Dear open-minded progressive, I’ve been holding out on this one way too long. What is to be done? Let’s try and actually answer the question this time.
To be precise: by what procedures might a 20th-century liberal democracy be converted, safely, permanently and with reasonable continuity of administration, into a sovereign corporation that can be trusted to deliver secure, reliable and effective government? If you, dear open-minded progressive, chose to agree with me that this is actually a good idea, how might we go about trying to make it happen?
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, my father’s parents were CPUSA activists, so I do have a personal heritage of quasi-religious conspiratorial revolutionary thinking. But revolutionary tactics and structures are not, in general, useful to reactionaries. A restoration is the opposite of a revolution. Both imply regime change, but both apoptosis and necrosis involve cell death. There is no continuum between the two.
The signature performance of the modern revolution is the irregular military parade. I.e.: cars or pickup trucks full of well-armed youths in their colorful native attire, driving up and down your street while (a) honking, (b) waving hand-lettered banners, (c) chanting catchy slogans, and (d) discharging their firearms in a vaguely vertical direction. Occasionally one of the vehicles will pull up in front of a house and discharge its occupants, who enter the building and emerge with an infidel, racist, Jew, spy, polluter, Nazi or other criminal. The offender is either restrained for transportation to an educational facility, or enlightened on the spot as an act of radical social justice. Yes, we can!
Whereas in the ideal restoration, the transfer of power from old to new regime is as predictable and seamless as any electoral transition. With all rites, procedures and rituals correct down to the fringe on the Grand Lama’s robe, the Armani suits on his Uzi-toting bodyguards, and the scrimshaw on the yak-butter skull-candle he lights and blows out three times while chanting “Obama! Obama! Llama Alpaca Obama!” The Heavenly Grand Council releases itself from the harsh bonds of existence, identifies its successor, asks all employees to remove their personal belongings from their offices, and instructs senior eunuchs to report for temporary detention.
Obviously, we live in America and we have no Grand Lama. However, our government has a clear procedure for 100% legal closure: it can pass a constitutional amendment which terminates the Constitution. While it would be foolish to insist on this level of legal purity, it would be crass to not aspire to it.
But let’s acquire a little neutral distance by saying that we live in Plainland, we are presently ruled by Plaingov, and we wish to replace it with Plaincorp. The transition should be a total reset: the policies, personnel and procedures of Plaincorp have nothing in common, except by coincidence, with the operations of Plaingov. Of course, Plaincorp inherits Plaingov’s assets, but with a completely new decision framework. Arbitrary restructuring can be expected.
For obvious reasons, I prefer the word reset. But English does have a word (borrowed from French) for a discontinuous transition in sovereignty: coup. Not every coup is a reset, but every reset is a coup. The French meaning, a blow or strike, is a perfect shorthand for a discontinuous transition of sovereignty. If this transition involves a complete replacement of the sovereign decision structure, it is a reset. For example, if Plaingov’s military initiates a reset, as obviously it will always have the power to, we would be looking at a military reset.
I am not a high-ranking military officer and I doubt you are either, and if the military reset is the only possible transition structure neither of us has much to contribute. While in my opinion just about every country on earth today would benefit from a transition to military government, the whole point of a military coup is that unless you are actually a member of the General Staff, your opinion doesn’t matter. So why should we care? It is hard to be interested in the matter.
(I should note, however, that according to Gallup America’s most trusted institution is—you guessed it. Followed directly by “small business” and “the police.” The military is almost three times as popular as the Press. It is six times as popular as Congress. You do the math, kids! When the tanks finally roll, there will be no shortage of cheering. (And oddly enough, the other half of the Cathedral did not make the poll. Perhaps it fell off the bottom, and was discarded.))
The only alternative to a military coup is a political coup, or to be catchy a democoup. In a democoup, the government is overthrown by organizing a critical mass of political opposition to which it surrenders, ideally just as the result of overwhelming peer pressure. Certainly the most salient example is the fall of the Soviet Union, including its puppet states and the wonderfully if inaccurately named Velvet Revolution. (Again, a reaction is not a revolution.) Other examples include the Southern Redemption, the Meiji Restoration, and of course the English Restoration.
