarianism" any more meaningful than "elite". It will seem so when you are on one side of the debate.

social network analysis. Hil-dog is in. Trump is out. It isn't tricky.

I disagree. The failure of the elites is so comprehensive. The political elites have dug themselves into a hole and can't get out - especially with immigration. The schools are failing. Universities are being handed over to mini-Red Guards. Scientists believe nonsense and insist angrily that you are a Nazi if you do not agree with them. The Defense industry can't build a plane on time and remotely close to budget. Even the stalwarts of Capitalism - the auto industry and the banks for instance - cannot survive because of the incompetence of its management.

Everyone knows that the people who think they are the best are actually mediocre. They are looking for alternatives.

Please cite your claims. They appear to be fictional.

The banks and the auto industry are surviving satisfactorily. The education system is a mess. It was a mess a generation ago. The crybullies are repulsive, but they're not altogether novel. They'd evaporate quite quickly if they were ever held accountable for anything by the dean of students. The question at hand is whether they will be after certain age cohorts in college administration do the world a favor and shuffle off into retirement. As we speak, Gen-X has a majority of the tenured faculty and hasn't been repairing much of anything.

Citations for "universities being handed over to Red Guards":


They are looking for alternatives.


What "the people" you refer to want is the society and economy of the 1950s back. What they're too proud, self-righteous, and obstinate to understand is that that society and that economy were an anomalous product of a very specific set of historical circumstances which are impossible to duplicate today.

You and Art Deco could round up, torture, and execute every single immigrant, social worker, teacher, college professor, lawyer, humanities major, and MBA in the country, and it wouldn't do a fucking thing to improve the economic lot of the median Trump voter.

You and Art Deco could round up, torture, and execute every single immigrant, social worker, teacher, college professor, lawyer, humanities major, and MBA in the country, and it wouldn’t do a fucking thing to improve the economic lot of the median Trump voter.

Liberals are unhinged. Anyway, taking each in turn:

Immigrants - land becomes cheaper, wages higher.
Social worker - fewer members of public employee unions agitating for their own raison d'etre.
Teacher - see, social worker
College professor - a truly toxic class subsisting off one of the biggest Fed-enabled bubbles in history
Lawyer - the drag of the tort and comp systems on the economy are immense. You are paying a large tax you don't know about.
Humanities major - you have a point here. Who would serve me coffee?
MBA - spends other people's money. The executive suites can go back to the guys who worked themselves up from production.


Proving that doing all that would help your average Trump voter is a easily provable mathematical question. Whether it would recreate 1950 is an entirely different question, but it would be closer to 1950 then today.

Similarly, we may not be able to recreate cultural norms of the 1950s which would be beneficial to the average Trump voter, but if we actually tried we would likely get part of the way.

Your solution, that they should all die off because they are deplorables, is being rejected.

Your solution, that they should all die off because they are deplorables, is being rejected.

That's not my solution.

You and Art Deco could round up, torture, and execute every single immigrant, social worker, teacher, college professor, lawyer, humanities major, and MBA in the country, and it wouldn’t do a fucking thing to improve the economic lot of the median Trump voter.

1. Reducing immigration disrupts the efforts the Democratic Party and the Chamber of Commerce to sideline ordinary wage-earners by packing the meeting. It also acts to tighten the labor market for low-skill service positions.

2. Social work is a pseudo-profession properly dismantled. Child protective services can be run by a mix of sheriff's deputies, psychologists, and public health nurses. Low grade counseling and therapy can be the work of psychologists with professional master's degrees. Public agencies can be run by people with training in public and philanthropic administration. The liaison functions undertaken by hospital and nursing home social workers can be performed by employees trained on the job (with physical therapists and nurses doing the real evaluations). Schools of social work, which are lobbies for leftoid politics, can be shut down. The benefits of the foregoing do not accrue to ordinary wage-earners specifically, other than marginally reducing the nuisances to which they're subject.

3. Teaching is an actual profession. Teachers' colleges are commonly great collecting pools of humbug. Organize applicant pools for primary and secondary teachers with a system of examinations, end any requirement that schools hire people with teaching certificates, shutter existing teachers' colleges, and mandate via state legislation a set of revised certification programs which feature a modest menu of methods courses, internships, and stipended apprenticeships. The benefits of doing this are not specific to ordinary wage-earners, but to anyone who wishes to disrupt the efforts of NCATE and teacher-training faculties to propagandize aspirant teachers and pupils and screen out the intelligent.

4. Law schools are a big scam. The legal profession as is can be staffed by licensing about 26,000 new attorneys annually. As of now, 49,000 law degrees are issued every year. Rank-and-file lawyers are not much of a problem. The law professoriate, the appellate judiciary, BigLaw attorneys, the plaintiff personal injury bar, and unscrupulous prosecutors and their judicial enablers are a problem. And, yes, one of their targets would be ordinary rank-and-file Americans who have their ordinary day-to-day discretion taken away from them in a mixture of aggression, status-seeking, and rent-extraction.

4. Not sure what sort of issue any of us is supposed to have with people with business degrees or humanities degrees. Getting a humanities degree in this day and age is generally a waste of time and much of what is taught in the humanities division will be dreck. People who've done foolish things are properly counseled about doing better things going forward; no need to rub their nose in anything. People drawing a salary making marks of others are properly fired.

Another time, another place, you may be able to do something other than sneering at caricatures of your own creation. Not yet.

Apparently paying higher wages, i.e. making a production factor more scarce than it is now, is bad for the economy ( (e.g.:when people talk about paying a living wage) unless the idea can be used as a stick to hit "Brown" people. It makes clear exactly what the agenda is, and it hardly is "helping Trump's ( anyone's) voters"

@ y81. We found no mention of the 'Red Guard' in these articles. Citation still needed.

Art Deco: Reducing immigration disrupts the efforts the Democratic Party and the Chamber of Commerce to sideline ordinary wage-earners by packing the meeting. It also acts to tighten the labor market for low-skill service positions. [...]

"Ordinary wage-earner" != median Trump voter

This is a gratuitous assertion. You're only asserting this so you can willy-nilly dismiss facts and arguments that make you sad. Yes. the term "elites" may lack precision, but that does effect its utility as a label.

You can assign anyone you don’t like as “the elites” to discredit them without having to offer any real argument.

No, you can't. Elites govern things of institutional importance. You can quibble over boundary conditions. College crybullies are not elite. The university presidents they're working for are. Lloyd Blankfein is elite. The President of the community bank where I have an account is so only in a limited geographic ambo.

So you wouldn't call, say, Garth Brooks, elite, because he isn't the head of an institution?

Do you not think that having a lot of influence or cash can make a person elite?

I don't have Garth Brooks in mind, no. I haven't a clue what kind of influence he has over anything bar who works for Garth Brooks. It's possible he can get calls returned from people who do not work for him that Mike Brooks, restaruateur in suburban Nashville, could not get returned.

Now, you can repurpose the term 'elite' to refer to other things. There are performance 'elites' - and professors and physicians are among them - who are not among the world's influential people. There are people of great wealth who can afford things, but they cannot get a traffic ticket fixed. They're 'elite' in the sense of being in an unusual and desirable state, but not in any other sense.

Good point. And moreover if you criticize the elites too well you may find yourself in the elite pf the anti-elites crowd, and thus finish as well in the dustbin of history...

Though interestingly the US election of Trump is clearly a "status lowering development" in the eyes of the world population, particularly among the countries that tend to emulate us.

