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3 Ideas to Improve/Sustain Democracy

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TomG replied on Fri, Mar 14 2008 8:37 AM

I mean 'democracy' as a paradigmatic format for all interplay between persons - not just one possible political accident that its design allows for (such as the freedom for a group to try usurping the freedoms of others to their own benefit).  It's still the only giving maximum and proportional freedom to each individual - much in line with Austrian thought.

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Stranger replied on Fri, Mar 14 2008 8:49 AM

That is a democracy that no longer carries any meaning, much like the democracy in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Democracy in the traditional sense involves the ruling class conceiving an election in which it aimed to earn popular consent for its rule. This is the way it has always played out.

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Spideynw:

Um, you do not really need a large government to stop anarchists from overthrowing one, given that there are probably going to be far fewer anarchists and also given that anarchists are not very organized.

 

At this point, perhaps not.

Even so, how do you expect to put down the ones that continue to refuse anyways? Shoot them? Great... Reduce yourselves down to the statist, I know it comes naturally for scumbags.

The Origins of Capitalism

And for more periodic bloggings by moi,

Leftlibertarian.org

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 8:07 AM

Stanger - again, in a conceptual discussion of *what ought to be* - rather than a distorted, abused, farcical, "falls (way) short of the mark" actual state of things - democracy's "consent of the governed" (that inherently implies freedom and autonomy of its individuals in a state of mutual respect and validation) is the ultimate system for ensuring the best conditions for as best as can approach a free market utopia.  I don't even know how that can be disputed, given its definitional parameters - where anything else is either totally disassociative (which is nonsensical by man's nature) or a rendering of authority beyond the individual.  You keep referring to flawed examples in practise, and that's no different that speaking of the levels of infinite hypocrisy in religious practise versus what's professed as their creeds!  Thanks.

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scineram replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 11:22 AM
It has nothing to do with the consent of the governed. It is called democracy for a reason, for it is majoritarianism. Mob rule. This is what it means, a kind of collective ownership of the state.
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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 12:36 PM

silly nonsense (and a wonder why more frequenters/thinkers here aren't putting in their 2 cents?) - if you look at democracy's definition in a basic dictionary:  "Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives" ... so that once "the tribe has spoken" (which you'll notice is one person, one vote even on a microcosmic TV show) then you can add up the results, and whatever count results in a majority opinion *is* Wow, how about that, a Majority rule ... what a coincidence ... not!  Since you'll hardly ever get a consensus on any group-required and -affected decision, it's empirically evident that a system would only work by either a majority opinion prevailing - or if there's a dictator of some sort or another (and which one is preferable?).  So for someone to keep harping about "mob rule" is either disingenuous or short-sighted about the real dynamic and sublime essence of a democratic process.  Help me out Austrian adherents, where have I gone wrong?  How isn't a democracy the most optimal, realistic choice for a free market?  Where have I erred in my definitions or assumptions?  Thanks.

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Stranger replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 12:38 PM

TomG:
Where have I erred in my definitions or assumptions?
 

You have erred in your definition of the free market, which is not majoritarian, but individualistic rule. Each individual does as he pleases, whatever the majority opinion may be. For example, if the majority wants a size 8 business shoe for everyone, under the free market that majority is irrelevant. 

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Stranger:

TomG:
Where have I erred in my definitions or assumptions?
 

You have erred in your definition of the free market, which is not majoritarian, but individualistic rule. Each individual does as he pleases, whatever the majority opinion may be. For example, if the majority wants a size 8 business shoe for everyone, under the free market that majority is irrelevant. 

Right. Allow me to make an analogy that I've seen made before (by David Friedman I think?). Imagine if we voted for cars the way that we vote for politicians or governments. No matter how you vote, everyone gets the same car once the election is over. Everyone gets a buick, even if it was only a numerical majority of say 10% who voted buick. This is not how markets work. The individual consumer has much more choice and leeway on the market then the democratic process could ever give them. Thinking of us as consumers of politicians, the democratic process is a sham. There is no real choice. No matter how you vote, or even if you don't vote, you still get the same result as everyone else. You have no choice not to consume and not to pay for the government. There is no option to opt out or to genuinely withdraw your consent as a consumer from the state.

