Guest Comment: Autocracy vs. Democracy: The Chess Game of History
By Mark Dixon
Russia is determined to smash a democratic nation and democracy itself. He’s approaching our king, so our next move is critical.
Autocracy is playing a game of chess against democracy, but it’s not a fair game.
Autocracy has a queen, fearless and dangerous, but no king. Thus, he has nothing to protect except his own evil and his ego. The entire free world, on the other hand, has no queen. He has a sick king called Democracy who needs protection but doesn’t have many teeth left in his face. The king has a bunch of knights, bishops and castles running around the board who are no match for the queen of autocracy unless they wake up, to sychronize perfectly and cope with what they are facing. And quick.
Democracy has broken down in recent decades, going so far as to elect undemocratic and autocratic leaders, and suffers from a severe case of self-doubt. If the free world operated in a vacuum, these things might correct themselves over time, but unfortunately, we live in a world with evil actors, and in real time.
Democracy proved weaker than autocracy despite the economic and moral advantage and great military strength. The problem is that democracy doesn’t really care about its survival. He lost his mojo.
Dictators, on the other hand, really, really care about beating the free world, for their popularity or their reason for‘to be – or for their very survival, with the will of a cornered rat. These sources of determination give dictators the mojo advantage.
Meanwhile, the downsides of dictators are often so extreme that they can take risky actions that we cannot. There aren’t many worse scenarios than being tried for genocide and locked up. A dictator can hardly retire and cycle home. This ability to take risk is essential in any bluff battle, and to take the consequences if the bluff is called.
On top of that, not being required to win votes or listen to dissent means they have the advantage of who they are – to dictate. The irrelevance of elections allows them to play a 20-year game of choosing the right time to invade a country, while the intermittent nature of democratic governments interrupts our attempts to play the long game.
Autocracies have specific anti-democratic goals on the other side of the chessboard. Putin coveted Ukraine for his ego and satisfaction, ignoring the will of Ukrainians; while China waits for the right moment to pounce on Taiwan, with no regard for the Taiwanese.
The result of this drive, risk tolerance and time horizon is that the queen of autocracy can make a lot of moves that we can’t. We should not think that a power that we theoretically wield is superior to a lesser power that a dictator is less afraid to wield.
Add to the equation that we let the other side continue to play while we weren’t looking at the board. The autocracy has armed itself militarily and economically. China, the other great queen of autocracy, has been quietly building its strength for decades while trying not to show its true teeth and agenda.
So, as time went on, the devil gathered strength and made us more and more his economic partner. This is the main argument against China’s sanction, but with each decade our dependence has only grown. Inaction is self-fulfilling, which should have been obvious from the start.
Our sanctions should not be used to negotiate or set an example – because it is naive to dream that dictators can be reformed – nor to punish, but to economically and permanently destroy autocracy to change the balance of power between nothing less than good and evil. The West must think as long-term as the Chinese queen. Specifically, it means being bold enough to cut the Russian and Chinese economies from ours at the root, and not reconnecting them if they fall back to “evil -1”. Because a dictator is a dictator.
The invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call that the free world is losing the chess battle for freedom and will eventually lose the war for freedom itself if we don’t take the risk of not playing the game for real.
If we are unwilling to make significant economic sacrifices, we will lose a future we wrongly counted on, just like global warming. We are facing a parallel crisis of evaporation of global freedom which, likewise, has its point of no return.
Therefore, we have to suffer to avoid more suffering. This is the only way to change the direction of the game.
In practice, this means that we must be ready, indeed very willing, for the chessboard to split into two – the free world and the unfree world – each with its own economic system and each behind its nuclear lines. The world is already divided into essence, even though we cannot see it. Putin and Xi rejoice in their clarity and count their lucky stars for each day we remain in the fog.
We need to unplug the wealth that fuels the trajectory of autocracy, because the economic damage for us is still thankfully far less than for it. These are the pawns that we have to sacrifice in the game.
Conversely, if we feed the autocracy a single drop of trade or a single crumb of investment, we are only feeding its queen to grow stronger.
The invasion of Ukraine is not just a call to action to help Ukrainians. If we fail to prove our resolve to Putin and Xi who will be the next queen to show her real teeth, history will show that’s when democracy didn’t show up for the game. failures in his life.
The only way for our knights, bishops and castles to defend our king of freedom against a heartless and soulless enemy is to eliminate their queen from the board. If the free world doesn’t play to win, it doesn’t really want to be a free world.
Mark Dixon founded and manages the mergers & acquisitions firms ThinkingLinking.com and the1.com. He is co-founder of the online financial commentatorBreakingViews.comwhich is now part of Thomson Reutersand the founder of Fair Market Economy Institute based on his socio-economic theory, “the fair market economy”.page break