In each of these events, a broad political coalition deployed more or less nonviolent, if seldom perfectly legal, tactics to replace a failed administration with a new regime which was dedicated to the restoration of responsible and effective government. Note that all of these are real historical events, which actually happened in the real world. I did not just make them up and edit them into Wikipedia. Yes, dear open-minded progressive, change can happen.
If there is one fact to remember about a restoration via democoup, it’s that this program has nothing to do with the traditional 11th-grade civics-class notion of democratic participation. Obviously, we are not trying to replace one or two officials whose role is primarily symbolic. We are trying to replace not the current occupants of the temporary and largely-ceremonial “political” offices of Plaingov, but Plaingov itself—lock, stock and barrel. Indeed, we are using democratic tactics to abolish democracy itself. (There is nothing at all ironic in this. Is it ironic when an absolute monarch decrees a democratic constitution?)
By definition, a reset is a nonincremental transition. To the extent that there is some gradual algorithm which slowly weakens Plaingov and pulls it inexorably toward the brink of implosion, gradualist tactics may be of use. But the tactics are useful only as they promote the goal, and the goal is not gradual.
We are all familiar with gradual revolutions, on the Fabian or Gramscian plan. And tactics are tactics, for good or evil: in the war between the hosts of Heaven and the armies of Satan, both the demons and the angels drive tanks and fly jet fighters. So why is it that history affords many examples of sudden revolution, many examples of gradual revolution, some examples of sudden reaction, and almost no examples of gradual reaction?
Even if we had no explanation for this observation, it is always imprudent to mess with Clio. But we do have an explanation: revolution, being fundamentally antinomian (opposed to law and order), is entropic. Revolution is the destruction of order, degradation into complexity. Slow destruction is decay, cancer and corrosion. Rapid destruction is annihilation, fire and gangrene. Both are possible. Sometimes they form a delightful cocktail.
But reaction, being pronomian (favoring law and order), is the replacement of complex disorder with simple geometric forms. If we assume that disorder snowballs and creates further disorder, a common entropic phenomenon (think of the cascade of events that turns a normal cell into a cancerous cell), any attempt at a gradual reaction is fighting uphill. You treat cancer cells by killing them, not by turning them back into healthy, normal tissue.
Of course, this is just a metaphor. We are not killing people. We are liquidating institutions. Let’s try and keep this in mind, kids.
But not too much in mind, because the metaphor of termination is critical. Metaphorically, here is how we’re going to liquidate Plaingov: we’re going to hit it extremely hard in the head with a sharp, heavy object which traverses a short throw at very high speed. Then we’ll crush its body under an enormous roller, dry the pancake in a high-temperature oven, and grind it into a fine powder which is mixed with molten glass and cast as ingots for storage in a deep geological cavity, such as a salt mine. The shaft is filled with concrete and enclosed by a dog-patrolled double fence with the razor-wire facing inward. This still may not work, but at least it’s a shot.
Less metaphorically, the starting point for a democoup is a program. Call it X. Success involves (a) convincing a large number of people to support the proposition that X should be done, and (b) organizing them to act collectively so as to make X happen.
To define the democoup we have to explain what it’s not: civics-class democracy. Let’s try a farcical experiment in civics-class democracy, just to see how pointless it is.
We start, obviously, by forming the Mencist Party. A new product in the marketplace of ideas. Of course, we have new ideas, so we need a new brand. In the classic democratic spirit, our new party must organize itself around either (a) a shared vision of government policy (“racist corporate fascism,” let’s say), (b) a flamboyant personality (me, obviously), or (c) both.
The Mencist Party faces obstacles so huge as to be comical. First: what is racist corporate fascism? Since Mencism is out beyond the fringes of the fringes, it will only attract supporters who are genuinely passionate about our vision of racist corporate fascism. Of course this label is designed to attract only the most independent-minded of independent thinkers—to put it gently. Therefore, racist corporate fascism must become a “big tent” which, for the sake of enlarging itself and appearing important, embraces all supporters whose views can be vaguely described as racist corporate-fascist.
