The moral virtue of policy minimalism
Communism and the liberal democratic ideologies—the domestic and foreign policies of nations as different as Russia and the US—have one major common failing: they vastly overestimate the capacity of governments to redesign and reengineer societal systems. This is especially true when the driving force of change is mainly a foreign power, when various powers engage in what should be called long-distance societal engineering. Thus, the capacity to build democracy (or socialism) in other nations, as well as to form new global regimes, turns out to be much more limited than the leading modern ideologies have assumed.
I cannot stress enough that I am not arguing that major societal changes do not occur, but merely that very often these changes are not those willed or directed by governments or any other elite or power. Thus, Russia today is a rather different society and power than it was 30 years ago, but hardly the one to which the Communist Party aspired to at the time. And while no one knows yet how the US attempts to change Iraqi and Afghan polities will end up, it is safe to assume they will not turn into the kinds of regimes President Bush envisioned when he ordered American forces into both countries. Evaluations of the United Nations differ, but no one sees any resemblance between the United Nations we deal with these days and the one its founders envisioned.
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