We have all heard the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Too many of my partisan friends do not take that saying as fact. Some believe it is only true when their favored party is the one without power, as if to assert "My side is good, and those other people are the evil ones." Some people I have met during my travels, believe in total power: unlimited government, with power concentrated in one leader, whipping a nation into ever higher levels of world esteem and influence.
As I write this rant, there is a heightened level of global unrest. My home town, home country, host country, and others are suffering the consequences of nations failing to cope with issues of power and governance. One example, among many, is the Migrant Caravan moving through Mexico, enroute to the southern border border of the United States. The migrants are leaving their homelands to escape violence, corruption, and lack of opportunity. Mexico is unwilling and incapable of taking in the migrants, and the USA government led by Donald Trump intends to refuse them entry. More migrants are massed on the borders of European countries. There is political violence as attempts to mail bomb popular entertainers, politicians, journalists, and news organizations. Other violence includes the killing by Saudi Arabia, in Turkey, of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and bombings, shootings, and cuttings in resistance of elections in Afghanistan. Considering these, we see how the rich expect government to protect them from the poor; the poor expect protection from the rich, one religion from other religions, one race from other races, dictators from the dictators' victims. Distilling the issues, governance is very much about about management of competing interests and protecting the rights of the governed.
There would be no surges of migrants if the developed countries had prioritised good governance as a prerequisite for trade, enforcing policies with the threat of regime change as a solution for bad governance. Instead, developed countries followed neglectful policies, favoring narrow business and social interests over broad progressive values. The solution is not interstate welfare. The solution is governance by values necessary for countries to prosper, people to consider their homelands as worthy of habitation, and countries in need of young immigrants to get them. Mankind (you and I) will live and die by the situations it (you and I) create.
I could truly rant for thousands of words about the small men, with small minds, little mushroom peckers, and no souls who appear in the news each day doing and saying abominable things in defense of their concepts of effective government. Instead, I will share some quotes from people who are better with words and will clarify our main idea. Checks and balances on power are essential. A requirement to share power and peacefully relinquish it at regular intervals is essential. Respect for good governance, self governance, and rule of law is essential. Without these, human catastrophe is the result.
The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury, or long life or happiness: only power, pure power … We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes a revolution to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture … How does one man assert his power over another? … By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering how can you be sure he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
We made our approach into what had been the international airport at Phnom Penh. At the edge of the forest there appeared a pyramid of rusting cars like objects in a mirage. The pile included ambulances, a fire engine, police cars, refrigerators, washing machines, generators, television sets, telephones and typewriters. ‘Here lies the modern age,’ a headstone might have read, ‘abandoned 17 April 1975, Year Zero.’ From that date, anybody who had owned such ‘luxuries’, anybody who had lived in a city or town, anybody with more than a basic education or who had acquired a modern skill, anybody who knew or worked for foreigners, was in danger. Many would die.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 22:35-40
We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end as well as a beginning, signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago. The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe: the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
It was that model of integration which unfolded in the United States in the late 19th Century that we sought to replicate around the planet, concentrating first on the West and hoping over time that would spread to other countries. It has. We now call that model, originally defined as a liberal international trade order, we call globalization. That scheme of integration and encouraging connectivity between countries has spread around the planet to an amazing degree, creating for the first time in human history a global middle class of roughly sixty percent of the world's population - a quick tripling of what could be described as a middle class back in 1950. So, tremendous success across the Cold War replicating that model, but there are parts of the world where that model has not yet extended. Those parts of the world tend to be places where you can find ninety percent of the inter and intra state violence, where you find virtually all of the terrorist activity, Where you find famines and political instability, where governements have a hard time keeping leaders for more than two or three years or getting rid of them in less than thirty.
In the 1960s, Rosner was working for a program created by President Lyndon Johnson, called "Volunteers In Service To America" (VISTA). He coined a short phrase for use in attracting volunteers, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." The phase caught on and was notably used by popular civil rights leaders Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and others. Paul Ryan even used the phrase to argue his side of a budget debate.
If you think your country belongs to one family, one race, one religion, or one political party, know that you are well on the way to being "one of those unfortunate stateless people." Even the totalitarians of the Far East are among the walking dead of nations - awaiting the collision of debt, famine, internal uprisings, and conflict with well armed functional nations. Find a safe place, buy popcorn, and watch...