In fact I have no idea what “racist corporate fascism” might be. I just like the name. But this is reckless, and it causes problems. For example, is RCF anti-Semitic, or not? Of course, I, Mencius, am not anti-Semitic, but do I strain every muscle to purge Mencists who express what may be very mild anti-Semitic views? If so, the Mencist Party will become an Avakianesque exercise in cult leadership. If not, it will become a blurry, lager-soaked exercise in vulgar plebeian puerility, à la Stormfront. Of course, all Mencists must support the political candidacy of Mencius (who will no doubt decline into referring to himself in the third person). But will anyone else? Ha.
More generally, it’s easy to see the organizational difficulty of constructing a movement around a vision of government, whether a detailed policy vision (Sailer’s plan for school reform comes to mind), or a general theory of government such as libertarianism. If our supporters are required to think in the democratic tense, to imagine themselves or at least their ideas in power, we have taken on an extraordinary boat-anchor of unproductive internal infighting. What is libertarianism? Dear God. There’s a fine line between herding cats and being herded by them.
And if supporters are required to elect a public personality whom they conceive as a personal friend, much as the readers of People imagine that they know Brad Pitt, it (a) only takes one tiff to estrange this fragile bond, and (b) does not ensure that the Leader will have any actual power when he does get into office. Like today’s Presidents, all of whom have been actors (that is, their job is to read from scripts written by others) for the last 75 years, he will spend most of his time trying to retain the fickle sycophants who put him where he is.
Our modern democratic elections are an extremely poor substitute for actual regime change. As we’ve seen, democracy is to government as gray, slimy cancer is to pink and healthy living tissue. It is a degenerate neoplastic form. The only reason America has lasted as long as she has, and even still has more than a few years left, is that this malignancy is at present encysted in a thick husk of sclerotic scar tissue—our permanent civil service. Democracy implies politics, and “political” is a dirty word to the civil-service state. As well it should be. Its job is to resist democracy, and it does it very well.
Therefore, any attempt to defeat the sclerotic Cathedral state by a restoration of representative democracy in the classic sense of the word, in which public policy is actually formulated by elected officials (such as the Leader, Mencius), is a bayonet charge at the Maginot Line. The Mencist Party could go all the way and elect President Mencius, and it would still be shredded into gobbets of meat by presighted bureaucratic machine guns. In short: a total waste of time. Much better to bend over and pretend to enjoy it.
When we think of a democoup instead of a democratic party, all of these problems disappear. (They are replaced by other problems, but we’ll deal with those in their turn.)
Supporters of a democoup propose a program of action, not a policy vision or a personality. The demonstrators who chanted “Wir sind das Volk” were not seeking election to the East German Parliament. They were seeking the termination of state socialism. Everyone in the crowd had exactly the same goal. The movement was coherent—a laser, not a flashlight.
“Racist corporate fascism” is a flashlight. “Elect President Mencius” is a flashlight. Even “secure, responsible and effective government” is something of a flashlight, although the beam starts to be reasonably tight—compare, for example, to sonno joi. “Restore the Stuarts” is a laser. It may not be the best possible laser (we’ll look at others), but it is definitely a laser.
One common democratic assumption is that a movement cannot succeed in wielding power without accumulating a proper majority of support. In fact, none of the movements involved in the fall of Communism mobilized anywhere near a majority. The demonstrations did not have half the country in the streets. They were pure exercises of brutal democratic power, and they succeeded, but they had nothing to do with elections or majorities.
And of course our Western version of socialism, largely because it has not entirely pulled the fangs of democratic politics, is much more responsive to public opinion than any Communist state. Last year the immigration-restriction lobby NumbersUSA almost singlehandledly deprived the Inner Party of the pleasure of importing what would have certainly been millions of loyal voters. How many people contacted Congress at their behest? I’d be amazed if it was a hundred thousand.
