Greedy Goblin

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why democracy export worked in Germany but not in Syria

Democracy export to the Middle East didn't work, no one doubts that. However it worked in Japan and Germany after WW2. So something must have went wrong. But getting the consequences of the last failure and doing it "better" next time ended up with just another failed state filled with head-chopping madmen.

I believe the problem is more systemic. Not democracy export failed. Democracy itself did. I believe that no method could create democracy in Syria, while Japan would have ended up democratic even if they won WW2.

I believe the key to democracy is single identity electorate. I mean that (the vast majority of) the voters see themselves as "us" and this includes the voters of the other party. Hungarian people see themselves and each other as Hungarian. We see the other party voters as misguided good people and try to persuade them to join the "right way". We might see the other party leaders liars and con-men and agents of Soros/Putin but we believe that their voters want the best for the Nation as a whole. So democracy can thrive in Hungary.

On the other hand if the electorate have several major identities and see the voters of the other party as "them", you have trouble. Since the voters vote for their "own" party (Hutu votes for Hutu, Tutsi votes for Tutsi), there is no point for the government to even attempt to govern well. Hutus will always vote for Hutu party, even if it governs horribly and Tutsis don't vote for it even if it's awesome. The result is of course horribly corrupted government and failures, which will be blamed on "them". The result is well-known.

There is no "Syrian" identity, so there won't be democracy there. The country must be split up into several small ones or must be governed by a dictator. Any attempt to democracy can only end up in what we see: civil war.

How to determine if a country can operate as a democracy? Simple: "can I guess someone's vote without talking about politics with him?" If not, the country is democracy-capable. If you see a Hungarian on the street, you can't tell how he voted. Actually if you talk to him you'll have trouble to pull anything political out of him until he accepts you as a friend. But in less fortunate places where the color, race, religion, language, tribal membership, gender or other identity marker can tell how he's voting, you are better off forgetting democracy.

Before you'd think this is an ironic piece about the failed identity politics of the USA, no. The USA is fine because the groups whose vote are predictable from their identity are tiny minorities who can't determine the election outcome. Hillary assumed that women will vote for her en masse and they didn't. Most voters are are ready to switch votes or don't even bother to vote. Politics is not tied to their identity.


nightgerbil said...

The reason nation building worked in 1945 germany/japan is because when we went into there we shot everyone who didnt like us. Literally. I've read alot of memoirs from the era from all sides of it. Kesselrings was particularily easy to read. When we occupied germany from 1945-1950 we treated it under harsher rules then the gestapo treated occupied europe. I won't go into nuremberg or discussions on victors justice.

You have admired Ann coulter, she is a fav of mine as well. Her theory that we should invade muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert them to islam might seem extreme. I do believe it would work however if we had the will to kill enough people to make it stick then to sit on them for the next 50 years. They are going to hate us. Their kids will blow themselves up fighting us. Their grand kids will be just like our grandkids though and we will have peace.

we failed in Iraq because we dont have the stomach for the long haul any more. we have become to civilised.

Provi Miner said...

or you put your boot on their throat and force equality down upon them in mass till it becomes a part of their identity. For instance Germany and japan both had "occupying forces" essentially running their government. Like wise this is why communism was successful (till the money ran out). if you are willing to use the bayonet you can force democracy upon a people. Egypt is a good example they were democratic just long enough for the world to say "oh hell no" and out went democracy. Syria is similar you want a pro western dictator slowly dragging them into the modern world. lebenon is a failed example what was the Switzerland of the middle east split apart over identity. You are right in a world without power however the way to democracy in Germany and japan was paved with an allied command holding a bayonet at their throats.

Gevlon said...

@nightgerbil, Provi Miner: the communists occupied Yugoslavia for 40 years and Soviet Union for 70 and did so with extreme tyranny. Any kind of nationalist nonsense got you 10+ years on gulag. But all it achieved is supressing the nationalist nonsense temporarily. As soon as they ran out of money, it came back. So even if we'd oppress Iraq for decades with iron fist, everything would return as soon as we're out.

Anonymous said...

" If you see a Hungarian on the street, you can't tell how he voted"

So, if you see a guy with long hair in dreads, do you think he will vote left, or right?
Ditto for a guy with a skinhead haircut?

You cannot know for sure, but, you can have a fairly good guess at which way someone votes.

Gevlon said...

- guy with long hair in dreads: no idea. He likely didn't vote conservative, but green, liberal, communist, socialist parties are all in play
- skinhead: can be right-extremist or conservative
Both are below-1% minorities who don't matter anyway

ati said...

> So something must have went wrong

Yeah, it's called Islam... All religions are holding progress back. And of all, Islam is the worst and most dangerous.

Gevlon said...

@ati: most Germans and Japanese were religious and democracy worked.
Saudi Arabia is extremist Muslim and still a well-functioning country. Just not a democracy.

