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ThePromethean
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Democracy Is Good
PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

well it is, isn't it? particularly the british one. I know no other place where dark and narrow straight between tyranny and anarchy is sailed so smoothly and so well.

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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

It isn't, much. Well, not in my opinion, at least. Blast, I have to leave soon, I can't make a big nifty post with data and whatnot.

Let me try to be plain and simple: Democracy is a bloody nice great tool. It is: and it solves problems pretty elegantly. But when it is enforced upon people (as opposed to when it's willingly chosen by the people as the tool to solve a dispute or tension), it is no better than a dictatorship. In fact, it becomes a dictatorship: that of the majority.

In that sense, it quickly becomes a social form without a meaning, a void symbol. In a way that, indeed, politics outside of Europe tend to look more like careers than like a right–and–duty (there being only a few places—places like Mexico and Québec at times, as well as certain departments of Argentina—which I could point out as exceptions).

But don't think in Europe it gets much better only because you happen to be culturally. Most so–called democracies in Europe (including the UK) are, as far as I'm concerned, no more than impressionist, anamorphic representations of what a democracy is supposed to be. Representative democracy, from presidentialism to parliamentarism and anywhere in–between, is neither: it doesn't represent the people, and I can give you several reasons why not, and it's not a democracy in that not every one has equal political power, but rather every one has the right to grant political power to a few people (which is, in real life, as ridiculous as it sounds).

Perhaps the one good democracy I know of today is Switzerland. It's not really a 100% direct democracy, depending on how you look at it, but hell! It's very much democratic nonetheless, and it's a system the size of a nation—something most philosophers of representative democracy have deemed impossible.

I really have to go. I wish I could develop my point further. But seriously: democracy? It's a great idea. And it works wonders. But it's not the best thing ever, especially the (distorted) way it's been used in recent times.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

well of course its not the best thing ever, but itll prbably be the best thing we'll ever get. there are a thousand things a state must do to make a citizens life worth living, but being a clean, efficient and proportional democracy is a good place to start.

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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

if we are talking about U.S. Democracy, in that case, it's not REALLY democracy...

real democracy we would all be able to vote on whatever we want

I'd really rather NOT get into my views on U.S. government right now since it always ends with me shouting and ranting and raving about.. well you know the rest smile

Anywhooo really there is no perfect government, they all pretty much suck. Unfortunately people seem to think that we need government to survive

Democracy, meh, i could live without it. I'm not going to go around telling people what government they SHOULD be using because quite frankly i don't know.

Doesn't Switzerland have full democracy? That seems to be working out for them

just like Representative Democracy seems to be working out for the U.S., kinda sorta

Sure we have a crapload of problems and a crapload of.. crap that makes my blood boil but i've had to live with it for all my life now and, meh, i'm surviving

now i fancy Plato's republic


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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

I'm not going to get into this discussion head on right now, because, frankly, I'm sick of tackling the issue. I feel that democracy is failing, capitalism's failing, western rationalizm is failing, and I see so many things we can do to turn humanity in the right direction, but none of those things are ever going to get done. With the type of people inhabiting our planet, a peaceful, truly free society(anarchy), would be impossible, and that type of society, along with communal living, and exploration of the self and space through ethenogens and other methods, which is what I think would be the cure to what ails humanity, will not happen. To many people are happy with the status quo.

ThePromethean wrote:
there are a thousand things a state must do to make a citizens life worth living,

Are you implying that a person needs the state to make his life worth living? This is 2007 buddy, not 1984.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

no, not really. i had a lot of trouble over that phrase.i mean bearable. i dunno. in 1984 the state could make life bearble by laying off the whole 'big brother is watching you' thing, and in 2007 the state could improve conditions for the elderly. do you see what im trying to get at?

anyone up for political democracy coupled with economic communism?


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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Ahh Bruno. Was it not the True Democracy (we'll forget the fact that women and slaves couldn't vote) of Greece which condemned Socrates to die by way of hemlock? Democracy is hardly a perfect system. But it is better than all possible alternatives.

Perhaps Plato's system would work, the one in which the future leaders are trained all their lives in preparation for leading the country. Such a system though would be incredibly difficult to implement, though, and there is always the likely chance that the leader would go power crazy, like many Kings and rulers have in the past. For all it's flaws, democracy is a great thing. It is superior to all other alternatives.

But I'm not really in the mood to debate my beliefs, hehe. I'll save that for next semester where I'll be in a political philosophy course.


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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Communism is the greatest choice for me, without all the corruption. But i guess that's just a fanatasy.


