well, are we still opposed to a democracy?

Jan 2014
16,045
6,080
south
With all of this, I do have to say I do favor the idea of a more direct democracy, but at the same time, don't think the way bonehead is framing it will get us any closer to it. I do think it's possible for people to be more active participants in social and cultural life rather than merely passive spectators. And I think the steps we take towards a society like that will foster more active participation by people. I just don't see a way to have more democracy while leaving capitalism exactly as it is. The two just won't and can't live together. Democracy can grow to a certain point, but eventually there is a wall that it hits. The dictatorship of capitalism. Giving people the power to vote on arcane laws that have no direct impact on them is silliness. But giving people more power to decide things that have a direct effect their everyday life, like their job, would have much more of an impact.

I think this points directly at your mention of the world inexorably becoming less democratic rather than more (I tend to disagree even though certainly there are aspects of modern life that are less democratic than the way things were before, but I don't see anything inexorable about that.) The things that have become less democratic—the parts of our life where people used to have some relatively equal say in decisions, or some equal share of control which they no longer have, are directly related to the move towards capitalism in the last 200+ years. Capitalism is from top to bottom, a dictatorship. But are we less democratic than we were (in the US) in 1950 when there were poll taxes and segregated restaurant counters? What about in 1900 when women didn't have the right to vote? What about in 1850 when it was still legal to own slaves? What about before anyone had any democratic control over government at all?

I tend to think of democracy more like the stock market trend (perhaps a bad analogy, considering the previous paragraph, but it's the best analogous graph I could think of). There are crashes and bear markets here and there, and it can be easy to fall into a state of despair if you look too closely at the graph and where things are going, but if you back away, and remember where it used to be, you see this:

well, I find that comment quite interesting. I also see the impact capitalism has had on our society - and it's not an overall improvement to freedoms or democracy (at least, in my opinion). but, those who founded our system warned of some pitfalls which could destroy the system - most notably a two party system and allowing the "merchant class" to influence politics. I find those warnings have not been heeded. we are where we are because of our lack of attention and indifference. I've made my suggestions about a different system with the understanding they would be opposed by most. yes, this is a different way of conducting a government. yes, it will require diligence by the citizens to make it work. would it be worth it to the average citizen - I really don't know. it will cure some things and it will create other problems. can't say if the gain would be worth the pain, but at least the government would, under my proposal, become the tool of the citizens instead of the governor of the citizens.
 
Dec 2014
12,091
9,441
27.4698° S, 153.0251° E
We must remember that in the Attican experiment, a single demagogue (Alkibiades) enticed the population into supporting a decision that ruined the Athenian economy, destroyed the navy, lost the Peloponnesian War and wiped out democracy itself.

Food for thought.
 
Jul 2013
1,247
1,658
U.S.A.
With all of this, I do have to say I do favor the idea of a more direct democracy, but at the same time, don't think the way bonehead is framing it will get us any closer to it. I do think it's possible for people to be more active participants in social and cultural life rather than merely passive spectators. And I think the steps we take towards a society like that will foster more active participation by people. I just don't see a way to have more democracy while leaving capitalism exactly as it is. The two just won't and can't live together. Democracy can grow to a certain point, but eventually there is a wall that it hits. The dictatorship of capitalism. Giving people the power to vote on arcane laws that have no direct impact on them is silliness. But giving people more power to decide things that have a direct effect their everyday life, like their job, would have much more of an impact.

I think this points directly at your mention of the world inexorably becoming less democratic rather than more (I tend to disagree even though certainly there are aspects of modern life that are less democratic than the way things were before, but I don't see anything inexorable about that.) The things that have become less democratic—the parts of our life where people used to have some relatively equal say in decisions, or some equal share of control which they no longer have, are directly related to the move towards capitalism in the last 200+ years. Capitalism is from top to bottom, a dictatorship. But are we less democratic than we were (in the US) in 1950 when there were poll taxes and segregated restaurant counters? What about in 1900 when women didn't have the right to vote? What about in 1850 when it was still legal to own slaves? What about before anyone had any democratic control over government at all?

I tend to think of democracy more like the stock market trend (perhaps a bad analogy, considering the previous paragraph, but it's the best analogous graph I could think of). There are crashes and bear markets here and there, and it can be easy to fall into a state of despair if you look too closely at the graph and where things are going, but if you back away, and remember where it used to be, you see this:

I agree with your point about there being more opportunities for more people to actively participate in their own governance than at any previous point in human history. Since the development of agriculture, anyway... And that trend has undeniably been on balance a good thing in terms of liberty and justice for all. But will things continue along the same path? I'm not sure, of course, but I tend to think not.

