First of all, a competent government is an oxymoron – but you wouldn’t believe me anyway.
Governments have used the effectiveness argument for so long, we tend to take it as granted. It sounds like this:
If we give up enough of our power to check on our governments, they will be finally be able to take care of us.
Not that we have so much power against them. And it took centuries to gain. But every politician ever feels that he is unfairly punished by public opinion even though he did so many things right.
So they want to crack down on the media, they want to spend our money on propaganda to manipulate us, they want to keep everything secret so that we can’t criticize it. And then of course we have to allow governments to treat us like pedophile terrorists in their strikingly incompetent quest to catch above mentioned pedophile terrorists. We need to be entirely transparent, but unfortunately the government cannot afford to do so. Because of terrorists, you know.
The effectiveness argument has been touted for decades and resulted in an obscene growth in government spending. On itself – not on us. Yet their alleged effectiveness fails to materialize every time it supposedly should. Like when they need to organize a simple vaccination campaign.
I personally don’t think everything should be taken care of by state employees. But if they amass our money and all that power over us, then they should really live up to their own promises and be competent.
The fact that they are not competent does not surprise me at all. But it surprises everyone else, time and again. Arguably, if you are waiting for a perfectly competent government to emerge, it is you who is delusional.
So I would never give up so much of my power over the government, because we will always need to argue with them, we will always need to remind them that we exist, that reality is not as simple as their central planning lizard brain might suggest. And that some actions have consequences – even if a bureaucrat largely ensures that he has no responsibility for most of his actions. The real world is not like the pampered world of bureaucrats – it has consequences.
We will always need to petition them, we will always need to protest, we will always need media and other platforms to spread our own truths and force the bureaucrats and overlords to count with us. Allowing them to intimidate us, to threaten us with a loss of livelihood, disadvantages and revoking our permits to live our lives should be the thin red line they should never be allowed to cross.
So where were we?
Yes, that governments will always be incompetent.
But some of them might be well-meaning. And those can be argued with – unlike the malevolent ones.
All we can ever do at elections is to vote out the most malevolent ones for the time being, the most corrupt, the most autocratic. And yes, their opponents will not be angels either. Whoever believe that they are voting for the angels are as misguided as people who refuse to vote because none of the parties are angels and perfect. (The only reason to skip voting would be to refuse to legitimize a government by high participation rates – but if above mentioned government is faking the election results, what would stop them from faking the participation rate?)
I have been asked why I am so lenient on left-wing policies and attack right-wing ones ferociously when I am not left-wing myself.
To answer that I first have to remind that left and right is the same thing – authoritarian collectivism – just wrapped differently. One offers to homogenize people by lifestyle – another to homogenize them by the amount of resources at their disposal – both by state force. Both are immoral, unacceptable and it is an insult to my intellect that I should be forced to choose one of them.
It is like distracting a tantrum-throwing toddler who refuses to get dressed by presenting him with a choice of T-shirts – one blue one red – so that he would choose one and let the dressing-up happen. That is what I see when people insist that left or right must be selected: a toddler being distracted by cynical politicians waving red or blue flags.
Secondly, what you call left is not Hungary’s problem right now. Russia’s useful idiots are on the so-called political right this time. Yes, it were the so-called left-wing intellectuals who sucked up to Russia in the 20th century. But today it is the right who does the same thing but with religionism, anti-communism and nationalism on their flag.
Granted, not every right-wing politician and intellectual who suck up to Putin’s alleged strength (to fuck things up, never to build) is actually a useful idiot. Some of them are just useful – i.e. they get paid. Corruptionism and kleptocracy is the real flag color of the Russian autocracy export if there ever was one.
You can not argue with corrupt people. They already know they are doing wrong and they don’t care. But I am ready to believe that some politicians, at least at the beginning, are not corrupt, and they really mean well.
But they still can’t gain omnicompetence. They still can’t fix the world for you. They still can’t turn the world into the cuddly-caring kindergarten for you. At least not sustainably.
But I am happy to explain it to them. And I am looking forward to see them in power. I would rather argue with someone who is just incompetent but at least means well (for now) – and who would pause if presented with new facts, or shamed if they are outed for corruption. I would rather see that than someone who is malevolent and corrupt to begin with. A malevolent government is a bully. And standing up to a bully does not happen through editorials, policy proposals and feasibility studies.
It feels spectacularly stupid to explain to a bully that what he does hurts – considering that the goal of the bully is to hurt. I envy the patience of those who formally try to explain to the bully that bullying is bad, as if the bully didn’t know that, but that is dangerously close to appeasement. If you do the formal explanation, do so because you wish to create continuity with the past and the (hopefully) bully-free future. But fighting the bully or making him change does not happen through that.
This is also the reason why we always only vote against the greatest evil at any given time – and voting the angels in is a dangerous delusion. Governments will always need to be kept in check. That job will never be finished. So let’s work with one that listens and that can be shamed.
Give me a naïve and incompetent government any time over a cynical and malevolent – yet equally incompetent – one.