Of all the many good reasons to despise Communism, none of them appear to have any meaning to the American left. Millions murdered under torture? Ah well, you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. From New York Times reporter Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverup of Stalin's genocide in the Ukraine to today's Democratic politicians who envy the Chinese government's ability to build infrastructure without worrying about trivia like property rights and human lives, there is no evil so foul that Communism could commit which would end the adulation and adoration of Western leftist elites.
Until today! Yes, for the first time, China's Communist rulers have come out with a position that is too nauseating, too extreme, too all-round bad even for the left to stomach. What could it be? New death camps? Murder of children born as well as unborn? Extermination of yet another religion?
No. What finally has driven the Left to look at Communism with new, more suspicious eyes, is the statement of Hong Kong's top government official, CY Leung, that open elections cannot be held because poor people would vote.
Speaking at his official residence, a colonial-era mansion set above the city—it’s furnished with crystal chandeliers and guarded by massive stone lions—Leung addressed three foreign newspapers that target Hong Kong’s wealthy international community. Allowing the entire voting population of Hong Kong, some 5 million people, to directly nominate candidates for the city’s top official position would be a mistake, Leung said:
“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”
Mr. Leung did the same math Mitt Romney did when he expounded on the 47% of government dependents who always vote for Democrats, and realized that the same truths apply in Hong Kong. Like the rest of modern China, Hong Kong is a place where vast wealth is possible and where wealth is easily converted into power. As always, the majority of ordinary people never get anywhere close to either wealth or power and are jealous. Rather than think of ways in which he can increase opportunity for the poor to better themselves, Mr. Leung considers it easier to just not let them vote.
In this, as a practical matter, he is transparently right. For those of us from "the great democracies," it's natural that we'd find those views unpleasant, but we need to check our premises!
America, at least, was never designed nor intended to be a democracy. It was supposed to be a representative republic, and for very good reasons.
In Federalist 10, James Madison, the father of our Constitution, wrote:
It may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
In other words: when everything is up to the vote of everybody, woe to you if you happen to be on the losing side of a vote.
That is what worries Mr. Leung. As a rich and successful entrepreneur, he knows there are a whole lot more have-nots than there are people like him. In a pure democracy, the have-nots will overwhelmingly have the votes to pass laws confiscating his hard-earned wealth.
Being able to read newspapers, he knows that that is exactly what we have seen over the years in all democratic societies, as government has grown and put into place confiscatory laws that rob from the rich and give to the poor in return for their votes. Traditionally, America has done less of this than the welfare states of Europe, though that is changing.
The Chinese, being newcomers to capitalism, have realized that they don't want to go down that route. How have they reached this decision? Because they've already been down it - that's what Communism is. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
Every single significant Chinese leader and government official is old enough to have lived through some very dark times and to have heard from their parents of the even darker times of Mao's "Great Leap Forward" and 5-Year Plans that killed tens of millions and ruined the lives of hundreds of millions more. That is where class envy and pure democracy - better described as mobocracy - inevitably lead, from the first Athenian democracy to the crushed economies of Italy and Greece today.
The Chinese leadership would prefer to die comfortably in their beds. They'll do anything to avoid another Communist revolution. The rewards of capitalism are still too new for them to be taken for granted as most Westerners do. They actually value economic freedoms and are willing to defend them even against world public opinion.
In this, they are following in the footsteps of America's founders. Our great thinkers knew that individual rights and liberties were too important to be entrusted to the whims of a mob, so they established a Constitution and Bill of Rights. They knew that good governance requires time to think, ponder, and debate, so they set up checks and balances with differing term lengths for politicians to give them breathing space in times of popular frenzy.
Most of all, they recognized that having a pulse does not mean you ought to be able to vote, as we've said before. Nobody can dispute that the American government worked a lot better in the days of the Founders than it does today - obviously there were racial injustices that we would never want to repeat, but the general principle of a more restricted franchise had clean and concrete merits.
It seems to be beyond the ability of modern Americans to study and understand the wisdom of our Founders. Fortunately for the Chinese, their leaders have no such limitations, nor are they afraid to consider ideas simply because they're from another country or century.
Yes, China needs to improve political freedom, at least a bit. But if the Chinese bow to the demands of Occupy Hong Kong, the end result will be a tyranny even worse than that of the rest of modern Communist China. And nobody would want that...
...except, of course, our American Left, always on the wrong side of justice, morality, history and reality.
Over the past five years, the editors have been secretly working on a book that summarizes the fundamental viewpoints of Scragged.