Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Democracy and force

"Despite popular rhetoric, democracy is not synonymous with freedom. Taking something without permission is theft, but not when the majority goes along with it and calls it taxation. Matters that should be of no interest to any other person (e.g., what a person chooses to do with his or her body) become matters of public policy when the majority says so. The recipe is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is appoint someone else to initiate force on your behalf, get enough people to pick the same candidate, and then hide behind the waving banner of free and open elections. The syllogism goes something like: The initiation of force is wrong, so I cannot initiate force without punishment. Democratic elections are good. I help to elect someone to public office, then he or she initiates force on my behalf."

- Brian Drake

... This ties directly into what I talked about a couple months ago: why is it the worst thing you can do to murder a man in the street, but the best thing you can do to murder one on the battlefield? Only because the majority of a group says the latter is all right. There is no other reason.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with Brian Drake's statement.

Democracy = Might makes right

Democracy is a belief system where the majority imposes their will on the individual through force, regardless of basic individual rights.

America started as a free country but gradually slipped into democracy. There is now a U.S. presidential hopeful, Ron Paul, who would like to return the country to freedom, and who because of this message is taking the Internet by storm.

Watch Ron Paul at Google HQ three weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

... This ties directly into what I talked about a couple months ago: why is it the worst thing you can do to murder a man in the street, but the best thing you can do to murder one on the battlefield? Only because the majority of a group says the latter is all right. There is no other reason.

Well duh. Killing on the battlefield is socially acceptable. No great bombshell there. You should really say kill a man in the street, because by definition murder is a socially unacceptable killing. Not all killings are murder.

Cliff Prince said...

An old chestnut -- democracy devolves to mob rule easily enough.

The one that bugs me, is the weird concept that a bastardized version of Adam Smith's free market is somehow intrinsic to "freedom" and democracy. Idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Not really. What's the alternative? Communism? Yeah, right. Now that's idiotic.

Anonymous said...

"Not really. What's the alternative? Communism? Yeah, right. Now that's idiotic."

The alternative is the system defined in the U.S. constitution. A free republic.

Anonymous said...

ttl, you're not all that bright. You missed the whole point. It's almost too funny.

Cliff Prince said...

Allow me to beg the question(s) more directly.

1. How exactly is the CURRENT North American system of economic market-driven capitalism equivalent to ANYTHING which Adam Smith wrote about?

2. Where in the United States' constitution, or other laws and founding documents, or even philosophies, is there any requirement that the nation be capitalist; or any requirement that the form of economics which it should take would be either system mentioned in item 1?

To explain myself and where I'm coming from; I don't really "believe" in the free market. It's not a force for good. It can easily be a force for bad -- for very bad. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and I generally prefer it over a lot of the other systems we have out there. (Similar has been oft said about democracy.) I just want to know why we in the USA tend to associate "freedom" with laissez-faire corporate-controlled market-driven work-like-hell-in-a-cubicle-until-you-die capitalism?

Anonymous said...

Democracy represented a huge improvement over the system where a minority (sometimes a minority of one) took all the decisions and near-always exploited their power selfishly. So much is undisputable I believe.
Now, alas, that doesn't mean by far that it is a perfect system. Give voting rights to a gravely illiterate and uneducated mass, and you'll get stuff like Hamas very democratically ruling the Gaza strip... with a very un-democratic style as soon as they're in power!

Indeed, the failings of Democracy as a system are becoming more and more prominent with the increase of its abuses. But what alternative is there, what better choice have we?
Sure, the "enlightned tyrant", like Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, was a huge break for Turkey (and a good reason for thanks giving ;-). And yet, even Ataturk was far from perfect, he was just way better than the previous state of things. A ruthless progressist, sort of speaking... Perhaps a "necessary evil".

I can only see true hope in the worldwide generalized individual education and enlightening. Which has been tried before, and typically led to a form of fanatic cult or another. Communism, since you mention it, was a great idea IN THE PRINCIPLE. Then some became more equal than others, and very soon the Doctrin was the new fiery God...