The very concept of representative democracy is a sham in that the control is not direct. An exclusive elite still directly controls the state, only you are given the illusion of control by being given the option every few years to select from among a handful of people from this elite to grant them further direct control over the state. As an individual you have no say in decision-making within the institution. Once you vote that individual into power, it is they who has such control and they may basically defy your wishes at will. Even if you manage to vote them out of office the damage has already done and they are legally shielded from facing the proper consequences of their actions. There's also an application of the information problem to representative democracy in that it is simply impossible for one individual or representative body to adequately represent the diverse and often conflicting desires of an entire society, even if they tried to. In short, it is impossible for such an exclusive and centralized body to appease the demands of the citezenry.

So there's a pretty damning case against representative democracy, without any referance to the majoritarianism problem, a separate issue. Based on the above arguements, I am forced to conclude that a state that fits the criterion of being truly controlled by "the people" is an impossibility. The only way for the criterion to even remotely be met would be for every single citezen to literally be members of the state apparatus themselves and directly control and vote on all matters. That is a utopian impossibility given the fundamentally exclusive nature of the state as an institution. Even granting that possibility, it still would not work out in the absence of unanimous consent, I.E. the majoritarianism problem would arise and hence it could not be said that "the people" as a whole have proportional or equal control over matters, since "the people" are highly diverse and conflicting in their desires to begin with.

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 1:44 PM

Stanger:  "You have erred in your definition of the free market, which is not majoritarian, but individualistic rule."

Actually, for any individual seller of wares/service in a free market - there would still be a finite amount of time/opportunity, and hence would each be forced to select making/servicing what he/she perceives to yield the greatest return ... so that a seller of shoes would make a much greater # of size 10 mens shoes than size 14, given the majority of potential buyers in that shoe size range.  And no different for anything else - the majority always rules the day, as does the second largest over the third over the fourth over the ... so that a free market is really subject to the same process in truth. 

 

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Stranger replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 1:54 PM

TomG:
And no different for anything else - the majority always rules the day, as does the second largest over the third over the fourth over the ... so that a free market is really subject to the same process in truth. 
 

NO IT'S NOT.

A supplier supplying more of one size over another reflects the individualities of the demanders. Under democracy, only one kind is held. 

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 1:54 PM

Brainpolice:  "The only way for the criterion to even remotely be met would be for every single citezen to literally be members of the state apparatus themselves and directly control and vote on all matters. That is a utopian impossibility given the fundamentally exclusive nature of the state as an institution. Even granting that possibility, it still would not work out in the absence of unanimous consent, I.E. the majoritarianism problem would arise and hence it could not be said that "the people" as a whole have proportional or equal control over matters, since "the people" are highly diverse and conflicting in their desires to begin with."

Thanks for your comments.  Actually in a world of almost universal computers in households, and instantaneous computations, and sophisticated system security - it's very easy to envision a truly democratic ruling on any and all legislation of a society.  And the truth I've been trying to stick to is that all individual activity (including voting) in its aggregation, results in a clear majority ruling of course.  So that the "mob rule" indictment of Democracy is absurd - because it's the inevitable result of human action on any social scale (ie. any shared human endeavor above Robinson Crusoe "hunters and gatherers").  Cheers. 

 

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scineram replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 1:57 PM
The majority does not rule ***. They get size 10 shoes if they can afford, the minority gets size 14. To each his own.
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Stranger replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 2:07 PM

TomG:
And the truth I've been trying to stick to is that all individual activity (including voting) in its aggregation, results in a clear majority ruling of course.  So that the "mob rule" indictment of Democracy is absurd
 

Individual action cannot be aggregated, and therefore does not lead to any majorities.

Democracy can be aggregated because it does away with costs, and therefore grants the majority the ability to employ violence at no cost. That is why it is mob rule and why it is completely, irrefutably anti-austrian.