Unknown said...

@ Nightgerbil:

Allied occupation in Germany was by far not as severe as Nazi rule! In fact, allied forces relied HEAVILY on German collaboration. The worst nightmare for allied troops was the phantom of "wolverine units".

Contrary to your idiotic statement that allied forces shot pretty much anyone who opposed them, they relied heavily on nazi functionaries in running local administration. Famous nazis who were in control of weapons testing were "exported" to the US or USSR. Wernher von Braun was a despiccable Nazi through and through and his work on the ballistic missiles (V1 and V2) "consumed" thousands of forced labourers.

Same for some engineers who formerly worked for Mauser or Borsig, they cooperated with Kalashnikov, hence why the AK47 functioned and like similar to the StG44...

Despite heavy anti-German propaganda in England and the US, the German people were not warmongering idiots. Germany were rather surprised that Hitler started invading Poland and a lot of them were sceptical, but the media was "synchronized" to only present the Nazi opinion and the quick successes silenced the sceptics at first.

The "Weimar constitution" was a very advanced, modern and well thought constitution. It failed, because it did not hand the democratic forces the means to defend the constitution. So, when Hitler, an outspoken ennemy of democracy come into power, he quickly disposed of the democratic mechanics, abusing the constitutional powers he was given by said contitution.

Germany has forever been a federal or rather a particular state. There are a lot of differences between the different regions and it wasn't until the German Empire was under threat of Napoleon, that "the Germans" developped a sense of national identity...

Back to late 1945, as a consequence of the fatal consequences of the conferences in Casablanca and Yalta, the western Allies were afraid of Germany falling completely into the hands of Bolshevism/communism, therefore not opting for the Morgenthau Plan, but letting West Germany strive just enough as to be a loyal vassal of the West. Because of this, politicians like Adenauer were allowed to organize a new democratic system.

The western allies were not interested in bringing democracy to Europe or else they would not have sold half of Europe, including Hungary to the Bolshevik rule of Stalin.
It was just convenient to let Germany have a democratic rulership to ensure it allegiance to the Western power block...

The decision to bring back German armed forces was controversial, but a sheer necessity after "capitalism" got its ass kicked after 1945, when the US were unsure of the true intentions of Stalin...

So, Germany redesigned its own democracy without western help. There was a democratic tradition before 1933-1945 and people in Germany wanted to have democracy back. It was nothing new. In Iraq though, the Iraqi borders were drawn artificially after WWI, there was no common Iraqi identity and no democratic tradition, but tribal ones...

Anonymous said...

Secularity! Seperation of everyones fuckedup believes and state!

As long as people "want" sharia to be all and end all, why bother? they are not compatible with the west. no significant change at all (pew research center). call me Ph. Obia Anyism all you want. The truly ignorant should get someone to handhold them trough the sources like David Wood (which made this kind of work his pillar of defence for his ex-muslim friends that are under death threat. yes, here his explanation to why he does what he does). Or if you don't want a christian nut talking about the stupidity of islam look for devout muslims. for example brother ismail that 16+ years of brainwashing finally got some scepticism and started to ask valid questions. And if you think this is to misleading, No one stops you from reading the quran and hadith.

Under Hitler it changed for the worst with his best buddy relationship with Amin al-Husseini. the radicalization never stopped, it hit a nerf right in mideast doctrine. Mein Kampf in arabic is a best seller and gets high praises from the arab world ever since. Also the germans lost the Aryan namecalling war. Iran literally means Aryan. Iran won it. The west will have to crush them really hard. They try and now the refugees escape towards germany the promised land and the UK.

Also a good documentary to get the brain going is Bitter Lake (2015) from Adam Curtis.

ati said...

Sure, Germans and Japanese are "religious". Christianity, Shinto and Buddhism are over 2000 years old. They have walked a long way. Today Vatican accepts science. Not only they have evolved since then, but they never were anything like Islam to begin with. And Islam has been stuck in the same spot for 1500 years, nothing has changed.
Oppression is deeply built inside.
Basically religion in Europe is a relic from the past, eventually will fade away. In fact it's already fading away if you compare now to 100 years back. At least Christianity may fade away, who knows what will happen will the millions of "refuges" (hint: nothing good, they don't want to integrate). So your parallel is quite wrong.
And Saudi Arabia... you can say every dictatorship is "well-functioning" :) I really doubt the "elite" of Saudi Arabia is religious. They are simply using the religion as a tool for power.

Anonymous said...


> they never were anything like Islam to begin with.

Crusades, Inquisition and Witch Hunts didn't happen, right?

Not like I'm ever going to defend religion, but facts are facts. While I don't know much about shinto and buddhism, christianity was in fact just like islam now...

Anonymous said...

How about Canada? It's a country with two very different main cultures which don't always get along. The hostility ranged from all out war to violent terrorist acts. Plus there is a whole host of other smaller cultures.

