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Posts Tagged ‘East-Asia’

Multi-Party ‘Democracies’ are Fundamentally Flawed and Unworkable

April 7, 2021 13 comments

As regular readers know, I have a history of writing about controversial ideas. Consider this as the latest one in that direction. Before we move on to the topic of this post, let me tell you a bit about how I first had this idea. It, years ago, when I tried to understand the reason behind why certain states in India have done so much better than others, even when those in former group had higher levels of systemic corruption than the later. Then after a pause of years, it resurfaced while I was watching vlogs about people living in Japan. More specifically, it came from an odd difference between Japan vs west European countries including Germany.

If you have watched even episodes of Japanology, Japanology plus and other personal vlogs about living in Japan, you start seeing something peculiar in the background. See.. unlike even west European countries (to say nothing about USA) everything in that country is well-maintained, works very well and is orderly. But even more impressive is the fact that average quality of life for people in that country is incredibly good. It goes from high quality and inexpensive food, well-maintained vending machines, excellent convenience stores to well-maintained apartments of various sizes which are affordable to people with even entry-level jobs, public transit that works incredibly well, a medical system which is both very good and affordable. In short, the system in that country is made to work for the majority.

But it doesn’t stop there. In spite of having the highest median age of any major developed country, they can build infrastructure projects on time and budget with minimal inconvenience to people. They were, for example, able to repair all the damage caused by the great Tōhoku earthquake of 2011 far more quickly than western countries faced with smaller disasters. All of this got me thinking- why is Japan as a nation able to keep making things work nicely and get big things done even though it has technically been in a recession for over twenty years. There are those who might chalk this to Japanese exceptionalism or some other moronic stereotype invented why the west. But as it turns out, Japan is far from the exception.

Jut look at how fast East-Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam etc have come from a few decades ago. China has been the world’s largest economy (in real terms) for almost a decade now, South Korea has also done exceptionally well, same with Taiwan. Even the quality of life in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia etc has improved a lot over past few decades. More impressively, the improvement in quality of life for average people in those countries is far more widespread than western countries since 1980. Heck.. even the government of DPRK has more interest in improving the life of people in that country than current western governments have in doing the same for their own.

So what is the common thread running through these successful East-Asian countries? Well.. a person from west might say it is race- however this belief is a consequence of their own ignorance about that part of the world. A far better explanation comes down to the fact that these countries, even the ones which are nominally democracies, are effectively single-party systems. And yes.. the way the Chinese system functions in real-life is far closer to a one-party democracy than a despotic totalitarian system. Here is why.. unlike traditional despotic systems- incompetent people are either not allowed to rise to positions of authority or removed from them once their incompetence becomes obvious. In case you wondering.. this is what voting in democracies is supposed to achieve.

And then there is the issue of corporate capture of governments. See.. unlike multi-party ‘democracies’, countries that are effectively single-party systems are basically immune to capture by corporate interests. That is why countries such as Japan and China can pursue policies to maintain low rents and prices for housing, build good infrastructure on time and budget, ensure maximal levels of employment for their populations etc. This is also why Japan can prioritize the ability of their people to buy high quality and relatively inexpensive food, maintain long-term employment at decent jobs, maintain infrastructure etc even if it means accepting lower rates of profit for corporations. Ironically USA was rather close to a one-party system (in form, if not name) between 1933 and 1973- now widely seen as its golden age.

In summary, one-party systems with some democratic feedback turn out to be far superior to multi-party democracies in real life. A large part of their superiority comes down to the fact that single-party systems with democratic feedback allow long-term thinking and planning to occur. Moreover they are far more resistant to corporate capture and all of the subsequent negative effects than multi-party ‘democracies’. In fact, I would go so far as to say that multi-party ‘democracies’ are only accountable to large corporations and plutocrats. And ya.. almost every single Indian state which has done well compared to the median was effectively a single-party system for decades. Competent governance by people with long-term goals matters far more than levels of systemic corruption.

What do you think? Comments?