People are reliably selfish, stupid, censorious, authoritarian, and prone to... Watch
Do you agree? If so, what do we do about it?
Liberal democracies value liberty and democracy - two ideologies often in tension. Pure democracy is doomed to fail, eventually turning into a direct reflection of our slow-to-evolve human nature of being... 'reliably selfish, stupid, censorious, authoritarian, and prone to persecutory manias'.
Liberal democracies are not perfect but thus far have been the most successful and fruitful forms of government if we are to take a society's well-being to mean lives of relative ease and comfort, peace, liberty, unrivalled healthcare and wealth, as well as scientific and technological successes and environmental care.
What are the safeguards that we need to have in place to ensure that democracy doesn't turn into tyranny?
Democracy can only ever work where some sort of national consensus exists on the key issues, destabilize that consensus and almost inevitably liberal democracy (a fragile system at the best of times) starts to collapse. We can only live together successfully if we have more common than the sum of our differences. If, as increasingly it seems, that ceases to be the case, the future may well be one in which liberal democracy is seen as a thing of the past, a short-lived anomaly of history.
Power is a uniquely and dangerously corrosive concept, and as Acton once said, "great men are almost always bad men". Inevitably people desire more power, either out of blind greed, or as the result or a misguided belief in their own convictions as the remedy for society's ills, and without fundamentally changing human nature (which is at least in our time impossible), that is unlikely to ever change. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that every time a liberal democracy collapses, the resulting dictatorship, or oligarchy or whatever else, eventually becomes so oppressive that it collapses and is replaced by a new, more tolerant system. There may be some comfort in the fact that while democracy is unstable, so too is tyranny.
A fascinating and thought-provoking question.