When we look beyond elections and consider direct influence on government, we see the tremendous power of cohesion, commitment and organization. It is pretty clear, for example, that a minority of Americans supported the American Revolution. But the Patriots were far more motivated and energetic than the Tories. We may deplore the result, but it certainly can’t hurt to look into the tactics.
A curious example of reactionary cohesion has emerged recently, in—of all places—my hometown of San Francisco. SF’s awful local Pravda, the Chronicle, recently introduced a comments section. Unlike its more careful large competitors, the Chron (a) supports comments on every article, and (b) allows commenters to vote each other both up and down. Note that this allows the casual reader to compare the respective political strength of two opposing currents of opinion—because up and down votes do not cancel each other.
And the result, in the progressive capital of the world? Threads like this one, in which comments like
This makes me embarrassed to live in San Francisco. This scenario is absolutely absurd. Why not just invite all escaped convicts, paroled sex offenders, child molesters, and drug dealers to SF and give them free housing and free food. Simply ridiculous.
LOL, “Hello!” innocent or not, Deport ALL Illegal Immigrants. As long as it’s illegal it’s NOT innocent. Fair is Fair. Our Government is insane on this issue.
Far left-liberalism is not a political philosophy, it is a form of mental illness.
OK (expletive deleted), that does it, that’s it. I’ve never had even a traffic ticket in this mid-lifetime of mine, but that’s it, give me a six-shooter, some ammo, some places to rob and pilfer, who’s gonna join me in one long party of criminal behavior? Look, face it, we’re SUCKERS, SUCKERS. There’s no incentive in God’s Earth to obey the law anymore, why? I’ve been doing it wrong all this time, there’s no sanction for crime anymore. I could use $5,000 for a vacation, I’m just gonna borrow it by force. Why obey laws anymore?
can be “elected” by scores of, respectively, 426 to 4, 371 to 17, 346 to 55, and 484 to 15.
(The best one of these threads ever, though, was one I saw about the “homeless.” There was one page in which about a third of the comments were “deleted by SFGate,” and the remaining two thirds were peppered with ones like—and I remember this specifically, I am not making it up—“I used to really care about the homeless, but these days I could care less. As far as I’m concerned, we might as well roll ’em up in carpets and throw them in the Bay.” To wild virtual applause, of course. Congratulations, San Francisco! The city of Herb Caen, the hungry i and the Barbary Coast has delivered a new treat—the Bürgerbräukeller @ SFGate.)
Even more interestingly, after the Honduran crack-dealer articles and these reactions appeared (the latest thread, which promises to be glorious, is here), our notoriously spineless mayor, or rather his producers, chose to pseudo-reverse his earlier pseudo-non-decision. Where did he get his pox vopuli from? Where do you think? The Chronicle has spawned a monster.
This humble corporate BBS, intended as anything but a weapon for reactionary information warfare, is on the way to becoming a real thorn in the side of its Pravda masters. Indeed, the tone of all minor newspapers in America is increasingly reminiscent of Soviet Life. The cheery self-adulation, the sock-sucking worship of venal petty bureaucrats, and everywhere the icy plastic chill of Occam’s Butterknife:
On many occasions I had the opportunity to discuss the service industries with Western colleagues. They invariably noted differences with the services that are available in the USSR and what they are accustomed to at home. They told me that, compared to Western standards, this sector is poorly developed in the USSR, but they didn’t hesitate to add how fabulously inexpensive most of our services are. For instance, the cost of laundering a man’s shirt is about 10 kopecks (20 cents). However, this second point is not widely known.[…] People are now buying more. A separate apartment for every family, a rarity in the mid-fifties, has now become the rule. Today eight out of 10 urban families live in their own apartments. And many more refrigerators, TV sets, vacuum cleaners and shoes are being produced in the country. The demand for laundries, dry cleaners, repair shops and car-care centers has risen accordingly.[…] To speed up progress in all areas of the service industries and to more efficiently employ the advantages of a planned economy, the USSR State Planning Committee (Gosplan) has developed a comprehensive program for the expansion of consumer-goods production and the sphere of everyday services for the period 1986 to 2000.[…] From 1986 to 1990 the number of telephones will increase by from 1.6 to 1.7 times as compared to the current five-year period, and five times by the year 2000. By then it is projected that all residents of small towns will have their own telephones installed in their homes.