You are confusing your prejudices, and those of the sort of people overseas who listen to CNN and the BBC, with the views of the majority of the world's population. Margaret Thatcher remains hugely popular overseas because she was effective. If Trump is too, then despite the complaints of the Left, he will be admired too.

So far Trump appears strangely popular in countries like India and China.

I think you and those who read Breitbart and watch Fox are confusing your prejudices. Clearly literally everyone in the world except those groups thinks Trumpster Fire is a mess. Despite the claims of the Right, people in India, China, Africa, Europe, and most of America think he's not good (oh wait, there's polls for the last one).

-Analysis is easy when you can make things up!

'You are confusing your prejudices, and those of the sort of people overseas who listen to CNN and the BBC, with the views of the majority of the world’s population.'

Neither the French nor the Germans listen to CNN or the BBC, and though neither nation represents the majority of the world's population, both together do actually represent a fair amount of the world's economic output - and in both countries, Trump as president is clearly not seen as being something considered on the plus side of the American ledger.

The perjorative use of "elite" is the same sort of thing Sailer refers to: it is shorthand for "prominent person I dislike." Newt Gingrich used to like to rail against "elites." That is, a famous multimillionaire with a Ph.D. and experience at the highest levels of government was casting aspersions on his social and economic equals.

Watch out for word redefinition that suddenly arise, especially as weak defense.

I am pretty sure MR has talked about Asian success and authoritarianism before. Years ago. Probably with respect to Singapore. Yup ..


Perhaps it's because of the thinly veiled genocide advocacy of these "Wrong People."

Literally Hitler!

Liberals live in this permanent loop of 1939 to 1968.

Perhaps you'd like to explain for Steve how he's going to get his white ethnostate without killing the sizable non-white population of the country.

Perhaps you might learn to characterize someone else's views so they're recognizable and you don't libel them.

Art, you literally spend all of your time suggesting you know what the 'Left' is thinking. Stop crying foul when someone does it to your side, or stop doing it yourself. Literally less than 10 posts up this page, you make the following old claim.

"Reducing immigration disrupts the efforts the Democratic Party and the Chamber of Commerce to sideline ordinary wage-earners by packing the meeting. It also acts to tighten the labor market for low-skill service positions."

You tired old hypocrite.

That's his most odious and obvious failing, the sheer hypocrisy. Oh look at these messed up Dem politicians, ignore the Rep ones. Oh how these posters libel my side, ignore my constant libel of theirs. Oh how the childless societies are doomed, ignore my own childlessness. It's why Art is a clown and we enjoy teasing him. It's also why he never responds to my digs, he knows I've got his number.

Art, you literally spend all of your time suggesting you know what the ‘Left’ is thinking.

Yet another stalker / sock-puppet. I'm losing track of all the names Tabarrok's interns use.

And, no, I do not 'literally' spend all (or much) of my time doing that. If leftoids do not want me to know what they're thinking, they could be quiet for a time. My Facebook feed would certainly look different if the partisan Democrats among our circle of friends were as circumspect as the Republicans.

"Liberals live in this permanent loop of 1939 to 1968."

Do you have any basis for this fact, or are we just straw manning because it's the internet and we don't have to be polite?

The higher education / corporate HR 'diversity / institutional racism' shtick is a nice large glob of evidence.

Every Team Blue argument boils down to "Hitler" or "slavery/Jim Crow" within about one minute. It is an incredibly backwards-looking worldview. It's also strangely static, again, as if the only consequential events in human history were Hitler's election as Chancellor and Dr. King's assassination. Conservative white people are going to be stockpiling the Zyklon-B and breaking out the bullwhips to make Morgan Freeman pick their cotton if we don't open the southern border and make bakers cater gay weddings.

I think Team Blue gets a literal frisson from it, like when they read Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or The Handmaid's Tale. I'm guessing you own both.

LOL A-G. Every Team Red argument boils down to Stalin and Pol Pot in the same amount of time. Have some self-awareness.

Perhaps people would be more inclined to believe conservatives if they weren't arguing for imprisoning gay people just a few years ago and now claim that it was never their position, while also providing financial support to mass murderers in the developing world.


That aside, you read the reports of Freedom House, and you realize that their rating scale is somewhat protean over time and also that they tend to ignore abuses that advance the viewpoint of the occidental chatterati. Efforts to suppress dissent in Sweden, the Netherlands, France, and Canada have no effect on the ratings these countries receive from Freedom House and their 2016 report walks right up to the line of endorsing the legal harassment of Geert Wilders. What's depressing about this is that Freedom House is the only notable NGO of its type that isn't fraudulent by default. (shAmnesty International once listed Wesley Cook, aka 'Mumia Abu Jamal' as a 'prisoner of conscience').

When one "side" is more in favour of telling other people how to live their lives (e.g., want police to drag people away and throw them in prison, the ultimately theft of liberty, for enjoy just freedoms as what to put in MY body or which consenting adults to do exceedingly natural things with) ...

... I dunno, I think that legitimizes it.

You get up in arms about a 20c soda tax. Other get up in arms when the "other side" wants 5 years hard prison time, not a 20 c tax, to deter the thing that they do not approve of.

Which of those are more authoritarian?

Anyways, I sort of get your point. But the way you say it, you could only be preaching to the choir.

"Tolerate of everything but intolerance". Damn straight. Intolerant of intolerance. Or what, should I be a complete retard?

If you have medical insurance or are a government dependent, your self-destructive personal habits become other people's business. This is the argument for a night watchman-State that just maintains the civil order and national defense but otherwise leaves people to succeed or fail on their own.

And if I can't have that, then I want my tribe in charge.

Genuinely curious because I'm not sure I get your point: would you be in favor of not allowing people who use public health insurance to drink soda?

You have to balance compliance costs, return, etc. I don't think there's a realistic way to keep people from drinking soda.

If you start throwing people in prison for drinking soda, I bet they will stop.

Until these criminals turn to underground markets to get their refined sugar fix through liquid forms - perhaps even injection!.

One angle on that is the enormous public savings from needle exchanges, which also provide an avenue towards addictions counselling.

I can understand that a medical insurer would want to know if you smoke tobacco. But for the other cases, you'd have to present convincing evidence. And at leases some substances have evidence pointing rather in the other direction.

One example of the government looking at a risk analysis to weight things in consideration of access to medical insurance relates to ATV drivers. The additional danger involved justifies efforts to require licenses and insurance. But the ATV drivers see this as an attack on their freedom.

As for how insurers act about such risks, many emergency-only packages have limitations including if the area you were walking in could be defined as a "hiking" area, whereby many casual seaside walks could be deemed too dangerous to be insurable for basic coverage. I mention this as an example of how maybe the companies will just look for any excuse to charge an additional premium or evade a liability.

Steve, Here's the difference...an authoritarian country believes it can refuse to follow a policy unilaterally, even when it has previously agreed voluntarily to follow the majority position of a group it belongs to. A democratic country accepts the majority position because it believes in honoring agreements voluntarily entered into.

What do you call it when a democratic majority votes down a previously-followed policy, democratic authoritarianism?

Well, points for an original definition of "democratic."

By your definition, czarist Russia in the 1820s was democratic because it abided by its agreement with its fellow monarchies in the Holy Alliance.

Are you being obtuse? The EU votes democratically, meaning majority rule, on all sorts of issues and policies. Poland is trying to avoid following a policy it doesn't like unilaterally. Poland can leave the EU, of course, but it can't unilaterally decide which policies it will follow. That would render the union concept useless. Is that hard to understand?

