October 10th, 2006

Between the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of anarchy: Russia

I’m with Winston Churchill when he said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. Truly democratic states, with guarantees of human rights and freedom of speech, press, and religion, are precious and yet rare commodities.

Russia is an excellent case in point. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989-1991, the winds of freedom ushered in–what? A surprisingly chaotic and poverty-striken country, although of course in retrospect it shouldn’t have been such a surprise. However, the sorry state of the Russia that emerged from the collapse of the once-mighty USSR surprised even most experts and analysts in the field, just as the collapse itself surprised most prognosticaters.

So much for predictions. As I’ve written before, the failure of pundits to foresee events that occurred during and after the end of the Soviet Union made me realize that political soothsaying was not much more reliable than ordinary soothsaying. One of the reasons is that there are just too many unknowns that interact in mysterious ways; that’s true in all complex human endeavors. But certain general principles are clear, and one of them is that it’s not an easy task to create a functioning democratic state out of one that’s fallen on hard times and is used to despotism of one type or another.

That’s one of the messages of Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor,” in which the Inquisitor says:

In the end [the people] will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious.

It’s no accident the Dostoevsky was Russian, even though he predated the Communist takeover. The problem is both a long-term Russian one and a near-universal one. It’s the tendency of the majority of states to drift to one form of tyranny or another, in order to counter the forces of civil war, anarchy, and chaos.

What prompted this soliliquy of mine? The murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was a critic of Putin’s government. It’s not likely that Putin or his henchmen actually killed her, but they didn’t have to:

…even if Vladimir Putin’s associates had nothing to do with Politkovskaya being gunned down in an elevator of her apartment building in the center of Moscow, his contempt for law created the climate in which the murder was carried out. Like the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in his Canterbury Cathedral many centuries ago, the crime was committed in the clear belief that it would please the king.

Read the whole Ha’aretz article to get an idea of how Putin’s Russia has become, in the words of the author, a “Potemkin village,” where “the same arbitrary brutes rule” as before.

I think that’s hyperbole; no one’s alleging that the situation has gone back to anywhere near what it was under Stalin, for example. But present-day Russia is a dreadful disappointment to reformers who thought something very different was going to happen back in the heady days of the 90s.

It turns out that the author of the article has a special interest in these things. Her name immediately caught my eye: Nina Khrushcheva.

Nina Khushcheva–could it be? As a reader of countless Russian novels, I recall how those Russian names work–it’s the feminine form of Khrushchev. And of course, as a person of a certain age, I remember that Nina was the name of Khrushchev’s wife:

The present day Nina, who turns out to be their great-granddaughter, teaches at the New School in NY and is a Soviet expert. In this reminiscence, she weaves her memories of her great-grandfather Nikita with her analysis of the ebb and flow of Russian politics.

Khrushchev’s famous 1956 speech denouncing Stalin’s murders was an epochal event in the history of Communism because–as Nina well describes–it let in the first breaths of freedom and reform, even though those breaths were small and self-serving (in an amazing quote, she says that Nikita “confessed he had needed to tell the story in part because his own arms were ‘covered with blood up to the elbows’”).

Khrushchev didn’t want the USSR or Communism to fall, and neither did Gorbachev when he instituted his much broader reforms. But events always have unforeseen consequences, and reform is one of those events–it can end up causing the whole ship to founder. And then, when the dictatorship is overthrown, the country whose economy has been tanking, whose population has lost initiative, whose social ties have been shattered by decades of informing on one another, whose trust in government has devolved to the most abject cynicism possible–how does that country go about rebuilding into a functioning democracy that protects human rights, as well one that boasts a robust economy?

It’s a daunting task, and the Grand Inquisitor’s solution always beckons. Putin definitely hears its siren call. But the alternative–the realpolitik policy of leaving dictators in place–is a lousy one, as well. Therein lies the conundrum.

[Part II here.]

37 Responses to “Between the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of anarchy: Russia”

  1. Cappy Says:

    Russia seems to be shrinking in every respect. It hasn’t succeeded where their former sattelites have economically, not to mention falling behind rapidly advancing India and China.

  2. Cappy Says:

    P.S., this is at least the second Khruschev descendant that has moved to the good old USA. So much for “we will bury you”!

