"Democracy is an intolerable indulgence of the ignorant herd" Watch

P&T16
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Cato the Elder
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I strongly agree.
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2384911
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Connor27
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(Original post by P&T16)
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I agree to an extent; but to use that famous (and admittedly overused) Churchill quote:

"Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the other ones."

So yeah, it does have its flaws but is still miles better than dictatorship, theocracy, autocracy or any of the other looney authoritarian methods of government.

Anarchy is also ineffectual because of social Darwinism, the weak will oppress the strong even with no state, more so in fact.
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P&T16
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(Original post by Connor27)
I agree to an extent; but to use that famous (and admittedly overused) Churchill quote:

"Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all the other ones."

So yeah, it does have its flaws but is still miles better than dictatorship, theocracy, autocracy or any of the other looney authoritarian methods of government.

Anarchy is also ineffectual because of social Darwinism, the weak will oppress the strong even with no state, more so in fact.
But when we say autocracy is a bad form of government and democracy a lesser bad, what do we mean? that its methods more explicitly offend the sentiments? that it necessarily results in a less efficient governmental structure, that it mishandles economic policy?
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lafurus
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"The main principle of democracy is the sovereignty of the people. But it is imperative that the nation is well-educated and well-educated so that it can choose well to govern itself. If this is not achieved, democracy can pass autocracy. People like to be praised. For this reason, well-spoken demagogues, even if they are bad, can take the lead. Anyone who knows how to vote can be deemed to be able to handle the state." Plato
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Count Bezukhov
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(Original post by P&T16)
But when we say autocracy is a bad form of government and democracy a lesser bad, what do we mean? that its methods more explicitly offend the sentiments? that it necessarily results in a less efficient governmental structure, that it mishandles economic policy?
When power is more dispersed, individuals are less likely to be oppressed. An autocracy could be good in theory if the autocrat was benevolent, but there is no guarantee of this and no way to remove them from power if this was the case. Democracy makes governments accountable to the people and generally promotes a peaceful society, even if it sometimes leads to suboptimal policy making.
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Loony Liberal
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democracy is a disgusting concept with roots in racism sexism ableism and queerphobia!! i am anti democracy!
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LV Her Husband
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(Original post by JRKinder)
When power is more dispersed, individuals are less likely to be oppressed. An autocracy could be good in theory if the autocrat was benevolent, but there is no guarantee of this and no way to remove them from power if this was the case. Democracy makes governments accountable to the people and generally promotes a peaceful society, even if it sometimes leads to suboptimal policy making.
Ends identified: (i) minimisation of oppression; (ii) benevolence; (iii) a peaceful society; and (iv) good policy making.

What makes (i)-(iii) better ends than (iv)?

You also contradict yourself because surely you would define 'good policy making' as that which upholds (i)-(iii) (as these are the ends you seem to suggest should be prioritised), yet you suggest that democracy (to uphold (i)-(iii)) leads to "suboptimal policy making".
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lafurus
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Edward Barneys is father of public ralitons. You can look at his life. And you can see more clearly how democracy works. This is summary for his life and democray history: "could very easily vote for the wrong man or want the wrong thing, so that they had to be guided from above"
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Count Bezukhov
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(Original post by LV Her Husband)
Ends identified: (i) minimisation of oppression; (ii) benevolence; (iii) a peaceful society; and (iv) good policy making.

What makes (i)-(iii) better ends than (iv)?

You also contradict yourself because surely you would define 'good policy making' as that which upholds (i)-(iii) (as these are the ends you seem to suggest should be prioritised), yet you suggest that democracy (to uphold (i)-(iii)) leads to "suboptimal policy making".
I don't contradict myself; when I say "suboptimal policy making," I mean in regards to things like economic policy. You can have peace and civil liberties with a poor-performing economy. If an autocrat were in power, there is no way to ensure individual liberty would be maintained. My point about benevolence was simply stating that the only type of autocrat that may be more effective than a democracy would be a benevolent one, i.e. one that has society's best interests at heart and respects the rights of other individuals. My point was that this cannot be guaranteed. I never said that democracy would lead to a benevolent government, but the key difference is that they can be replaced easily if they are not.

