Jan 30

“I started this series with the lecture on Chancellors, and followed with bureaucrats, because I thought it interesting to show how different the dynamics in China were from the West. China is *the* monarchy, they’ve had deified supreme emperors ruling over tens and hundreds of millions for millennia. Compared to that the monarchies of Europe are pretty much a sham. The Roman Emperors kept their pretenses of being Republican officers for centuries, until the Empire wasn’t even in Rome and didn’t even speak Latin. Later Medieval and Modern monarchs all had to constantly fight and appease their nobles, only to get their head axed, and those fortunate enough to win that battle would soon lose power to the bourgeoisie.

And that’s another funny one, municipal corporations with autonomy rights against the court.  The first Chinese to study European history must have scratched their head hard about that. Nothing of the sort ever existed in China. Nobles weren’t much of a problem even back in the First Empire, and when the Han Dynasty founder, Liu Bang did give noble rights to his brothers, it didn’t take much for his successors to kill them all and stop the experiment. And so the landholding nobility was never an important political force. The absolute power of the monarch was never in question.”

“Authoritarian systems have many problems but pork isn’t one of them. The guys who gotta eat aren’t that many, and you don’t need an elaborate faith argument to set up a system for pork distribution. […] Say you needed a huge army and bureaucracy to fight WW1. If you have a democracy there’s no way in hell to dismantle that bureaucracy. It’ll stay there for there is no one with enough authority to dismantle it and send it home, and the bureaucrats will organize effectively to lobby for their survival. A King though can change the government as he wishes for he is the damn king. His word is law and he has no constituency to distribute pork too, except perhaps the Army if he’s a new king.”

“Recent scientific discoveries tell that most of human rationality is not used to make decisions, but rather to come up with arguments to rationalize decisions which the subconscious brain has already taken. It seems to me that political arguments aren’t also really used to make decisions, but rather to rationalize decisions which the subconscious body politic has already taken.

“Capitalism produces two contradictory cultures: the puritanism of work and production and the hedonism of consumption.”

“When I take my econ classes, most of the time it is just work, as with all things, but a lot of the time I’ll be like “Hey, that’s pretty interesting!”.
But engineering majors around here are just miserable all of the time. It’s like the curriculum is designed to stomp the enthusiasm out of them at every turn.”

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