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July 9, 2013 / Congau

Less Democratic but Better

Democracy is the rule of the people, that is, the majority of the people. The winner takes it all. The minority, the losers, have lost it all, and it’s not necessary to take their interests into account. Such is democracy.

You think I’m joking? I’m not.

Keep in mind that I was only defining democracy. I didn’t state my personal moral views.

Actually, I happen to think that the interests of the minority should indeed be taken care of, but that consideration would not be included in a reasonable definition of democracy.

The word “democracy” is so full loaded with positive connotations that it is often hard to make a sober definition of it. People want to put everything they think is good into this little word. But “democracy” is not another word for good. It doesn’t include everything that might be good for a society, and sometimes it may even be an obstacle to something else that is good.

The rule of the people; what can that possibly mean? Does it mean a good government that is aiming at what is good for the people? That is probably how a country like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) would define the term, and they are of course welcome to do so. But in the West “democracy” has come to mean a method of ruling. It indicates a way of arriving at decisions, but it says nothing about the quality of the decisions. A democracy can also make very bad decisions.

The people rule, that is democracy, and the more the people rule the more democratic the state is. In a direct democracy the people rule everything; they make every decision directly. Such a state would be the most democratic one imaginable, but not necessarily the best one. Most western countries have opted for an indirect democracy. Such a system is probably more effective and better suited for the modern world, but because the people rule less, it is clearly less democratic; less democratic but better.

In western countries also the indirect rule of the people has many limitations, which necessarily make them less democratic than they could have been, but which are still considered to make the government more just. The principle of separation of powers for example, is probably a wise way of organizing the government, but it does limit the influence of the people, and therefore it should be called less democratic; less democratic but better.

Protecting the interests of a minority also constitutes a limitation on the rule of the people. In order to justify it another principle is needed that actually overrules the principle of democracy.

Which principle could that be?

One Comment

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  1. Abandon TV / Jul 9 2013 12:33 pm

    “..Democracy is the rule of the people..”

    I think it’s a lot more accurate to say democracy is rule by force against the people. If everyone on your street voted for you to be forced to pay for something which you didn’t want and objected strongly to I think you’d be more annoyed about the violence they were using against you, rather than the wonderful democratic process which they engaged in.

    There is nothing inherently virtuous or fair (or evil or unfair) about ‘voting’. What matters is not that we are voting for something…… what matters is WHAT we are voting for!

    If we vote for immoral things, the fact that we are ‘voting’ for them cannot cancel out that immoral behaviour.

    ‘Voting’ is no different to any other human activity (such as boxing, sex, trade, marriage etc). As with those activities, ‘voting’ is ONLY morally acceptable and civilised behaviour IF (1) everyone involved is participating voluntarily and (2) nobody affected is being aggressed against (coerced, tortured, raped, assaulted, stolen from, murdered, kidnapped etc).

    Political voting (AKA democracy) fails on both counts. People who vote in political elections are voting for others to be FORCED to participate in the process, even against their will. And people who vote are literally voting for their elected representative to use force (including violence, theft, murder, torture, intimidation etc) against other people – even if they don’t participate in the vote.

    If I object to funding X (a war, some social program, bigger government, a bailout, whatever) most people would not dream of coming to my house and threatening me with violence until I surrender to their threats and reluctantly agree to fund it. Yet they will happily vote for the government to threaten me ON THEIR BEHALF. And if I refuse to surrender to their threats, voters are happy for me to be kidnapped at gunpoint, dragged away from my family and career and thrown into a cage where I will probably be raped.

    I’m afraid that is the barbaric reality of democracy. Voters can certainly try to argue WHY they resort to using such extreme violence against me, but they cannot pretend they are somehow NOT advocating (in fact demanding) violence be used against me when they go out of their way to ‘vote’ for it.

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