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Belmont Club

The Tinpot Kings

March 5th, 2013 - 8:23 pm

The only problem with socialism is that it hasn’t been tried hard enough. That at least is the thesis of the Nation’s Greg Grandin, who mourns Chavez’s death.

“Chávez was a strongman. He packed the courts, hounded the corporate media, legislated by decree and pretty much did away with any effective system of institutional checks or balances. But I’ll be perverse and argue that the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough. It wasn’t too much control that was the problem but too little. … There’s been great work done on the ground by scholars such as Alejandro Velasco, Sujatha Fernandes, Naomi Schiller and George Ciccariello-Maher on these social movements that, taken together, lead to the conclusion that Venezuela might be the most democratic country in the Western Hemisphere.”

Sure ‘mistakes’ were made. There are always lessons to be learned. Here’s the NHS’s Sir David Nicholson explaining how 40,000 patients died unnecessarily each year under his watch. Listen to him explain about “his team losing focus” and “lessons to be learnt” and “process” and “improvement” with the greatest of apparent sincerity yet no diminution in his conviction that only he can put things right, as if people were the object of some social science experiment; like microbes in a petri dish whose role is to give their lives for Science.

When Alfred Hitchcock redid Dostoesvsky’s Crime and Punishment in Manhattan as Rope, he asked the same question. Are superior men above morality? Logically they would be if there were no right or wrong. If truth was simply convention then why shouldn’t the Great Man pursue art to its ultimate ends. ”

The premise of Rope is pure Dostoevsky. “On a late afternoon, two brilliant young aesthetes, Brandon Shaw (Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Granger), murder a former classmate, David Kentley (Dick Hogan), by strangulation in their apartment. They commit the crime as an intellectual exercise: they want to prove their superiority by committing the ‘perfect murder’. … Brandon’s and Phillip’s idea for the murder was inspired years earlier by conversations with their erstwhile prep-school housemaster, publisher Rupert Cadell (Stewart). While at school, Rupert had discussed with them, in an apparently approving way, the intellectual concepts of Nietzsche’s Übermensch and the art of murder, a means of showing one’s superiority over others. He too is among the guests at the party, since Brandon in particular feels that he would very likely approve of their ‘work of art’.”

Rupert Cadell: After all, murder is – or should be – an art. Not one of the ‘seven lively’, perhaps, but an art nevertheless. And, as such, the privilege of committing it should be reserved for those few who are really superior individuals.

Brandon Shaw: And the victims: inferior beings whose lives are unimportant anyway.

Rupert Cadell: Obviously. Now, mind you, I don’t hold with the extremists who feel that there should be open season for murder all year round. No, personally, I would prefer to have…”Cut a Throat Week”… or, uh, “Strangulation Day”..

But is murder — or dictatorship and mayhem in an effort, or supposed effort, to create “the most democratic country in the Western Hemisphere” (I see the Nation rates Chavez as better than Harper or Obama) justified? Obviously it is if you grant the premises. Once mankind is divided into the Vanguard and the Proletariat then the ‘superior man’ like Sir David Nicholson can make mistakes, but he can do no wrong.

Yet here’s the thing. Suppose the ‘superior men’ aren’t. What if they were really mediocrities whose prolific use of jargon masked a deep and fundamental imbecility. How often has the media presented the “smartest men on earth” to the public only for everyone to discover these savants cannot even manage simple arithmetic?

One of the reasons the Founders posited the existence of God was to pre-empt the fools who would usurp the divine throne; to warn off those who would entrust themselves with limitless power that the position was already taken. The basic function of any real Constitution is not to provide for limitless power, but to put it out of the grasping reach of sociopaths. As Voltaire said, “if God didn’t exist we would invent Him” — if only to keep the the really stupid from imagining that’s who they were.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Chavez is the finest and noblest person Socialism can produce. On this I believe we can all agree.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chavez also managed to steal at least $2 billion while El Presidente. Obama and his cronies plan to at least equal if not exceed that total. Problem they will have is the tools that allow them to loot the country will be used against them when the time comes. Perhaps we will even use old tools like ropes, lampposts, tar, feathers, etc. in response. Cheers -
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, ya gotta admit that it’s more efficient to move the Death Panels down to the actual level where the care is provided. That’s worker empowerment for you!

I say again, real, dedicated government bureaucrats love it when resources are tight and they can legitimately focus on the bureaucracy itself and not its actual supposed mission. “It costs too much.” is an excuse that covers a multitude of crimes and incompetencies.

One of my neighbors is from the U.K. His Mom, living over there, contracted breast cancer. They operated on her but eventually she came down with lymphoma. She would like to have come here to visit one last time, but it seems they have an interesting policy. For such an ill person to take a trip to the USA they are required to purchase a special health insurance policy that cost twice the price of the plane ticket. It is only in effect during the trip itself and has an obvious purpose: to discourage medical tourism.