When a country comes under authoritarian rule or becomes overly nationalistic, it often refuses to honor previous agreements it doesn't like. That's because it doesn't value democracy or rule of law. It is a fair point to focus on instances when countries act anti-democratically.

I think there's a meaningful distinction here that's not just about deciding which team to root for. The society that has made the biggest strides in the last couple decades is China, an authoritarian regime that looks to be pretty competently run. Previously, the authoritarian regime in China was such a disaster that most people had little interest in copying it (like North Korea today). Similarly, Singapore is a very rich and successful society that owes that success to an amazingly talented authoritarian leader. If you're a medium-income country looking for role models, it's not a shock that authoritarianism in the style of China looks pretty appealing--it's demonstrably working out pretty well.

Contrast this with the scene 30 years ago, where the authoritarian leaders everyone could see were the USSR (gulags, long lines to buy necessities, and a bleak concrete version of socialist prosperity), China (the cultural revolution, the great leap forward, and mountains of starved and murdered people), and on the right, places like Indonesia, Spain, and Chile--perhaps not as bad as being ruled by the Khmer Rouge, but still lots of torture chambers and mass graves.

There wasn't much political violence in Spain after 1940 or in Indonesia after 1966. There was hardly any lethal violence in Chile after 1977 and not a great deal after 1973.

well, there's certainly no clear explanation of "Authoritarianism's Allure" in referenced article, mostly meandering prose

"mimetic desire" theory is complete nonsense and psycho-babble

humans are tribal creatures, which simply explains much of authoritarianism's prevalence

i'd also add that grand liberal projects like the EU have mostly failed in delivering its promises

A lot of it had to do with reducing social issues that could have been caused by large movements of labour.

So, try to build up the economy on the periphery, for example, so in the long run French and Brits do not have to deal with (insert propaganda and/or truths about Eastern European here - major headaches trying to find my words here).

My sense (an an outsider) is that the EU has accomplished a lot of worthwhile goals, but has had to override a lot of popular political sentiment to do so. And over time, that got to be a habit, and they got used to steamrollering countries over the objection of their people. That wasn't actually sustainable in an EU made up of democratic countries. The debt crisis and the migrant crisis both look, to me (as a not-that-informed outsider reading the news) to have been very poorly handled, in ways that ignored a lot of popular anger and upset, and that led to Brexit and may end up breaking up the EU.

Whatever you are convinced is the best policy, you can't implement it when the public to whom you ultimately answer is massively opposed to it. Nor is it a good idea to steamroller popular opposition and cram stuff the public hates through, because you have the ability to do so. That stuff comes back to bite you.

That opposition made impossible the sort of measures that would have prevented the very same problems that piss off certain groups at present.

Namely, if it had been possible to allocate resources towards the external border force, or even a small professional rapid response force, this would have been consistent with almost certainly having a better response to the refugee flows originating from the extremely deadly war raging on on the other side of Turkey. I assume that "better response" would also have been something that would have worked out better for people who resent hosting refugees (to the extent of seeing it as something propaganda claiming it as a civilizational risk to provide refuge for SOME of those who flee war).

'i’d also add that grand liberal projects like the EU have mostly failed in delivering its promises'

Yep, the last decades of non-stop intra-European warfare certainly demonstrate the EU's failure to deliver on its overriding promise.

In an alternatively factual world, of course.

I like how we fought two world wars to keep Germany from economically dominating the Continent and making unilateral policy choices for everybody else, only to have Germany economically dominate the Continent and decide that whoever makes it to Germany from the Middle East or North Africa gets to be European for everybody else.

Next time the Germans have a temper tantrum, I vote we tell France and Britain they're on their own.

The USA entered WWII only after being attacked by Japan 2 years after the start. Self interest is big in USA.

The Soviets were " a role model of resistance"?

Yes, chuck, it is a hilarious theory. I think Tyler only shared this to sound interesting. I doubt he would vouch for it.

Have you been watching The Americans? Continuing on in the face of food shortages, limits on speech and even a widespread knowledge among the populace that the liberal West was kicking communism's ass in just about every way is certainly a kind of resistance!

What next, will you be citing "The West Wing"?

A fiction TV show written 40 years after the time period by people who were children during the period presented must be true in all respects.

I wasn't "citing it" as proof of those this. Ha!

A role model in the sense that they paid for it.

All these resistance movements died because they weren't being funded by the Soviets.

>The Soviets were ” a role model of resistance”?

Che is on T-shirts. That's good enough for Tyler!!

Yes, the Soviets were a role model for less developed countries (LDCs) after WW2. For short, 3rd world countries leaders wanted to replicate the authoritarian political structure of the USSR at home.

"During 30 years of US-Soviet competition for influence among LDCs, the Soviets have enjoyed several advantages:

- The US has been linked to the colonial policies of its West European allies, whereas most LDCs have had no experience with the USSR as colonial power
- The centralized, authoritarian political structure of the USSR is widely seen as a more suitable model by the many LDC leaders who consider democracy and unaffordable luxury.
- The USSR delivers arms to LDCs faster, and appears to attach fewer strings to them than does the US.
- Soviet leaders are much less constrained by parliamentary and public opinion than US leaders are, and thus are freer to use armed force to support the USSR's clients."


Assess Castro's Cuba under this perspective. Authoritarian? Check. Call the US a colonial empire? Check. Launch military interventions overseas without congress/parliament opposition? Congo, Bolivia, Yom Kippur, Angola, Grenada.....

It's a shitty role model, but a role model anyway.

Against capitalism, espeically Anglo and French mercantalist empires (and then also the USA after).

It makes sense when you read about it in philosophical works, say, from the 1920s.

It's the practice of actually just killing lots of people in the process that makes it seem like mostly bad ideas.

But it's also the fact that the Communist countries weren't actually successful that drove nails in the coffin. Western Europe did a lot better than Eastern Europe, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore did a lot better than China, South Korea did a lot better than North Korea, etc. You want to copy the guys who are doing well, not the guys who are doing poorly. Even if you don't care all that much about democracy or individual liberty, you probably don't want your people going hungry, and you don't want to need to keep an army of secret police and gulags going 24/7 to keep a lid on discontent.

If you do a "friends of USA" variable in the empirical analysis, most of the presumed benefits disappear.

There are strong arguments in favour of how markets can be extremely beneficial in allocational efficiency when some restrictions are enforced, but the type of analysis that enables the claims you make tends to rely on methods where it's not reasonable to refuse to at least check "friends of USA" as a variable.

So another angle to arguing the case is needed.

And due to the strong role of the ministries of industry working together with industrial leaders (family dynasties of various types), it is easy to claim that the "East Asian Tigers" are not an example of success of either democracy OR markets. However, the democratic aspects and market aspects that existed, almost certainly provided an advantage for them relative to not having them at all.

Don't think I buy this. A lot of the non-aligned movement bought into crappy policies, but even within the movement, Thailand presumably had better policies than India and performed better economically.

Within Europe, Sweden, Finland, Austria, and Switzerland were non-NATO nations, and Yugoslavia was a non-Warsaw Pact nation. I believe most of those non-NATO nations fare better than Turkey or Greece, who definitely fall in the "Friends of America" camp.

The Soviets provided essential logistical and financial, not to say military, support to many alleged revolutionary movements and individuals. Sometimes openly and at other times via proxies. It is well known that they paid Castro in money and goods to be their conduit.

