Falling from the clouds
Ukraine invaded. Popular stupefaction in the West. How can such a coup de force still occur at the door of one’s home, when each risk seems immediately dissected by the information networks, then stuck in a series of countermeasures that make any radical action impossible? The West today lives in this bliss: brutal action on a large scale is impossible. Too many alarms would be sounded, too many pitfalls erected. It’s true: the blows of brilliance today look like a circus, like the assault on the Capitol by the disappointed Trumpists. Threats rarely extract themselves from virtual universes, disgusting spitting whose fame does not exceed a few days. There is only one subject in a row that fills several issues of the weeklies: political affairs, and in particular the presidential elections. What is the most aggressive war waged by Westerners in recent decades? The one against their own leaders, of whom they demand an opinion precisely aligned with theirs. Of course, it is impossible to do so since there are a hundred million for a president. The evil chosen is therefore systematically bombarded with criticism and dirt. Daily internal war in our democracies.
Democracies? Do they really deserve this title? We denigrate it to Russia and China. Yet these countries have participatory electoral systems. Let us call them ‘autocratic democracies’, and Western ‘anarchic democracies’. Both show a severe drift from genuine democracy. In the event of conflict, autocratics easily prevail over anarchic.
Autocratic vs. anarchic democracy
Needless to detail the autocratic drift, the media are full of it. A Putin neurotic by the disappearance of the great USSR eliminates his opponents and excites the popular national fiber. A huge and bored army is just waiting to follow him. This is the invaded Ukraine. Should we criticize excessive presidential power, as we do at home? A large number of Russians are not so unhappy with this expansionist policy. If the army avoids getting bogged down, Ukraine’s fate could be resolved as quickly as that of its already absorbed parts. Putin’s reputation among Russians will grow. He is playful but not too much.
It is sketchy to arbitrarily place wisdom in the crowd rather than its leaders. Each manipulates the other, but the leaders are better organized. Having seen this bitterly, western crowds abandon their own action (the vote) and simply refuse the authority of the rulers. Side effect: they take away all power. European presidents are weakened less by their lack of coordination than because they seem to be puppets booed on the stage by disgruntled voters. On one side, an autocrat with a notched arrow, on the other weather vanes oscillating in the storms of criticism. Unequal battle, isn’t it?
How should a hierarchy operate?
Challenging the hierarchy has led to a drift in the West as harmful as refusing to challenge it in Russia. So it is not the hierarchy per se that is the problem. Where do you think it stands?
Let’s look at how the citizens’ crowd, founding level, works. Opinions diversify, meet, clash. To avoid bloody streets, the system uses the principle of representation. My opinion is conveyed to an elected official. Its power remains, neither extinguished by a neighbor who imprisons or murders me, nor amplified by the terrorism that I myself would be tempted to exercise.
My chosen one talks with others. He has to find a compromise. Not easy, but at his level the fight makes fewer deaths. A good compromise is not easy; it is to affirm it that is simplistic. It is not a question of selecting an opinion (by the force of screams, the draw, the Greco-Roman wrestling …) and silence others. A good compromise is complex, integrating the maximum of criteria and their priority. It extends the decision-making hierarchy, which makes it intelligent. Sometimes an elected official seems to be the big winner. If the debate is respected, it is because he has proposed a complex solution from the outset.
Complex is not complicated. Complexity is about the model, which is rooted in the depth of the problem. It uses simple measures, because the model designates them as effective levers.
What happens to the solution? Is it really applied? Brakes await it: 1) ascendants (it is lost or blocked by a higher hierarchy), 2) descendants (inertia of the employees responsible for administering it, reluctance of the public). The application can be truncated by the promoters themselves, once the agreement is obtained. Demagoguery and personal interests in ambush. A counter-power is needed at each level of the hierarchy.
The need for checks and balances, including for rights
Hierarchy is not the problem, its dysfunctions are. An effective hierarchy is fluid, evolves its characters, remunerates the objectives of the function rather than the beautiful talkers, balance power and counter-power. What is true participatory democracy? The one where citizens try to fit into this hierarchy and respect its ordinances. Right and duty.
In the Russian autocratic drift, the citizen gives up his power. A chance, sometimes, when the president is a light. A catastrophe when his psychoanalytic file is 3 volumes (I have 10 for Trump and Putin).
In the Western anarchic drift, the citizen takes away his power from his representatives. A good thing to get out of an authoritarian regime, but a catastrophe when the country has to face an aggressor well united around its leader.
Our own drift is the worst in fact, because it collapses hierarchies. Indeed, it blocks the way to the only global solution, which is to raise the hierarchy of nations to a global decision-making level. It can only be formed with leaders endowed with powers identical to their populations. It must be balanced, like the others, by checks and balances. Do we find these ingredients in our Western democracies today?
Ukraine caught between two excesses
Not. Putin talks to peers who are smarter than him but seem weaker, due to a lack of popular support. Putin has freed himself from such support with the help of an impervious hierarchy. Western mobs have destroyed their own hierarchies and inherit the most demagogic leaders.
The unfortunate Ukraine, which is undoubtedly seeking genuine democracy, is the victim of a Big Bang between these two excesses.