Monday, February 19, 2007

More Flies with Sugar

In regards to My Foreign Policy Revolution, I’d like to clarify a point that has been brought up in comments: This policy is my solution for making people free.  I’m not suggesting that it’s hopeless and we just allow people to remain subjugated.  I’m saying this is the answer to that problem.  Because this is what’s always worked and nothing else has.

For as much as we talk about supporting freedom and democracy, what does that mean?  How do you go about that?  It’s my belief that we do so by including those countries into our system, selling them our goodies and buying their goodies.  And overall, showing them how great America is and why they should trust us and be like us.

And the chief aim of this is to develop multi-layered power structures in these countries.  To encourage entrepreneurship and whatnot.  That way, the evil leader doesn’t have all the strings of power.  As the economic system expands and more businesses are needed, the leader will have to rely more and more upon other people to handle everything.  And prosperity will also mean more work, and increasing wages and skills in these countries.

Soon, they’ll have a strong middle-class that will demand the freedoms that an economically impoverished people can not.  Rather than freedom being granted by the evil leader, it will be taken by the middle and upper classes, who the leader needs to satisfy.  Eventually, this will form into a democracy that could never be attained by bullets and bombs.

This is a really simplistic version of what happens, but this is how it works.  This is how we promote freedom.  Not through economic sanctions, which will always do far more harm to the people we’re trying to save; but through economic freedom.  First comes the money, then comes the power, then comes the women…or something like that.  But this really is how it works.

So rather than alienating countries and creating all kinds of pressures to make this happen, we just need to sit back, share the wealth, and watch it happen on its own.  And sure, that takes longer; but nothing else has worked.  And this has always worked…eventually.  Remember, dictators want an enemy, they want their people poor and powerless; so why are we giving it to them?  

I say we deny them this, give them their recognition and trade deals; and just wait for them to be undermined by our system.  Capitalism and democracy aren’t the best systems because people like them.  They’re the best systems because they work the best; if we’ll let them.  And we need to stop putting artificial roadblocks in the way preventing that from happening.  We do these things to punish the leaders, but we’re not pushing leaders, we’re punishing the citizens.  And it’s not working and only helps the leaders we’re trying to punish.  And it’s all arbitrary anyway, where we often coddle evil leaders who would be overthrown if we’d allow them to be.  This is insane.

I’m not suggesting that we turn a blind-eye to open genocide.  But Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, and all kinds of other hotspots are taking advantage of our lame policies by allowing us to stifle the very system we believe in.  And I can guarantee you that China’s starting to do the exact opposite; and is going to be granting more and more freedom every year.  They can’t help it.  We keep buying their shit, and they keep having to share the wealth and power their shit brings in.  This is how it works.  We need a policy that will let that work everywhere.  It will take time, but it’s the only thing that works.

By the way, this theory of mine was stolen from Isaac Asimov, and his Foundation Trilogy (which ceased being a trilogy when he screwed up by writing crappy additions in his old age).  Specifically, from the first book in the series, Foundation, which is totally awesome.  It also comes from Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People, which is quite interesting, but not nearly as fun as the Asimov.


whig said...

You are missing an important detail when you talk about America exporting freedom. We need to free ourselves first. So long as cannabis is prohibited, despite being benign and medically important to people, and especially in light of its first amendment significance as a religious sacrament for many faiths, America is not living up to its own contract.

whig said...

I drill on cannabis because it is what can help us to perceive how to make our new social contract, to preserve what is worth keeping and build upon that, to replace what is shoddy and broken.

That some might be skeptical of this, I have no doubt, but it is true, and I have seen this for myself. We are the Second Foundation in your metaphor, perhaps.

John of the Dead said...

Actually, first you get the *sugar*, then you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women. You start with the sugar.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Whig - While I don't necessarily deny what you say, I'm not so sure that is essential before we can export freedom. Besides, I think this is yet another area where our rights will soon be taken by us, not granted to us from above. Once the older generations slowly dwindle away, I think there's going to be a whole new revelation on the political advantages of promoting legalization.

Besides, just think of the harm we'd do to many improvished nations, were we to legalize drugs and stop importing them from abroad. The damage to Mexico's economy alone would be staggering. And in that respect, these legal barriers help promote a self-sufficiency in these nations which would otherwise be forced to take handouts.

So don't think of it as Big Brother curtailing your liberty. Think of it as a reverse-tariff designed to aid economically-deprived nations. And as such, any purchasers of said reverse-tariffed items are nothing less than business financiers helping to solve the economic inequalities in those nations. And that goes double for the patriotic heroin-lovers helping to refinance Afghanistan in a post-terrorist environment.

whig said...

Doctor Biobrain, considered on purely economic grounds, you are rational and sound like the very best of the traditional conservative mind.

However, my concern is more for the social and less for the contract. There is more to life than many people realize, there is music and art and love and there is also the reduction of pain and suffering which cause anger and rage and violence that leads to war. These things cannabis can aid, without toxicity to the user.

That cannot be said for heroin, nor other drugs which you might analyze as economic substitutes for cannabis. We do need to change our approach to one of regulation, because prohibition clearly does not work and creates more harm than good. In all of these cases the approach should be harm reduction.

But cannabis is different, it is as benign as tea. Limiting it to adults and taxing it would be an achievable goal and would make it easier for tobacco smokers to switch to a safer alternative among other benefits. I could and won't write a complete essay in the comments for you.

Economics is called the dismal science, and contract law is what we use when our social institutions of resolution fail. We don't like to make contracts too formal, because they are straightjackets. We've found a need for them as an alternative to worse kinds of dispute resolution, such as you might see in the streets of Baghdad today.