It's pleasing to see the US defying the trend toward authoritarianism and electing an administration that thus far has been intent upon rolling back federal regulation and devolving power to the states. It would have been quite a different story had the other candidate won and the First Amendment been subjected to revision.

You are correct. If Trump had been a real populist authoritarian he would have been lavishing gifts on the white working class, rather than sewing the seeds of destruction by taking away.

By removing independent powers of third parties within the state, Trump is less towards authoritarianism?

Also, the sky is below.

"By removing independent powers of third parties within the state..."

You're going to have to un-distort what you're saying a little bit back toward fact for me to understand what you're referring to, but it's apparent that you're describing some other sort of reduction in state power as "authoritarian."

When I think of "authoritarian", I generally think of a single figure having most of the power.

An autocrat removing authorities of other actors in the state does would be a move to more autocracy, and not less, under the assumption that the autocrat who removes those powers expects to ultimately have more influence over those things by having removed that other authority.

So what's basically happening in many cases, is that the president is removing authorities which were in fact the responsibility of Congress. So you could say this is the (elected) autocrat removing the powers of the representative body (Congress).

I think you would need very extensive knowledge of the different areas involved to evaluate whether things are more or less autocratic by virtue of removing other powers, in the present situation. And I get your argument, that there will be cases where simply removing some state powers will make things "less authoritarian overall".

But from the perspective of what the big man is doing, removing the power of others is the same as him having relatively more power. Which leads me to see this as "very likely more in the direction of autocracy".

Views of things being more free by getting rid of the department of education and encouraging charter schools, for example, are contingent on outputs which remain debated.

Will parents in fact be more free, and children more free, and less constrained by the "authoritarianism" associated with governmental management of education, under what he proposes? Because if the answer is "uh ... I hope so, but really not sure, and really maybe not", then the main observation is a president removing the power of others, which to me comes across as a relative centralization of his own influence.

But probably he's just looking for ways to buy more nukes without pissing off people who might vote for him. Which means groups that wouldn't vote for him anyways might be deemed as expendable.

Is this sarcastic?

Medical marijuana, police reforms, etc?

I get that he's not consolidating federal power as compared to a hypothetical HC presidency, but he's still consolidating power...

TC is spinning increasing fanciful theories that are so removed from reality that they cannot be verified.

The term you're looking for is "not even wrong."

Not so many years ago it was conventional knowledge that China had taken a lesson from Singapore (contra "free to choose") that you can open for business without embracing democracy.

So Tyler's essay is conventional too.

It doesn't dig at Singapore though, because Tyler likes Singapore, and has possibly been part of the movement in that sense.

But as I say, authoritarianism isn't really enough. You need a supporting technocracy. You can't just assign every problem to a family member, and ask them to learn on the job.

"Singapore, China, and the "Soft Authoritarian" Challenge" (1994)


Does it need to be verifiable? This is a blog i.e. some dude writing his opinions on the internet. It gives ZMP workers and retirees something to argue over and TC earns money so he can eat at the latest obscure ethnic restaurant. Win-win.

I resemble that remark (retired) but I think there might be some high value employees who need a mental health break. Going off here instead of on the last idiot customer.

Still it is an interesting fishbowl.

What's happening in the world is that the crowning achievement of the Fox-Republican value network is in office, and failing spectacularly. He's showing exactly what it's like when you believe Fox and Friends, and try to run the country on that basis.

The hilarious thing is that the wingnuts here so studiously avoid that whole topic now, that failure, and insist that we need to up the populist idiocy.

Good luck winning elections with the 15% approval you'll be riding in 2020.

This is a falsifiable prediction. I don't expect Trump to be a successful president in terms of getting a lot of his agenda enacted or running things well, but I rather expect him to improve in popularity over time (at least I don't think it's *unlikely* he will do so). I think Trump's great talents lie in PR and politics and capturing the attention of the public, and I don't think those talents have disappeared just because he's in the White House. A president who wants to appear very active but doesn't care about actually doing anything much can be very successful at his goal, so long as some disaster doesn't come along and clobber the country in a way he'll be blamed for. But his initial moves (the two executive orders on immigrants) have worked out pretty well to immunize him from one likely kind of disaster--terrorist attacks. Low-information voters (aka most of them) will remember that Trump tried to get a Muslim ban and was stopped by the ACLU and the liberal courts. That won't exactly be true (it wasn't actually a Muslim ban, and the failure was mostly self-inflicted through inept drafting and implementation of the order) but if the voters *think* it's true, he's golden. (Just like lots of voters thinking Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks worked out okay for W.)

I think there's a reasonably good chance Trump will get re-elected in 2020.

I wrote that because a good part of it is true, but also to amuse myself. By the time I got to "15%" I was long gone.

I can't say what will be true even next month. ISIS is laughing at Trump, goading him, which could lead to all kinds of long tail outcomes. Swans of all colors.


On the domestic front will Trump really tie a Trumpcare around his own neck? I'd hope not, for him and his voters.

More fun:


albatross, I would guess the chances of Trump getting re-elected are less than the chances he decides not to run again.

We all remember past discussions of Asian growth and authoritarianism. I am sure there is a real connection. It is sad though, and the wrong lesson. Those countries do not succeed because they are authoritarian, but because the authoritarian leaders rely on pragmatic technocrats day to day.

America's (thankfully rapidly failing) experiment is in authoritarianism without pragmatism or technocracy. That's more the Venezuelan model than the Singaporean one.

The Best and the Brightest would never steer us wrong, after all.

If they steer us wrong once in 50 years, I would say that was darn good. We did have 50 years of good governance and progress from 1950 to 2000.

As Fukuyama has noted, we seem to have lost our balance without the brace of a constant enemy.

"We did have 50 years of good governance and progress from 1950 to 2000."

Vietnam, wage and price controls, stagflation, inner city riots, forced busing, 20 trillion in debt. Just a few of the fruits of "good governance".

Again, if that is the best you can cherry pick for 50 years, darn good.

Not cherry picking; boulder picking.

Only the $20T in debt remains. The rest were of the moment, and largely demographic.

"Boulder picking" lol

How hard would it be to name things that would be really bad, and common in other lands?

Invasion and subjugation. Civil war. Full economic collapse. Hyperinflation. Genocide. Ethnic cleansing. Military coup. Pandemic.

Instead, the strange thing is that the world and the US are getting measurably better.



You dudes just can't get over your own paranoia.

The leaders of the great powers managed not to incinerate Western civilization. In the "you had one job" sense, they succeeded, whatever messes they left behind getting there.

Again, the world is getting better, and "messes" are largely imagined.


Lenin would approve.

But there are Stalins out there.

You are an idiot if you think there is any difference whatsoever between those two monsters.

Aside from communicating that you know nothing about either (one at most, anyways), do you have anything else to say?

Increasing diversity, social fragmentation and class segregation have made us less sympathetic toward our fellow citizens and made authoritarianism more attractive as a means to ensure one's class or tribe maintains their status.

China doesn't enter into it. People are animated by more immediate and proximate concerns than what some country on the other side of the planet is up to.

That's my take.

Tyler, I just wish you would use liberal instead of "neoliberal". Socialists and authoritarians use the second as an insult...

The words mean COMPLETELY different things.

"Liberal" means freedom. But in the USA it has really weird meaning, mostly depending on who said it.

"Neoliberal" basically summarizes what right wing economic policy prescriptions would be offered if you could keep the Christian Taliban and billionaires out of it. Basically, whatever 1st year economics suggests (no interest in wondering if things are more complicated than in a first year class ...)

