Democracy as a ‘sinking ship’?

democracy

 

The notion of democracy has been going through a turbulent path these days. From a contemporary aspect, we can refer to phenomena like the Brexit, the rise of nativists-populists epitomized by that corn-haired Donald Trump, and most recently, the military coup attempt in Turkey last Friday. We criticize such outcomes as malcontent, harbingers of something more dangerous to come, or short-sighted, but if we take into account deeper consideration, aren’t all these enabled – either directly or indirectly – from the very core processes we consider as ‘democratic’ instead?

This is not an academic paper that tries to discuss about democracy (although I would be very interested to author one), but – as a way to showcase my right of civil liberties – let us have a frank discussion about it. First thing first, we need to acknowledge that there are no perfect political ideologies, even in the concept of ‘democracy’. To understand about the existing dichotomy, let us the origin of this notion back into Ancient Greece, somewhere around 6th (or maybe 7th) century BC. Aristotle, or our genius philosophy bro’ who invented almost every field we study today, postulated that the main aim of democracy is to achieve freedom. On the other school of thought, we got the other partners-in-crime (Plato and Socrates, one of whom the other betrayed) who argued that democracy is no different from mob rule, or most commonly referred to as ‘tyranny of the majority’. One alternative proposition – or maybe compromise – offered by these philosophers was to use the term ‘polyarchy’. Defined as ‘rule by more than one person’, polyarchy still slightly differs from democracy in that the former postulates a set of institutions, constraints, and procedures that aim to balance the utilization of democracy, which the latter actually does not posit. If we adapt these debates to contemporary settings, the resulting outcome – voila! – is polarization within the society. People debate on how democracy should be done and represented. One school wants maximum participation from the people – and the people alone, while the other wants a more procedural, representative, and legally-constraining measures to not let democracy ‘erupt into complete anarchy’, which this school dreads of.

Efforts to promote democracy have been tied in orthodoxy as part of the Western world’s foreign-policy approaches in their contemporary ‘nation-building’ projects. United States – the current world superpower – is still actively promoting this idea (though no longer as active as in the past), and is followed suit by other European countries. Through epic makeups, democracy is parceled and decorated as though they were ‘gifts from Santa Claus’. Except from the cases of US-led democratization in Germany and Japan in the aftermath of World War II, most of their efforts have been largely mixed. Ironically, indeed, the idea of ‘democracy promotion’ was so subverted that the West ended up supporting any regimes they could label as ‘democratic’ – as long as they were anti-Communist. Military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as Libya, Syria, etc) did not produce any tangible democracies; what we have is instead the rise of ISIS (or a more derogatory one, Daesh), the continuation of tribal, sectarian, and ethnic warfare, and regional instability. What the heck is wrong with all these so-called ‘democracy promotion’ things?

Many scholars have offered various answers and interpretations in order to answer such prevailing puzzle, but many of their explanations are contextually dependent on the regions they are specializing in. Experts such as Scott Mainwaring, James Fearon, David Laitin, David Collier, and Steven Levitsky have expertise in the Latin American contexts – and Collier and Levitsky have published a paper that aims to categorize democracies based on their knowledge in this region. On the other hand, we have experts such as Dan Slater, Tom Pepinsky, Eddy Malesky, Donald Emmerson, etc, who specialized in the context of Asia-Pacific region. We also have scholars that try to explain democracy from a political-economic framework, such as Dani Rodrik, William Easterly, and Stephan Haggard. And then we have scholars that explain democracy through massive global datasets that they have toiled to develop, such as Barbara Geddes, Adam Przeworski, Monty G. Marshall, etc. These are just some people I mention which papers I have read, and I’m sure there are way many more of them whose works I have yet to review. As each of them may offer some variation of insight about the dichotomy of democracy when compared to other issues, I can hardly type in through their postulation in this blog post (it’s too long, and I need to spend quite a large amount of time re-reading their papers).

The best explanation, I would emphasize, is to read Why Nations Fail, co-authored by Daron Acemoglu (MIT economist) and James A. Robinson (Harvard economist). They focus on the role played by institutions, which actually matter more than democracies do, in delivering outcomes from the authority to the people. Thus, here is the premise: if a country can not build an inclusive institutional setup that accommodates everyone’s interests, then the polity is designed to doom. While this book provides a largely historical perspective, in case you want to explore even further, you can try to read their another book titled ‘Economic Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship’. With tons of pages of intricate econometric formula and analyses (which most people, and me – and even some grad students I bet – struggle to comprehend), they provide evidence as to how institutional setup established in the past can affect the political prospects of those countries. I do not recommend you (and myself) to read the latter before taking more Economics and Econometrics courses; Why Nations Fail itself already offers a huge range of fascinating case studies that are more exciting than your high-school history textbook.