Etc., etc., etc. No wonder the most successful new newspaper in America can make a steady living by parodying our version of this material. The form is deathless. It speaks from beyond the grave of socialism. (We’re not filling the shafts on those salt mines for nothin’.) Imagine if the actual Pravda, in 1986, had set up some little comment board—using paper and cork, probably. The threads would have filled up with exactly the same flavor of reckless petty dissidence.
This little board has become what might be called a focus of political energy. A couple of crucial points about the SFGate Sturmabteilung—who might also be described as the Ku Klux Chron, or more historically as the Third Vigilance Committee (I can just picture a hip 3VC logo).
One, the denizens of these boards are a tiny minority of San Francisco voters. A thousand votes is not a hill of beans in a city of 750,000. Many of them probably live in the suburbs, not SF proper. The idea that they are representative of SF public opinion proper is ludicrous.
Two, these lopsided percentages are not even representative of the opinions of Chronicle readers. There are certainly plenty of articles on which progressive commenters and comment upvoters congregate, though the ratios are never this glaring. I suspect that there is a small hooligan community which skims SFGate for a certain type of article, and flocks as naturally as any specialized moth to its rare orchid in the dankest, fleshiest navels of the urban underbelly. It is simply obvious that these are not good and healthy people. Why should their opinions count?
They count because the power of a democratic signal is proportional to five variables: the size of the antenna, the material of the antenna, the coherence of the message, the broadcast wattage, and the clarity of reception. In other words: the number of people who agree, the social status of those people, the extent to which they actually agree on any one thing, how much they actually care, and the extent to which the decision-maker (the signal’s recipient) can trust the poll.
If you have 10% of the American population who answers ‘yes’ to a cold-call telemarketer pitching some stupid survey which asks a dumb question whose answer no one knows anything about, like “should the US bomb Iran?”, you have a pathetically weak signal. People of average social status are being asked an obvious question that they can be expected to have a casual opinion on, and no more. They have about two neurons devoted to Iran policy. One of these cells may know where Iran is, and the other may know that they wear turbans there. No one will be tempted to bomb Iran, or even consider it, on the strength of this signal.
If you have 10% of the American population, each one a homeowner whose identity has been validated and whose preferences are regularly refreshed in the database, who are on record in favor of abolishing Washington and restoring the Stuarts, and have agreed to vote as a bloc toward this objective, you have a very different phenomenon. Is this enough to abolish Washington, etc.? Probably not, but it might be enough to get a Stuart prince in the Cabinet. While it is not clear that this would be of any value, the principle should be clear.
I suspect the SFGate signal is getting through because it is extremely clear, the people expressing their opinions are extremely vehement, and it is clear that no one is vehement enough in opposition to them to descend into the muck of the dank-orchid articles and vote the Nazi comments down. So the hooked cross rises again, in the cradle of the United Nations. How ironic.
(Of course, in reality I’m sure the commenters are all good people, and I regret being tempted to refer to them as the Ku Klux Chron. In fact they are constantly saying things like “I’m not a Republican, but…” Conquest’s law is always at work.)
In any case: back to the program. We have already described X (Chapter X), but our program is incomplete. We have the formula for a responsible and effective government: a financial structure designed to maximize tax receipts by maximizing property values. We have a program for converting Plaingov into Plaincorp: deliver the former, bag and baggage, to a bankruptcy administrator or Receiver, who restructures the operation and converts its many financial obligations to well-structured securities. We have even suggested some restructuring options—although these matters cannot, of course, be predecided, as the Receiver’s sovereignty is undivided.
We do not know whom this Receiver guy or gal is (other than Steve Jobs). (Let’s say it’s a gal. If Steve wants the job, I’m afraid he’ll have to have himself cut.) We do not know who selects the Receiver, and/or reviews her performance. In other words, we have the second half of program X, but not the first.