Ends (i)-(iii) being better ends than (iv) obviously depends on what type of policy we are talking about. Assuming that no government in a democracy will be a total disaster (that's not to say they'll make the best decisions, but they likely won't make the absolute worst decision), which is reasonable since they would (in theory at least) lose the election if they weren't somewhat competent, end (iv) is likely to be minimal and hence ensuring ends (i)-(iii) is a higher priority as this will have the greatest impact on individual lives. Just to use a practical example, a democratic government may make a somewhat poor economic decision, but that is far preferable to being oppressed to the same level that certain groups are in places like Saudi Arabia, which is run by an autocratic monarchy that cannot be replaced (despite some of its citizens being very well-off financially).
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LV Her Husband
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(Original post by JRKinder)
ensuring ends (i)-(iii) is a higher priority as this will have the greatest impact on individual lives.
How do you measure "impact on individual lives"?

Just to use a practical example, a democratic government may make a somewhat poor economic decision, but that is far preferable to being oppressed to the same level that certain groups are in places like Saudi Arabia
Why? This is merely restating your prioritisation of certain ends over others, not logically justifying that prioritisation.
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Count Bezukhov
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(Original post by LV Her Husband)
How do you measure "impact on individual lives"?


Why? This is merely restating your prioritisation of certain ends over others, not logically justifying that prioritisation.
By that I mean general quality of life, although admittedly that is difficult to measure empirically. Principally, I would consider this to constitute having guaranteed civil rights and the freedom to pursue your own ventures, so long as they do not harm others in society. So it's a somewhat utilitarian view, where having a society where people are generally 'happy' is preferable. Democracy is the best way to ensure that these rights are not enroached upon, because those who would seek to undermine such rights are unlikely to be elected in the first place, and can be removed from power in the next general election if they do attempt to do so.

Because suboptimal policy making is unlikely to have a direct impact on an individual's life in the same way that being politically oppressed would. Do you not think that pursuing a higher quality of life is generally preferable to having a slightly higher average policy competency (and how do you measure this anyway, to turn the question back to you)? Why is the autocrat any more likely to make competent policies anyway? If anything, they are likely to be less competent as there is no provision for peer review like there is in a democratically accountable system of government.
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LV Her Husband
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(Original post by JRKinder)
By that I mean general quality of life, although admittedly that is difficult to measure empirically. Principally, I would consider this to constitute having guaranteed civil rights and the freedom to pursue your own ventures, so long as they do not harm others in society. So it's a somewhat utilitarian view, where having a society where people are generally 'happy' is preferable. Democracy is the best way to ensure that these rights are not enroached upon, because those who would seek to undermine such rights are unlikely to be elected in the first place, and can be removed from power in the next general election if they do attempt to do so.
Can you reduce this to a series of propositions that logically follow (in the form of "1. ... 2. ..., 3. therefore, ..., etc"), just so it's easier for me to follow your logic.

Because suboptimal policy making is unlikely to have a direct impact on an individual's life in the same way that being politically oppressed would.
Would it make a difference if only a small minority were affected by oppression, but the suboptimal policies affected a large majority of people? In this case, following a strictly utilitarian view, would it not make sense to accept the suffering of a tiny group for the increased pleasure of the large majority?

Do you not think that pursuing a higher quality of life is generally preferable to having a slightly higher average policy competency
The two are inextricably linked; because I would measure policy competency by the quality of life achieved.

(and how do you measure this anyway, to turn the question back to you)?
How do we measure policy competency? This turns on the ends we choose, which goes back to my initial probing of your post. You are the one making an argument, thus the burden is on you to substantiate it, not on me (in so far as I can substantiate my probing of your logic - as I am not making any positive arguments).

Why is the autocrat any more likely to make competent policies anyway? If anything, they are likely to be less competent as there is no provision for peer review like there is in a democratically accountable system of government.
Well, since we are dealing in theoreticals (dealing in empiricism provides far less scope for logical discourse), I think the comparison has to be between (i) a perfect democracy; and (ii) a benevolent dictatorship (e.g. Plato's philosopher kings). In the latter, "benevolence" and competence are assumed.
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Count Bezukhov
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(Original post by LV Her Husband)
Can you reduce this to a series of propositions that logically follow (in the form of "1. ... 2. ..., 3. therefore, ..., etc" ), just so it's easier for me to follow your logic.


