Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comments on The Belmont Club,
"Forlorn hope"

$230/week is not $23/ week. Mexico is not that bad off. If the legal system was reformed then it could become very wealthy. They have the natural resources to fund meaningful investments and, unlike most of the petroleum exporters, except pre-Khomenei Iran or pre-Chavez Venezuela, they have an educated middle class and a entrepreneurial base to build on. "Poverty" is a cheap excuse for offloading the problem. It is a mislabeling of Envy by Middle Class activist rent seekers and a few wealthy transnationals, the diplomats, who use the intellectual rent seekers as background noise to generate a cash flow from the West.

The needed order can come from either inside or outside. This is basic Weberian Sociology. For a healthy modern society the charisma that induces respect for the law should be institutionalized into the bureaucracy and the legal code. That results in Organic Solidarity, wherein the people support the rule of law because the Law is seen as an expression of their sovereignty. In Mexico they are still stuck in a Patron system of personalized charisma and authority. Efforts to institutionalize the rule of law after the 1911 revolution in theory transferred the authority from individuals to bureaucrats and the PRI. That is why it is the Party of the Institutionalized (permanent) Revolution. The model is straight Leninism but it was designed to combat Caudillismo. In doing so it attempted to institute the stable legal system without risking the passions and possible corruption associated with democracy.

Unfortunately that model, and its early variants in Europe, such as the Byzantine and Caliphate systems and the late Spanish KIngdom, and some other late 19th to early 20th century efforts, as well as modern post Mao China, end up with the worst of all systems. They get stagnating innovation, sclerotic bureaucracies, rampant corruption, and regional violence. Singapore has fared better but it was highly dependent on the charisma still being personalized in a founding Leader and that may not endure his departure.

If a society can not make the jump from primitive feudal Caudillo style justice to modernity what is to be done? From the 1950s until the 1990s the answer was to ignore them. We paid off our SOBs to keep a lid on and sent money to CARE and UNICEF once a year and considered an exotic vacation to a controlled resort, after retirement. 9-11 changed all that, we can't ignore these places any more even if they are 7,000 miles away. Mexico is 7 inches away and moving our way.

The alternative method of achieving social cohesion and respect for the law for those who have not reached Organic Solidarity is Mechanical Solidarity. That is to say you obey the rules not because they are your rules, or at least your communities accepted rules but because some really big ugly guy, preferably on a horse, is in your face making you obey. Everybody starts out there and we hope that they get past it. Most places are still ruled that way and find it very hard to make the transition.

For example in theory Islam provides for a high degree of consensus being needed to legitimate the rulings of a secular leader, who is bound by religious doctrine and a need to respect the members of the Ummah. Unfortunately that supposed Democratic or Organic element is vitiated by the rulers expectation to follow the example of Muhammad, who ruled as an arbitrary despot.

So if the society can not achieve a state of Organic Solidarity and lawlessness threatens to spill over to the global community how can we respond? First we can get a local to attempt to impose a state of Mechanical Solidarity. That is when we support a local warlord despite the screams of the Grauniad. When that fails, as it has in Somalia and may in many other places, the historical answer is to impose the Rule of Law from outside and engage in an intense period of tutelage that could enable the society to internalize the legal code. That demands sustained effort over time and at least initially the application of uncompromising force. What it would mean in a real sense is the resumption of a system of colonial administrations of dependent territories that incapable of self government.

Those who begin the process are only Forlorn if the effort is abandoned to soon. The truly brave souls are those within the occupied community who turn from the obvious, and often remunerative, path of violence and risk opprobrium by leaping into the breach to help their societies internalize the rule of law. Ramon Magsaysay and Jose Rizal did that in the Philippines and George Washington, the man who would not be King, did that in America.

in our southwest and with gangs such as MS-13

MS-13 are Salvadorans or other Mesoamericans. They are not Mexicans. They should IMHO be treated as an invading army. Their children should be denied US citizenship. The law already has a provision denying citizenship to a child of a camp follower of an invading army. If ICE was unshackled then they could begin to make a real difference in this problem. Of course that is the complete opposite of what is happening.

Hopeless cases like Somalia are easy. Mexico is bad but not hopeless. That is why it is a hard problem.

(who linked to this list of the most (and least) corrupt countries)

In Chicago they take a list like that as a challenge.

Under the Obamanation who knows

My seat of the pants prediction. Almost anyone with over 12 years in will try to stick it out to retirement. Anyone over 20, except for clinging dead wood that sees promotion opportunities or those who waited for their shot at a real command and can't say No, and almost everyone under 10 years in past their initial obligation, will get out. That will mean a real shortage at the O-3 and O-4, and some shortage at the O-5 levels, most O-5 and O-6 or O-7 will stick but we lose the best senior flag ranks O-8 through O-10. For the Army that means I think the Company Commanders (Captains) and Battalion Commanders (Lt Col) grades will get out as well as the Majors in between who are the heart of Middle Management and future Commanders. While Brigade Commanders (Colonels) and ambitious Brigadier Generals would likely stick around awhile if prospects look good, senior Generals are probably thinking about a book tour and a teaching or corporate job.

This is a disaster and it will take 15 years to rebuild from it. Training, the most important kind that comes from experience, will suffer. Good people will die.

The Department of Deadwood

IBM in the old days ran that way. There were whole departments, buildings full of talented Engineers who had created legacy projects but who were not part of the newer technology trends. No one was fired. They showed up and had nothing to do.

That is the idea behind the late 20th century House of Lords.
People got kicked upstairs.

Regarding military retention, there will be a similar effect on enlisted time in service retention, Early out option 15 yr retirement could result in a total clean out, that takes decades to recover.

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