Let’s understand something. Democracy is as old an ideal as civilization and as far as I know, it has never been practiced in the manner consistent with the ideal. Not in modern, industrial history anyway. Democracy therefore is less than a relic of the past, it is a dream of the past. Anyone who believes Democracy is the future of humanity doesn’t get how dumb Democracy is.
By “Democracy” I’m referring to any governing system in which votes are used to make decisions, with the majority votes determining which decision those governed make.
What’s funny to me (funny strange) is some who most strongly believe Democracy is the way, don’t understand what it is they’re a proponent of. I had a conversation about Copiosis recently with one such person online. He spoke passionately about both Freedom and Democracy. Here is what he wrote:
I absolutely stand against anybody who wants to take away democracy. The opposite of democracy is not-democracy. And since we’ve had not-democracy for thousands of years and has given us nothing but trouble, I’d be a little wary of following any ideology that threatened my sovereignty with a centralised system I had no control over.
I’d rather have the money. This is true freedom, not somebody else’s notion of morality, or positivity to the planet. That’s bullshit. Nobody could create a system that rewarded positive acts. Most positive acts are done discretely by people being ordinary people.
Your morals are not mine. There is no universal moral code that we can use. The best we can hope for is a consensus-based constitution with logic and reason driven democracy sorting out the details.
Taking away money would not allow individuals to express their freedom, because they wouldn’t have any. If I’m poor, I can choose to miss a few meals and buy a guitar if I want. That’s freedom.
Morals are bullshit socially. We can only share ethics, and civilised behaviour. Don’t tell me democracy is not needed until you prove that a better system exists. What you’re offering here is not a better system.
There are a lot of issues to be taken with this response, the least of which (for the purposes of this post) is that the writer clearly hasn’t taken time to understand what he is criticizing. But what is more telling, shocking even, is the nature of his comments vis-a-vis Democracy. Like many who support Democracy as an ideal, the writer is so stuck in the kind of thinking that created systems we see dominating today, that he can’t take time to consider what he wrote. It’s a brainwashing wherein people believe money = freedom, and that what we have today (in the US) is Democracy (just as our leaders tell us). It has some people believe our salvation lies in the ability for everyone to vote on matters directly (called Direct Democracy). And if that were made possible, many of our problems would be solved.
What are Democracy’s merits? I don’t know because, as the writer reiterates for me, we’ve never seen it practiced in modern society. Even with technology that would make such a system workable, it can not produce a future that is better than what we have today. In fact, it could be much worse.
Democracy makes bad decisions. Particularly at crucial moments. Especially when people are afraid or ill-informed. Democracy would have meant (in the days of slavery) that slavery was a good idea and should remain. That’s why it was important for the northern elected representatives to deny southern representatives a voting majority during that time. Fear-based decisions are what created things like the Internment of Asian Americans during WWII, the Native American Genocide, Salem Witch Trials, and dumb legislation such as the one in Oregon where the majority declared Oregon off limits to blacks.
Democracy would have have meant (not too long ago) that gay people should not be allowed to live their lives freely and marry. When homosexuality was described as a mental illness, the majority of people at the time agreed with this assessment, not only because of “science” but also because of religious reasons, as most people in the United States believed in some semblance of Christianity and according to that religion, homosexuality was/is an abomination.
Until very recently (with the advent of Orange is the New Black, Andrei Pejic’s transformation, Lana Wachowski‘s transition and others, if the majority of people had their way, transpeople would still be seen as freaks, people who can be ridiculed, murdered and mutilated.
But there has been progress
Some will read those examples and say “yeah, but over time, those things did change for the better” and that is true. But at what costs and over what amount of time? Plain and simple: Democracy is majority rule that oppresses minorities and individuals. It stagnates severely human progress.
Scared people don’t make good decisions and people are easily frightened into non-thinking states. Most people living modern industrial lives don’t have time or perhaps the inclination to build skills that override irrational, inaccurate or fear-based thinking and behavior, nor do they have time to study issues well enough to make sound decisions on important matters. That’s different than saying people are not smart or are ignorant.
Majorities are easily swayed into erroneous thinking. Fear is a great tactic for moving majorities into adopting erroneous decisions. We have seen this with nearly every major sociological issue, nearly every economic issue and nearly every political issue. That’s why, in the heat after 911, when some leaders proposed talking with those responsible, they were met with intense ridicule. It’s why we have such intense debate around global warming, immigration and more. Same with gays – in the military, gay marriage, etc., same with solutions to persistent problems such as poverty. Same with the WMD argument in Iraq during the reign of George Bush.
But what’s most destructive about Democracy is this: It doesn’t honor human progress (any natural progress actually) which by definition starts at the margins (i.e. minorities). All human progress, all human advancement begins first among minorities in every aspect of life. Every one. It all begins with a minority opinion. Usually one person, sometimes small groups. Democracy engenders stagnation…or at least very slow progress.
It is true that evidence has shown that in some situations, crowds are wiser than individuals. But that argument is irrelevant because Copiosis isn’t about installing an individual to make decisions for everyone else. Copiosis is based on Stigmergy as a governing system matched with a Copiosis socioeconomic system that rewards behavior we want to see in the world and ignores behavior we’d rather not see.
If you are for a better future, looking back to democratic ideals won’t make that happen. While I don’t agree with their motivations, America’s founding fathers had good and valid reasons for opposing Democracy. In my opinion, democracy is dumb.