  3. chuck Says:

    Truly democratic states…

    Of which we are not one; we are a republic with many limits on government power. The design was deliberate and not only adapted to the realities of thirteen states, but to the reality of democracies falling to mob rule and oscillating into tyrannies. Parliamentary systems suffer from fewer restraints and you may note that in many ways they have fewer protections for the citizens and are more likely to suffer from censorship and such. Look at Europe.

    In the US, the closest thing to pure democracy is probably the town meeting, a form of governance found in Massachusetts and other northeastern states. I suspect you have noticed how well they work for small, homogeneous towns of 5,000 – 10,000 souls. And how unwieldy they can become for small cities like Newton.

  4. Tatterdemalian Says:

    Actually, the US government is a union of three governments, each one limited to the functions it excels at, and restrained from interfering in matters they are ill-equipped to handle. The legislative branch is a democracy, the executive branch is a republic, and the judicial branch is an oligarchy.

    You are correct about the unwieldiness of pure democracy, though. That’s why the US House of Representatives no longer has one representative for every 100,000 people; instead the House’s population is fixed at 435 members, with the number of members each state elects determined by the ratio of that state’s population to the population of the entire country.

    The US isn’t a “pure” democracy, but just as impurities strengthen pure iron into steel, so do the impurities in US democracy strengthen it into something far more powerful and enduring.

  5. chuck Says:

    Interesting points, Tatterdemalian. On thinking it over I am becoming convinced that one thing that really marks the US out is limited government. There are things that the government is *not* allowed to do, such as establish a religion. This is really pretty unique, and not at all comparable to constitutions that guarantee certain rights, such as the right to work or the right to medical care, that may call upon the government to intervene on a large scale.

  6. Robert Schwartz Says:

    Russia is imploding. Reference. Putin is doing nothing to stop it. Russia is not a long term problem.

  7. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

    Zhou en-Lai (?), the Chi-com after Mao, seems to have directed the Chinese towards a fairly reasonable path.
    Economic prosperity thru private property and increasingly free markets, first — then political freedom.

    The US supported general in S. Korea (Chun?), as well as Gen. Pinochet in Chile, also repressed political freedom while establishing private property.

    Slovakia, in fearful response to market reforms, voted in authoritarian Meciar in 1992, leading to the split with the Czechs. Many Slovaks want to believe the promises of a Strong Leader, who will “fix everything”.

    I consider these feelings based on an Unreal Perfection standard.

    (In Slovakia, women usually get an “ova” added to their names, so my wife’s father is Hlavac >Hlavach< and my wife’s birth name was Hlavacova. But hlavac sort of means head, a noun. The 1991 PM was Carnogursky, an adjective, so his wife was Carnogurska. My wife claimed an exemption, so did not become Greyova, though in some public appearances she is wrongly identified as such.)

  8. Fausta Says:

    As a superficial person, I hope young Nina’s better dressed than old Nina.
    Or, as the Wendy’s ad used to say, “Svimwear!!”

  9. Sergey Says:

    Neo, your description of Russian reformer’s expectations is not exact. It is more applicable to expectations of journalists and general public; but the more someone understood economics, the less optimistic he was. And Egor Gaidar, the father of reforms, was very cautious in his prognoses. As for unexpectedness of results, it has much to do with secretiveness and secrecy of communist regime. Nobody new for sure even the most basic economic parametres, such as proportion of military industry in gross internal product or amount of hard currency in treasury.(There were none, it turned out.) And the most prominent cause of modern troubles is that, really, “the same arbitrary brutes rule” – personally the same.

  10. Tatterdemalian Says:

    The Founders’ real stroke of brilliance, I think, was that they recognized that people, in the interest of survival and safety, will naturally form governments, and these governments will naturally expand and develop to meet the needs and desires of their people, only falling apart when they can no longer do so. At the same time, they engaged in a bold experiment, to establish a framework that the government was not allowed to grow beyond, designed to maximize the liberty of the citizenry and prevent both popular rebellion and crushing oppression.