Unknown said...

More than anything, while we continue to entertain the silly western notion that somehow sunnites and chiites can be forced to be "reconciliated", nothing will change, as the other is not just a nationalist view but a religious one, with all the excesses it entails (The Christian world went its own deadly tremors from the inquisition to the religion wars and the Reform, but in our case there was one Pope to represent one side).

Until the islamic world as a whole do their own Reform and stop fighting for the legacy of their prophet, any external influence is just playing one side against another, maintaining them in state of permanent religious warring, and we all know western democracy only started to rise at the tail end of the religious wars in Europe.

Anonymous said...

Japan and Germany were fully backed US puppet states for like 40 years. They were also on the doorstep of other superpowers which they don't particularly want to fall under the thumb of.

Iraq, on the other hand, doesn't really have anyone for it's people to rally against besides the US. The US actually is that threat of a superpower trying to expand it's sphere of influence in their territory in this case.

If there were a long lasting threat to them, and the US maintained control long enough for a couple generations to die, they might be more open to democracy.

nihonballs said...

Japan would not have gone democratic if it wasn't imposed by the US. Japan had already been stable and undemocratic ever since the Meiji Restoration like 70-80 years earlier. The Japanese people do not have a culture of individuality, either.

Generally, democracy arises when you have a strong middle class. This strong middle class is too highly educated, too powerful, and too influential on the economy, to be controlled and subordinated by an elite. The problem with poor and uneducated people is that they lack power, education, and influence, so they fall into line behind elites.

All poor people can do is riot. Putting down a riot is just a matter of paying other poor people to shoot the rioting ones. The poor people are no threat without organization and leadership, which comes from elites.

When the ruling elites do something that fucks over the middle class people, the middle class is smarter about fighting back. They have money, influence, friends, and can impact the economy in ways the poor can't. The middle class tends to promote and support limited democracy, since it protects them from being exploited by the elites.

The biggest problem with attempts at democracy now is universal suffrage. Inviting all the poor to vote only means that the poor get exploited by the elites (like always) and stupidly vote in their short-term interests (give me more stuff! aka socialism) which ends up not only being a drag on the economy, but also opens the door to terrible, corrupt leaders who can exploit a poor power base to suppress the middle class. Venezuela is a good example.

Unknown said...

@ nihonballs:

This is a very interesting and valid point you make there. The so-called middle class is a very important factor for the stability of a society and key to successful democracies.
This theory seems to get strong support by empirical evidence. The middle class in the western democracies are on the decline and so is their democratic stability. Extremist powers are gaining more and more influence, just look at the USA (Trump/Tea party), France (Front National), Germany (AfD), Hungary (Viktor Orban), Poland (PiS).

Unknown said...

Democracy has 2 prerequisites

1. Great majority of people must believe in the same basic principles, whatever those are. Basic principles cannot be compromised, so democracy does not work solving them. Democracy is good to solve smaller issues, where people are ready to give up something.

2. People must be at least somewhat affluent. The majority of State's income must be coming from people's work and taxes, and not from natural resources. This is less obvious, but the reason behind it is simple: in a country where people create the wealth, for both themselves and the ruling elites, the rulers can't just clamp down on freedoms without destroying their own sources of wealth. The rulers must at least pretend and make their citizens happy.
Have you ever wondered how is it that the countries with greatest resources are actually much poorer and prone to violence than their neighbours without them? Look at Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria. Those countries are so chaotic and unsafe because the rulers don't need their citizens to be happy and productive. They only need 1% of population with assault rifles to guard the oil fields, the rest may just as well starve and they don't care at all.

Nihonballs said...

If you look at Iran and Venezuela, they have SOME middle class, which DOES agitate for democratic reform, but in both cases this middle class is being suppressed by the poor, which outnumber them and have their votes/support captured by the ruling elite.

This is why limited democracy is superior to universal suffrage when it comes to transitioning to a democracy. Treating everyone as equal is a fallacy. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, other professionals, and small business owners formed the bourgeoisie core that spread the wealth around from the top few percent into the wider population. These people are worth their weight in gold if your goal is to further democratic reforms. The poor, on the other hand, are sacks of potatoes that aren't worth much of anything economically, and who actively hinder reform by siding with whoever offers them the highest bribes. The highest bribes are always going to come from corrupt elites who must suppress the middle class to some degree to afford these bribes.

If you want a rich economy and a healthy democracy, you must first begin with a LESS democratic system which blocks out the poor and uneducated in favor or educated property owners (stakeholders). The early United States did a great job at this by limiting the right to vote. Full voting rights, even for whites, did not come until after the Civil War. By that time, the middle class was strong enough that allowing the poor to vote did not derail American democracy.

Anonymous said...

People will always vote along race or religious lines. So said the president of Singapore.