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Monday, April 18, 2011

Are People Mature Enough to Live in a Democracy?

For a democracy to function, the votes of the voting public must, on average, lead to sane policy decisions. These sane policy decisions should be more effective than the decisions of an unelected ruling body, like a dictator, an aristocracy, a theocracy, a supercomputer, or some other model. They should, at least, make up for their lack of effectiveness via some other factor, like reducing the likelihood of civil wars/succession wars, or generating a higher percentage of affection for the government by the people, and thus increasing government's 'legitimacy.' The purpose of a democracy, after all, is to secure the happiness of the governed. If it fails at all tasks assigned to it, creating conditions for civil war, massive discontent with election results, and insanely self-destructive policy decisions, then democracy has failed.

Democracy appears to have a good track record. The most civilized and prosperous countries on Earth are all democracies, and have been for decades to centuries, with no signs of wishing to change to any other model. Democracies are more peaceful, both internally and externally. There are less riots and coups, ie, people respect their government's legitimacy and its decisions more than, say, the Arabs protesting their dictators in Yemen and Syria as we speak.

But is this track record illusory? Countries with long lasting democracies only recently switched to universal democracies. Before then, large portions of the population weren't allowed to vote. Universal democracy has only been around for decades anywhere on Earth, not centuries. Therefore, universal democracy is still at the 'experimental stage,' there's no telling what the long-term results of a universal democracy will be. At the same time, non-universal democracies have all inherently evolved into universal democracies. This means that it is impossible to maintain a stable, limited democracy. Which means all democracies fail if universal democracy fails.

Limited Democracy ---> Universal Democracy ---> Collapse.

The other model, if universal democracies really do succeed, would look like this:

Limited Democracy ---> Universal Democracy ---> Profit.

But what are the numbers showing? What are the trends telling us about universal democracy?

Even though Americans voted for their representatives in Congress and for President Obama, approval ratings paint a different picture. Obama has 41% approval from the electorate. Congress has merely 18% approval from the electorate. If democracy means people are content with their ruling class because they themselves put them there, shouldn't they have majority approval? How do they win the majority of a vote, and then fail to gain the sanction of the majority? This is because democracies often vote for who they don't want in power more than who they do want in power. Just because someone beats someone else, even with a majority of the vote, doesn't mean the majority of people wanted him, and not somebody else, for President or Congress. Is the ruling party really legitimate when it doesn't have the approval of the governed? Their only selling point is "McCain would have been worse." Can't we do better than this? If we don't like either candidate in an election, what's the point of democracy? Since neither democracies nor dictatorships actually put into power people with majority approval, what difference is there between the two, in securing 'warm feelings' between the rulers and the ruled?

There are several other problems with democracy lending government legitimacy. Not everyone votes in America, voter turnout is less than 50%. How does the government know if they have the approval of those who don't vote? What if they hate both ruling parties, which is why they don't vote, and then there's a slim majority victory between voters? In that case candidate A could rule the whole country while only winning 25% of eligible votes -- even worse, half of the people who voted for him were actually just voting AGAINST his opponent, meaning only 12.5% of the electorate is actually happy to see candidate A president. Even dictators can secure the reliable backing of 13% of the population, who are very pleased that 'their man' is in power. So what's the use in a democracy that doesn't actually gain the majority's support at any time?

Only a direct democracy with universal, easy, but mandatory voting could ensure that the majority of people are behind any particular law, war, treaty, etc. Representative democracy alienates so many people that Congress only has 18% approval ratings, even as they pretend to be representing the people. A dictator could get 18% approval ratings too, you know. If these problems become apparent enough, perhaps democracy takes on a new twist:

Limited Democracy ---> Universal Democracy ---> Direct Democracy ---> Profit.

Or perhaps:

Limited Democracy ---> Universal Democracy ---> Direct Democracy ---> Collapse.

But there are no examples of a direct democracy in action anywhere on Earth, so it's useless to speculate how well it would do. Theoretically, it could at least ensure that the majority of the people actually were behind the laws of the land, unlike the dismal failure that is representative democracy. But of the three possible advantages of democracy over some other system, #3, a closer, happier, more legitimate relationship between rulers and ruled, has been proven false.