In case you want the simplest explanation, I would suggest reading an article written by Fareed Zakaria, titled ‘The Rise of Illiberal Democracies‘. Published in Foreign Affairs in 1997, Zakaria provided a thought-provoking argument about the need to differentiate the concept of ‘democracy’ and ‘constitutional liberalism’ (or, in simpler terms, rules and legal regulations that protect individual civil liberties). He attributed that the problem of many newly emerging democracies these days – back in the 1990s, when this article was published – was that these polities paved way for populists and strongmen to seek popular legitimacy to justify their autocratic rule. Going back to the ‘democracy promotion’ mode by US government and its allies, we all came to consolidate the correlation between democracy and ballot boxes alone, all the while overlooking other sets of factors and variables. Here, Zakaria had prophesied his pessimistic trajectory of how such populists – or other political agitators – made use of ballot boxes, securing the widespread support of the existing electoral base, all in the name of justifying their strongman-style rule, or implementing other policies many had thought could be a ‘shot in the arm’, but instead ended up as ‘gunshots in the arm’. Without a certain mechanism in protecting individual civil liberties, democracies can literally become what the ancient Greeks called as ‘tyranny of the majority’. Thus there came the phenomenon of illiberal democracies, where parties or regimes in power make use of elections solely as their defining feature of democracy to consolidate their power and empower their supporters, largely at the expense of protection of civil liberties. I recommend you to read this article, given its (ongoing) relevance to the present contexts in global politics.

Lastly, what about the question of polarization? In a seriously insightful paper, titled ‘Democratic Careening‘, Dan Slater actually refuted the argument by several scholars that ‘democracy is collapsing’. Instead, he stated that ‘democracy can not collapse, but rather careen’ (perhaps as you can see from the Paint-drawn illustration above). Democracy, to some aspect, can become like a ‘warzone’ with two opposing sides intensely fighting against each other – either on the streets or in the legislature – over the competing notions of democracy. He emphasized, in particular, about horizontal accountability (rule of law, checks-and-balances between state institutions) and vertical accountability (political participation among the public). The big ‘danger’ that could cause the war-zone to occur, in this regard, is when leaders in power cause both these features to compete against – rather than complement – each other. This can be achieved by leaders either disproportionately enlarging their executive powers to the degree that they become almost personalized, or that they agitate for mass mobilization among the supporters to take to the streets when there is any ‘threat against their legitimacy’. While Slater only focused on the comparative analysis of Thailand and Taiwan, this argument can be further expanded to look into other countries. Let’s say, the Chavismo phenomenon in Venezuela, how Erdogan rallied his supporters to take to the streets in response to the ‘coup attempt’ (or so the media said?), or the exploitation of ethnic, religious, or social-based cleavages to the ruling powers’ advantage.

This writing can be further explored into a further work, but I would rather stop here, risking the boredom of Internet readers (especially in the age where people simply share articles without really reading them or even clicking the links). In summary, I would say that democracy – in spite of its problems – can be ‘nurtured’, only if there are strong institutional setups from the beginning which can provide checks and balances on elected leaders, and all the while respect people’s civil liberties. Democracies matter, but so do institutions and the principle of constitutional liberalism. If implemented immaturely, we will continue to see any existing weird phenomena resulting from ‘democratic’ processes in the future, and even more half-baked democracies. Democracy is not sinking, but it can be bent in lieu of the desires of the leaders in power. Thus, I would rather advocate for the idea of liberal democracy, rather than ‘democracy’ in itself alone.

In the words of Ronald Dworkin, “democracy is a substantive, not a merely procedural, ideal.”

 

NB: In case you want to have some more independent study about democracy, here are some useful sources that you can refer to.