Frankly, I presented it this way in order to make it sound as shocking and unappealing as possible. Dear open-minded progressive, you have already read through the dramatic climax. Your mind is as open as an oyster on the half-shell. You have seriously considered the idea that your country might be a better place if democracy is terminated, the Constitution is cancelled, and the government is handed over to an absolute dictator whose first act is to impose martial law, and whose long-term plan is to convert your country into a for-profit corporation. Now we can try to translate these shocking suggestions into a more palatable form.
First, it is a mistake to focus on the Receiver. She is not a dictator in the classic sense. A dictator, or even an absolute monarch, has both power and authority: his person is the source of all decisions, his decisions are final, his position is not subject to any external review.
The Receiver—or her long-term replacement, the Director (you might say I subscribe to the auteur theory of management; the Receiver’s job is to convert Plaingov into Plaincorp, the Director is the chief executive of Plaincorp going forward)—is in a different position. Her decisions are final, so she has absolute authority. But she is an employee, so she has no power. She is just there to do a job, and if she is doing it badly she will be removed.
In the long term, power in Plaincorp belongs to the proprietors—the shareholders, the owners of Plaincorp’s equity instruments. But as we discussed in Chapter XII, the right people to hold initial equity in Plaincorp, probably for the most part holders of Plaingov’s old paper currency and equivalent obligations, may not be the best people to manage Plaincorp. Especially during the critical transition period.
Rather, any plan in which Plaingov relinquishes its sovereign power must involve a transfer of that power to an agency which is intrinsically trustworthy. Let’s call this the Trust. The Receiver is an employee of the Trust, which selects her, reviews her performance regularly, and replaces her if there is any doubt as to her excellence. Sovereignty is an attribute of the Trust, not of the Receiver.
Once Plaincorp is on its feet and running, it will provide a test of the proposition that good government equals sound stewardship of sovereign capital. However, the Trust must start off by assuming this proposition—that is, its mission is to provide good government, on the assumption that good government maximizes the value of Plainland to Plaincorp. If this assumption appears mistaken, the Trust should not complete the transition to neocameralism. Rather, it should find something else to do, and do it instead. All responsibility is in its hands.
Of course, a degenerate form of the Trust–Receiver design is the old royalist model—the Trust is the royal family. There may even be just one Trustee, the Receiver herself. This is the result we’d obtain by restoring the Stuarts through the House of Liechtenstein. It succeeds, if it succeeds, by putting all the eggs in one very sound basket. The Princes of Liechtenstein are experienced rulers and blatantly responsible, the royalist design is tried and tested (if hardly perfect), and the option can be described without too much genealogical contortion as a restoration of legal authority in any country which traces its sovereignty to the British Empire.
Still, the saleability of the proposition has to be considered. Most people living today have been heavily catechized in the virtues of democracy, the magical wisdom of crowds, and the evils of personal government. There is no getting around it: we have to change their minds on the first point.1 Rearing a fresh crop of Jacobites, however, may exceed even the Internet’s vast untapped potential as an information-warfare medium.
So there is a more palatable design for the Trust: a good, old-fashioned parliament, updated of course for the 21st century. This is not democracy, however. Its members each have one vote, but they are not chosen by any sort of election.
Voters raised in the democratic tradition will only be willing to trust sovereignty in the hands of a collective governing body, which operates internally on the basis of one man, one vote. Internally, the Trust is an extremely simple and elegant democracy of trustees. Presumably, following the classic corporate-governance model, the trustees elect a Board, who select the Receiver and review her performance. Just as the Board can fire the Receiver at any time, the trustees can fire the Board. All true power is held by the trustees.
Ideally there are at least thousands, preferably tens or even hundreds of thousands, of trustees. In a pinch, sovereignty can be handed to the Trust simply by running Plaingov’s present-day electoral system, but restricting suffrage to trustees—an ugly, but functional, transition plan. The only question is: who are these people? Or more precisely, who should they be?
