Democracy is not your friend


I hate to have to be the one to break it to you, Brock, but voting -- in any case -- is not "freedom", either.

The people in Iran who're circulating that message have their fingers on something crucially important that hundreds of millions of westerners haven't learned in centuries. It remains to be seen whether they can fully explicate it and draw the proper conclusions.

Given the worldwide drumbeat for democracy, I'm not going to hold my breath. [...]

Let me explain something to you: "hundreds of millions" of Americans, alone, have been born, lived their entire lives -- the only lives they ever had, mind you -- and gone to their graves, devoted to this rampant, rollicking, delusion of democracy. They did it because they had always been told that it was the way to make things better, and I'm here to tell you that not one minute of any of it has worked out. America has managed to vote itself into straits that would be utterly alien to preceding generations who knew what freedom was.

And I'll tell you this, while I'm at it: no nation in history has ever voted its way out of these conditions, and this one won't, either. Hell, man, half the people on the street now are abject ignoramuses and morons. That anyone could expect anything good to come from letting them vote when they can't even think is the very height of applied insanity, but here we are, with it.

"Suppose they gave an election and nobody came?"

(shrug)

Don't worry about it, and don't think about it.

The Somalia jokes will get us through.

- Billy Beck, in a Samizdata thread on the subject of
Iranians refusing to vote in a parliamentary election

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I want to respond to this

I want to respond to this but I can't even figure out where to begin. We live in a very unfair world where individuals are outnumbered by those who disagree with them. If all humans could simply leave each other alone then control elements such as organized religion and governments would be unnecessary. But human nature doesn't allow that. As humans we must socialize, compete, control, and be controlled by other humans.

Democracy is not perfect. But neither is any other form of government in practicality. Combined with Capitalism and a set of basic rights, Democracy has provided more wealth and freedoms to the masses otherwise reserved for the elite.

Some may believe those who fought for what we have today died in vain, but I strongly disagree. Travel the world and compare countries with and without Democracy. North vs. South Korea. Pakistan vs. India. Israel vs. Saudi Arabia. I think the differences will be obvious.

Spoonie, I just went out to

Spoonie,

I just went out to buy a bagel for breakfast. Why don't we have a democratic process for that? Why wasn't there a vote on what kind of bagel we should eat at breakfast? Or have a special Dept of Bagels who makes these decisions for us?

take anything to the extreme

take anything to the extreme and it becomes absurd. life is full of compromises and Democracy is simply one of them.

You're avoiding the

You're avoiding the question. If democracy is a Good Thing(TM), then why not elect representatives for the kinds of bagels we eat? Are you saying it's not a Good Thing(TM)? Why not, and when is it not a Good Thing(TM)?

perhaps I could "answer" the

perhaps I could "answer" the question with another question.

Why should anyone tell me its wrong for me to randomly shoot people with my rifle? Do you think that's wrong because I'm hurting others? But what if I don't care what you think and don't want to live by your rules?

like I said before, being extreme is useless.

But what if I don't care

But what if I don't care what you think and don't want to live by your rules?

Then you can live by your own rules. By murdering others, you have demonstrated that you do not believe in the prohibition against murder. In which case, why should we take your complaint against us seriously when we try to execute you?

Regardless, this doesn't have much to do with the question of democracy.

Jonathan's point with the bagel example is that we do not use the political democratic process to make our everyday decisions and to resolve common interpersonal conflicts. The democratic process results in one solution for everyone, whereas in non-political, market or voluntary interactions, people can choose for themselves from a variety of alternatives.

So what if people choose to kill each other? Those who do not want to be killed can work together for mutual defense. Since most of us do not want to kill or be killed, this would suggest that those who agree not to kill will be much stronger collectively than those who are not willing to agree.

Democracy may be better than all the other forms of government, and it may even be a necessary evil. But it is still an evil, and I am very skeptical as to whether it is even necessary.

Why should anyone tell me

Why should anyone tell me its wrong for me to randomly shoot people with my rifle? Do you think that's wrong because I'm hurting others? But what if I don't care what you think and don't want to live by your rules?

Because you're hurting others.

There is a simple, elegant underlying ethics to all human interaction - do what you want as long as you don't aggress against others (murder, rob, cheat, steal, hit, maim, etc).

When you point your loaded rifle at someone, you have made intentions known, and they can shoot you before you shoot them.

I assume your goal (and my goal) is to have a society in which people don't aggress against others. But this has nothing to do with democracy.

So now that I answered your question, please answer mine: Why don't we elect representatives to choose what kind of bagels we eat, what kind of food we buy, what kind of books we read, what kind of cars we drive, and what kind of music we listen to?

in fact we do elect others

in fact we do elect others to tell us what to eat, drive, read and listen to. We elect officials who appoint people to run regulatory agencies like the FDA, EPA and FCC.

let's revisit what it is to "hurt" others. I'm sure you believe every time you pay tax you are being hurt. Therefore, all people that pay taxes are unfairly being hurt by others. There are no large colonies of people I am aware of that are not taxed. But atleast those who live in Democracies have more control over how they are taxed and how the money is spent. Granted it is not a perfect system, but given the alternatives, I'll take it.

in fact we do elect others

in fact we do elect others to tell us what to eat, drive, read and listen to. We elect officials who appoint people to run regulatory agencies like the FDA, EPA and FCC.

