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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Democracy Has Failed: Part II

Democracy Has Failed: Part II

February 27th, 2009

The depths of democracy’s depravity have not yet been delved. Here are some more reasons I neglected last time, but really should get their day in the sun:

Earlier I discussed democracy failing because everything people know is filtered through a biased media. No one can personally verify with their own eyes what is going on in the world, and so we rely on newspapers, radios, tv, and perhaps fancy books published by fancy professors discussing the issues. All of it goes through middle-men who slant it in their favor and play the people like a fiddle. Even very well educated and intelligent people are stuck with ridiculous political beliefs that would never survive logical scrutiny, because they are helpless not to — they’ve never been presented with anything else. However, there is a corallary to this I neglected. A democracy cannot function without transparency and complete knowledge of the truth. We would need full access to the same data the government is getting, and full knowledge of the moral character and mindset of our politicians, to even make a rational judgment on any of the issues we face from day to day. Even in a representative democracy, how can we vote for our representatives unless we know who and what they will represent? Without full transparancy the voting process is a complete sham. Governments lie to their people to get popular support, and keep everything secret, and then come election day an electorate that knows nothing about either the candidate’s personal life or his policies are asked to choose between various politicians. What’s the use? 70% of the USA at the beginning of the Iraq war thought Saddam had done 9/11. The government had lied to us long enough and thoroughly enough, that people were ready to believe anything and do whatever the government wished. Is that true democracy? What say do people have when they must act based on lies and have no access to the truth, the intelligence reports and cabinet meetings and all the rest? We never learn about the bad character of our presidents until it’s too late, it seems. We don’t even know if Obama is an American citizen. It’s a simple question with a simple, transparent answer, just produce the birth certificate! But the people of a democracy do not have the right to know whether our Constitution is being followed or not, apparently only a few select lawyers and hawaii state officials ever get to learn what’s actually in his files. Is this a government of the people, by the people, for the people? It is legendary how in democracies politicians promise one thing to get elected and then do the other. Bush Sr. said “read my lips, no new taxes.” Then he raised taxes. Bush Jr. said he would conduct a “humble, non-interventionary foreign-policy” then invaded two different countries. Since we never know who and what we are actually electing, why even bother having an election? The people never get a say in what elected officials actually do once they’re elected. And once the new election comes around 4 years later, it’s far too late to prevent the damage.

Earlier I discussed the dangers of tribalism in a democracy and the tendency to pursue factional interests over the public good. However, even in a completely homogeneous society, there will still be two warring tribes right under our noses, each voting for their collective interests instead of the good of the whole. Men and Women. People who cannot see past their own noses and vote for the larger public good, who cannot fathom a principled moral argument for how the world should be, like say Kant’s categorical imperative: ‘act in such a manner that your more could become a universal rule,’ are doomed to use the vote to oppress and abuse others, steal their property, steal their opportunities, and steal their autonomy. Is it really wise to give the vote, an all powerful weapon which can create or destroy any law they please, can make legal the most morally abhorrent of stances, can grant or deny any right they please, by simply getting a 2/3 majority vote that could amend the constitution, to people of low moral character? To people accustomed to cheating in school, cheating on their spouse, abandoning their kids to divorce, pillaging each other in frivolous lawsuits — suddenly when they enter the voting booth their heads clear up, they fill their heads with angelic virtue, and vote only for the right thing, never their own personal interest? Only a few people have the strength of character to pull such a lever, it is absurd to treat everyone equally in the face of such discrepancies. The tragedy of the commons is a well known problem whenever there is collective ownership of a property. People see no reason to preserve it because they know if they don’t take advantage of it, someone else will. A democracy is one giant tragedy of the commons. Everything, every person, every object, every minute of labor, even every word spoken is public property. It can be voted away to the highest bidder and is voted away, every second of our lives, until we are virtually slaves working for government more than 1/2 of our every paycheck. People have no stake in the future of the country, after all if they don’t abuse it someone else will, and thus everyone piles their sheep into the commons and grazes the hell out of it. The chaos is always someone else’s problem, the benefit is always your own. How could anyone be so myopic as to miss this obvious feature of democracy? Property rights are the basis of a sound economy and secure society. But there can be no such thing as property rights if democracies can vote them away (which they can and do vote away every time.)

Worse, democracy tends to group disparate interests under a single umbrella in order to gain electoral strength. In cases like this you have groups and individuals diametrically opposed to one another in the same party, with politicians offering a smorgasbord to all sorts of different groups in the hopes of bribing all of them to sign on. This means no one can truly vote for the government and politicians they like. They must always vote for the lesser of two evils, never their conscience. Then instead of getting the dream government they’ve always wanted (to me living under a law code you and like-minded individuals chose in a free and sovereign territory of your own should be a human right, indeed the only necessary human right in life), we are left with inane chimeras that can never satisfy everyone — hell, they can never satisfy ANYONE.

Democracy also has the unique phenonemon of having such expensive, long campaign seasons, with so much fund-raising and travelling, that no government work ever actually gets done. the moment someone is elected, they begin their re-election campaign. Instead of achieving anything for the people, all they care about is fund raising for the next election 2 years from now. Constant elections also makes life hell for anyone planning ahead. Who knows how many trillions are spent every year, how long businesses must avoid making decisions for fear the wrong person will get elected and implement a contradictory plan? How can anyone make any long-term plans in the topsy turvy world of constant elections, each of which can totally redefine the economy? How can people even bring a family into this world, never knowing what their kids can expect from the governments of the future? The whole country practically shuts down one out of every four years, increasing accountability by demanding more elections would come at the price of decreased efficiency as people are stuck paying attention to politics instead of their personal lives. There is no solution, the entire process is insane.

Now, what are the moral alternatives to democracy that could cure all these ails? Generally if someone wishes to criticize something, they should at least be ready to provide a better alternative. However, since none of these alternatives will ever be permitted by the powers that be, they are mere thought experiments. But just for fantasy’s sake, why not replace democracy with unanimity? People need to get together, agree on the values and truths they uphold, and sort themselves accordingly, into nations with laws that enact these values and truths in perpetuity. There, everyone gets exactly what they want. Everyone is happy in their own diverse way. Everyone is free, everyone has full dignity and respect given to his views and preferences, everyone has a voice. Countries would have to be much smaller than they are today, but who cares? In the past, nations commonly existed with no more than 50,000 people, and no one noticed a problem. Today there are likely millions of people holding the most obscure sets of values in common, the world is so populous. A viable nation could be formed out of every single community. Let a thousand flowers bloom, let a thousand schools of thought contend. This is the Greatest Vision, the mirror we can hold up to present-day democracy to reflect how horrible things are compared to how they should be. This will never occur on earth though, haters of freedom and crushers of independent thought make sure no such assortative migrations could ever occur, the economy chains people into areas and neighborhoods they share nothing with, there are linguistic barriers, people are afraid of change, etc. It can only occur in space, when every people is free to make its own destiny independent from all the others. A planet for every people, a star for every system. Can you imagine? Everyone achieving their most heartfelt desire, without conflicting with anyone else. For a visionary, Churchill’s claim that “Democracy is the worst of all systems, except for all the others,” is now dead. I can imagine an ur-system better than all the others, one where everyone lives under the laws of their choosing, in a community of their own making, with a life they are entirely responsible for–good or bad, at the cost of no one else, and hindered by no one else. We no longer have to put up with democracy out of fear of tyranny, oligarchy, cleptocracy, theocracy, or any other fears. The greatest vision has come to sweep it all away.

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