An argument can be made for the benefits of democracy because it deludes people into thinking the rulers are legitimate, and the illusion serves just as well as the reality for keeping the peace. However, that can be lumped into benefit #2, 'democracy prevents foreign and domestic disturbances.' the illusion of legitimacy cannot be considered just as good as a state having true legitimacy. Dictators also have the illusion of legitimacy by staging fixed elections too. If a democracy is just a more effectively staged-election-dictatorship, then democracy doesn't exist, and we're all dictatorships already -- in which case my argument against democracy would prevail.

Let's look at benefit #2 then. It does seem to be true that democracies are more peaceful than dictatorships. It is rare for two democracies to go to war with each other, but it's common for two dictatorships to go to war with each other. Furthermore, there are more domestic disturbances within undemocratic states. People who can't resort to the ballot box to vent their frustrations will more commonly take up arms. Bad governors can't be removed by a peaceful vote, so have to be removed by force. Democracy keeps the peace in myriad subtle ways. How valuable is peace? Practically priceless, in this new age of WMD. Furthermore, wars create economic disruptions to the world economy -- just look at the war in Libya and its impact on the oil markets. A war between serious powers would be much worse in our global economy, because we rely so much on each other's products that nothing would get done. So let's give democracies an A+ here, they have kept the peace, which any non-democratic system will have to do at least equally well at, if anyone wants to move away from democracy.

Are there other government systems that have proven they can keep the peace? I don't think so, though you could point to the dictatorship that ran Singapore quite peacefully. The problem is most dictatorships are still primitive states inhabited by primitive people, who are naturally restless and violent. A dictatorship composed of civilized people hasn't been tried since World War II, and those powers happened to be the most warlike countries on Earth. Between the evidence of idiotic tin-pot dictators of today and genuinely effective, brutal dictators of yesteryear, who would ever throw away the peace democracies provide for another system?

Theoretically, there are plenty of countries that could have built in constitutional checks against war, or even agree to not even own a military, and depend entirely on a foreign, democratic country to secure their sovereign rights, just as a gesture of good will. This solves the question of foreign wars, but domestic wars will still brew unless A) High turnover rates allow unpopular rulers to leave power, B) People don't feel neglected or powerless in their lives and don't yearn to be free. How can a dictatorship have peaceful successions from unpopular rulers to more popular rulers, while never resorting to a vote? It may be impossible. An aristocracy might be more effective at electing a new king or council of ten or whatever, and allow more upwards mobility, but how could it justify itself to the commoners? Why wouldn't they grow angry, resentful, and yearn to be free and equal, even if society isn't actually treating them poorly? It's tough for people to just accept being an eternal underclass. Which means you would need an aristocracy of merit, that allows upward mobility, and treats everyone equally -- in terms of equality of opportunity.

If everyone is taught to respect merit, and the results of objective, fair testing as being objective and fair, and if society is run well, an aristocracy of merit could have legitimacy, retain the good will of the people at large, have constant turnover that dispossesses ineffectual aristocrats from power, and avoid foreign wars. This, as far as I can tell, is the only model that has a chance to compete evenly with democracy in terms of 'keeping the peace.'

But democracy may be better than dictatorships at keeping the peace, but still be worse than dictatorships overall. This is because of issue #1: Can democracies arrive at sane state policies?

My short answer is no, they can't. Universal democracies cannot arrive at sane policy conclusions. Because of this, democracies are unworkable political models. The proof is all around us, but will eventually be revealed more transparently over this coming century.

What is the proof I'm looking at that shows universal democracies can't make correct decisions?

1. Public Debt. A government, a country, can't be taken seriously if it constantly spends more than it takes in in taxes. If a country can't balance its budget, it cannot remain a functioning country. This is true across history. Britain eventually seized Egypt and started administering the state because Egypt's external debt was so high that its tax revenues could no longer service even the interest on its debt, much less ever pay off its principle. But every healthy country across time has had low debts. Every unhealthy country, on its way out, has high debts. A continuous, never-paid-off, ever-mounting debt, then, is a sign of a country's collapse. In the past, when America was a limited democracy, it paid off its debts. It paid off all its debts after the Revolutionary war, and again after the Civil War. But ever since universal democracy was installed, our debts have gone up continuously, and are slated to rise to astronomical levels in the coming decades.