Prof. - are you aware that, at the end of 2016, China (mostly the SOEs) had $35 trillion in debt?

Is there an assets side to the equation?

The writer seems to tend toward the abstract rather than the concrete. Moscow primarily provided the IRA with weapons and financing rather than some ideological model.

Why is authoritarianism on the rise?

Because, per the 10th comment, the current elites have failed and failed comprehensively, appallingly.

Why can't we have an elite like Israel's, who are unabashedly and unapologetically pro-Israel? Or like Singapore's, whose elite focus single-mindedly on enhancing the societal wealth of Singapore, which they own. Or like the Japanese, who treat their country like a garden.

Contrast that with America's cognitive elites, whose views dovetail so seamlessly with the interests of multi-national corporations and who constantly hector the bourgeois about their bottomless obligations to everybody on the planet but themselves. Or our financial elites, who have successfully rigged the system to keep themselves from becoming poor. Europe is no different. Its cities are becoming armed camps to manage all the vibrancy from parasitic sub-groups the elite invited in.

People want a strong man who protects them from their enemies. They voted for Trump, and frankly he's looking a little squishy. This pendulum still has further to swing.

Do you not think that elites always look out for elites, regardless of nationality? Israel being an exception because they regard every member of their tribe as elite; all other cases you cited are simply elites looking out for elites.

And what about your analysis suggests elites have failed? It seems they've succeeded wildly. They even duped half a country into voting for a billionaire with no defined ideology based on the populist things he happened to be saying at the time (i.e. how can you possibly be surprised that he's "looking a little squishy"?)

The elites that you claim have failed are continuing to succeed as they've done for millennia. Just look at inter-generational class mobility, elite school admissions, wealth inequality. There is simply no evidence for the elite failing currently, unless you think diversity is something that challenges the elites (which, since you cite Singapore, you should know it does not).

As I said elsewhere, diversity works when we agree on which tribe gets to be on top and keep the lid on things. In Singapore, it's the Han.

When I say the elite have failed, I mean they have failed the people. In fact, the elite are determined to get themselves a new people before the people can get themselves a new elite.

Again, no matter how fancy it sounds, you cannot use "Han" as a synonym of "Chinese"

What are you, the Chinese government?

"The elite are determined to get themselves a new people before the people can get themselves a new elite."

Well put.

The problem is that not only the elite but the professional-managerial element generally regard the rest of the population as pairs of hands, have no regard for their viewpoint, scant regard for their welfare, and scant regard for their franchise to run their own households and businesses. Take a gander at some of the off-stage remarks of a creature like William O. Douglas and you can see a coarse example of the mentality. Run through the remarks of the Mercatus crew and see if you can find one single complaint which places any value on self-government or on the autonomy of people unlike those on the center's roster (other than foreigners, hoodlums, and drug users, of course).

It is amazing how many people feel the Great Recession as a confidence shattering failure, without speaking its name or discussing its causes. Yes it was an elite failure, but not one we want to look square in the eye.

Globalization had losers, but that really pales to the special pain and dislocation of global financial collapse.

It is amazing too how many politicians will tell an economic history as if the GR never happened. Trump's China/Mexico story works that way.

A convenient amnesia. How many Goldman bros did he hire?

Why can’t we have an elite like Israel’s, who are unabashedly and unapologetically pro-Israel?

Because Israel is a state by and for a clearly defined ethnic group: Jews.

America isn't such a state, and Americans aren't an ethnic group. White America is too internally diverse in religious, cultural, and ethnic terms to form one. White inland Southerners fancy themselves American in an ethnic sense, but they aren't a majority or even a plurality of the population, they despise the majority of the American population which isn't them, and they're really just the Scots-Irish, anyway. The closest thing America had to an "ethnic American" population was the old east coast WASPs descended from the English residents of the 13 colonies, but they've dissolved as a coherent bloc through intermarriage with the Scots-Irish, Irish Catholics, and Jews or through de-racination into Davos globalism.

For the kind of America you want, there'd have to be a broadly shared consensus of what America is, what it is for, and who is and is not American in an ethnic, not just legal, sense. Not gonna happen. Right now, at best, there are two definitions of all that, but they're irreconcilable, antithetical, and deeply hostile to each other with each subscribed to by roughly half the voting populace. Meanwhile, the plurality of eligible American voters can't be arsed to care at all.

Here's a hint: the United States isn't Mexico or Pakistan and mollycoddling migrants from either locale should not be public policy.

I fail to see what your answer is, despite the hint. Ok, the US isn't an ancient civilization populated by brown people. Instead, it is a new civilization started by immigrant, mostly white, people. So what?

His argument is that we have to have open borders, dual citizenship, bilingual education, bilingual ballots, ever more elaborate anti-discrimination law, political patronage in every institution, systemic denigration of the non-exotic population in the schools and in the media, and the conversion of democratic institutions into student council-like toys supervised by judges because there were confessional distinctions and ethnic distinctions in this country ca. 1955. If you think he's arguing some other proposition, you might just say what you think it is.

Art Deco: His argument is that we have to have open borders, dual citizenship, bilingual education, bilingual ballots, ever more elaborate anti-discrimination law, political patronage in every institution, systemic denigration of the non-exotic population in the schools and in the media, and the conversion of democratic institutions into student council-like toys supervised by judges because there were confessional distinctions and ethnic distinctions in this country ca. 1955.

A caricature from the guy who bitched at me upthread about caricaturing him.

I didn't say any of that.

Anti-Gnostic asked why America doesn't have the kind of elite loyalty and solidarity that Israel has. I explained why. It isn't that hard to understand.

Anti-Gnostic asked why America doesn’t have the kind of elite loyalty and solidarity that Israel has. I explained why. It isn’t that hard to understand.

Actually, for anyone who can recall the period in American life prior to about 1970, your answer is no answer at all.

I didn’t say any of that.

Given the opportunity, you denied none of it.

AD: Actually, for anyone who can recall the period in American life prior to about 1970, your answer is no answer at all.

You're either being deliberately obtuse or indulging in false nostalgia.

There was a high level of solidarity among American whites from 1941 up to about 1964 thanks to World War II and the post-war economic boom. That ended with the Civil Rights Act and the Sexual Revolution of the late 1960s. Prior to WWII, the American socio-ethnic structure consisted of elite power tugging back and forth between northeastern WASPs and southern WASPs, other various white ethnic groups filling out the middle and lower cohorts, and racial minorities below that.

Inter-ethnic and interracial fractiousness have historically been the norm in the U.S. In addition to the bog standard racism directed at blacks prior to 1964 and American Indians prior to 1924, the WASP elite generally looked down on and viewed as "other" the various white ethnic groups starting with the Scots-Irish during the pre-Revolutionary colonial period, Germans from the Revolution (see Benjamin Franklin's statements on the subject) up through WWI, Irish Catholics in the latter 19th century, and on and on.

America and its colonial antecedents have never been ethnically or culturally homogeneous enough to produce the level of unity and solidarity seen in Israel. The closest the U.S. ever got to that was during the Revolution, but only if you don't count the Loyalists and slaves, and during World War II and the two decades thereafter, but only if you don't count blacks.

Given the opportunity, you denied none of it.

