A quick update, then liberals and democracy, followed by racism and rectification

I have been busy. I picked up a gig at RealClearHistory as a ghost editor, and I also write a weekly column there. I have a baby daughter (she’s 8 months old). My musings here at NOL have been sporadic, but I have been learning a lot. Bill (morality) and Federico (law and liberty) continue to make me smarter.

Tridivesh’s thoughts here so far have a heavy element of “democracy-is-best” in them. I find this to be the case for most South Asian liberals. I wonder if this community has had the time to ponder Fareed Zakaria’s The Future of Freedom…, which laments the fact that most liberals worldwide have eschewed the “liberty” in the phrase “liberty and democracy.” One is surely sexier than the other, and there are probably many pragmatic reasons for this phenomenon, but it’s worth repeating here that you can’t have liberal democracy without liberty. China holds elections all the time, but this doesn’t mean the Chinese are free.

Michelangelo’s most recent note on race is interesting, as always. If it’s just the US Census then I agree with Thomas: eliminate the race question. Matt’s idea, to leave it blank and let people fill it in themselves, is a good idea, too, provided the Census continues to pry too much into the lives of people living in the US. As far as race goes in general, the American system of classification is ridiculous (to be fair to us, I’ve never come across a good one). However, the US government has committed some heinous crimes based on racist classifications and as such I do think there is a need to continue asking race-based questions. My approach would be much simpler, though. I’d ask:

  • Do you identify as African-American?
  • Do you identify as Native American?
  • Do you identify as Japanese-American?

That’s it. Those are the only 3 questions I would ask about race. These three groups are groups because the US government, at some point in time, classified them as such and then proceeded to implement plans that robbed them of their labor, or their land, or their freedoms, and justice has yet to be delivered.

4 thoughts on “A quick update, then liberals and democracy, followed by racism and rectification

  1. “Tridivesh’s thoughts here so far have a heavy element of “democracy-is-best” in them. I find this to be the case for most South Asian liberals.”

    I agree with Tridivesh. I’ve read Fareed Zakariya’s book, and the point he makes is valid as far as it goes (that democracy isn’t always the best guarantor of liberty). But in a place like Pakistan, there really is no feasible route to liberty but the slow development of democracy. The only other alternatives are military dictatorship or theocracy. Liberty can’t successfully be imposed on an uncomprehending population. The population needs buy-in, and democracy is the only way to get it. I was very skeptical that the current Sharif government would do the right thing for Pakistan, but on the whole, it has. Whether Sharif has done better than Bhutto would have done is impossible to know, but he’s certainly doing better than his predecessors, which is something. It would just be unfortunate if the progress he’s made were derailed by policies as drastic and apparently ill-conceived as Trump’s.

    Part of the problem in converting a country like Pakistan to liberty is the as-yet unresolved puzzle of how you convert a feudal economy to a capitalist one without lapsing into socialism or some militarized-fascist form of state capitalism. However it’s done, the transition requires oversight and transparency of a kind that arises with a democracy of some kind.

    • Thanks for the congrats, Dr K.

      On democracy, I figured as much. Too many smart, decent people are democrats for me to just throw it away. I think there’s gotta be some cultural stuff in here. Eastern Europeans, South/East Asians, and Americans, for example, seem much more pessimistic of democracy than, say, Latin Americans, Africans, and South Asians. I’ll continue to chip away at this.

      (I’m a democrat, by the way. Check out me and Chhay Lin going at it on democracy back in ’15.)

  2. Big secret, Brandon. Congratulations but I do’t know why you did not say anything. Is it because you are shy or because you are terrified the poor child will look like you?

Please keep it civil

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