Readings (only two first):

Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson – Why Nations Fail

Francis Fukuyama – Political Order and Political Decay

Datasets (about the quality of democracy):

Freedom House – not too frequently referred to in academic discourse, but very useful in media and public discussions as the tone is much easier to comprehend

Polity IV – more complicating, but more useful, and is mostly referred to in academic discourse (on a scale of -10 to 10, dictatorships are labelled with scores -6 to -10, democracies from 6 to 10, and hybrid regimes, or what you call as ‘illiberal democracies’, scored precisely in between)

 

Hope these references help.

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Qaddafi, game over.

Muammar al-Qaddafi is never an easy man. And has never been easy, until the time NTC combatants seized his hometown of Sirte, Libya. There, Qaddafi – having had both his feet wounded by ricocheting bullets – was stripped, had his neck-length, black, frizzy hair tufted, had his body kicked by dozens of able-bodied heavily-armed fighters, and had his life finished off with bullets on his stomach, and in the long run, his partially defoliate head. After the ‘Brother of the Great Revolution’ died, his body was humiliated by being dragged by the combatants, as if he were simply a lifeless mannequin. That’s what the video contained as we were watching from the Breaking News in Metro TV on Thursday night. All I could only conclude was this: history repeats itself. Qaddafi was not the only dictator in the world whose life ended miserably, and – as some claimed – beastly. Benito Mussolini, for instance, had his life ended by being hung outside down together with his wife, and more miserably, both their bodies were pelted with rotten tomatoes by hundred thousands of angry masses, who had suffered immeasurably during his rule. Yet the most notable example was shown by Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, who had their lives ended by decapitation over the guillotines, as watched by tens of thousands of toms, dicks, and harries.

If the world were a gargantuan political chess game, Qaddafi were both the player, and the defeated, as well. He had been check-mated by other more powerful ‘players’. What makes him come off second-best? This serves the answer as I suspect: oil. Libya is so well-off to have been endowed with 47 billion barrels of oil (its oil reserves are the 9th largest in the planet). If oil did not seem to exist in Libya, we would have never heard Qaddafi filling newspapers’ headlines on the whole world for more than 4 decades. We would have even never known what Libya really was. Only after Qaddafi bossed the global show of petrodollar-based geopolitics, Libya became one of the most prosperous countries in Africa (fourth after Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon). Yet, aside of all achievements his regime had contributed to the economic development of Libya, he had also channelled much of his country’s oil weath to fund hundreds of armed, rebel movements worldwide, in order to fulfil his grandiose dreams of bringing to life a ‘globular-scale revolution’.

If oil – the main enzyme in making his mind-befuddling dreams work – were never in a place as barren as Libya, Qaddafi would have never been as visionary as we conceived. Perhaps there would have never been news of his staunch friendships with other dictators, for example, Jean Bedel-Bokassa of Central Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Idi Amin of Uganda, Haile Meriam Mengistu of Ethiopia, and etc. His mind was so lost in the seductive power of the power itself, dreaming himself as the king of all kings of Africa, and his dreams of establishing United States of Africa, unifying the entire Arab, Muslim, and anti-Western spheres as his gigantic political engines against Western world. But yet, it’s what that became his own tragedy. He was too deeply obsessed with his power that he was willing to do anything – even if he had to let go his own children – to maintain his power. Furthermore, psychologists, after performing a series of investigations, concluded that dictators, indisputably including Qaddafi, suffered from mental illnesses. (for full information, click here: http://healthland.time.com/2011/05/26/the-psychology-of-dictatorship-why-gaddafi-clings-to-power/ )

Here is a full list of ‘sins’ he had made, in his 42 years of ruling Libya – and attempting to provoke a ‘global revolution’ – iron-handedly:

