Representative democracy is the system in which cynical incompetents promise ignorant foolish voters free ice-cream forever. By its very nature, representative democracy abjures intelligent responses to exogenous shocks and instead substitutes populist responses that create even worse shocks later. This is because very few voters are both well-informed and capable of reasoned judgement. People, for the most part, vote based on half-digested cliches, empty soundbites, habit, and emotion. Even though politicians are in general quite stupid, those who succeed do so because they grasp the need to tell simple-minded lies to a simple-minded electorate.
Not surprisingly, the “policies” that emerge are invariably sub-optimal and very frequently disastrous. But because the consequences of bad policies don’t arrive instantly, the average voter is utterly unaware of the causal chain. Each problem seems, to ordinary people, to emerge from nowhere and is definitely not the result of voting for some inane halfwit whose babble appealed to them because it seemed to offer something for nothing.
Since the beginning of this century we’ve seen populism sweep the globe and an increasingly unsavory band of neofascist demagogues swept into power. We’ve had the grotesque stupidities of Brexit, Trump, Modi, Putin, Bolsonaro, Duterte, PiS, Orban, Erdogan and now Giorgia Meloni. Also boosted by mindless populism have been Le Pen, Salvini, AfD, the UK Conservative Party, and of course the now-blatantly neofascist US Republican Party. So much is obvious.
What seems to have been less noticed is the degree to which political Parties of all persuasions have committed to massive expansion of the State in order to buy voters with their own money. It’s now difficult to remember how limited was the role of the State even a mere four decades ago, because today whenever there’s any well-publicized crisis the State steps in and throws money at whatever the problem seems to be. And all this is done without any concern about the ruinous implications. All that matters is to placate voters today, and damn the consequences later.
Today, countries are borrowing vast sums (to add to their already unsustainable public debt) in order to throw money at the so-called…