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 4:33 PM

"Individual action cannot be aggregated, and therefore does not lead to any majorities.  Democracy can be aggregated because it does away with costs, and therefore grants the majority the ability to employ violence at no cost. That is why it is mob rule and why it is completely, irrefutably anti-austrian."

I agree, and by aggregate I'm only referring to the sum of choices that tally up to a majority - the counting of, not the discernment of preferences or for predictability indices.  Clearly a uniform call for choice (even in voting) will render a simple majority - and that's all I meant.  When you say "majority (can decide X) at no cost" do you mean there's forcible subsidization of X by a majority over the rest?  If so, all I can gather is that this would always be the case amongst anyone subscribing to a social contract (implicit and/or involuntary, or other) called "a society" - and that hopefully for most individuals in the long run, the net losses would be at least on par with the net gains on the aggregate of life's social (ie. societal) choices.  And if an individual sees a particular society/nation/state he/she's in as making decisions that yield a series of costs over benefits (ie. votes going against his/her will, so that he/she is time and again subsidizing others' contrary choices) then it likely behooves him/her to move to a different society/nation/state that's more in line with the bundle of desired choices he/she believes in (such as the "war or no-war" your 'violence' may be referring to).  So yes it's true that on any given vote, there are winners and losers in any (dare I use the word) collective decision - since that's just the way it ends up empirically.  But to think that a world of anarchical individualists is going to function in a way that does collaborative efforts such as fighting cancer or sending men into space, is sheer nonsense - which is why there will always be a government of some sort run by men/women of intelligence and foresight who use their powers to drive the efforts of the majority in what's seen as "the right direction".  That's possibly the fundamental problem I have with self-professed anarchists - that underlying their theory's feasibility is the necessity for all persons' intellects and drives to be on equal footing - otherwise it inevitably leads to the same inequities and disparities that have always existed.  Why would it end up any different in the long run?  So the best that there can be, once again (until I'm proven wrong) is a democratic system with the assured freedoms to allow persons the equal ability to educate folk on why their choices/decisions/direction for the collective body is the optimal one for them to consider too.  Again I ask, where have I faultered in logic (I promise I will listen and be totally appreciative in proven wrong!)?  Cheers.  

 

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Stranger replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 6:26 PM

 I have to admit I don't understand what you are blabbering on about anymore. I'm afraid your request to be proven wrong won't be answered.

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 6:42 PM

Hang in there with me Stranger - forget the blabbering part then (I had a very long day) - just skip to the conclusion, which is at the very heart of my gripe ... here it is:  That's possibly the fundamental problem I have with self-professed anarchists - that underlying their theory's feasibility is the necessity for all persons' intellects and drives to be on equal footing - otherwise it inevitably leads to the same inequities and disparities that have always existed.  Why would it end up any different in the long run? 

 Thanks - if you, or anyone here, can answer this question successfully I'll be totally thrilled!

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Stranger replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 7:04 PM

TomG:
otherwise it inevitably leads to the same inequities and disparities that have always existed.
 

Perhaps you should explain why you think this. 

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TomG replied on Sat, Mar 15 2008 7:30 PM

Fair enough - because in the act of exchange, and the art of the bargain, the interested parties are always assumed to be seeking self-maximization not fairness.  And - as I'd talked at length about earlier on - given the differences in power, influence, natural gifts, acuity, deceptive motives and even the all-existent state of imperfect information - almost always one side ends up with the better deal and the other gets the short end of the stick (which I contend is unavoidable and part of the unfairness of life, therefore to just be accepted as such).  So that a free market doesn't so much guarantee equal satisfaction for all its participants, rather it's the best available system for rendering the optimal return overall (with some % always failing regardless - given their, if you will, Darwinian Achilles heals in aptitude, cleverness, fortitude, etc).  Bottom line - there isn't nor ever could be a thriving purely anarchic economic system, because our DNA and proclivities would prevent it from sustaining itself for very long.  Hope this helps clarify what I don't mean to have relegared to mere diatribe.  Thanks.  

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