It isn't just America. Every single universal democracy, from Europe to Japan, has won elections by promising its people more in spending than these countries were taking in in taxes. Once the baby boomer generation retires in the next few years, governments will have to make good on these promises, and deficits will continue to rise. Since people are like truculent, spoiled children, who demand benefits but refuse to raise taxes, the only possible way to fund all of these free government benefits, deficits just keep going up. Eventually servicing the interest on these debts will cost so much of the entire tax revenue of the state that they will no longer be able to afford the public goods they promised their people. It's unlikely that there will be ever-more-buyers of government debt bonds in the future, when it sees that taxes are so low that their debts will never be repaid because government simply doesn't have the money to do so. We have already seen countries reach their borrowing limits -- Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and other countries have found that the only way to finance their government was to sell bonds at 20% interest or some other ludicrous fee, but if they sold bonds at 20% interest, they wouldn't be able to afford the interest payments either, so they were sunk either way. This is a democratic dead end. When the same governments tried to pass austerity packages, where they lower the amount of public goodies, their countries rioted and refused to accept reality.

What if these same rioters go to the elections and elect only representatives who agree to not cut any public goodies? What if the same rioters who won't accept reality elect representatives who won't accept reality, who agree to increase spending while cutting taxes, forever, and just hope the debt goes away like a bad dream, never finding any solution to it? A new debt default every five years? Is that the democratic solution? Absurd. Unless it becomes mandatory to buy debt from the government, which is just another form of tax, no one would ever lend a country money with a history of debt defaults, or it would again be at unsustainably high interest rates.

Charles Dickens once gave some wise words through, I believe, a man named Mr. Mccawber. "Income 20 pounds, expenses 21 pounds, misery." "Income 20 pounds, expenses 19 pounds, felicity." The point is there is no solution, not for an individual, and not for a nation, except to eventually BALANCE YOUR BUDGET. If the whole world agreed to default on all its debts and start over, it would have to have some plan in place, to show future lenders that this debacle that universal democracy has gotten us into will not happen again, such that lending will begin again. You cannot eternally fund the government through deficits and debts. A sane, responsible, mature government MUST SERVICE ITS DEBT! There is no way around it. You have to pay it back, sooner or later. You can't just let it keep growing forever.

And yet here is America's debt clock:

I wish there were a way to embed the thing, but oh well. It says that America is currently $14 trillion in federal debt, $1 trillion in state debt, and $2 trillion in local debt. Currently, debt stands at 97% of USA's GDP. Government spending, as a whole, stands at 46% of GDP. But revenue only stands at 30% of GDP. That is a massive gap and the remainder is made up through unsustainable debt.

All of this is dwarfed by the promises governments have made their elderly, in terms of health care and social security. No money has been set aside and saved for the elderly's retirement bonuses. Every dollar people have put into social security and medicare was spent long ago by previous Congresses trying to win brownie points with their current electorate. This means unfunded liabilities, promises that will have to be paid for by taxpayers of this generation. How big is this liability, this promise to our elderly? $113 trillion dollars. We can't even pay the current budget or our current debts, but we will have to come up with another $113 trillion dollars to make good on our promises to our elderly, out of the taxes of the current working population.

We would need to raise taxes to 50% of GDP to pay our normal budget. To pay for an additional $113 trillion dollars of medicare and social security would require over 100% confiscation rates. We need at least some money to keep our businesses running and our people fed, so 100% of GDP taxes are impossible in the first place. It's doubtful whether even 80% taxes can keep basic functions alive enough to maintain domestic output -- which is necessary to meet our tax needs. Raising taxes doesn't work if it hurts the economy so much that the result is lower tax revenue, not higher. Which means there is a physical limit to how high taxes can be raised. I don't know that limit, but its well below generating an additional $113 trillion dollars in taxes.

So what can be done? Nothing. In a universal democracy, it's been proven that nothing can be done. Taxes can't be raised, because for some reason even taxes on the super-rich can't be passed through Congress. Imagine if someone proposed a 50% tax raise across the board on the American people -- which is necessary simply to fund our current budget -- who would push it through Congress? Obama was elected on the promise of tax cuts, not tax increases. His opposition is even more fervently anti-taxes. Who has the political mandate and courage to raise taxes 50% on the American people? And if they did, what would stop them from getting unelected next cycle, and new fantasists put in place, who agree to lower taxes and just let the debt roam free again?

