Selections: David Harsanyi: Enlightened tyrants
In a recent interview with a Spanish newspaper, famed director Woody Allen reportedly declared himself "pleased" with President Barack Obama's presidency. . . "It would be good ... if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."
Allen, who one hopes was joking, doesn't speak for anyone but himself yet makes a good point.
Aside from the occasional genocide, oppression, evil and torture, etc., it is inarguable that public policy could be implemented more rapidly in an autocracy. Think of how many uninsured Americans we could have helped. Think of the environmental benefits. Democratic institutions are imperfect and chaotic, and man's selfish behavior is constantly gumming up progress.
Just ask widely read liberal New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who pointed out that despotism can be advantageous if "enlightened" tyrants would run the show.
"One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks," according to Friedman. "But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages."
Of course, some form or another of Friedman's rationale has been used in nearly every embryonic dictatorship. Now, if only Venezuela and Sudan funded more solar farms, Friedman could embrace their progressive forms of governance, as well. . .
And since Americans wrestle with an array of intricate societal systems — from energy, education, technology, food, farming, communications, financial and so forth — we're going to need strong leadership in a number of areas, apparently.
It seems that the negative externalities of our freewheeeling ways have become too much for some of the enlightened to bear. Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices.
But rarely do we see it this bluntly articulated.