    Their government has lasted longer than any government in existance today, unless you don’t count the British Civil wars as a change of government (technically, the same Parliament that the absolute monarchs waged war on emerged victorious and still exists today, so Britain’s transition to a constitutional monarchy could technically be dated back to the establishment of the House of Commons in the 15th century).

  11. goesh Says:

    I think NK’s madman will have a temper tantrum and do something even if he doesn’t have nukes, like launch missles on Japan or send troops across the border, though I realize our national priority should be on a disgraced politician who sent sexually orientated IMs to minors.

  12. Sergey Says:

    Points made by Tatterdemalian are not only interesting, they are brilliant. So it turns out that Churchill was not exactly correct in his laudation of democracy: there is better system, namely the combination of executive republic, legislative democracy and judical oligarchy. The big question, though, is whether it can be cloned and survive in another historical background, different from US.

  13. Tatterdemalian Says:

    It’s powerful and durable, Sergey, but the engineer in me won’t call anything “perfect.” It’s can’t even really be recreated well today, due to new technologies whose lack in the 18th century prevented Britain from simply crushing the American Revolution before the US even came into existance.

    It may not even be the right government in most situations. Australia, Canada, and present-day Britain get by essentially without a separate executive branch, instead putting the powers of the US President in the hands of the Prime Ministers of their legislatures. The only thing their “executives” (the monarch of England) are allowed to do is live in Buckingham Palace and wave at crowds.

    Whether they could get by this way without the support of the US, and especially its executive branch, is cause for much heated speculation.

  14. Don Says:

    The Founders’ real stroke of brilliance, I think, was that they recognized that people, in the interest of survival and safety, will naturally form governments, and these governments will naturally expand and develop to meet the needs and desires of their people, only falling apart when they can no longer do so. At the same time, they engaged in a bold experiment, to establish a framework that the government was not allowed to grow beyond, designed to maximize the liberty of the citizenry and prevent both popular rebellion and crushing oppression.

    Their government has lasted longer than any government in existance today, unless you don’t count the British Civil wars as a change of government (technically, the same Parliament that the absolute monarchs waged war on emerged victorious and still exists today, so Britain’s transition to a constitutional monarchy could technically be dated back to the establishment of the House of Commons in the 15th century).

    This is a very good point. We tend to think of the Old World as older than us, but only England had one system of government that persisted.

    I would add that the Founders were in fact building on the English model. They were Englishmen before our Revolution (which was really a rebellion) after all.

    People don’t understand how significant the Anglo-Saxon culture is; the English defeat of France and specifically the destruction of the combined Spanish-French fleet in 1805 made Latin American independence possible. Since that time, Anglo-American seapower has protected Latin America, commerce on the high seas, and to some extent the rest of the world, ending the international slave trade (with the exception of those risking smuggling).

  15. Sergey Says:

    But US government system has successfully survived even epidemic insanity of baby-boomer’s generation in 60-ties. So, if not perfect, it still is robust enough against populism, the most dangerous peril of “pure” democracy.

  16. Sergey Says:

    There were many sources Founders used, except British model: first, republican Rome, second, Scottish philosophers such as John Locke, and third, biblical Book of Judges. Some of these were not so fully included in British model, while also, may be, belong to some extent to Anglo-Saxon culture.

  17. Steve Says:

    I don’t think Locke was a Scot, but Adam Ferguson, David Hume, and Adam Smith were.

    We should be careful in discussing our (meaning: US) success that we don’t crow too much, or start assigning credit to national cultures that would soon turn into a bout of ethnic cheerleading.

    In one word: we’ve been lucky; and to quote Barry, vigilance in the defense of our liberty is no vice.

  18. Sergey Says:

    “whose population has lost initiative, whose social ties have been shattered by decades of informing on one another, whose trust in government has devolved to the most abject cynicism possible”

    Neo, you are excessively pessimistic about Russia. Not all population lost initiative, the are lots of enterprising young people, and in any country only fraction of population really have initiative, but this fraction is sufficient. Socialization primarily occurs in young people, under 16, and we already have a generation that grew in atmosphere of mutual trust, and in this generation, to which my children belong, social ties are very healthy. Cynicism in respect to government is present, of course, but it rather healthy, too, and promising of change. And economy grows, and vigorously, much better in reality than in official statistics, because large part of it is not reported anywhere to avoid taxation.

