Friday, March 17, 2006


Given the discussion on this post, I would just like to clarify my position.

Democracy is not an end in itself.
There, I've said it.

Democracy happens to be the best way that we have yet found to govern ourselves offering, as it does, a measure of flexibility and accountability. This may not always be the case. In Britian, for instance, we are now in a position in which our three main parties are becoming indistinguishable; our choice is very limited.

Also, we need to remind ourselves that we do not have true democracy in this country; we have only a democracy made practical for the size of our population and the area which must be administered. We do not have Athenian democracy.
Other Greek cities set up democracies, most but not all following an Athenian model, but none were as powerful or as stable (or, relatively speaking, as well-documented) as that of Athens. It remains a unique and intriguing experiment in direct democracy where the people do not elect representatives to vote on their behalf but vote on legislation and executive bills in their own right.

Yes, yes; I know that some were excluded, but it the system remains the purest form of democracy known to us.

We should aim for the best way of governing ourselves; can I repeat, that this is our aim. So far we have found that our brand of democracy is the most practical and responsble way of doing so BUT this does not mean that democracy should be the end in and of itself.

A Devil as benign dictator would be far better...


MatGB said...

Representative democracy (real representative democracy where every vote matters) is the best system I've come up with in my studies.

The current system is a failed attempt. Direct democracy leads to me making hemlock jokes again. Athenians had a weird mix, but if we're going to learn from them, learn from the lottery they used for significant appointments.

Tim Worstall said...

Why benign?

At the moment I think we’d settle for sensible. Or honest. Or not fuckwitted.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I don't think there are many commenters around these parts who would disagree with the view that, at the moment, democracy is the least worst option, rather than an absolute end in itself.

There are some people who go on about democracy as an absolute good, but they are tending to go around proving this by invading countries and installing it at the point of a gun.

Nosemonkey said...

Hang on, you - "benign"?

Pffft... There's many words that could be used to describe you, but that's most assuredly not one of them, old boy...

Bag said...

We have the technology to do that now. Unlike the postal ballots which was the way to bring us up to date. Huh! We could enable voting on every policy with then most policies would get a small amount of votes but things like the ID cards would get quite a few. It would certainly get rid of all these useless politicians. Of course we need them to approve this though. It might be OK for some to give up these powers but we have a whole class who are unlikely to be so willing.

Bring on the revolution.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

"In Britian, for instance, we are now in a position in which our three main parties are becoming indistinguishable; our choice is very limited."

That is because the democratic model has become subverted to a gross caricature. It is as if we were supposed to be anarcho-syndicalists and ended up exchanging corrupt capitalists with corrupt union officials.

Choice is limited because the agenda is limited. The agenda is limited by the news media and the lemming like desire for political correctness over common sense and experience. In a sense, the latter is the strength of the House of Lords - indeed experience and common sense are their mainstay.

I see no reason why our form of democracy is sacrosanct. It is as anomalous as any creed in practice, merely given creedence by the ruling elite whose interests it serves.

Neil Harding said...

I would be quite happy to have a blogosphere consensus as government.

neil craig said...

The biggest weakness of electoral democracy is that it doesn't matter how much the losing 49% want something the winning 51% get their way. This works when there is no great divergence between the population but exacerbates any existing split. This can be shown in extreme in Africa & Northern Ireland where competence or honesty take a very firm back seat to being part of my tribe but we all get a bit of it (in Britain it is the winning 36% which doesn't really help).

A liberal society also requires structures to aleviate that - requiring a 2/3rd majority for some things (USA), exclusion of parties not represented in all communities (Singapore), constitutional change requiring minority community approval (Croatia before secesion).

At times I could also go for disenfranching anybody who makes their living from taxpayer money - not just the unemployed but farmers, most artists & Bliar.

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