Because I'm bored, challenge accepted. Taking these one at a time:

1) open borders - I'd accept an open border with Canada, but not with Mexico. That said, short of militarizing the Mexican border to the degree of the Korean DMZ, I don't see any realistic way of sealing it. The Wall is a symbolic boondoggle. The drug cartels control the migrant traffic and have plenty of funds to pay for alternate methods of delivery, most likely through corruption. I fully expect many of the contractors bidding/hired to build The Wall to be on cartel payrolls with covert means of ingress (tunnels, etc.) built into The Wall itself.

On immigration more broadly, I favor increasing restrictions along the lines of what Canada and Australia purportedly have. I have no problem creaming off the rest of the world's cognitive elite, but the Frontier is long since closed, and thus we no longer need nor can we afford to absorb the rest of the world's poor.

2) Dual citizenship - I think our legal regime covering such matters should correlate with our foreign policy and national security. Dual citizenship with allied countries (i.e. UK, Japan, etc.), fine. I don't care. With adversaries (e.g. Russia, Iran), no way. With the rest of the countries in the world, on a country by country basis.

3) Bilingual education - I'm fine with it at the elementary level provided its coupled with simultaneous education in English. Secondary education should be English only with separate intensive, fast-track English instruction for adolescent and teenage immigrants.

4) Bilingual ballots - As long as one of the languages is English, I don't care.

5) Ever more elaborate anti-discrimination law - I don't in principle have a problem with anti-discrimination law. That said, it's damned difficult to honestly enforce, and the civil/tort remedy does as much harm as good. Realistically, anti-discrimination is more a statement of official principle than an enforceable code of behavior. Effectively attacking the discrimination problem is best done through cultural and social mechanisms.

6) Political patronage in every institution - Some degree of corruption is endemic to politics. Always has been, always will be. Politics is, at the end of the day, horse-trading. Moreover, the Supreme Court has declared money to be a form of political speech and thus protected by the First Amendment. Personally, I'd favor amending the Constitution to truncate all national level campaigns to 30 days in length with very limited and standardized campaign budgets for major party candidates paid for by taxes, putting a lid on the most obvious bribery. I'd also favor some kind of legal regime to eliminate or at least heavily frustrate the revolving door between K Street lobbying firms and the federal government, but I admittedly have no idea how that would work.

Anyhow, a certain level of graft is inevitable. As a general principle, I'd prefer to keep it to a minimum and certainly to limit it such that it doesn't warp the political system the way it has.

7) Systemic denigration of the non-exotic population in the schools and in the media - I'm not clear who exactly you mean by "the non-exotic population." Like Steve Sailer's "Core Americans," it's a rorschach blot of a term. If you're referring to white conservatives, I don't have a lot of sympathy as an entire media ecology built specifically by and for white conservatives has developed over the last two decades.

Re: schools - I'm not a fan of activist pedagogy of any political stripe, and I'm disgusted by the SJW/PC police overreach seen on college campuses in recent years. The recent attack on Charles Murray, for example, was appalling. I consider critical theory and intersectionality valid topics of discussion in academic settings, but I don't think they should form the ideological framework of the educational system, and, in general, I find them to be shit as a basis for public policy. Beyond a broad commitment to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, the public educational system should be non-partisan and as politically neutral as possible.

8) the conversion of democratic institutions into student council-like toys supervised by judges - I have no particularly strong feelings one way or the other about the judiciary below the Supreme Court. As far as "democratic institutions" go, you'll need to be more specific before I can answer.

"White America is too internally diverse in religious, cultural, and ethnic terms to form one."

Jews in Israel are pretty diverse in terms of ethnic divisions, culture, and religious observance. Doesn't stop them from having a nation.

No, the correct answer is that we can't have an elite like Israel's because our elite is made up substantially of the same people as Israel's.

Ah, anti-Semitism. That train is never late.

Jews = coherent ethnic and religious identity stretching back millennia despite periods lasting centuries without a country of their own
Americans = fractious, politically propositional, non-ethnic, non-religious identity stretching back a couple of centuries

My God, you're right. They're essentially the same. Of course, Americans can have Israeli levels of solidarity. Whatever was I thinking.

Jews have acted to assure their own ethnic solidarity, for example by minimizing the differences between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel, while trying to fracture ethnic identities of the goyim, for instance, turning Protestant Americans against Catholic Americans, non-White Americans against White Americans, ect.

Of course, they have many Shabbos Goyim(like yourself, "Mackey?") who are happy to do the job for them.

When you're the most powerful entity in the history of the planet, "raw self interest" as defined by people like you would lead to the entire rest of the world treating Trump like an incipient Hitler.

And many of them are. For better or worse.

Here's one example. In the 2008 crisis, Canada's long-time trading partner and source of pressure and inspiration relating to what good can be brought about by preferences for markets ...

... straight out of the gate, the second the going gets tough, public contracts reject market logic and become made on the basis of US preference. I.e., Canadian suppliers were out.

Canadian public contracts tend to continue to give high priority to value, and only very rarely have a stated preference for local suppliers (e.g., in arts and culture where it patently makes sense).

Result? It is now easy to see the USA as a fairweather friend. So that's why there's always this pressure to trade with ANYONE OTHER THAN THE USA! Like, there's all the economic reasons and shared heritage and all. But some people think like you do. Which means it would be dumb to get in bed with you.

The evidence from public contracts practices of 2009 prove that the USA is a fairweather friend.

Otherwise stated, the USA has allies that it intends to keep. So valuing yourself to the tune of 100% and others to the tune of 0% just doesn't go over very well.

The response of some of these comments (America can't be pro-America because reasons) are fascinating.

Good for the goose good for the gander?

Grow the pie?

Benefits through cooperation?

It is not optimal to value others at 0% and yourself at 100%. Some people argue that 99.3% would be sufficient, but they are labelled as socialists. (0.7% of GDP to global aid objective, which J Sachs thinks could end all current development challenges in fairly short order. Which doesn't matter to you, because you grew up with a map of the USA in class instead of a map of the world.)

Ha, I tend to think that America can be both "America First" and cooperate with other nations. Elites of prior generations would agree. The US engaged both in Manifest Destiny and international cooperation when necessary. The Founding Fathers refused both foreign entanglements and autarky.

Anyone confusing us with an imperial hegemon pretty much has to be delusional. Trump isn't calling to annex Europe, like....all the other dictators in history. He's just saying they should pay for their own defense. Pretty much the total opposite of American Hitler.

Worrying America might become imperial superpower because we don't want to pay all of NATO's bills just strikes me as 21st Century double-think.

Same with saying we can't have a common support for American nationalism because we have diversity. This is stupid and gets causality entirely backwards, and Art Deco is entirely right. Nationalism doesn't occur because a nation isn't 100% homogenous, it emerges because a self-identified group of people decides to forge a common future, and individuals make choices to align themselves more closely with that Common Culture. Half of the people in France couldn't speak French at the time of the French Revolution. They ended up speaking French because the French Elites decided France WAS a thing, and needed to be supported, and the people fell in line.

"America means nothing" isn't true, but if the American Elite decides to support that line of thinking, it will become true within a few generations. Which seems like a political bonus and unstated goal of a certain political party, which is why they parade illegal immigrants at their national convention like war heroes.

Same with saying we can’t have a common support for American nationalism because we have diversity. This is stupid and gets causality entirely backwards, and Art Deco is entirely right. Nationalism doesn’t occur because a nation isn’t 100% homogenous, it emerges because a self-identified group of people decides to forge a common future, and individuals make choices to align themselves more closely with that Common Culture.

Define the American "Common Culture." Not with broad platitudes, but with specifics. Use proper nouns. Provide historical examples.