Taxes can't be raised, by physical limits, enough to pay for social security and medicare. Taxes can't be raised, due to democratic limits, to balance our budget.

So what about the other half of the solution? Can a universal democracy lower spending?

The answer is no, it can't. Universal democracies have proven themselves incapable of lowering spending. Government spending has increased virtually every year in the history of all universal democracies. Occasional reformers try to come in and reduce spending, but they're eventually thwarted by government infighting, or unelected by popular will, and nothing is done. Even the much vaunted Reagan was unable to actually cut the size of government. Spending increased throughout his term in office.

The programs that most need drastic cuts, social security and medicare, have approval ratings of over 70%. Anyone who threatens to cut these programs is unelected next election cycle, and a fantasist who relies on debt financing put in his place. It is impossible, in a universal democracy, to get anyone in office who wants to cut government spending down to realistic levels, in line with government revenues. If anything, the severity of Japan and Europe's elderly problem is even worse than America's. None of them have provided any solution to how to fund their public promises, or how to finance their debts, as a result of these promises. Everyone is, equally, just praying for a miracle and refusing to look at the elephant in the room.

At the very least, America could show it had some interest in balancing its budget, by cutting funding elsewhere, like medicaid or the military. However, both of these programs are also wildly popular. Obama just passed a bill that would increase public health spending, and got us into a new war with Libya. Bush wasted a trillion dollars in foreign wars that have provided zero benefits to the American people. Even so, he was reelected. The electorate refuses to stop going to war, it refuses to punish warmongers, it refuses to cut military spending, and it refuses to cut public health care benefits to the poor. So where will the cuts come from? Where? Every government program that actually costs the government serious money is well esteemed by the public and won't elect anyone who threatens to cut them.

It's clear that people simply aren't mature enough to handle public finances. They never even look at the issue as balancing the budget. They only look at the issue in its simplest terms -- "I don't want to pay taxes, so I'll vote against taxes." "I like free public goodies, so I'll vote for free public goodies." And that is the extent of their intelligence and political sophistication. These are the people we have given the vote and the people who determine the fate of the world. It's pathetic. It's simply laughable. How can anyone take such a populace, or democracy, seriously, when it arrives at results like these?

A dictatorship, hopefully composed of more serious minds that realize revenues can't exceed expenses in the long term, could simply hand down decisions to the people, who must accept them at the point of a bayonet. No medicare, social security, medicaid, or military spending. The debt will be paid off in a single year. From here on, deficit spending will only occur in a time of war, and these wars must be declared by the enemy on us first, not us on them, or we simply can't go to war. A dictatorship could force unpopular, but necessary, decisions like this down the people's throats. But what can a democracy do? Nothing. we are powerless in the face of human stupidity and insanity. We are powerless in the face of human cows who want something for nothing.

Just as easily, a dictatorship could raise taxes to 50%, or 80% of GDP, and no one could object, because they'd be shot. But a democracy cannot raise sufficient funds to fund the government, it is simply impossible because the electorate refuses to pay its bills. Therefore democracies cannot last, and thus all of them will collapse sooner or later, presumably into some sort of dictatorship that finally solves all of democracy's inherent problems, but only after a giant civil war, which thus negates the value of democracy's only good deed, bringing peace to the world. Because democracy cannot be sustained, it is unstable, and therefore any peace it brings is also unsustainable, just a temporary benefit that will break the moment democracy itself breaks down.

However, there is another issue that would break the back of all modern democracies, even if debt didn't exist: immigration.

Democracies are incapable of limiting immigration. I don't know why this is true, I simply observe it to be true. Once a country has become a universal democracy, it becomes incapable of limiting immigration. This probably has something to do with the inherent philosophy behind democracy's legitimacy: that all people are equal and interchangeable. One man one vote eventually means one world open borders. They're the same philosophical statement.

Europe, North America, and Australia are all happily importing foreign elements who are incapable of maintaining a prosperous, stable, civilized state. These same foreign elements have made complete messes of their own countries, none of which are livable. Because democracy can't limit immigration, it can't stop these people from coming here and destroying our nations just like they destroyed their own. There are no quality filters on these immigrants. They can be as stupid, as poor, as unemployed, as uneducated, as violent, as criminal, as immoral as they please, and they're still welcomed with open arms. The statue of liberty is the best example of this principle of insanity: "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses."