Think about it, dear open-minded progressive. Presumably you believe in democracy. Presumably your belief is not motivated by the opinion that the average voter has any particular insight into or understanding of the difficult problem of government. Therefore, you believe that there is some sort of amplification effect which somehow transforms the averageness of hominids into the famed “wisdom of crowds.” (Actually, as Tocqueville noted, at least when it comes to government by crowd, we are generally looking at an information cascade at best, and a particularly wicked feedback loop at worst. But never mind.)
However, whether or not you believe in the wisdom of crowds, you surely believe that any wisdom they may express is derived from the wisdom of their component individuals. There is certainly no hundredth-monkey effect in which simply collecting a large number of bipeds and collating their multiple-choice tests can somehow draw truth out of the vasty deep.2
Therefore, you will always be able to improve the quality of representatives generated by any democratic system, by improving the quality of the voters. This is the point of the Trust: to dramatically improve the quality of government by replacing universal suffrage with highly qualified suffrage.3 Our Trustees should be just that—extremely trustworthy.
Okay, this is good. Let’s say our goal is to select the 100,000 most trustworthy and responsible adults in Plainland. They will serve as the trustees who oversee the complicated and dangerous transition from Plaingov to Plaincorp. By definition, each of these individuals is in the 99.95th percentile of trustworthiness and responsibility. (I am certainly not in this group.)
Is it not obvious that these people would select competent management? I think it’s obvious. But the plan is unworkable, so there is no reason to debate it.
By what process will we select these individuals? Who shall recruit the recruiters? It is difficult and expensive to find just one individual with these executive qualifications. Moreover, in a sovereign context, the filtering process itself will serve as a political football—many progressives might decide, for example, that only progressives can be trusted. It is impossible to end a fight by starting a new fight.
This insane recruiting process cannot occur either under Plaingov or under Plaincorp. It cannot occur under Plaingov, because it will be subject to Plaingov politics and will carry those politics, which are uniformly poisonous, forward into Plaincorp. At this point the reset is not a reset. But it cannot occur under Plaincorp, because the trustees are needed to select the Receiver. And there can be no intervening period of anarchy.
But there is a hack which can work around this obstacle. You might think it’s a cute hack, or you might think it’s an ugly hack. It probably depends on your taste. I think it’s pretty cute.
The hack is a precise heuristic test to select trustees. The result of the test is one bit for every citizen of Plainland: he or she either is or is not a trustee. The test is precise because its result is not a matter of debate—it can be verified trivially. And it is heuristic because it should produce a good result on average, with only occasional horrifying exceptions.
My favorite PHT defines the trustees as the set of all active, certified, nonstudent pilots who accept the responsibility of trusteeship, as of the termination date of Plaingov. The set does not expand—you cannot become a trustee by taking flying lessons, and any rejection or resignation of the responsibility is irreversible. In other words, to paraphrase Lenin: all power to the pilots. (There are about 500,000 of them.)
Let’s look at the advantages of this PHT. I am not myself a pilot—I am neither wealthy enough, nor responsible enough. But everyone I’ve ever met who was a pilot, whether private, military or commercial, has struck me as not only responsible, but also independent-minded, often even adventurous. This is a particularly rare combination. To be precise, it is an aristocratic combination, and the word aristocracy is after all just Greek for good government. Pilots are a fraternity of intelligent, practical, and careful people who are already trusted on a regular basis with the lives of others. What’s not to like?
If we care to broaden this set, we can extend it by adding all practicing medical doctors, or all active and retired police and military officers, or better yet both. Believe it or not, doctors were once one of America’s most reactionary professions, in the forefront of the struggle against FDR. They also made housecalls. Now they are a bunch of Communist bureaucrats. But the boys in blue can keep them in line. Our fighting men know what to do with a Communist, if they have a free hand. More to the point, each of these professions is a technically demanding task in which the professional is trusted with the lives of others.
So we have a nice, clear, laser-like program. Washington has failed. The Constitution has failed. Democracy has failed. It is time for restoration, for national salvation, for a full reboot. We need a new government, a clean slate, a fresh hand which is smart, strong and fair. All power to the pilots!
An Open Letter to Open-Minded Progressives
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