Rebirth of Reason

War for Men's Minds

U.S. Election Outcome - Still in Two Minds!
by Ashley Chan

Yes quite an “interesting” election.  As would-be members of the "professional functional constituencies" [a significant proportion of Hong Kong’s legislature is solely elected by senior professionals such as investment bankers, fund managers, doctors, lawyers, etc., through functional constituencies, not directly elected by the people; perhaps this is one main reason for HK’s success?], it would be difficult to decide who to plug for.  The general consensus of the boutique investment community (a somewhat narrow selection of voters I admit!) is that the main issues/concerns of the first two decades of the 21st century are:

* financial & economic meltdown in the West from excess asset speculation and debt accumulation

* defeating “Islamic fascism”

* ensuring a free China.

1. The Bush win makes it more likely that if the financial system starts to fail (as it is arguably highly poised to do), the Democrats will win in a landslide in the House, Senate and Presidency in 2008.  Now if the radical Democrats were to seize power, then at a minimum numerous economic liberties are likely to be sacrificed (Hillary calling a 2nd Constitutional Convention to guarantee the right to government-provided healthcare, tertiary education etc., is not beyond the realm of possibilities if the populace and economy are in a deep depression).

2. On the other hand, the Bush win makes it more likely that Islamic fascism will be defeated - the question is at what cost ... i.e. the U.S. economy is already overstretched, with the fed funds rate permanently below the rate of inflation (savers are poorer) in order to try to reduce the real value of debts outstanding, and with a large section of the populace over-maxed and over-geared.

The U.S. will eventually win - after all it takes only two buttons pushed to remove Mecca & Medina from the face of the earth, so any WMD terrorist threat on US cities can easily (though not necessarily morally) be nullified.  But the cost of ultimate victory may reduce the American Republic either to pauperism and/or to political extremes causing the loss of the very economic and social liberties we are trying to protect from the Islamists.

3. Similarly, who is best poised to make a play for a free China some time in the 21st century (hopefully soon)? Some have argued that we should just let the Beijing gang alone, and they will go the way of Chun Doo Hwan of Korea and Chiang Kai-Shek of Taiwan ... eventually the middle classes will demand (and obtain) some form of representative government.  However, it is quite possible that the Communist Party will learn from Pinochet, Singapore, and Putin in Russia, and try for economic freedom only, with just the APPEARANCE (but not the reality) of political freedom - as well as crushing political liberty in Hong Kong and Taiwan.  With China poised to become a superpower this century, the importance of a China free from the shackles of the power-mad party and their pure evil secret police should not (in my humble opinion) be underestimated.

Now the Clintons and other Democrats (I assert) are more inclined to accept "realpolitik" and strike deals with the Beijing dictatorship.  On the other hand, Bush and the Republicans are expending all their effort in Iraq and against the Islamists, so there are few resources left to promote freedom in China.

I would tend to argue that in a perfect world, one could devote enough resources temporarily to hold the Islamists at bay ... and devote most resources to creating a free society in China. Once that is achieved, the U.S. can combine with the Greater Chinese Commonwealth (free China, Taiwan and HK) and India (and if necessary Russia) to wipe out the Islamic fascists for good.

4. In defeating Islamic fascism, the question has to be asked whether a military victory in Iraq is a necessary condition for victory.  I would have thought that the major underlying cause of victory for the Western Allies (I am speaking here of the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada & NZ, the only countries where economic and social liberty have existed continuously in some form for the past 150 years) will be Islamic Reformation.

The defenders of Islam often state that as it took centuries for the West to escape from the Dark Ages and mediaeval Christendom, so why should we expect any shorter period for the Islamic world, especially when there is so much diverting angst over Israel/Palestine?  The easy counter-argument (which I am inclined to) is that Islamic scholars (and there appear to be an abundance of them) have no excuse to reinventing a reformed Islam in at most ten years; they could take one year if they really tried, I bet. After all, they have the whole sordid-to-sunlit history of the Inquisition, Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment at their fingertips (literally so with the Internet), they can easily borrow/translate all the major Western philosophical and scientific works without having to reinvent the wheel, and there are plenty of places (unlike in mediaeval Christendom) where Islamic Reformist scholars can publish and preach without being excommunicated and sent to the stake.

Nevertheless, based on recent evidence (see the recent Amsterdam assassination), the movement towards Islamic Reformation is not particularly strong (I assert) - hence the need to provide more than enough resources to see the process through.  Winning without fighting is surely better than all the collateral damage we can see in Iraq (albeit through the propaganda of Al-Jazeera).

The question is, how can the evangelical Christian arm of the Republican administration promote social liberties and "liberal" social values in Islam ... very difficult and contradictory I would say!:)

On the other hand, if the radical wing of the Democrats emulates the lead of their European socialist allies, they will opt for appeasing the Islamists all in the name of political correctness, tolerance, and multiculturalism.

5. Being libertarian-oriented, the challenge often is to decide between a Republican who would promote economic liberties but suppress social liberties or a Democrat who would promote social liberties but suppress economic liberties. Overarching this is the current war against Islamic fascism, which takes, for the moment, top priority.

The Republicans of course are divided into the smaller libertarian-oriented wing mainly from the western states - as exemplified by Goldwater, Reagan, and Schwarzenegger - and the larger social and evangelical Christian conservative-oriented wing mainly from the southern states - as exemplified by Bush, with the social conservatives and evangelicals in the ascendancy right now.

The concern is that Bush is not necessarily promoting economic liberty - e.g. not restricting the size of government, but expanding the size of government through faith-based organisations, which in itself narrows the separation of Church and State, one of the core Western values that is responsible for why our civilisation is so advanced. And the Republican party as a whole is not at all promoting social liberty.

Now one can accept faith-based government-funded organisations and charities. One can accept the temporary expansion of government to win a necessary war. It is very hard to accept significant permanent expansion of government interference in the economic and social life of the nation (only tolerated, if one believes that the war has a higher chance of being won under the Republicans than under the Democrats).

On the other hand, the Democrats are so weak on economic liberty and have such a weak moral base compared to the Republicans (even accounting for the fact that being religious per se does not equate to being moral).  

Well, that seeems to cover everyone's point of view - very inconclusive. I myself was torn between supporting Bush (because winning the war against Islamic fascism will transform the world) and hoping that he lost closely this election (because I believe the next 4 years could be extremely challenging economic times which would hurt the Republicans for generations).

Very schizophrenic! :)
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