  19. Tony Zbaraschuk Says:

    The American model is pretty much England 2.0 (get rid of the hereditary stuff so you can throw bums out instead of having to kill the king; insert some additional fixes so Cromwell doesn’t happen again; add additional thoughts in light of history of previous republics in Greece, Rome, Italy, and Holland; mix and stir).

    It was useful that the revision was carried through by a mixture of theoreticians and working politicians (so the idealist tendencies could be curbed by “but that won’t work in practice”; the French Revolution was to suffer mightily from a lack of same); it was, perhaps, even more useful that George Washington existed.
    (Then again, there were plenty of non-GWs around who might have taken the Cromwell or Bonaparte role; it helped that most of them wouldn’t have been given a shot at it during the Revolution.)

  20. Sergey Says:

    The pit, in which Russia has fallen, was deep indeed, much deeper than most of its population expected, but we are already on ascending slope of it.

  21. Tatterdemalian Says:

    The US executive branch is an interesting branch of government, being both the most recognized and least understood leaders in the entire world. In any other nation, they would be kings; indeed, nearly every other nation that has attempted to establish a presidental office has ended up with a succession of power-mad dictators instead, all deposed not by the will of the electorate but only through their deaths, usually at the hands of another power-mad dictator.

    What makes every US President so immune to the siren song of absolute power? It’s not like any of them couldn’t use the army to disband the other two branches of government at gunpoint, even today, on some pretense that the public might accept. President Bush could have done so on 9-11, and the fact that he did not is the cause of a lot of the cognitive dissonance on the part of the loony left (along with the fact that the presidents of countries they support always do just that, sooner or later).

    My opinion is that the answer lies with the fact that our president is not allowed to remain in power more than eight years, is not allowed to personally choose his successor, and does not face death or persecution the moment he hands over the reins of power. These facets of the office ensure that the President will eventually have to go back to living in the nation he once led, and so every president does their best not to screw their job up too badly, even if they would make a short term profit in the end.

    With the rift we have now, I wonder if these facets of the office will remain stable. Imagine what President Howard Dean would do to former President Bush. Once a precedent is established that ex-presidents can face persecution, or even execution, if the new President is too ideologically different from themselves, the US will quickly turn into a banana republic, with Presidents clinging to power as if their lives depend on it (because they do).

  22. Holmes Says:

    Cheers to the last comment section I now read.

  23. Sergey Says:

    Too much luck, too long string of helpfull coincidences with so meaningful consequencies, so I can’t escape temptation to see a work of Providence in it. May be, just this gave rise to conception of Manifest Destiny?

  24. Sergey Says:

    Power always attracts psychopaths – this is universal. But presidental race in US is so long, draws so much public attention and includes so tough competition, that it is near to impossible for non-sane person to win it. As I can remember, you never have a real nutcase in White House. Other nations were not so lucky.

  25. Tatterdemalian Says:

    It’s not hard to see luck in just the fact that most of us wake up alive every morning, rather than being killed in our sleep by murder, accident, or even just natural causes.

    It took more than just luck to create the US. It also took enormous effort and sacrifice on the part of a lot of people, incredible brilliance to direct that effort into a set of systems that could survive for generations, and great forebearance to avoid using those systems to give any one person absolute control.

    If there was divine providence involved, it was more likely in the last of those factors than in luck. I prefer to credit the Judeo-Christian religious traditions, though, since I have a hard time having faith in a God that wouldn’t stop the Holocaust before the Allies did.

  26. neo-neocon Says:

    Sergey: when I was writing about the fairly dismal psychological state of the Russian people, I was speaking of it as it stood at the time of the fall of the USSR. I’m heartened to hear you say things are on the upswing now.

  27. Don Says:

    There were many sources Founders used, except British model: first, republican Rome, second, Scottish philosophers such as John Locke, and third, biblical Book of Judges.

    I disagree. The British evolved a system over time, and Americans used that as a starting point to create a new revision. There was even an English Bill of Rights.

    More importantly was the underlying culture, which made it all possible; philosophers and theory are nice, but real world practical application makes or breaks you.

  28. jgr Says:

    “(The Founders recognized).. these governments will naturally expand and develop to meet the needs and desires of their people, only falling apart when they can no longer do so.”

