Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

Making the world safe for corruption

After writing the last post on Burma’s opening, it just came to me why are Western governments always promoting democracy. I mean, democracy is a pretty crappy way of government, particularly in the Third World, where for tons of reasons, historical, cultural, biological even, it never works. Democracy also is generally bad for the economy, and Western governments are ostensibly obsessed by trade and economic growth.

Yet they do promote democracy with a fervor that is almost religious. It makes no sense. But wait. Roman judges used to say that about cui bono. Then I read this news: George Soros opens an office in Burma. Well, that’s it. Soros bono. Bankstas bono.

Business is goooood

There’s a recurrent theme at Steve Sailer’s about the paradox that, although the US is the world hegemon, many Third World plutocrats laugh at just how cheap it is to buy an American politician. It’s true, and it applies also to Western Europe. At first glance it makes no sense that lawmakers in a rich country would sell themselves cheap, while lawmakers in a poor country will ask for more money. But the correlation of bribe price is not with average GDP, but with the politician’s job security. A politician in Russia is pretty much safe in its place, as long as he makes good with Putin. He has a safe power base, quite a lot of money, and what is more important: status. Third World politicians have privilege, and you can’t pay that with money. It makes no sense to forfeit privileged status for a paltry bribe. So they ask more.

On the other hand, a politician in a democracy is just one more actor out of thousands, who is part of a political machine which is not known for its stability and kindness to its individual members. So in general an average MP in a democracy is there for the money. And he needs it fast, just in case he loses favor with the party machine because of some gaffe like fucking your secretary or saying that you don’t like fat black lesbians. The incentives are there for all but the top few in the party hierarchy to prostitute themselves for a couple of grand. The Americans have officialized this in the institution of lobbying; Congressmen are supposed to sell themselves, in the open, and to compete amongst themselves for bribes.

So you see that Parliamentary Democracy, by its own nature, tends to drive down the price of bribes. Now do you see why Soros & company are busy promoting democracy worldwide? The job of the bankstas is buying regulators to get financial privileges. But dictators have this pesky habit of demanding lots of money, and forgetting their promises even after receiving it. Dictators don’t need the money, they have power, and that’s much better. But bankstas only have money, and the only way they can harness the money is to destroy authoritarian governments and install Parliamentary democracies in their place. Then they can buy MPs by the hundreds, get investment privileges and get the yields going.

The pity is we can’t seem to get the Iraqis to sell themselves for cheap. Arabs are a commercial people and they all try to drive the prices high by killing each other and installing a dictator again. Can’t blame them.


13 responses to “Making the world safe for corruption

  1. rightsaidfred January 23, 2012 at 21:19

    Best and most true thing I’ve read in a while.

  2. Vladimir January 24, 2012 at 06:41

    Do you really think it’s about financial self-interest rather than ideology? Cui bono is a very fine principle, but the bonum doesn’t have to be monetary — especially for those who already are ultra-rich, and whose primary desire tends to be for the kinds of status and prestige that can’t be bought with money easily and directly. For businessmen who aren’t charismatic celebrity material, the most straightforward option is to become a big-time philanthropist and sponsor of “NGOs” dealing in fashionable charity (or pseudo-charity) and ideology.

    Of course, straightforward business interests are far from insignificant, but I think they pale in comparison with this phenomenon.

    • spandrell January 24, 2012 at 08:40

      The rank and file might well be on for religious motives, but surely Soros’s motives are no different than those of his old pal Jim Rogers.

      I think there’s a lot more cynicism up there than we like to acknowledge. Look at Hillary’s face.

      • Vladimir January 25, 2012 at 06:05

        Such a sharp distinction between religious/ideological versus self-interested motives is itself a kind of naive idealism. A truly realistic cynical view recognizes that ideology is more often than not about raising one’s own status in the eyes of others as well as oneself — and there is no clear boundary between “self-interested” pursuit of status and pleasant feelings of righteousness self-importance on the one side versus pure selfless altruism and beneficience on the other. (Cue Robin Hanson.)

        Bill Gates is clearly not giving away his billions in philanthropy because he expects to reap even greater profits as a result. He’s doing it because he’s a man who has achieved the ultimate heights in making money, but at the same time he is critically short on the sort of non-monetary social status enjoyed by charismatic celebrities in the high echelons of the media, entertainment, Universalist ideology and do-goodery, or even politics. (For a striking demonstration of this, see his “retirement video.”) Yet the latter sort of status can’t just be purchased outright, so he’s doing the closest thing that’s possible in practice. Contrast that with Steve Jobs, who had no inclination to do anything similar (at least not publicly), since the charismatic celebrity status was already available to him through his main line of work.