Second, identify a time period other than 1941-1964 when anything remotely resembling said "Common Culture" truly existed throughout the United States. Show your work.

Hows'bout you walk yourself over the American History section of the public library and figure that one out yourself?

Hows’bout you walk yourself over the American History section of the public library and figure that one out yourself?

In other words, you've got nothing.


The perceived rise in authortarnism mirrors the trajectory of the rise of social media. Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are immensely powerful and centralized authorities that dictate the information seen by billions of people. When it comes to the written word, what is more accidentally totalitarian and fascist than Facebook? The vast majority of news, propaghanda and public commentary that led to the rise of nationalist politics took place on social media and not in public squares or union halls. Much of this antagonistic and inflammatory digital rhetoric was created solely to garner more “hits” and “clicks”.

People ask, “why is everyone upset enough with the wonders of the western world to start a political revolution?”, and the answer is simply that this dystopian fiction is presented to them as reality on social media in order to be answered with a well placed news headline that offers to solve all their fictional problems.

The vast majority of news, propaghanda and public commentary that led to the rise of nationalist politics took place on social media and not in public squares or union halls.

Corporate media preaches globalism, not nationalism.

The Internet is one of the great democratizing agents in history, because it breaks up the corporate media monopoly on the Megaphone. Who cares about reading the hilariously conventional David Brooks or Tom Friedman and paying for the privilege? I can read Sailer, Porter, Z-Man, Vox Day, and observe the evolution of their thought and hash ideas out in the comments. For free.

Facebook as a self-organizing Pravda?

(Perhaps mostly, except for some conscious manipulation by the Pravda folks.)

Facebook is basically a scapegoat in the situation.

I'm sure they would like to profit from all that data and also not have it all available for Big Brother to do things like mine Facebook accounts using facial recognition and sending people who look similar to Facebook friends to F with you.

Like, Facebook wouldn't do that. But those with a penchant for authoritarianism would.

I think the problem isn't top down, but bottom up.

Virtue signalling, and altruistic punishment allow virtual mob behavior that is very robust.

We're talking about sort of different things.

The extent to which you are right can be troubling though, and there is little willingness among extremists on either "side" of that to recognize how ridiculous they're being.

The claim is that authoritarian mimicry is on the rise because authoritarian regimes are growing faster.

Well, dah.

The premise is misleading. Look at the premise closely. The premise is "growth" or "change in growth". Now, think about that for a second. Ok, second over.

If you start at a low base, as in China, any change is "large growth". You are measuring the delta from a low base.You are comparing mature economies, with most people living comfortable, to economies where you would not want to live today, even with large growth.

No, there is another reason for the rise in authoritarianism.

The answer lies in the Berlusconni experience. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/21/if-berlusconi-is-like-trump-what-can-italy-teach-america

Attack a free press, own your own press, align with the religious right, be a media showman, use immigrants or others for the scapegoat of your decline.

It works, and that's why authoritarianism is on the rise.

PS. Did you know that Steve Bannon represented Berlusconni in the United States?

Mostly they grew slower for a very long time.

And then Solow model working its magic.

Could that be about 90% of the story?

Like, those people who did the stuff. Yeah, they did it, and kudoz and all.

But in that situation, someone was going to do it anyways, right?

"Authoritarianism" should not get credit for catchup growth.

So, in the Mercatus Center's viewpoint, is wanton annulment by judges of policies adopted by elected officials an example of 'authoritarianism'? How 'bout the legal harassment of Baronelle Stutzman?

Justice is not served by the whims of the mob.

If they can sustain that for 20 years, what they want will be recognized as legitimate.

Democracy should not be structured in a way that it can blow completely one way or the other in the face of any wind. The structure of the justice system ensures stability with this regard.

For which reason it is not "authoritarian". Among other things, they basically do not have the power to affect who the next appointees will be. Whereas in an authoritarian system, there's generally something that also gives them the power to appoint.

For example, the Pope needing to approve who is king, who marries who, etc. Which sustains a system that would support his power. Or Xi getting rid of people who oppose him and appointing people into positions where they can support his power.

So ... you just disagree with the judges for some reason . But instead of defending your position, you claim that any failure on the part of judges to bend to the will of the mob is proof of authoritarianism.

Let us know when those same judges start throwing people in prison on the basis of that disagreement. That would be a different story. That is not the situation.

There's certainly a potential for the supreme court to be an agent of authoritarianism. Look at recent events in Venezuela.

You mean like the SCOTUS ruling on the Medicaid expansion?

You do realize the the US Supreme Court is mostly conservative, right? Are we going to have the courts do whatever the legislature want from now on, or only the executive branch?

You do realize the the US Supreme Court is mostly conservative, right?

I realize no such thing and no one who isn't a Democratic pol or part of the lawyer left would pretend to take that idea the least bit seriously. Four of the eight members of the current Supreme Court were appointed by Democratic presidents and a fifth is on the record endorsing frankly absurd propositions which impose the social engineering projects of faculty types on the rest of us - abortion on demand and homosexual pseudogamy to name two.

The cohort you call 'the rest of us' is much smaller than you think, and aging rapidly.

That's not the current situation. If either side of the abortion issue had overwhelming support, they could pass a constitutional amendment ensuring their position be law. That's the way to do it. Instead, both sides try to have judges appointed to vote for their position. That's not the way to do it.

As for constitutional reasoning being anything other than a mishmash, that ship sailed long ago, as John Randolph of Roanoke pointed out. It's long been simple politics.

The meme that the court was conservative with Scallia, and now is balanced is bogus. There is nothing conservative about upholding ACA by making up a loophole that ACA is a tax, and thus not unconstitutional. This was with Scallia. There is also nothing conservative about allowing tax breaks for health insurances in federal exchanges in states without state run exchanges, in direct contradiction of the law. The rule about the federal government treating citizens different depending on their state's action (setting up an exchange or not) was a blatant disgrace engineered to force hands of governors, and should be reason enough to strike down the entire law as unconstitutional by a true conservative SCOTUS. When many governors called the bluff, the ACA conspirators decided that part of the law should not be taken literally. SCOTUS is a disgrace, simply afraid of being hit when the feces hits the fan.

That's the tricky bit. I'm happy to agree that America is becoming more authoritarian--but I think Heart of Atlanta and Bob Jones, along with the 1964 Civil Rights act, are the central enablers of this authoritarianism.

Shorter me--if people can win everything, they'll try; if they can't they'll settle for "you win some, you lose some" and default to local government.

I bet you blame women instead of rapists if a short skirt was involved.

Shorter me–if people can win everything, they’ll try; if they can’t they’ll settle for “you win some, you lose some” and default to local government.

Quit projecting.

My theory is that people instinctively think they need a strong man who will fight against entrenched interested (including the people's own) to make reforms, i.e. to give us the bitter medicine.

Depending on your political flavor, you might say Trump or Sanders is the person who will fight the entrenched interest in some nebulous way. (Nobody is really thinking this through yet - that only comes when the finances collapse.)

What we probably need is something like an incident during the French revolution, where during one night, the legislature of nobles willingly gave up a ton of privileges. They one-upped each other in abolishing bad stuff that was personally enriching.

The idea that Trump is that strongman always seemed unlikely.

I hoped. But the entrenched interests he was supposed to tackle (according to his supporters of spring 2016) involved all the corruption. Like backroom deals where politicians gets million in donations in exchange for some votes or approvals.