  1. He had waged war against Chad. The war lasted from 1978-1987 with more casualties on Libyan side (more than 7500 Libyan soldiers were killed during the belligerence, in contrast to 1000 in Chadian side). The reasons of the war: border dispute and the identities of the president Qaddafi considered as illegitimate; Francois Tombalbaye was a black African and a Christian.
  2. Janjaweed, the heavily-armed militia based in Darfur, Sudan, who had committed mass genocides which annihilated more than 300,000 lives for two decades, consisted primarily of combatants who were ex-fighters in Islamic Legion, a military organization formed by Qaddafi aimed to ‘Arabize’ the region.
  3. He trained and showed full support for Charles Taylor, then-President of Liberia now behind bars in International Criminal Court, and Foday Sankoh, leader of Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front, while a civil war was taking place in Sierra Leone, a neighboring country, in which Taylor provided thousands of soldiers from Liberia to wage ‘scorched-earth campaign’ on the country. Qaddafi was even reported to have designed the ‘persecution schemes’ for the victims of the war, one of them being ‘the amputation of legs and feet of women, men, and children’, frequently reviewed and even monitored progress on the process. 50,000 people were killed in the war. He also fully supported Haile Meriam Mengistu of Ethiopia, who had conducted a mass genocide which took off more than 500,000 civilians and 150,000 intellects in 1978.
  4. One of his most true-hearted allies was Jean Bedel-Bokassa, a fellow, co-equal dictator. Bokassa even converted his faith to Islam (it lasted no more than 3 months, before he converted back to Catholicism, and happened back-and-forth) in order to ensure that Qaddafi went on supplying aids to the impoverished resources-rich country. In 2001, Qaddafi signed a 99-year contract with Ange-Felix Patasse, the ex-President of the country, in which Libyan corporations were able to exploit its mining resources, particularly uranium. The contract remained officially null-and-void after Patasse fled to Chad due to an ongoing civil war.
  5. Qaddafi established World Revolutionary Center, based in Benghazi, well-known as ‘the Harvard of the dictators and notorious warlords”. Many of the ‘graduates’ were known as the world’s most notorious dictators and leaders of armed rebel groups, for example, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, FARC combatants of Colombia (rumor has it that FARC produces half of the world’s cocaine, and Qaddafi’s regime was reported to have supplied them with plentiful ground-to-air missiles), Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso (another leader proven to have dispatched troops and appropriated arms to Taylor and Sankoh’s soldiers during Sierra Leonese Civil War), and a long list to go on. Analysts and international organizations accused the school as having been producing ‘tyrants of the century’, who, rather than implement stability in Africa, had instead deteriorated the situation in the continent.
  6. Libya severed its relations with Pakistan in 1991. Reason: Pakistan’s prime minister, Navaz Sharif, refused to sell Qaddafi a nuclear bomb, and he snapped back at Sharif, accusing him ‘a corrupt politician’.
  7. Inspections from Chemical Weapons Convention in 2004 concluded that the country stored more than 20 tons of mustard gas the regime could harness in order to produce chemical weapons. All the chemicals were obliterated a few months later, under the assistance of US Government.
  8. Almost every Libyan diplomat in the whole world had been equipped with guns in order to anticipate any ‘opposition undertaking’ against anything symbolized with Libya. Climax: in April 1984, 11 demonstrators and 1 London policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher, were killed in a shooting spree by Libyan diplomats. All of the protestors were Libyan refugees seeking political asylum in United Kingdom. The killings were immediately ordered by Qaddafi himself.
  9. Under Qaddafi’s order, all the Libyan embassies and consulates opened up registration for any yearling willing to volunteer themselves in aiding Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters. He also sponsored the 1972 Munich massacre, in which 12 Israeli athletes were mowed with bullets by Palestinian agents. More than 500 Palestinian soldiers also aided Libyan soldiers during Uganda-Tanzania War.
  10. 19 passengers waiting in El Al’s ticket counter (El Al is an Israeli airline company) died and 140 others were fatally wounded after two terrorist attacks carried out in Rome and Vienna airports. The attacks were carried out by Palestinians who had been funded by Qaddafi.
  11. He was the main financier of Irish Revolutionary Army (IRA) and even supplied heavy machine guns for the combatants. As quoted by Qaddafi, “the bombs which are convulsing Britain and breaking its spirit are the bombs of Libyan people. We have sent them to the Irish revolutionaries so that the British will pay the price for their past deeds“. For decades, IRA had caused severe maelstrom in Northern Ireland and almost 2000 Britons died.
  12. Qaddafi showed full support for three armed groups in Philippines: Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf, and New People’s Army. He even provided training camps and financial assistance for the partisans. All the three organizations have been constantly embroiled in armed hostilities against government’s military forces for more than 3 decades, which killed more than 100,000 people.
  13. Qaddafi funded many Europe-based terrorist organizations other than IRA, notably ETA (Basque rebel troops in Spain), Red Army Faction (a Marxist armed gang operating in many West German cities, primarily consisted of ex-Nazi officials), and Red Brigades (another Marxist terrorist organization, based in Italy, which has conducted bank robberies, assassinations, and kidnappings throughout 1970s and 1980s). He also paid tens of millions of dollars to Jorg Haider, leader of anti-Semitic and xenophobic Austrian Freedom Party.
  14. There were 2 parties in UK which had ‘quite close’ connection with Qaddafi: Workers Revolutionary Party and British National Party.
  15. In Southeast Asian and Pacific countries, Qaddafi provided millions of dollars in forms of financial assistance on OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), which aims to form an independent state of West Papua. Vanuatu’s ruling party also rejoices in Qaddafi’s en masse monetary aids. He was also reported to have trained Australian Aborigines and Maoris in New Zealand to conduct guerrilla warfare against both the governments.
  16. Qaddafi had close acquaintanceship with Slobodan Milosevic, the ex-President of Yugoslavia, despite the fact that Milosevic was the main architect behind the Bosnian War (1992-1995), which killed more than 150,000 Bosnians.
  17. Libyan intelligence services were reported to have developed ‘intimate cooperation’ with CIA and M16 to provide them full information about Libyan dissidents. As a result, thousands of anti-Qaddafi Libyans worldwide were confidentially captured by Libyan agents who had been informed by both agencies, and many of them were subjected to ‘extraordinary rendition’ in Libya’s well-known ‘castles of persecution’, the most infamous being Abu Salim (rumor has it that more than 1200 Libyans were executed en masse in 1996 in this penitentiary).
  18. Perhaps the most notorious incident was 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which more than 270 American passengers were killed after a Pan Am aeroplane was blown up by Qaddafi-trained agents while it was aboard above Lockerbie, Scotland. 16 years later, Libyan government agreed to compensate the families more than 3.5 billion dollars. Nevertheless, the convicted were welcomed as ‘heroes of the revolution’. The incident was Qaddafi’s most predacious retaliation after a brief US-led military attack on Libya following a West Berlin discotheque bombing by Libyan agents which killed 3 Americans and fatally wounded more than 200 others.
  19. Between 10 and 20 percent of Libyans (between 700,000 and almost 1,500,000) work under the surveillance of Qaddafi’s Revolutionary Committees, which indicates that all of their movements have been overseen by the committee members. Any single mistakes, no matter how small, are punishable by heavy sentences. Even a political conversation with a foreigner is punishable by 3 years behind bars. Criticism against the regime, even the slightest one, is punishable by capital sentence. This applies for all Libyans, even if they are overseas. Freedom of expression and free-flow information was severely restricted.
  20. Corruption was severe. Economy was heavily controlled by Qaddafi and his children. Although Libya is a prosperous country, unemployment percentage reached two digits. Rumor has it that the family has secured more than 80 billion dollars in assets, notably from oil & gas revenues.