        In most cases, I don’t think other do-gooder billionaires are much different, except that some of them are less inclined towards creating a public celebrity persona and more towards building their status within more elite circles.

        (Besides, if they’re really such diabolical financial calculation machines, wouldn’t the sort of activities you suggest present a public goods problem for them?)

      • spandrell January 25, 2012 at 09:29

        I wasn’t talking about individual philanthropy. Of course that in many cases its a matter of signaling.
        See, Bill Gates is not promoting democracy abroad, rather giving money for typical ‘help the poor’ causes, as do many others. Its not like he needs bribing any foreign government anyway.

        But you really think Soros’s status has been raised by opening an office in Burma? He could probably write some books if he went around building schools in Africa, but he isn’t: he promotes ‘Open Societies’.
        Same as the official policy of USG and its satellites. Does the US promote democracy to raise the status of its members?

  3. icr January 24, 2012 at 16:25

    Fascists of the 20s and 30s said that parliamentary democracy was just a mask for plutocracy.

  4. Pingback: Linkage and linkery for 25 January 2012 | PostGygaxian

  5. Vladimir January 26, 2012 at 04:41

    But you really think Soros’s status has been raised by opening an office in Burma? He could probably write some books if he went around building schools in Africa, but he isn’t: he promotes ‘Open Societies’.
    Same as the official policy of USG and its satellites. Does the US promote democracy to raise the status of its members?

    Obviously we can only speculate about his real motivations, but it seems to me that raising his status is a more plausible motivation than providing a public service for his own kind. (And his difference from Gates is primarily that he’s interested in somewhat different kinds of status and in impressing different, and more exclusive, sorts of people.) Why would he give his own money to further goals that, as you note, USG is already working towards, and which would benefit his competition just as him? It makes no sense from the perspective of financial self-interest.

    As for the motivation behind the USG policy, I do think it stems mostly from the present status-seeking system. Nothing else could result in such bungling craziness, after all. 19th century-style foreign policy and military strategy furthering some coherent and easily formulated territorial, economic, nationalistic, or other interests has been long absent from our planet.

    • spandrell January 26, 2012 at 11:26

      Foseti would tell you that Soros IS the USG. The bankstas and the USG are one.

      And I don’t think that USG policy is crazy at all. They are the world hegemon, and seem to be doing quite a good job opening investment opportunities for the financial establishment. Compared to that, English or French imperialism seems very inefficient.

      • Vladimir January 27, 2012 at 04:45

        The likes of Soros are indeed an integral part of the USG (though by no means its only important component). But you still haven’t answered why he would spend his own private money to further the same goals that the USG is working on with far greater resources and with its taxpayers picking up the bill — and which ultimately benefit his competition as well as him. I really see no way how this could be a part of some diabolical money-making scheme.

        Generally speaking, the plutocratic element in the modern USG setup is by no means negligible, but I think you’re blowing its importance out of all proportion. As always, ideas and ideology matter — and rich people are not some Scrooge McDuck caricatures obsessed with maximizing their net worth, but humans who want status and prestige above all else, and will gladly trade off a significant part of their wealth in that pursuit.

        Also, I think you’re completely wrong about the business aspects of the old-fashioned imperialism versus the contemporary meddling of the USG and the quasi-philanthropic Universalist evangelism a la Soros. Old-style imperialism created colonial regimes with strong public order, secure property claims, and simple and efficient administration — as perfect places for making money as anyone could hope for. The modern USG Universalist crusades create nothing even remotely similar.

  6. spandrell January 27, 2012 at 17:03

    Soros *is* making money off his investments, which means they aren’t charitable at all. The USG apparatus makes the early, unprofitable moves, then the private billionaires go on and privatize the profits. Sounds like a good business to me.

    Status-signaling is a very useful concept, but we mustn’t overdo it. Status isn’t everything. Well it may be everything for women or young men, but power lust and greed exist too, and they are powerful forces.
    Striving to make money is surely nothing diabolical, and lying to make money is also very common. Not saying Soros is evil, but to say that he is just a misguided philanthropist is also surely false.
    Of course speculating on the personal motives of every billionaire around will takes us noywhere. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy, but you trust the good intentions of people too much.

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