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ThePromethean
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

precisely. although i came up with a fairer model. (well obviously i didnt work it all out, but the basic idea seemed fairer)

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PostPosted: Sun 19 Aug, 2007  Reply with quote

Promethean wrote:
well of course its not the best thing ever, but itll prbably be the best thing we'll ever get.

Wait, you're saying the same thing twice. I don't work with impossibles, Promethean. Hell, I don't even like to work with the improbable plausibles much. The best thing ever, in my definition, is the best reachable also. The best thing out of reach is not the best—by the definition—because it can't be reached. That's a big turn off, don't you think? wink5

Also: "it'll probably be the best thing we'll ever get," huh. I'd like to see how you support that idea, on what grounds you basing it. It sounds like a seriously wee argument if you can't show me the evidence.

Promethean wrote:
there are a thousand things a state must do to make a citizens life worth living, but being a clean, efficient and proportional democracy is a good place to start.

Yes, I fully agree with you. But who exactly set off with a clean, efficient, proportional democracy here? No–one, right? And, in that case, following your project, we should have this mid–term project of "reaching democracy" in order to ever be able to talk about the long–term one, "reaching social justice." Right? Nice.

But take a look around. Is anything being changed? Consider the following question: if politics are lead the same way as they have been in the past five years, will we ever reach democracy, say, within the century? Within the millennium, either? Do you see progress? Hell, forget progress, I don't care if we're moving forwards or backwards really, what I'm gravely concerned about it: are we moving at all?

Because, if we aren't, we're never reaching democracy. And then, your project for a nice society, your project which begins at point A, a "clean, efficient, proportional democracy" and ends in point B, "social justice," is just yet another utopia. And we're never gonna get there: no matter how reachable it might seem. Sad, isn't it? That if people don't take action— and I don't mean big action, just some action, just being more concerned about what they're doing to the next generations and to themselves and their brothers— If people don't take action—and they aren't taking any, as far as I'm concerned—then we're doomed and that's it.

If we wait long enough, still God won't throw paradise upon our heads. Fate won't solve our differences by itself. It is us who need to do something. And in that sense, I see pretty serious consequences in the way you think: because you consider things to be alright the way they are, which they clearly aren't. And if you consider things to be alright, you will consider it normal that every once in a while the parliament makes the odd, daft decision. It's just a "flaw of the system" which, for being an exception, pretty much proves the underlying rule: a flaw which, albeit annoying, is a sign that things go well. And then you don't move a finger to it. And then things don't change. And where are we moving to with that kind of attitude?

We're moving nowhere.

Ryan wrote:
if we are talking about U.S. Democracy, in that case, it's not REALLY democracy...

real democracy we would all be able to vote on whatever we want

I'd really rather NOT get into my views on U.S. government right now since it always ends with me shouting and ranting and raving about.. well you know the rest smile

Lucky you we're talking about Democracy in general. wink5

I don't think any country we know, as of our time, is "REALLY Democracy," but I think most countries, at least most Western countries, could develop "REAL Democracy (TM)" if only we put some effort into it.

Ryan wrote:
Anywhooo really there is no perfect government, they all pretty much suck.

And you base that on what grounds? Develop the point. Show me your premises.

Ryan wrote:
Unfortunately people seem to think that we need government to survive

But Ryan—what if we do? eh I personally don't believe we do, but everyone else does and.

I'm not the one to force my point of view on others. That's weak, and low. So consider this: what if we're destined to have governments, in a way that us, the anarchists, won't have our pet project ever fulfilled? Because it's part of the true anarchist doctrine not to enforce our ideology upon others: you can't do that without being a hypocrite, and you can't use power against others and still call yourself an anarchist.

So what if we're going to have to live with governments? Are you just gonna sit in your chair and "give it all up" because you're under the impression that governments can never be good? Aren't you going to try and do something good for humankind in spite of the governments? Alas! People are dying in Africa! (so to speak, but nevertheless true).

Ryan wrote:
Doesn't Switzerland have full democracy? That seems to be working out for them

That's disputed. I'm fairly attracted to how functional it is, but it's a mixture of direct and indirect. It's indirect in that they have parliament etc. It's direct in that (1) every citizen has the right to vote on every law, and to submit other law or even the constitution itself to referendum (2) every citizen is part of the police, fireguard and military by right, but not always by duty (3) the peoples of Switzerland have the right to claim relative independence, in that they can have their own language and lands, set of laws etc. in a way more broad than in any other country.

Ryan wrote:
now i fancy Plato's republic

Eww.