Who but a democracy would ever say such an insane thing? Why would we want huddled masses? Why would we want poor people? Any sane nation would say "Give us your energetic, rich, talented few." In this way, the inhabitants of said country could benefit from the contribution of immigrants. But because the philosophical principle behind democracy is universal leveling, it cannot discriminate against foreign immigrants. It simply must accept everyone as an equal, because it does the same within its own population -- if everyone is equal within our borders, why wouldn't they all be equal outside our borders too? If a nuclear physicist and an ex-con are equals who both deserve one vote, why not include tired huddled masses too? What difference does it make? We're all equal.

Democracy, by its philosophical nature, undermines a country's ability to take sane immigration stances. Without a sane immigration stance, any country will quickly become a third world hellhole. Though polls say most people are against mass immigration, they consistently go to the voting booths every two years and elect people who are FOR mass immigration. This means they are in fact responsible for mass immigration, and must approve of it, no matter what they say. Votes have consequences. Polls don't. Since the people of every country in the west has elected to give their countries away to foreigners, it is on their own heads, no one else's.

Mass immigration is an absolutely assured way to ruin a country. It causes domestic instability because people of different cultures, economic ability, languages, religions, and races can never be expected to get along perfectly. But it also drowns out the people of merit in a sea of parasites. If the financial situation looks bad now, what do we do when our demographic mix is mostly incapable of paying the treasury anything in tax dollars, but is demanding much more in public benefits? Surely everyone knows that Muslims in Europe and hispanics in the United States demand far more in public benefits than they pay in taxes? So what is our country's financial situation going to look like once they become the majority of the population? It's a joke. It's just absurd to imagine any country can survive this process. It must collapse, because the money simply isn't there, which means domestic instability, all of which is magnified by the imported new communities who have absolutely no sense of shared identity with the old stock. Such chimera countries have no neighborly love, which means civil war, sooner or later. Just like the hutus and tutsis of Rwanda.

Though it is true that Japan and South Korea have limited immigration, this is more due to an accident than good policy. They believe just as firmly in human equality as the democracies of the west, and have on their books ways for people to legally immigrate to their countries. They just have such high population densities and tight labor markets that no one finds moving there appealing. As their countries empty out, due to birth rates one half of what is necessary to simply continue surviving, foreign workers will have to be imported in. It's simply a matter of time. Since there is no PHILOSOPHICAL barrier to the entrance of new immigrants, no matter how impoverished or unskilled, into these countries, eventually the PRACTICAL barriers will end and the exodus will begin.

Which brings up a third reason democracies are inherently unsustainable. For whatever reason, it is impossible to regulate birth rates in a democracy. People who wish to do so are not elected. People want reproductive freedom, just like they want free public goods without having to pay any taxes. A country cannot survive when its people refuse to reproduce, which is what every democracy in the world has done, which means it cannot afford to allow people reproductive freedom. Which means no democracy can last. It can't afford to allow reproductive freedom, but it must do so anyway, which means it will collapse. This collapse will most likely be financial, because a skeleton population of youths can't support a gigantic population of retired elderly people, elderly people who refused to have enough children that they COULD be supported when their retirement ages came. But it could also be due to immigrants simply moving in and taking our new indefensible borders, because we no longer have enough people to populate our territories, or soldiers young enough to defend them.

It is imperative that countries have control of who gets born and how many people are born. No country can survive without these two powers. If they can't control who gets born, you get dysgenics. Dysgenics, in a modern economy, is lethal to your economy, because IQ is the main driver of GDP. If your economy can't be sustained, your country collapses. If they can't control how many people are born, they will be destroyed by one of two reasons -- overpopulation or underpopulation. Overpopulation means there are more people than there are resources and jobs to go around, which leads to masses of people with nothing to do, no women to marry, no jobs and no respect. These masses will eventually riot and go to war, which will lead to a collapse, and certainly invalidate any good that democracy's inherent peacefulness is supposed to bring. Underpopulation means resources are going unused, necessary jobs aren't being filled, land is returning to wilderness and infrastructure is crumbling. It can be seen in places like Detroit, where a whole city has simply returned to wilderness. What if an entire country halves its population like Detroit? The whole country will be a ghost town, and it won't end there. It will half again next generation, and then again the next. Eventually the things people took for granted, like having enough people to ensure specialization and trade networks, experts in every technical field and thriving artistic entertainment centers, will all disappear. A certain population level is necessary to pass on the cultural and technical knowledge of a civilization. If the population dips below that level, it regresses -- just like in Tazmania when the natives lost the ability to make fire after moving away from the Australian mainland, reducing their population below the necessary threshold to maintain their civilization.

