Sunday, April 15, 2012

Very Interesting Addition to my Blogroll

The DiploMad 2.0: a retired U.S. diplomat.  Some quite interesting postings, such as this one about "Corvettes, Frederick Douglass & Liberal Hypocrisy." and this one about "China's Century":
I love Chinese history; been to China several times; and like and respect the Chinese people--they work hard, they like Americans, and want to study and live in America. I have dealt with China's very slick, tough, and well-trained diplomats. That said, I have found it impressive over the years to see how China has transformed itself from a poor, brutal authoritarian police state into a poor, brutal, authoritarian police state with large foreign currency reserves. Sorry, but shoddily-built skyscrapers, and streets clogged with Fords, BMWs, Lexus, and Buicks, and lined with luxury stores and restaurants cannot hide the hard facts.
Confucius's 2500-year old Analects still provides an accurate account of China's philosophy of governance in which every person has an assigned role; failure to keep to it has dire consequences. I saw the repression at work in a visit to Tibet which escaped the control of our handlers. Even outside Tibet the legal system, to put it mildly, remains opaque, capricious, subject to political manipulation, and harsh. Avoid Chinese cops--who seem to be everywhere--and courts. For all the vaunted economic progress, control of the legal-political system remains with an unelected and corrupt Communist Party cadre. These rulers have agreed among themselves that not one will have the total power once wielded so disastrously by Mao. The top jobs rotate; major decisions are not made solo. Progress? I don't know. We saw a similar development in the USSR after Stalin: how is the USSR doing these days? The people remain cut out. The elite decide what's best, the people must comply--see Confucius. This secretive, stale, corrupt, aloof, and repressive system remains a major hindrance for China's development as a true power. Despite ham-handed attempts to block outside influence, word spreads of ways to live which do not involve fear and blind loyalty. We probably will not see a Chinese 21st century, but we will see a "Chinese Spring," and it could get nasty.


  1. Thanks for the plug. Just added you to The Diplomad blogroll. All the best.

  2. Confucius sounds quite a bit like Plato. We see the same philosophies at both ends of Eurasia.

  3. Realist, that situation sounds exactly like what Beccarin (iirc) warned about with regard to democracy, that it can only last until the public realizes it can vote itself largesse from the treasury.

  4. Mauser: I think you might mean Bastiat. I don't recall Beccaria writing anything about that.

  5. In defense of Confucius, I read an article comparing his school of philosophy to that of the Taoists, and explained that Confucius's philosophy is more libertarian than we Westerners have been led to believe. Of course, both philosophies are thousands of years old, and both have been used to justify both freedom and tyranny over the centuries.

    If I recall correctly, the person discussing this pointed out that the current Chinese government has resurrected an ancient Chinese philosophy of Legalism, which is basically "Do as you're told, and have the harshest punishments for the slightest offences, because otherwise people will run amok." This philosophy has been mostly dormant, but for some reason I can't quite put my finger on, Communists find it very attractive.

    Indeed, it's very hard to imagine Legalism supporting any form of liberty.

    Of course, there's an interesting story of why the philosophy fell out of vogue. It is said that a group of soldiers, marching to the Capitol to report for fighting in a war, were delayed by a tree that fell onto the road, said to themselves, "We're going to be executed for being late...and we'd be executed if we were caught as we might as well betray our government, and overthrow it or die trying!" As they approached the Capitol, and people learned of their intentions, their group grew larger and larger until they were big enough to just overthrow the government with ease.

  6. Thanks for letting me know the Diplomad is back.