    Very many Founders had a real fear of government and of its powers. (Looking at the anti Federalist writings for instance.)
    Somehow today we have left that understanding, lost fear, all at our peril.

    Is government meant to be the one way to a greater good?
    Or is it a necessary evil? (words from my schoolboy studies)

    Mercy Otis Warren (18c historian/ Mass. Founding family, and Anti Federalist) wrote: ‘that there was a basic “propensity in human nature to tyrannize over their fellow men.”‘

    “I am more and more convinced..that Man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give.”
    Abigail Adams, wife to John ( quotes taken from “Cast for a Revolution,” Jean Fritz, 1958)

  29. Ariel Says:

    “The legislative branch is a democracy, the executive branch is a republic, and the judicial branch is an oligarchy.”

    Don’t forget that the democracy has the power to not only limit, in certain areas, but also to reign in the oligarchy.

    I have always been quizzical about why we consider the branches “equal”. Congress can tell the Supreme Court to butt out of certain areas (“with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make”), it can override Presidential vetoes, and it can impeach members of the other two branches. It makes the laws of the land and controls the purse strings (try running a war without funding). The Supreme Court’s ability of judicial review was a construct after the ratification, a logically correct one, but not directly written in the Constitution.

    The Congress was to be the most powerful of the three, which is also why its powers were clearly enumerated.

  30. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “Very many Founders had a real fear of government and of its powers. (Looking at the anti Federalist writings for instance.)”

    Correct, and that’s why so many limitations were placed on the growth of our government. Unlike the framers of the EU, who sought to create a government Frankenstein-style, stitching together a bunch of existing parts and simply assuming it would work, the Founders instead created a frame that would keep the government from growing into a monstrosity, and let the people create what government they wanted, within that framework.

    That’s why the US government’s existence has lacked the sort of bloodshed that had typified European governments.

    “The Congress was to be the most powerful of the three, which is also why its powers were clearly enumerated.”

    Depends on how you define “power.” From the example of Athenian democracy, it was clear that placing the power of the military directly in the hands of a democracy was a grave mistake that led to anarchy and mob rule; that’s why the US army answers to the executive branch, and the US police answer to the judiciary. Congress may be able to make laws, but they are not allowed to enforce them.

    The Founders recognized that, no matter how religiously you believe in the virtues of pure democracy, the real world had already shown its flaws.

  31. grackle Says:

     
    It’s not like any of them [US Presidents] couldn’t use the army to disband the other two branches of government at gunpoint, even today, on some pretense that the public might accept. President Bush could have done so on 9-11 …

    With all due respect to the commentator the idea of ANY US President disbanding Congress and/or the Judicial branch under ANY circumstances is about as farfetched as any opinion I’ve read on this blog. The American public would NEVER go along with such actions and neither would the military. The US has been through many, many wars, has been under attack many times and no President has ever come close to what is described.
     

  32. Tatterdemalian Says:

    “With all due respect to the commentator the idea of ANY US President disbanding Congress and/or the Judicial branch under ANY circumstances is about as farfetched as any opinion I’ve read on this blog.”

    So was the possibility that Al-Qaeda could bring down the WTC, up until it happened. My own father told me it would be impossible, because any fanatic crazy enough to try it would be too stupid to have any chance of success.

    Ever since then, I haven’t paid much attention to anyone who tells me something is “just too farfetched.”

  33. jgr Says:

    “But presidental race in US is so long, draws so much public attention and includes so tough competition, that it is near to impossible for non-sane person to win it..”

    Sergey, I wouldn’t assume this. The American voting public knows only what the media controllers allow. Elections are often stage shows, with the electorate barely understanding real issues, and often manipulated by irrelevancies. Personality and TV suitability become the main factors. Plus all the distortions the media will allow.

    Bill Clinton was a very bad mistake. Al Gore has shown himself to be less than stable in post election times. And who is Jimmy Carter; he’s the exception to the rule that we shouldn’t execute ex Presidents.

  34. Tatterdemalian Says:

    I don’t consider any president a mistake. If nothing else, we learned from Carter that we must never again put a pacifist in charge of our army.

