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Jan 13, 2010

The Good Side of Dictatorship

Totalitarian governments past and present are receiving some praise from liberal sources. This alarms me.

Benito Mussolini was the Fascist dictator of Italy from about 1936-1943, and was killed in 1945 when Italy surrendered to the Allies.

A joke about his governance is: "Yes, he was a dictator, with all the harm and problems that came from that, but he did a lot of good, too. He made the trains run on time". Of course, this is dark humor. No reasonable person would excuse dictatorship and arbitrary control by saying "but, some good came from it".

I am reminded of the occasional tragic story about wild mushrooms. The dish killed all at the table. The participants remarked how delicious the mushrooms were, just before they died. Usually, these people were experts at identifying and preparing wild mushrooms. I'm sure they were quite surprised to die, because of their superior knowledge.

I don't care at all how delicious the mushrooms were. Those mushrooms are an unacceptable risk for having a delicious dinner.

So, what possible purpose is there in understanding the good parts of a dictatorship? I don't care if a much stronger government can do some good things, because the risk of harm is greater also. It is fine if you can isolate a policy that had a good effect and doesn't need dictatorial power to be implemented. In that case, why mention the dictatorship at all, except as a curiosity?

If you can't isolate the policy, then you are arguing for dictatorship, and I want none of it.

It’s Not Censorship, It’s "Reasonably Enlightened"
01/12/10 - Investors.com by Ed Carson. Via Ed Driscoll.

[edited] Google defiantly stated late Tuesday it may exit China, citing attempts to hack into dissidents’ e-mail accounts. It strongly suggested the Chinese government was behind the attacks. Google will no longer censor search results in China.

Clearly, Google doesn’t understand the nuances of China’s totalitarian rule the way New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman does.

Our One-Party Democracy
09/08/09 - NY Times - Op Ed by Thomas L. Friedman

[edited] One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But, when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

Our one-party democracy is worse. The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing. With a few notable exceptions, the Republican Party is standing, arms folded and saying “no.”

Many of them just want President Obama to fail. Such a waste. Mr. Obama is not a socialist; he’s a centrist. But if he’s forced to depend entirely on his own party to pass legislation, he will be whipsawed by its different factions.

Sarcastic restatement:

Democracy is so inefficient. When half of your country disagrees with your policy, it is so much easier to have autocracy, the absolute rule by one faction. This is useful for suppressing the Republicans, and also for suppressing the "different factions" within your own party. Where is Mussolini when you need him?

It is so much better when the leader is called a "centrist", because his policies are then necessarily good for everyone. Friedman says we should not mind a "centrist" dictator.  As long as a "reasonably enlightened group of people" is running things, all will be well. If they aren't enlightened, then what? Where do our politicians get this enlightenment? At the top of a mountain in Tibet? Where?

I Have Your Hitler Context Right Here
01/12/10 - Big Hollywood by Kurt Schlichter

[edited excerpts] Oliver Stone’s latest, desperate grasp at relevance is a new cable series which promises to place der Furher into der context. Does Stone really believe that Hitler somehow lacks “context”, or that “American corporations from GM through IBM were involved with the Nazis”?

His Secret History will not be “history”, in the sense of reporting what actually happened in the past. Nor is its tired leftist wisdom a "secret", about how America was somehow to blame for the rise of the Nazis, and to blame for all evil throughout the ages.

The real Secret History which Stone won’t disclose is the identity of the Americans who actually thought the Nazis had quite a lot to offer: their collectivist, anti-capitalist vision; their refusal to let democracy stop their agenda; and their fondness for eugenics. Those Americans were the Progressives.

I would not be at all surprised if the Secret History shows the silver lining of the Third Reich which we short-sighted conservatives always overlook.

Oliver Stone's 'Secret History' to put Hitler 'in context'
01/09/10 - The Live Feed by David Hibberd. Via Ed Driscoll.

Oliver Stone as quoted by Hibberd [edited]:

Stalin, Hitler, Mao, McCarthy -- these people have been vilified pretty thoroughly by history.

Stalin has a complete other story. Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation. He fought the German war machine more than any single person. We can't judge people as only 'bad' or 'good.' Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and has been used cheaply. He's the product of a series of actions. It is cause and effect.

People in America don't know the connection between WWI and WWII. I've been able to walk in Stalin's shoes and Hitler's shoes to understand their point of view. We're going to educate our minds, and liberalize them, and broaden them. We want to move beyond opinions.

Go into the funding of the Nazi party. How many American corporations were involved, from GM through IBM. Hitler is just a man who could have easily been assassinated.

What could be the motivation for showing the "more complex" Hitler, the Hitler that reacted to historical imperatives, the Hitler who wasn't completely bad?

Collectivist:  Hitler had the strength and vision to reorganize German society in a coordinated, comprehensive, scientific way. He saw the state as the only power that could tame the unruly masses and produce a glorious future for Germany and all of the territories that would come under Germany's influence.

Unfortunately, divisions in German society and some defects in Hitler's world vision caused more human suffering than was necessary to that cause. His goals and methods were rational and effective, but some of his results were regrettable.

We should not tar Hitler's methods and major visions with those few unfortunate results. We have the capability today, as then, to use organized government to accomplish greater goals for society. We are wiser now, and we will do it better.

Just to be clear, I hate the Collectivist.

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