Would it make a difference if only a small minority were affected by oppression, but the suboptimal policies affected a large majority of people? In this case, following a strictly utilitarian view, would it not make sense to accept the suffering of a tiny group for the increased pleasure of the large majority?


The two are inextricably linked; because I would measure policy competency by the quality of life achieved.


How do we measure policy competency? This turns on the ends we choose, which goes back to my initial probing of your post. You are the one making an argument, thus the burden is on you to substantiate it, not on me (in so far as I can substantiate my probing of your logic - as I am not making any positive arguments).


Well, since we are dealing in theoreticals (dealing in empiricism provides far less scope for logical discourse), I think the comparison has to be between (i) a perfect democracy; and (ii) a benevolent dictatorship (e.g. Plato's philosopher kings). In the latter, "benevolence" and competence are assumed.
Sorry, I'm on my phone so I'm just going to have to answer in a series of paragraphs, rather than splitting your post up into smaller quotes. Anyway:

What, specifically, do you not follow with this? What I'm basically saying is that people are generally happier with more civil rights and more freedom to 'choose their own destiny', so to say. An autocrat has no checks to their powers should they decide to take these away. A democracy does, as the government will not be re-elected. Thus, a democracy is a better way than an autocracy to ensure that rights and freedoms are maintained, which means a democracy is the better form of government for ensuring a good quality of life (comparatively - you could argue that democracy is necessary but not sufficient).

If you're talking about following a utilitarian doctrine purely in terms of numbers, then yes - I agree - the suffering of a few would be desirable to maintain the happiness of many. But this disregards the scale of oppression suffered by this minority. Let's say an autocrat introduces policies that leads to economic growth of 5% per year, but decides that all people with green eyes should have no legal rights. On the other hand, a democratically elected government puts policies into practice that lead to economic growth of only 3%, but they cannot oppress people with green eyes because they will not be elected again in the next GE (and parliamentary debate would likely prevent this from happening anyway). This is what I mean when I say "suboptimal policy making". Do you not think that the second situation is preferable? (In both situations, non-green-eyed people (i.e. 'the majority' ) benefit from income growth of 5% and 3% respectively, for the sake of the argument).

Yes, I agree that good policy generally leads to a good quality of life. But suboptimal doesn't have to be bad - just not optimal, and even if it is bad (let's say a 2% economic contraction in the situation above) then it has to be considered with respect to the proportional suffering of the oppressed group. By its very nature, this makes each individual situation to be considered highly variable, and quite frankly we could be here for days making random examples like the one above. You can have suboptimal policy and still have a good quality of life, but an autocrat has no checks on their power to ensure that quality of life is maintained amongst the populous.

My measure of policy competency is simply how close a given policy is to the optimal outcome, given the resources available to achieve that outcome. I didn't mean to come across as confrontational with it, but you appeared to be asking for empirical evidence, so I was just asking how you would measure 'competency' otherwise (since empirical evidence is difficult with the nature of this debate).

I have read The Republic and I agreed with Plato on many of his points. In theory, a benevolent dictator (who always knows which policies will most benefit society and does not encroach on the rights of the individual) would be preferable to democracy. But I'm trying dealing with a realistic comparison, in which case there is no guarantee of a benevolent dictator being installed. As this is the case, democracy is preferable for the reasons I have stated.

(Just for the record, for a while I was very much in favour of a real life equivalent of Plato's Philosopher Kings being installed in government, but upon further examination I don't think it would be possible in anything but a hypothetical scenario. Also, sorry for any typos since I'm on my phone and this is quite a long post - let me know if a sentence doesn't read well enough to reply to).
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username1738683
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The biggest benefit of the system is not that we can elect our governants (and that everyone is allowed to run) but that we can remove them at the next ballot if they are no good. What other system offers that much needed safeguard?
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