Despite all the wrongdoings, it does not mean Qaddafi was entirely a mad dog. Or to be more precise, he was a three-quarter mad dog. His achievements have also been monumental, as seen from this list:

  1. Qaddafi had succeeded in unifying all Libyan tribes which often had tumultuous relationships against each other. Libya would have been a second Somalia if there were no strongmen like him to concatenate all the differences in his country.
  2. Libya managed to be a prosperous nation (for more than 40 years, oil production has stabilized at a rate of approximately 2 million barrels a day), with GDP per capita amounting to 11,000 US$. Hundred billion dollars have been poured into public projects, the most ambitious being Great Manmade River project, in which some parts of Libya were split over hundreds of kilometers in order to construct a gigantic aquifer to let water from the Mediterranean Seas flow into the excavated zones to fulfil agricultural demands.
  3. Age expectancy reached 77, only a year and a half less than that of United States. Libyans’ health standards are so far one of the highest in Africa, and in the world, altogether.
  4. Libyans enjoyed social welfare, obtained access to cheap public housing, garnered high health standards, and improved education. However, Libyan economy tended to be centralized, in which private businesses were almost entirely forbidden. As a result, between 50,000 and 100,000 well-educated intellects emigrated worldwide due to the monotonous economic system.
  5. There were ‘people’s supermarkets’, state-run workers-owned retail businesses in which Libyans could purchase all primary products at a very low cost. Which is why there was never, even a small famine, during Qaddafi’s rule.
  6. Poverty rates were head-over-heels low; this happened after Qaddafi introduced social stability to the societies. Almost all private businesses were taken over by workers’ committees, and they were provided high social benefits during his rule.
  7. Libyan companies had invested tens of billions of dollars in forms of financial assistance on many Third World countries, particularly those in Africa.