They say my neighbor’s Mom got the very best of care in the U.K. But in the meantime, her husband came down with cataracts and basically went blind waiting for a slot to get his eyes fixed. I was struck by the fact that, while I live on an island, not even on the mainland, I would be able to get cataract surgery in a matter of a few days, and without even leaving the island. You don’t even go to a hospital here; you go to strip mall and have your eyes fixed after you drop off your dry cleaning. Back in the early 40’s my Dad came down with cataracts and had to go 450 miles away, to Washington DC, to have them removed, and of course they could not put in replacement lenses, either.

It’s funny that they say that Chavez did not try hard enough to impose socialism. When the USSR got better and better until it collapsed the communists in the US said that it was because the Soviets did not impose true communism. The socialists in the US switched to holding up Sweden as an example of perfect socialism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have mentioned before about my daughter's student term in Britain, and the two murders she saw with her own eyes [one first degree, one manslaughter under our law] while at Chelsea and Westminster Trust in the upscale neighborhood of Kensington [at that time literally the newest hospital in Britain]. That was 9 years ago. Brit hospitals have the old open bay wards; there is no privacy. EVERYONE in the ward saw what happened.

That was the chilling part. The Eloi watched the Morlocks take them without protest.

They were not used to Americans who do not meekly submit. My daughter ended up checking out AMA, but that involved literally cornering the 3rd year med student running her case [they use them like we use interns] and physically compelling him to sign her out. I believe the theoretical future placement of her IV stand was involved. For the record, my daughter is well used to hospitals, having had more than a few hospitalizations until they got her diabetes sorted out. And she was awake, aware, and oriented times three.

This was not news 9 years ago. The British government has created a submissive populace that accepted it then, and I rather suspect that they will accept Nicholson remaining in his post and no changes being made. What is 120,000 people dying of neglect versus the concept of not submitting to their betters.

And that is our intended fate.

She would like to have come here to visit one last time, but it seems they have an interesting policy. For such an ill person to take a trip to the USA they are required to purchase a special health insurance policy that cost twice the price of the plane ticket. It is only in effect during the trip itself and has an obvious purpose: to discourage medical tourism.

An interesting counterpoint to that is that as a condition of my daughter being let into the country on a student visa for 6 weeks, I had to pay in advance better than $100 a week for an insurance policy that supposedly covered her for the NHS during her stay. After her hospitalization, HM Government informed us that the insurance policy actually did not cover any medical care, and if we did not fork over a large amount of cash, we would be sued.

They get you coming and going.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Big Dogs Don't Bark."

Truly superior people probably can or even should be given a pass on some of the petty procedural strictures of life. A wise manager knows who the one creative and productive member of the staff is and works to prevent anything from getting in their way. In the military officers are held to very high standards, including being concerned for the welfare of others before their own, and then granted a few privileges. Military physicians are given a separate staff corps to do their paperwork and permit them to maintain focus.

The Market System through competition reduces the size and scope of bureaucracies. Each Producer and each Manager operate within a narrow sphere so the good or evil that they can generate is limited. This limits the damage that false savants can do by placing themselves above the rules without providing commensurate benefits to society. The federal US system was designed to introduce market restrictions on political power. The Senate and the Electoral College served that end. In Socialism and in extra-constitutional systems like Obama is creating in America those restraints are lifted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Military physicians are given a separate staff corps to do their paperwork and permit them to maintain focus."

Maybe you are referring to the MSC, but MC physicians have more paperwork than you might think. It's the confluence of Big Army, Big Government and Big Medicine which leads to a tremendous amount of "petty procedural strictures." (I really like that description and think it fits quite well).

I've found much more staff support in the civilian environment as my productivity now matters, whereas MC physicians are promoted up to O6 and above through administrative prowess and not clinical ability (O5 and below promotions are automatic). In fact, I would be very careful of MC physicians who have been promoted up to O6 and above as many of them have given up most of their clinical practice because of the administrative weight.

Talk about backwards incentives- highly promoted MC physicians become adept at the "petty procedural strictures" but unfortunately can lose some of their clinical skills in exchange. As much as I respect Military Medicine, some of the sheen comes off when you see it work up close.