    I also think the problem with the system is not so much any flaw in its design. It’s a popularity contest, at its core, but the primary function of a president is to be popular with his citizens, the better to boost their morale and enable them to present a united face to the rest of the world.

    Rather, the problem stems from a media that has seized far too much control over the flow of information, and are now using that control to push propaganda based on leftist fantasies instead of providing information on actual events. They are even trying to use their position as information overlords to cripple the US government whenever they can, having decided in their own closed courts that its victory over the false hope of global communism is a crime that must be punished by death.

  35. Sergey Says:

    I mean “non-sane” literally: a psychopath or maniac. This is in itself an improvement over Iran or Venesuela, or over dozens of third-world countries, or even over Weimar Germany, for example. No political system can possibly give any guarantee of competence and moral integrity of elected liders. But to spare public of nut-cases in leadership is possible, and in my view, US system does it resonably well.

  36. jgr Says:

    Well put argument, Sergey. The first federal elections after George Washington found Federalist and Republican forces portraying each other in the worst possible lights; yet Adams was never the monarchial despot the Republicans feared. Thoms Jefferson never fulfilled the role of French libertine eager for the guillotine.

    Pray God that underlying historical consensus will endure. I fear the post Vietnam years have strained it.

  37. Ymarsakar Says:

    But present-day Russia is a dreadful disappointment to reformers who thought something very different was going to happen back in the heady days of the 90s.

    That is just the consequence of not being defeated by America and then occupied. Yes, losing a war to America and then having to agree to American conditions may not be all that great to whomever is in charge at the time. However, it is the best news for the population of the defeated.

    The international world tried their solution of “let the UN handle things” in the spirit of brotherhood and the meeting of minds instead of unilateral American actions, and this is the result.

    Russia avoided losing a war through a decisive defeat against America. Instead it disintegrated from within. They missed out on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their seemingly great gain lead to this situation you speak of, Neo.

    To everything there is a price, including prosperity and security. Those that do not pay it, do not get it.

    It’s a daunting task, and the Grand Inquisitor’s solution always beckons. Putin definitely hears its siren call. But the alternative–the realpolitik policy of leaving dictators in place–is a lousy one, as well. Therein lies the conundrum.

    An alternate solution is tribute vassals or otherwise known as feudalism, empire, or the many other methods from which chaos can be fought and order secured.

    Weak nations can always ally with stronger nations, or ask to become protectorates of that stronger nation, or petition to become low pole members of an empire (request to be annexed).

    The ironic thing is, all the solutions humanity came up with is seen as obsolete and anachronistic, and thus people are motivated to try this “democracy” stuff that was only proven to work through American insight, force of arms, and national character. So when the new age solutions fail, because they lacked a solid foundation of strength and power, people go back to the old solutions, Neo. Except this time, the old solutions prefered are those that themselves create the most instability, far more than tribalism, feudalism, or imperial systems ever did.

    The current world is not the same as what went on before. The old solutions lack flexibility and solidness, they also carry with it the baggage of all the other problems they created in human history.

    This doesn’t matter if a people choose dictator, that old strongman solution, amoral familism, or any number of other things that humans have tried before.

    What matters is simple. Which adaptation of imperialism in the Cold War era lead to the pushing back of chaos and the onslaught of law and order? The question answers itself.

    America has inherited the position that Athens, Sparta, Rome, Axum, and Asoka’s Empire once held. Which is the position of using force that fights back against bandits, pirates, and other elements of chaos. Illyrian pirates, Barbary pirates, it matters not. The force that holds civilization together, and provides for the people in good times and bad. Except America’s reach extends to the entire globe, not just one or two continents.

    Look at Europe right now. Instead of using their energy for something good, they are wasting it trying to overthrow America. A waste of time and resources better put to better use. Yet it is also a recognition of the position America has inherited. A position Europe and others want for themselves, yet they have never proved worthy of such.

    Few nations and people can truly “bootstrap” themselves up from the mud without any outside help. If that was feasible, then America never would have needed to change from a Confederation to a Federation.

    In the end, people will always have to make the choice that the Sunnis of Iraq recently made. Which do you value more, your pride that says foreigners cannot be tolerated or needed or making the lives of your children better?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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