© Reuters

The only thing that I barely understand is why United Nations is too ‘swift’ in responding to Qaddafi’s inhumane treatments of the protestors (fighter jets shot rampantly at the demonstrators, in which more than 1000 were killed), at the same time the institution had a very slow progress in responding to other genocides taking place in less resources-rich countries, the most humiliating being the mass genocides in Rwanda in 1994 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1998 until 2003, which took off more than 1,000,000 and 5,500,000 lives, respectively. It seems like there is an unfair treatment being given by United Nations on each country, as I hypothesize.

And what will the future of Libya be without Qaddafi? The nation will face internal obstacles. This far, only Qaddafi who has successfully restored unity – though seems brittle – towards all the tribes in Libya. Rumor has it that there has been internal conflicts between tribes who were affiliated under National Transitional Council (NTC), and worse, some analysts had prepared their worst-case scenario: an inter-tribal conflict and continual retaliation efforts by Qaddafi loyalists would take place in the near future, which would further shatter efforts on rebuilding the already smashed-to-smithereens nation. Afterwards, a nightmare of second Somalia is waiting to take over. The ‘liberation operation’ conducted by NATO, if not anticipated swiftly, would end up a disaster, like the ones the whole world has seen taking place in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Qaddafi’s last minutes, as shown here (warning: this video contains extremely disturbing contents).

Quotes (and all the philosophical confusion about the world)

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– I always hear ‘scientists who contribute to the betterment of the world’, but I seldom hear ‘economists who contribute to the betterment of the world.’ –

*more sadly, is, it would have been miraculous if there were really ‘bankers who contribute to the betterment of the world’.

– One main point of business schools they would never directly tell you: you need to gather much bravery to be very, very greedy. –

– Asking a world-class scientist to become a president is like asking a world-class banker to explain about nuclear thermodynamics. –

*but, it’s awesome, isn’t it, if the banker truly comprehends about the topsy-turvydom of the atomic sciences, just like how the person managed the daily labyrinth of the financial industry? Hope that Habibie or Baradei may comprehend this quote.

– The more you try to understand the world, the one step closer you are to insanity. –

– It is much harder to comprehend what is in the mind of a philosopher than what is in the mind of a criminal. –

*but psychopaths and philosophers are both similarly difficult to understand, as well.

– No matter how devilish a dictator is, he/she still has supporters. –

*take a look at Ratko Mladic.

– Well, believe it or not, but you will (not) believe this: more universities and more colleges ensure higher economic growth, at the same time the unemployment rates become ‘more’, too, not ‘less’. –

– If you wanted to create everlasting world peace, eliminate mass media right now. –

*the problem is, I (and a billion others) am a media-addict.

– If there were no conflicts in the world, there would not be Nobel Peace Prize, altogether with Nobel Prize for Literature, anymore. –

– What I can conclude from Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan is this: even boasters can become prominent economists. –

– This is my main concern of one main weakness of democracy: people tend to elect handsome or pretty leaders who can not think and work properly. –

*read Warren Harding’s Problem in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

– Technology makes us live smarter, but less wiser at the same time. –

– And the truth is: it is similarly difficult to do either a good or a bad deed in this world. –

– As social creatures, humankind (except a few I had better not mention their names in order to avoid me from getting any lawsuits) will always never be unbiased from others’ opinions. –

*for the conclusion part, read the quote above.

– A man who claims himself ‘generous’ is always ‘arrogant’. –

– This is an analogy for resources-rich countries that are poor: a rich person who doesn’t know how to unlock a safe in which all his money is stored. –

*worse, he may call conmen who disguise as consultants to unlock it.

– Someone who claims oneself incorruptible may have an ambiguity: they are really so, or they may have set the prices too high. –

– The source of all conflicts in the world begins when you are either absolutely obsessed or disgusted in something. It is similarly dangerous as well if you agree all the quotes I have written. –

– Most of the people that I know choose majors (in schools or in universities) based on trend, but not from their own deepest interests. –

– I’m sorry but I’ve forgotten the man who mentioned this quote (he’s some kind of financial academicist in China): a financial engineer gets paid 100 times higher than a engineer does. An engineer builds a bridge. A financial engineer builds a dream. But when the dream turns into nightmares, people pay for it. –

Closing quote:

– Modified from Socrates’ quote: I know that I do not know what I do not know that I think I know.

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