I also think that the system-wide wastefulness and inefficiency seen in Military Medicine will become more commonplace as Big Government intrudes into the civilian world with increasing amounts of "petty procedural strictures."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is all part of the British management culture. As a Yank having lived and worked in the UK a number of years there are some very good and smart people. However the want to avoid a 'blame culture' and focus on process means very few people are held accountable. Culturally you are expected to dwell on confessions and apologies then move on. Very little in the way of consequences. Much more emphasis on relationships and who you know. Little wonder there are very few great British companies. The probelm pervades the private as well as the public sector.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You really have to listen to report on the misdeeds at just one NHS hospital to realize what a pile of BS the whole thing is -- including the inquiry.

The recommendations to improve "care" and "transparency" and "patient-centeredness" sound like it came straight out of NGO conference. But the bald recitation of the suffering of hundreds or thousands of patients at the Mid-Staffordshire "trust" (an elite designation) sound like a war-crime indictment.

Basically the elderly well left to starve or die of third; abandoned to lie in their excrement; not given their medication and essentially subject to such malpractice that it would have been a mercy to shoot them like horses.

This happened to more than a thousand patients at one single hospital. The NHS reckons that 40,000 -- forty thousand -- patients per year got the same dose in Sir David Nicholson's NHS. It boggles the imagination.

And then to hear "Sir David" prate on about "caring" and "losing focus" -- this old Stalinist -- is really the height callousness. There is something sick and unwholesome in that 'welfare state' bureaucracy that can be only be described as evil.

That fact doesn't bother me much really, for there has always been evil in the world. But it is the sheer sanctimoniousness of these frauds, with their fake moral ascendancy that is particularly galling. Camus put it best. "In a reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence not guilt, that is called upon to justify itself."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"They can agree with every point you make and then deny the conclusion."

Because contrary to conventional wisdom it isn't logic that governs humanity but belief. People come to belief for emotional or social reasons. Ninety nine percent of people on the left are completely ignorant of the formal tenets of Marxism. They are there because their friends are or they get emotional sustenance from it.

People like Chavez understand this intuitively. For them the question is: do you become a priest in the cult or an acolyte? Or better yet a Messiah? People like Sir David Nicholson are the equivalent of the Borgia-era Cardinals: whitened sepulchers.

Over time I've come to sad conclusion that human institutions are almost always going to be at least partially corrupt. That's just how it goes. The more enlightened Ivy League academics probably believe that the Boss will always run City Hall. Their job in life as educators, is to give impart a modicum of table manners and culture to a world that irredeemably run by the worst that humanity can throw up.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree with PA Cat.

It is also why I have said for years that you cannot argue with the left because they function using internal logic which state that their ideology is never wrong so any proof to the contrary is false.

The left is generally incapable of being reasoned with in a formal setting. The only thing that works is to get them to admit things in piecemeal fashion but it is strange. They can agree with every point you make and then deny the conclusion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Leftists [including Democrats specifically] do not operate on logic. They operate on faith, and have rigged the system so that like the Brits they are absolutely immune from the consequences their conduct. Argument is futile. The only thing that will work is to return personal consequences to their universes. And those consequences have to be disproportionately severe enough to make their aversion to them outweigh their faith in their own superiority.

Keep that in mind when the "No Hesitation™" targets bought by DHS and their recent purchase [during the "Sequester", mind you] of more MRAP Infantry Fighting Vehicles than we deployed at the height of the Iraq insurgency comes to the fore again.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I spoke to a liberal friend recently and asked why he was so enamored of tin pot leftist dictators. He smiled and said

Tin pots are made by tinkers
They mend them on the spot
Democracies have thinkers
Who think that they have got
The right to chain up free men
To jobs we all disdain
Discouraging the dreamin’
And crushing who complain
But tin pots like to tinker
The law is not for them
For law just puts a blinker
On those who must condemn
The cut throat market forces
And voting by the mob
That’s why the proper course is
Give tin pot guys the job
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hitchcock was also drawing on an actual murder case, the Nathan Leopold/Richard Loeb murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago in 1924. Both men were highly intelligent; Leopold (then aged 20) had already completed his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and was enrolled in its law school while Loeb at 19 was the youngest graduate in the history of the University of Michigan. Their motive for killing Bobby Frank was to prove that they were Nietzschean supermen who were above mere morality and could commit the "perfect murder." One of Leopold's letters to Loeb written before the murder contains the following: "A superman ... is, on account of certain superior qualities inherent in him, exempted from the ordinary laws which govern men. He is not liable for anything he may do." The "supermen" were tripped up by the fact that Leopold had dropped his eyeglasses near the victim's body. The glasses had an unusual hinge mechanism and were quickly traced to Leopold.

Ironically, Clarence Darrow helped the killers escape the death penalty by arguing that "It is hardly fair to hang a 19-year-old boy for the philosophy that was taught him at the university." Both men were sentenced to life in prison-- Loeb was killed by a fellow prisoner in 1936 while Leopold was released on parole in 1958.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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