Liberal democracy has been on the march for around about 300 years now, give or take, really picking up steam over the last 100 years or so. It seems to me that Capitalism has actually helped to drive that change, if only to the extent that Capitalism has helped to foster industrialization and trade as well as the rise of urban working and merchant classes. In terms of government, I suppose the logical endpoint of pure Capitalism is a kind of corporate feudalism. We actually do seem to be moving in that direction in a number of ways, do we not? But I don't think we'll get to that point either.

Simply put, it appears to me as if we as a species are at or close to a major turning point in our evolution. For example, we already have silicon-based "brains" that are able to learn to do various tasks very efficiently. We don't actually understand how they're learning or even what they're learning, exactly. Within a few decades at the outside we should have electronic "brains" that rival or surpass the human brain in terms of neural complexity. At that point we should know whether or not intelligence is simply an emergent property of complex neural nets or if there's something more at play. Our brains are fundamentally limited by biology, "artificial" brains will not be. What does that mean in terms of the potential for artificial intelligence? Who knows? But it might be very significant indeed.

We could talk about similar potential breakthroughs in genetic engineering that will give us the ability to "hack" our genome in ways that we can't quite imagine yet. What does it mean to be "human" when we can play with our own DNA and, enhance ourselves with all sorts of cybernetic improvements? What defines our species then? Who knows?

We could also talk about how we're becoming ever more dependent on the technologies that both keep us entertained and satisfy our basic needs. Let's say that 20 years from now, everyone (who can afford one) has a digital assistant that is an inseparable companion -- literally -- that knows more about its ward than the person him or herself does, that anticipates every mood, every want, every need, that monitors that person's health in minute detail, that can be embodied in the robotic form of one's choosing, and that ties into a massive database that is designed, among other things, to serve, observe, and predict behaviors. How will we interact in a society that essentially does away with privacy in most of the ways we think of it? How will we organize ourselves? Who knows?

And so on...

Does this all seem kind of... gloomy? It isn't meant to be. Many of these sorts of changes could and likely will give more people more ability to decide things that have a direct effect their everyday life, as you put it. They will feel liberating in a lot of ways to our grandchildren or great grandchildren. Or they could, at any rate. We could make bad choices that may make life very much worse for many of our descendants if we're not careful. But either way, I suspect that society will be different enough -- and the challenges of managing and maintaining our new, global civilization without destroying the environment and/or ourselves will be great enough -- that what to us would look like radically new forms of governance are likely to emerge. These needn't be undemocratic, exactly. But they may not be all that similar to what we've thought of as democracy for the last couple of centuries.

Time will tell, eh?

Cheers.
 
Likes: StanStill
Mar 2015
24,400
11,032
Istanbul NOT Constantinople...
quite correct - which is a true constitutional democracy. I would, of course, wish to have a few modifications to stabilize it further.
So....if everyone votes and they decide to tax you and others like you for everything that you own and then send you off to prison, that would be OK? Hey - it's a democracy!
 
Jan 2014
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6,080
south
We're a constitutional republic ~
more specifically, a representative constitutional republic. we vote on proxies (representatives) to vote for us - and they are not bound by law or oath to vote for the wishes of their constituents. in a constitutional democracy, the citizens vote for themselves in matters of legislation or laws (guided by the constitution, of course).
 

Ian Jeffrey

Council Hall
Mar 2013
70,768
38,642
Vulcan, down the street from Darth Vader
we vote on proxies (representatives) to vote for us - and they are not bound by law or oath to vote for the wishes of their constituents.
There are three basic models of representation; the "delegate" is only one type. The others - just as reasonable for their own reasons - are the "trustee" and the "partisan." Practically speaking, representation tends to consist of a blend of them, albeit to varying degrees depending on the individual and the constituency.
 
Mar 2015
24,400
11,032
Istanbul NOT Constantinople...
more specifically, a representative constitutional republic. we vote on proxies (representatives) to vote for us - and they are not bound by law or oath to vote for the wishes of their constituents. in a constitutional democracy, the citizens vote for themselves in matters of legislation or laws (guided by the constitution, of course).
Who want's a bunch of idiots to play shit-house-politician? Populism involves a complete lack of education and leadership. I don't want Rush Limbaugh telling the country what to think and then having the sheep vote for what they think is a good idea.
 
Likes: Ian Jeffrey