Dan wrote:
I'm not going to get into this discussion head on right now, because, frankly, I'm sick of tackling the issue.

lach1 So am I... but I can't help it! lachtraan

Dan wrote:
I feel that democracy is failing, capitalism's failing, western rationalizm is failing, and I see so many things we can do to turn humanity in the right direction, but none of those things are ever going to get done.

Many premises in that phrase. To address to your very first statement: I don't think we're even experiencing democracy for it to be failing. We're experiencing... something. Which is clearly failing—it was flawed from the very beginning. But it's not democracy, really, now, is it?

Capitalism is another tricky issue in that it's not like it's failing: it is failure by definition. The very premises of market–oriented societies make it impossible for us to reach capitalism's foremost ideals: liberty, equality and, above all, fraternity. If we ever reach a point in which everyone is equal (in rights, in justice, or just plain 1984 "factory standard" equal), will it still be, by definition, capitalism? And how is the capitalist system of any aid for us to reaching that point? Capitalism has promoted entropy in justice: never before have people been so away from each other in rights and powers. And there's no dynamic balance either. It's an unfair system by definition.

As for liberty, and I've been studying that deeply in school (note for those in the forum who don't know: I'm a student of Economics): the Liberty we're been defending with what we call "Liberalism" is the liberty of capital, not that of human beings. It's inhumane: let capital be in whatever sense it "needs to be," and don't disrupt capital. That dehumanization of society itself, that's what being Liberal is about. Not a nice thing to defend, is it? Not at all like the Liberty we dream of—and, in fact, the opposite. In the capitalist system, if we're moving at all, then we're definitely moving away from Liberty, by definition.

As for fraternity: need I get started? Capitalism hasn't failed, no. It's flowing like clockwork, fine and healthy: and that's the matter. The fact that it's working is what's so bad for us, for capitalism is failure.

Dan wrote:
With the type of people inhabiting our planet, a peaceful, truly free society(anarchy), would be impossible, and that type of society, along with communal living, and exploration of the self and space through ethenogens and other methods, which is what I think would be the cure to what ails humanity, will not happen. To many people are happy with the status quo.

I think you're just giving up without putting any effort into it. Even in my darkest moments I can't be as cynical as to give up on humankind for the very simple fact that I'm under the impression that everyone else is an idiot and things will never work.

Promethean wrote:
in 1984 the state could make life bearble by laying off the whole 'big brother is watching you' thing, and in 2007 the state could improve conditions for the elderly. do you see what im trying to get at?

Frankly, no. lach1 Sorry. lachtraan What do you mean?

Promethean wrote:
anyone up for political democracy coupled with economic communism?

There's no other kind of communism. "Political communism" is an invention of Marxists who didn't bother reading Marx. wink5 To Marx, a society is defined by its means of production, and the distribution of power over them. Communism is basically capitalism with communal means of production. The market is kept, and so are the concepts of budget restraint and scarcity, and even the concept of profit. The only thing that changes is that the power over all means of production move from individuals to "the republic" or whatever collective you want to think of.

There's no political communism, and that groove going on in the USSR wasn't communism, at least not according to Marx. That said, no, I'm not in favour of coupling democracy with communism because communism, as I perceive it, is just a kind of capitalism—a system, therefore, with the same mechanisms of capitalism—which, like I said up in this post, I consider to be utmost failure.

Jon wrote:
Ahh Bruno. Was it not the True Democracy (we'll forget the fact that women and slaves couldn't vote) of Greece which condemned Socrates to die by way of hemlock? Democracy is hardly a perfect system. But it is better than all possible alternatives.

You're being contradictory, Jon. smile How is a system in which women and slaves, and don't forget the foreigners, cannot vote anywhere near TRUE Democracy (TM)? What happened in Ancient Greece was "Athenian Democracy." Back them, we used to consider it "the only true form of democracy" because it was "the only form of democracy" to begin with. But 2 500 years went by since then, and I don't know where you were all this time, but we kind of changed the definition at some point.

What condemned Socrates, in fact, was the proof that, at Socrates' time, there was no Democracy in Athens anymore: it was a conspiracy of the elite, and if there's an elite of citizens who have more power than the other citizens, the thing just bloody isn't a democracy anymore, is it? wink5 Moreover, pointing an attempt and using it to refute the idea (like using the USSR to prove communism flawed) is a logical fallacy and you, of all people you, a student of Political Sciences, should know that.

Now, I've been insisting about this in this post, asked two other people for arguments and accused a third person of being merely under an impression. I'll have to do it again, because I don't understand how come suddenly it became commonsense that democracy is the best system possible. Can you prove that statement, or are you, like the other two, merely under the impression?

Jon wrote:
Perhaps Plato's system would work, the one in which the future leaders are trained all their lives in preparation for leading the country.