Modern civilization is extremely complex. It relies on economies of scale everywhere. If population depopulates, the economies of scale also breakdown. It isn't just an economy of scale when you make 500 million widgets because there is a large customer base. It's an economy of scale when you can hire a good professor who teaches thousands of educable students in a university. If populations are too low to merit hiring the teacher because there aren't enough educable students anymore, the knowledge is simply lost forever. In abstract, the more people on Earth the better, because economy of scale makes it easier to provide for their needs, while also leveraging their ability to help others. The only reason why you would want fewer people on Earth is if there aren't enough natural resources to go around. There obviously are enough to go around to sustain our current world population, or we'd all be starving to death, which means we should be aiming to maintain, at least, our current populations. That democracies refuse to do so, and allow these disastrous 1 child per 2 parents rate to continue, is proof of the unseriousness of democratic government. Just as it is unserious to allow murder and rape in a country's lawcode, because it would lead to that country's total destruction, it is unserious to allow overpopulation, underpopulation, and dysgenics in a country. How can you take any such government seriously? It is unwilling to address the basic threats to a country's people. It's like refusing to fight a war when your country is invaded, or refusing to enforce the law. This is simply a basic function of government, so basic that no country can survive without it -- but democracies refuse to perform, because they can't get the will of the people to support them in it.

Individuals are too selfish to give government power over reproductive freedom. They'd rather the country just crash and burn than give up their own freedom and personal satisfaction. In a democracy, individuals get their way, no matter how harmful it is to the public good. In a dictatorship, we could just say, "Tough, obey or die." In this way, a dictatorship could ensure the public good and give people greater happiness, in the long run, than their own narrow-minded selfishness was ever capable of delivering. Unfortunately, we live in a democracy. We can't stop any of the obvious emerging disasters that are all around us from happening. we simply have to wait for them all to slam down over our heads -- mass immigration, interest payments on a national debt higher than our tax revenues, depopulation (unless there's overpopulation due to mass immigration), dysgenics, bankruptcy, the loss of all economic vitality and productivity, and finally civil war. How could the results be otherwise? How can a democracy avoid any of these dooms?


Will they vote for anyone willing and able to stop these future ills? No. They haven't done so yet, so why would they do it later? Are any of these dooms overblown? No, they're all simply factual statements of current trend lines. Trends that cannot be arrested by any democracy, precisely because they are democracies, and therefore trend lines that will not change until their disaster arrives.

Will some miracle intervene before these trend lines do irreversible damage? Maybe. But no thanks to democracy. It will be due to technology, which is an X factor in any conversation. If a new technology is invented, and it does alleviate my concerns, I will of course change my political beliefs accordingly. Until that time, though, the collapse still approaches, like a meteor destined to collide with the Earth, with each passing moment. It would be prudent to do something about it now, and not just hope for a miracle to intervene later.

Once all universal democracies do collapse under the weight of their own systemic flaws and the stupidity of the masses, we'll have a chance to make new governmental models with new standards and policies. It will be an exciting and productive period for mankind. The sooner the collapse happens the better, because it's easy to recover from these collapses -- in a generation it will be like the harm never happened, but the wisdom from our changed political policies will last forever. The reason why the entire far right wishes for a collapse isn't because they want people to suffer. It's because we want the creative, imaginative freedom to finally impose the solutions we know would work, but democracy doesn't allow to be implemented or gain traction. And we know that once these policies are in place, their benefits will far outstrip the temporary suffering inherent in any collapse of the old order.

I've already given my replacement, in 'A New Nation?', for democracy. Democracy doesn't shine a candle to my political system, which is infinitely wiser and more sustainable than the current model. I deliver all the benefits of democracy, peace, prosperity, and legitimacy, without any of the costs. So the sooner this collapse comes, the better, because then my system can be adopted over the ashes of the old dead system that is democracy.

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