by Frank Li
This is the fourteenth article of the series: “Towards An Ideal Form of Government”.
Previously, I identified three major similarities between communism and democracy as follows:
- Destruction of capitalism (Democracy and Communism: Are They Really the Same?).
- Brainwashing (Brainwashing in Communism and in Democracy).
- Ideology (Ideology: Yet Another Similarity between Communism and Democracy).
In this article, I will identify kleptocracy as a fourth major similarity between communism and democracy.
1. What is kleptocracy?
According to Wikipedia,
Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, (from Greek: κλέπτης – kleptēs, “thief” and κράτος – kratos, “power, rule”, hence “rule by thieves”) is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest service. This type of government corruption is often achieved by the embezzlement of state funds.
In short, kleptocracy means stealing and government corruption.
2. Kleptocracy in communism
Communism is kleptocracy by definition! In fact, it’s too generous to call communism (i.e. robbery) “kleptocracy” (i.e. stealing). “Armed robbery” is more apropos!
The two biggest communist countries were the Soviet Union and China under Mao (1949-1976). Both failed and then changed in their own ways highlighted as follows:
- The Soviet Union: It was dissolved, became Russia, and changed to a sort of stilted democracy over night, thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev (i.e. brainless and reckless) and Boris Yeltsin (i.e. heartless and reckless), resulting in untold human misery, a few billionaires (e.g. Mikhail Prokhorov), and a doubtful future.
- It was a positive change from armed robbery (i.e. communism) to stealing (i.e. kleptocracy) for both Russia and China.
- The West must not dismiss China’s system (i.e. “state capitalism”) lightly just because stealing is prevalent there (China’s Macroeconomic Miracle: Kleptocracy). It’s the direction and the rate of change that matter most, and it is a long and tortuous journey to transition from communism to an ideal form of government!
- Democracy, as we know it today, has become totally kleptocractic and bankrupting!
3. Kleptocracy in democracy
Overall, American politicians have long been openly and proudly “spreading the wealth” of the nation to special interest groups (e.g. public unions) in exchange for votes! America’s national debt already exceeds $15T. How much more should we allow them to steal from the public treasury and from our future generations before saying “enough is enough”?
4. The U.S. vs. China
It’s easy to steal in China, as money is everywhere! But it can be restless. Here is a rumored story about Wang Lijun (pictured left), the man who brought down Bo Xilai, and Wen Qiang, Wang’s predecessor: Before his execution, Wen shared his prophesy with Wang: “you will be like me in a few years!” Apparently, Wang took Wen’s advice seriously. He was well prepared for his doomsday and escaped to the American Consulate in Chengdu before Bo could have settled with him “locally” by taking him into custody, possibly with a speedy trial followed by a speedy execution. By running into the American Consulate, Wang saved his life with two major results: (1) Beijing took custody of him shortly afterwards and (2) he had a chance to confess his own crimes together with Bo’s.
Like China, stealing is widespread and systematic in the U.S. Unlike China, stealing can be open and restful in the U.S. Three examples:
- For many American politicians, stealing from the public treasury and from the future generations is a way of life – Nobody is losing sleep because of it!
- What about Insider Trading in Congress? Nancy Pelosi is certainly not losing sleep because of it (Confronting Pelosi on Insider Trading)!
- Although the launch of the Iraq War has been widely regarded as the biggest mistake ever in U.S. foreign policy, nobody has been held accountable for it! Tens of thousands of Iraqis died. What about the U.S. casualties? 4,486 deaths and over 100,000 wounded! It was a crime against humanity! Yet President George W. Bush appears to be resting well in retirement. Where is the basic justice?
Here is the latest article on China’s corruption: The family fortunes of Beijing’s new few. Very bad, isn’t it? But between that and the Iraq War, I would pick the former every time! Besides, we have our “royal” families too: the Kennedys, the Bushes, or even the Clintons.
It’s easy for America to pick on China (and vice versa), and debate forever about whose system is better, while losing valuable time solving our own problems. So let’s keep the debate simple by focusing on the results (vs. processes) and the political systems (vs. individuals):
- Results: China is well on her way to becoming the largest economy on earth by 2030, while the entire West is on the verge of bankruptcy. Several European countries are already there, with more to follow, including America. Wondering about America’s tomorrow? Look at Europe today (Europe’s Problems Put Another 4.5 Million Jobs at Risk)! Wondering about America’s next generation? Look at this generation in Europe (Class 2012: 5 Europe grads face rocky future)!
- Political systems: Forget about China’s Bo or America’s Pelosi, or even President Obama. Let’s think about the political system, holistically (Towards An Ideal Form of Government). Here is the bottom line:
- “The political system does not matter, as long as it embraces capitalism!” (Ideology: Yet Another Similarity between Communism and Democracy).
- Today’s Chinese government is more pro-business (i.e. pro-capitalism) than today’s American government, even per Steve Wynn (Steve Wynn Takes on Washington). That is the most important difference between China and the U.S. today! That is the key reason behind China’s rise and America’s decline!
What, then, is the solution for the U.S.? Bet on Mitt Romney by demanding that he be a great President as I suggested (An Open Letter to Mitt Romney)!
Like communism, democracy, both as an ideology and as a form of government, has many merits in theory. But in practice and effect, democracy looks more and more like communism. Consequently, unless it can be adapted to the changing times, like the Chinese did with communism, democracy, as we know it today, will destroy the West as spectacularly and painfully as communism destroyed the East!
About the Author
Frank Li is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action.