Real life example? That's how the last emperor of Brazil, Pedro II, was raised. I think the word "last" speaks for itself. grin But now I'm the one using an ad–hoc to refute a thesis, I should know better than that. Nah, perhaps a Platonic Republic could work.

My only argument against it is that—as far as I'm concerned—such a system could not go like clockwork unless either our liberty or the governor's was severely restrained. For we can't possibly expect every free governor to spontaneously grow up benevolent: for that to be guaranteed, we'd need to control, condition and perhaps even determine their lives and personalities. I deem that inhumane, but that's my moral values talking, not an absolute truth or anything.

On the other hand, though, if we set them free as birds, some of them would be benevolent, and some wouldn't. So not only would we have to bear with the mistakes of benevolent governors (which are to be expected, and perfectly excusable, no one's perfect after all), we'd also have to undergo the odd generation governed by a douche bag silent and peacefully. Wait— Ain't that how England got its parliament, France hanged its king and the US claimed their independence? Too unstable a project for my taste.

Jon wrote:
I'll save that for next semester where I'll be in a political philosophy course.

Those courses are awesome. If you have any other elective course of the like, and some extra credit, take it as well. yes

Sevenfold wrote:
Communism is the greatest choice for me, without all the corruption. But i guess that's just a fanatasy.

Yes, I'd like to see how you get that "but" to work in real life. I still think communism is capitalism rebranded, and therefore don't really mind it all that much. I'd like to see how come you think it's not exactly the same as capitalism.

Promethean wrote:
precisely. although i came up with a fairer model. (well obviously i didnt work it all out, but the basic idea seemed fairer)

I'd like to hear that. smile


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moogle
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2007  Reply with quote

I came across this while browsing and just had to post it in here for Bruno
James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994) wrote:

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.



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PostPosted: Wed 05 Sep, 2007  Reply with quote

moogle wrote:
I came across this while browsing and just had to post it in here for Bruno
James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994) wrote:

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.


That is a very cool quote, thank you very much for sharing it.
I am in a Comparative Politics class and today we were talking about Russia's party vote in the lower House. It seems to make a lot of sense compared to what other places do. Where if your party gets 28% of the popular vote, you get 28% of seats in the House.


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Bruno
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PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2007  Reply with quote

Ooh, comparative politics! How's that? Sounds like a lovely course; did you guys discuss different conceptions of democracy? It would be brilliant if you could share some of it with us. yes Moogle, thanks a bunch for the quote, it's perfect! ^^ In fact, I think I'm gonna write it in the blackboard tomorrow, before classes begin. That's exactly how I see things. yes

By the way, in Microeconomics, we're studying a thing called Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, which basically states that a system which meets at least three of five prerequisites necessary to "democracy as we conceive it nowadays" must be a dictatorship. Here is a (pdf) proof of it for the Theory of Choice literate. For the Theory of Choice illiterate, here are three different, concise proofs which require some math knowledge, but might help you understand where the theorem comes from.

For the curious ones, the five prerequisites are Universality (as in "universal suffrage"), IIA (independence of irrelevant alternatives, that is, if you prefer Clinton to Gore, introducing Bush to the election should not be able to make you change your vote to Gore), monotonicity (if A is preferred to B, and B is preferred to C, C cannot ever win over A), citizen sovereignty (non-imposition of votes) and, last but not least, non–dictatorship. The theorem states formally proves that it's impossible and unconceivable to have more than three of those five prerequisites at one time.


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PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2007  Reply with quote

Bruno wrote:
Ooh, comparative politics! How's that? Sounds like a lovely course; did you guys discuss different conceptions of democracy? It would be brilliant if you could share some of it with us.


I have just started the course this previous Tuesday. I think it is going to be one of my favorite classes. We have discussed democracy in part, and how some people think that the U.S. is a democracy, when in fact it is not quite one. I will share any interesting information that I learn.

By the way, I have never and I don't think I ever will understand the United State's policy of the electoral college. Popular vote just seems to make so much more sense to me.


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Win Laik Pya
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PostPosted: Thu 06 Sep, 2007  Reply with quote

Bones wrote:

By the way, I have never and I don't think I ever will understand the United State's policy of the electoral college. Popular vote just seems to make so much more sense to me.


that's whay IVE been saying!

i mean it made sense back in the day, when you had to count all votes by hand. This could make for easy error, so it seems logical that if they split it up into small groups they leave less room for error (although they still could have done simple math to figure it out, i'll let it slide)

but now that we have computers who can count all of them in several seconds, it seems silly.

Granted, only 2 times have the electoral vote been against the popular vote, but that's 2 too many imo


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