I hoped. But come on. It was always dumb to think that Trump would do any such thing. He played that system his entire life. He is not going to change it.

I did not say that Trump or Sanders was an actually strong man, or even if they were, that they would be "successful."

I am merely stating the appeal of such strong men, able to cut through a thicket of interests.

See Tom Friedman and his belief that Chinese autocracy does better at delivering the goods for another part of this appeal.

I agree that in reality, entrenched interests will defeat any elected "strong man."

I also agree Trump will succumb.

He might have had some tiny outside chance of shaking things up, but it was never likely.

Actually, most strong men do not do very well in this respect. Lee Kuan Yew's are a rarity. For every Pinochet or Deng Xiaoping, you have Shahs, Somozas, or Castros.

The American rgiime is already failing. A desperate populace won't abide longer for a system that loots them and sells their children in bondage.

Holy smokes, why the name change Thiago? You seemed the most proud of your idiocy!

It is not me. It is just shows tou I am not the only one who can see the American regime for what it is.It mask has fallen and its oppressive ways have been laid bare for all the world to see.

I'm really disappointed that you are one of the name changers. Your commitment to the character was endearing. Now, you're just another sock puppeteer.

And I say I did not change my name. The failure of your rgiime has been laid bare and all the world seeit. Mr. Krugman has already said the USA may have already become a failed state. You will fall like a ball.

Such a shame. Another man of integrity, exposed as a fraud.

It is a lie. If a man is a man of integrity, how could he be exposed as a fraud? I am a man of integrity as all real Brazilians are. Your so-called America is the land of the Swaggarts and Trumps and Clintons and Sisters Fox (es?) Prpreyinfo on the ignorant and on the weak.

So much shame. So sad.

No, there is no shame. I am right, you are wrong.

" I am a man of integrity as all real Brazilians are. "

So women don't count as real Brazilians?

Man comprehends the whole species: "rights of men", "all men were created equal", "where no man has gone before", etc.

The shame you exhibit is almost unbearable to watch. So much Brazilian shame brought by your fakery.

Yeah that happened to my neighbor just yesterday. He's got three other kids though, so no big deal.

I am not convinced by this column.

Using the phrase "mimetic desire" with its obvious reference to Girard seems quite overkill. You typically need "mimetic desire" when you need to explain behavior of human that go against their own interest -- this is really how Girard used this concept. Trying to emulate things that seem to work well as far as your objectives are concern (say if your objective is to maximize GDP growth, then indeed the experience of China could inspire you) is not "mimetic desire", it is just rational behavior. One can argue with such a rational emulator that imitating the model won't have the desired effect because such and such circumstance is different, or that the desired effect can be obtained in other better, ways -- but that's precisely what distinguished him from the person acting under mimetic desire, who is not accessible to rationality.

Moreover, as several commenters noted, the word "authoritarian" is not defined, and that's a serious problem. I'd like to see a definition, and an explanation of in what sense Trump, or May, are authoritarian, either in their policy proposals or in their actual way of governing.

Personally, I think Russia is covertly funding a lot of far-right groups, both in Europe and the US, and that's what is driving this.
Where does Richard Spencer get the money to attend both ISFLC and CPAC within 2 weeks?

I doubt it. Russia is broke from funding all the anti-fracking groups.

'Driving' what? Richard Spencer is a person of no influence.

It's pretty minimal. The media pays attention to him because he's a clown. He has a tenth of the influence of say, Steve Sailer, but has gotten a thousand times more press.

Just don't call it a "conspiracy theory."

"Where does Richard Spencer get the money to attend both ISFLC and CPAC within 2 weeks"

CPAC tickets cost about 300 bucks. I'm sure even you could afford to go:


One also has to pay for the hotels and airfare.

I wish. Where's my money, Vlad?

Tyler's signalling again with the crap about "authoritarianism" and his point about China *cough cough* is pretty weak. If there's any foreign country which has influenced Americans in a pro-nationalist direction, it's Japan, and also Israel.

If you think "Japan has influenced Americans in a pro-nationalist direction", maybe you should stop watching animes and try to talk to a woman. Israel is influential though.

The future of the political class depends on which systems will provide cost-effective and streamlined healthcare, public safety, and public education for all. If an authoritarian government is able to best deliver results, it will gain more popularity than a democratic government unable to reverse debt-fueled inflation in essential items that run higher than wage or job growth.

I think this is far off the mark. Let's get specific. Duterte is not about China envy - he's about frustration with corrupt status quo political elite, a hugely successful track record as mayor of Davao and the public's growing concerns about drugs and insecurity.

Trump is about frustration with corrupt status quo political elite and a growing feeling of political, economic and social disenfranchisement/loss of status.

I thought Duterte just wanted to kill dealers and others who have guns and are not part of the state.

He should just legalize the drugs, offer gun buybacks, and maybe allocate 10 or 20% of the savings some "how to transition from mobster lifestyle to college, enroute to doing something useful" courses.

The problem in the Philippines is a feeling of insecurity coupled with a sense that a fair amount of crime is related to the drug trade or to organized crime syndicates that are either protected by corrupt police and politicians or else benefit from police apathy and incompetence and overcrowded criminal court dockets. These are difficult problems to solve and Duterte doesn't show any serious interest in policy solutions.

Davao City has a homicide rate about the metropolitan average for the Philippines. He's a ruder, cruder version of Cory Booker - hype, not performance.

It was the wild west before him, according to locals so getting the crime down to national average was an achievement. He's also loved there because he was viewed as one of the few politicians there not blatantly corrupt.

Homicide isn't the issue in the Philippines. Rather, it is street crime, kidnapping for ransom, and armed robbery.

This is the most disgusting post I have ever read on MR.
If we follow the thesis, we are condemned to being 'groupies' and following the most popular kid in the class. This fits well with Cowen's previous argument in 'Average' that we need to develop skills to be conscience, since fewer people will have money...and we need to suck up.

There is not one bit of political back bone here. Follow the leader.

There is no rise of support for authoritarianism. This is just a label randomly applied to people one doesn't like to have power. Where has the government started taking away the power of the people? Is this article about Turkey?

The real story in the west is dumb populism, from self harming trade policy, referenda going against the government wishes, all the way to Benie Sanders and dumb socialism. No one is willing to admit we are in a global labor market and need to get our costs down to compete.

Another flub from Tyler.

IT used to be that your every phone conversation was not stored in an NSA database. Wiretaps were only for rare occasions when there was a good reason and a judge would sign off on it.

Now they record everything and get the judge to sign something later.

Oh, but no, they do not do what is technically feasible, and which is not prevented by an explicit and empowered allocation.

If you can only blink an eye at that, or are looking to make excuses for it, you're pro-authoritarian compared to just about anyone from a couple decades ago.

Because the 1st amendment means little without the 4th. Especially when you have ten times more laws than just about anyone even knows about.

All government decisions are authoritative, even "liberal" or "libertarian" government are by definition descriminating authoritatively. One man's right is another man's lien. There is no such thing as "authoritarianism" as such. It is a non-concept.

if China is the role model for this new found source of ideological fervor
chalk it to two things: a). lack of transparency in the provision of correct
information; and b). looseness in the definition of 'success'. Just like the
term 'good', the term 'success' is susceptible to fudging. In what areas
is China a 'success'? In amassing GDP? In constructing massive
infrastructure projects? In lifting the welfare of its citizens from absolute
poverty? In everyone of those areas, the term 'success' fudges the social
cost of the downsides. So it depends on who is making the argument.

Comments for this post are closed