And this is a good thing? If so, why not elect officials to tell us what kind of bagels to eat?

let's revisit what it is to "hurt" others. I'm sure you believe every time you pay tax you are being hurt. Therefore, all people that pay taxes are unfairly being hurt by others. There are no large colonies of people I am aware of that are not taxed. But atleast those who live in Democracies have more control over how they are taxed and how the money is spent. Granted it is not a perfect system, but given the alternatives, I'll take it.

Is the fact that something exists mean it's right?

Spoonie Luv in 1840: I'm sure you believe that every slave in the world is being hurt. There are no large colonies I am aware of in which slavery does not exist. Granted, it's not a perfect system, but given the alternatives, I'll take it.

in 1840 there were many

in 1840 there were many places throughout the world that did not experience slavery. I don't consider those in the working class to be slaves.

in 2004 there are many places throughout the world that do not have Democracy. I think it's hard to say those that don't have it are better off than those that do.

of course there is always room for improvement, but to simply say the entire democratic system is worthless is not only pointless but counter-productive. If you disagree, please inform me of what is the correct system.

of course there is always

of course there is always room for improvement, but to simply say the entire democratic system is worthless is not only pointless but counter-productive. If you disagree, please inform me of what is the correct system.

I will, but I wonder if you could first tell me what you see as the alternative.

the alternative on one

the alternative on one extreme is a dictatorship like North Korea. The other extreme is tribal like pre-2001 Afghanistan.

I'll give you the

I'll give you the alternative to democracy that I want: capitalism. Or you can call it the free market.

And democracy is fundamentally incompatible with the free market.

I'm a big fan of Capitalism.

I'm a big fan of Capitalism. But Capitalism the way I understand it is an economic system which minimizes the redistribution of wealth in turn allowing individuals to keep wealth proportional to what is earned.

Democracy is a form of government. As far as its compatibility with Capitalism, I think you're assuming the people will always vote for increased regulation and more social services. Two years ago, Northern Virginians voted down an increase in sales tax to pay for more roads. So it gives me hope that we can improve the compatibility between Capitalism and Democracy.

I'm a big fan of Capitalism.

I'm a big fan of Capitalism.

Then you cannot be a big fan of democracy.

Democracy is a form of government. As far as its compatibility with Capitalism, I think you're assuming the people will always vote for increased regulation and more social services.

That is true, but there is a deeper division between the two. Both capitalism and democracy are systems of making choices. The way I make a choice of what kind of bagel to eat is through the free market. The way in which people choose most things is with the free market.

I'm pretty sure you're pro-school vouchers, if not complete privatization of education. In that case, you are pro-free market. But more importantly, you are anti-democracy. You want to change to take democracy out of the equation in choosing schools.

In the same fashion, there is no reason the way we choose what we watch on television needs to be democratic. Or the medicines we take, or the type of bars we visit. Bodies such as the FDA, the FCC, and things like smoking bans are examples of democracy encroaching on the free market.

Capitalism doesn't minimize

Capitalism doesn't minimize the redistribution of wealth at all. In fact, it's the most efficient and just way to redistribute wealth that we have. Free people making choices in their own interest is capitalism. Democracy interferes with this once you provide the government the means to regulate. You can prohibit such intereference in a founding document such as the Constitution, but the historical trend over time is for the state to grow and individual freedom to shrink.

Democracy is force against others legitimized entirely by the number of people for that force.

I am pro-school vouchers and

I am pro-school vouchers and I would VOTE for them if and when they came up on a ballot. I'm using Democracy to change itself and represent what I want.

I will not agree that free market is anti-Democratic. I believe that a free market is the foundation of a stable Democracy. I agree that we vote everyday by the choices we make. But the choices available to us are often dictated by the choice we make on Election Day.

Spoonie, Is there anything

Spoonie,

Is there anything you think democracy should stay out of? Should people have to vote themselves the right to mow their lawns? Should people have to vote themselves the right to determine what kind of clothes to wear? Or what morals to teach their children? Or whether they own themselves?

Is there anything you think ought not be up for vote?

Capitalism is the only

Capitalism is the only democratic system man devised. As Jonathan has stressed, I make a democratic decision when I am presented with a choice between two or a thousand different kinds of bagels, to name one of endless examples. If one brand of bagel consistently sucks, not enough people like it to justify the bakers of said bagel being in business, that bagel will be voted out of the market. Boo hoo.

But political democracy is something wholly different. It is arbitrary, scheduled and thus rare, has no immediacy, and is mostly destructive. A plurality of total boobs can enact all manner of oppression on an individual, a group of individuals, the majority even - as once the politician is elected, it is a mathematical impossibility that he or she "represent" anyone other than his or herself. Yet it's attained secular canonization, everywhere I turn it's exalted as the defender of the faith - freedom. When it's anything but.

"in fact we do elect others

"in fact we do elect others to tell us what to eat, drive, read and listen to."

You should learn the elementary grace to speak for yourself and leave others out of your presumptions.

I'm not like you, and I am certainly not one of your "we".