Let’s understand something. Democracy is as old an ideal as civilization. And yet as far as I know, humanity still hasn’t practiced it in the manner consistent with the ideal.
Not in modern, industrial history anyway.
Democracy therefore exists less as a relic of the past than as a dream of the past.
Anyone who believes Democracy represents our future doesn’t understand how dumb Democracy is.
By “Democracy” I refer to any governing system in which votes are used to make decisions, with the majority votes determining which decision those governed make.
Critics criticizing while blind
It’s funny when some who strongly believe Democracy is the way, don’t understand what they support. I had a conversation about Copiosis recently with one such person. 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 with this response, the least of which being that the writer took no time to understand what he criticizes.
But more telling, shocking even, is his devotion to Democracy.
Democracy would have kept slavery
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, he can’t take time to consider what he wrote. It’s a brainwashing wherein people believe money equals freedom. This brainwashing says our American system is Democracy.
Such thinking keeps people believing our salvation lies in more people voting. Better yet, let’s have them vote directly – called Direct Democracy. That way many of our problems would be solved. I argue such thinking is distorting nearly at its worst. It doesn’t see troubles directly springing from dynamics people think represent solutions.
What are Democracy’s merits? I don’t know because, we’ve never seen it practiced in modern society. Even with technology that would make such a system workable, it cannot produce a future 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 northern elected representatives to deny southern representatives a voting majority during that time.
Fear makes democracy worse
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. Since most people in the United States back then believed in Christianity and according to that religion, homosexuality was/is an abomination, it was obvious to them gay equaled bad.
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, transgender people would still be seen as freaks, people who can be ridiculed, murdered and mutilated.
What about all the progress?
Some will read those examples and say “yeah, but over time, those things did change for the better”. And while that’s true, at what costs and over what amount of time? Plain and simple: Democracy is majority rule that oppresses minorities and individuals. It also severely stagnates human progress.
Scared people don’t make good decisions. And many people stand ready to manipulate others into non-thinking, fear-based 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. And yet, when it comes to deciding big social issues, they often get corralled into ignorant or not-smart ways to thinking…and then voting from there.
Majorities are easily swayed into error-prone thinking which inspires bad voting behavior. Fear is a great tactic for moving majorities into adopting such behavior. 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. It’s why when a gun manufacturing company suggested making “smart guns” – guns only their owners can shoot – industry backlash nearly bankrupted the company.
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.
Democracy subverts progress
But what’s most destructive about Democracy is this: It doesn’t honor human progress. It doesn’t honor natural progress/evolution either. By definition, progress begins at the margins, i.e. within 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.
Evidence shows crowds decide more wisely in some situations than individuals. But Copiosis doesn’t replace Democracy with an individual who makes 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. It also ignores (not silences) behavior we’d rather not see.
If you want 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 to oppose Democracy. In my opinion, Democracy doesn’t work in our best interests. That’s why I say Democracy is dumb.