"If it were easy, everybody would already be doing it."

Starship Troopers was a disturbing film, and yet the idea of an intellectual educated elite having the exclusive right of vote feels appealing to me. The problem is, as the movie illustrated it this again went straight to a form of fascism, where mass-media information was biased in a very familiar way. So I guess the sort of elite we need still doesn't exist. We need people who are a true elite, including strong altruistic values to ensure they'd work for the common good, not for their privileges. I know, that's genuine science-fiction talk. :-/
I'm not touching this one in real life with a ten-mile pole. I already know how it would end.

"Where in the United States' constitution, or other laws and founding documents, or even philosophies, is there any requirement that the nation be capitalist?"

Well, d'uh! In the part that says that money is what truly rules. Or did you miss the small print? :-(

Cliff Prince said...

argumentum ad baculum

or is it

argumentum ad pecuniam

?

Cliff Prince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading your smart comments, Pascal.

Of all the bad state systems democracy is still the best, as our history teacher once told us. Its flaws are shown in Pascal's comment.

Democracy is like a stock market going sideways. Scarcely are there any bulls, and the bears in a downward-breakout are always horrible.

Anonymous said...

Democracy and force

Bush Jr worships this. Clearly a miserable failure in Iraq. Need I say more?

Paul Sunstone said...

I think the American system would benefit from being modified to allow more political parties serious access to power. The two party system doesn't seem to be working out these days.

Cliff Prince said...

Thing is, the "two party system" isn't ensconced in any law or requirement. It's not a regulation. We COULD all of us up and vote for the Greens tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

"argumentum ad baculum"
The baculum is the penis bone, present in many mammal species. But let's keep that discution above the level of "sticks and stones". ;-)
"argumentum ad pecuniam"? Sure! Money talks, right?

Okay, back to being slightly serious. For those less versed in latin than Final and my modest self, "argumentum ad baculum" literally means "argument of the stick". As in, "agree with me or I'll clobber ya". Pecuniam is wealth, money. And Monsieur Beep is too kind. (But not literally. Don't consider I'm DEMANDING that you stop with the compliments and be less kind!)
The "stick" is also a term for the male human penis, and it's not mere slang. "La verge" in French is a very ancient scientific term. What, you expected this topic to have evolved very recently perhaps? ;-)

Anyways, both argumenta are very reminding of the new tyranny in today's "democratic" societies: the dictatorship of political correctness, a.k.a. "if you don't agree with the majority you'll get mediatically lynched"; and the ever so present might of Mammon, the Demon of wealth.

nildar said...
"Need I say more?"


Nope. Crystal clear. :-(

Paul said...
"The two party system doesn't seem to be working out these days."


The stifling of diversity is the Achilles' heel of Democracy. Exactly like, to expand Beep's stock-market metaphor, illegal agreement stifles the salutary effect of market competition in capitalism.
Capitalism is also a system that has genuine and huge potential, but needs some strict guidelines and laws to ensure it works the way it should. If these guidelines and laws (which were thought of by theoreticians very early on) were applied today, it would be similar to the near-utopia of all christians truly following the teachings of Jesus. Yeah, Dubya, I'm lookin' at YOU!

Final Identity said...
"We COULD all of us up and vote for the Greens tomorrow."


Undoubtedly. The only obstacle is the mental inertia of Society, refusing to accept the potential of existing alternatives, out of conservative frilosity. In a way, this is precisely what a Disappearance of the Universe could mean: our perceptions CREATE lots of things that we later consider as carved in stone. We invent illusions and build our "reality" on them.

In the 2002 French Presidential election, I'm sure you all recall the worldwide shock it was when one of the two ├╝ber-dominant parties didn't make it to the second voting round. To paraphrase President Chirac on September 11th, 2001, "we can all be frenchmen today". Preferably with a wiser choice. ;-)