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"In this gloomy state of affairs, the brightest spot is America. In America democracy still appears well established, and the men in power deal with what is amiss by constructive measures, not by pogroms and wholesale imprisonment."

Oh.




How the mighty have fallen.


I dunno. Life would not have been that great for me in 1950s America.

On a large-scale, I agree. On the one hand, I would like to see the US transition to being a regional power, not a global one. Think UK now, versus UK 100 years ago. That said, human nature abhors a power vacuum, and I would rather live under US rule than under Russian, Chinese, or Islamic rule. I know what to do and what not to do under US rule. Also, I can do most things that I want to do without having to deal with common-place gangsterism.


> I know what to do and what not to do under US rule.

That's not a benefit of living in the US over living in China or under any other tyrannical rule.

People under Kim Jong-Un's rule know exactly what to do: Avoid upsetting him in any way, or perhaps more accurately, avoid giving him an excuse to fuck up your life. In a broader sense, the same principle applies anywhere where people have rulers.

If you upset your rulers, you will be punished for your insolence, no matter if it's saying bad things about The King/Emperor/Putin/Mao/Hitler, smoking a certain herb, pointing out the government isn't following its own rules, or collecting rainwater on your property.

Sure, it's much nicer to live in a "representative" (hah!) democracy than in Russia, but the fundamental arrangement is the exact same everywhere: rulers ruling over their subjects.


> Also, I can do most things that I want to do without having to deal with common-place gangsterism.

If I start a business in Canada (or the US) I can expect minimal to no interference from the government, organized crime, or the military. My impression is that this is not true in China or Russia.

If I want to build a rocket, I can actually do that and launch it while complying with minimal regulatory oversight. Maybe it would be different if I were Muslim.

Basically, there aren't too many things that I want to do that living under US rule prevents me from doing, whereas the same is not true for other regimes.

EDIT>

> Sure, it's much nicer to live in a "representative" (hah!) democracy than in Russia, but the fundamental arrangement is the exact same everywhere: rulers ruling over their subjects.

The details matter.


> If I start a business in Canada (or the US) I can expect minimal to no interference from the government

I already acknowledged it's nicer to live in "The West" than in Russia for example.

But if you start a credit union with the intention of genuinely competing with the banks, the government will "regulate" you out of business for being a nuisance to the banking cartel.

In other words, the true nature of our societies comes into view, and as I pointed out, that nature is the exact same everywhere. The difference is that you live under a polished turd, whereas Russians don't.

> The details matter.

In a fundamental sense, they don't matter at all. A ruler is a ruler, and a subject is a subject, and ruling over people always involves coercion.

Coercion is, by definition, against anyone's will, and so no one is genuinely fine with being ruled.


> Coercion is, by definition, against anyone's will, and so no one is genuinely fine with being ruled.

But again, the details matter. In a practical sense, there's no stark difference between mild coercion and compromise. One could argue that compromise is voluntary whereas, trivially, coercion is not, but this just discards a large part of human experience.

I got married voluntarily. I had kids voluntarily. I choose to have friends, rather than isolating myself. Although all of these decisions were voluntary, their constraints on my behaviour are more onerous than anything dictated by my government. So if government coercion is less restrictive than social coercion / compromise, what's the point of taking a dogmatic stance?

EDIT> No man is an island.


"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." - Winston Churchill


Hm? I feel like this still applies reasonably well to America.

For all of the radical lunacy in our politics, our government's actual actions remain fairly moderate. (Of course maybe that's because political gridlock prevents us from having time to enact radical policy.) And we still are leading the world in all sorts of things, like scientific progress and technological progress.


Moderate? Hardly.

- The war on drugs is utterly radical, as well ineffective and brutally oppressive.

- Assassinating people (including Americans) by Drone strikes, based on "meta data". No due process or oversight.

- Disregard for the Geneva Conventions (Bombings of hospitals and other civilian targets)

- Torture. Including public defense of torture.

- NSA. Privacy used to be an inalienable right.

- Military bases in 200+ countries.

The list goes on, but I think I've made my point. The US is only "moderate" for the most creative definitions of "moderate".


74 countries according to this article:

http://qz.com/374138/these-are-all-the-countries-where-the-u...

Point stands, nonetheless. That's a lot.


I appreciate the correction.


Don't forget considering universal healthcare to be an abomination.


Yeah, those things you quoted don't seem like counterexamples. Compare to: assassinations as regular political tools, enslavement of minorities, internment camps, genocide, religious warfare, an utter lack of rule of law, hereditary rule, ..

I think we're doing pretty well compared to civilizations of yore.


>> we still are leading the world in all sorts of things

Sure, the US is in a pretty nice spots on technological progress, agriculture and has a rather strong economy.

But I wouldn't say "we" (not everyone on HN is American!) are leading the world in all sort of things.

American democracy is far behind what happens in other countries (like Sweden), totally corrupted by the pressure of lobbying groups and a certain political microcosme. It's also hard to compare the levels of poverty of the US to most "advanced" European countries for instance... Let's not even talk about healthcare and education.


I would never quote Sweden as an example of democracy. It is bad case of "political correctness terror", if anything.


There's a difference between somewhere that is undemocratic, and somewhere with a democratic government you don't agree with.

You may be right about Sweden having a poorly democratic system, but the fact that you find the tone of the society to be problematic is not evidence of that.


> I would never quote Sweden as an example of democracy.

Yeah. It's a monarchy.


What exactly do you mean by "American democracy"? What do you mean by "democracy" to begin with? On what basis do you compare "American democracy" to "Swedish democracy"?


I interpreted that part as being relevant given some of the statements from the Presidential nomination process going on today. That said, this point in the nomination process is not very indicative of where things end up.

Potentially more directly related is that there was some wholesale imprisonment that occurred in America a few years after Russell wrote that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_America...


Most of what the US is leading the world is in how much military we have and how much we incarcerate. Technological improvements, health improvements, life expectancy, etc. are no longer US led.




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