Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 73 total)
  • Democracy, what is it good for?
  • convert
    Full Member

    As is probably clear from my recent posts, I’ve become increasingly disenfranchised by the concept of democracy. This is not good in a year where a greater percentage of the globe’s population are voting than ever before.

    The rise and election success of populist politicians. Voting systems where parties and leaders are focussing their appealling to tiny proportions of the population in swing constituencies. A general race to the bottom. My general mood is that democracy seems to be about appealling to people too daft and poorly informed to justify a place in bringing governments to power. Reading Rory Stewart’s ‘Politics on the Edge’ was a depressing insight into the running of government too.

    Obviously the alterative is no alternative. I was going to flippantly suggest a democracy where to vote required an IQ and general knowledge test so governments were brought to power by people who had a clue and the standard of debate might go up, but obviously that doesn’t stand much scrutiny either.

    I think I might just keep out of political threads for the moment. I’m no good for them, and they are no good for me just now. Just thinking about it makes me increasingly disrespectful of my fellow humans.

    roverpig
    Full Member

    ‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…’

    Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

    convert
    Full Member

    Very good.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    Yeah pretty much that^

    Democracy has problems, but fewer than all known alternatives.

    ampthill
    Full Member

    Obviously the alterative is no alternative. I was going to flippantly suggest a democracy where to vote required an IQ and general knowledge test so governments were brought to power by people who had a clue and the standard of debate might go up, but obviously that doesn’t stand much scrutiny either.

    I do know what you mean. But believing a load of rubbish, that the evidence contradicts, because it fits your world view is really common. IQ does not protect you from this.

    Does High Intelligence Mean Low Cognitive Bias?

    Bruce
    Full Member

    Democracy with current electoral practice mean that the other half of the electorate gets something they don’t want like the current crop of corrupt knuckle daggers.

    May be if we had an electoral system that was consensus based rather than adversarial, government might be more representative. Some form of transferable vote system?

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    I think I might just keep out of political threads for the moment. I’m no good for them, and they are no good for me just now. Just thinking about it makes me increasingly disrespectful of my fellow humans.

    It’s been covered before but many of us have reached a “can’t be arsed” stage, not just with politics but with other important things too. Sometimes I think it’s just better to concentrate my energy on things I can affect and not get bogged down with everyone else. It’s selfish, and not good for society/the planet, but there you go.

    blokeuptheroad
    Full Member

    Popularism is having it’s moment in the sun but it won’t last. Offering simple solutions to complex problems is fine whilst you’re yelling them from the sidelines. When you’re elected and fail to enact the changes you’ve long promised are easy to achieve, the wheels fall off and even the thickest voters see you for what you are. I hope…

    J-R
    Full Member

    Just finished reading Tom Holland’s Rubicorn describing Rome’s “democracy in the period leading up to Julius Ceaser becoming emperor.

    It is apparent, then like now, that democratic politicians buy elections, promise things they don’t intend to do, populists will sway the masses, and a few good principled politicians will be subverted by those who just like money and power. But at some level the voters have an opportunity to boot out a political group if their direction or corruption becomes too awful.

    It is also apparent from the history of Roman Emperors that the alternative system of an absolute leader is substantially worse.

    bikesandboots
    Full Member

    What do we know about countries where democracy works better vs. those where it works less well?

    stmachreth
    Free Member

    Why is it unpopular to admit that the entire political system isn’t fit for purpose?

    You’ve missed out the routine political corruption, the tilting of the table toward corporate interests and the complete failure to deliver by the govt (supposed professionals) on promises they base their entire manifestos on. Again and again.

    In my opinion, anyone who still thinks we live in a legitimate, functional democracy is a complete sap and you deserve everything we get. Shame we’ll all get it.

    downshep
    Full Member

    Surely democracy is the least worse option? FPTP is pants as the minority get all the power but even with PR, there’s a chunk of the electorate disenfranchised for the next parliamentary term. Culture wars and MSM / Social Media manipulation may render true democracy even more vulnerable to being bought and sold than ever before but who wants a coup, Junta or Politburo with a Kim or Vlad type ruling for life?

    Obviously different if my benevolent self woz in charge….

    stmachreth
    Free Member

    A functioning democracy is the least worst option. Let’s start from there. Politicians with financial interests in policy direction should be barred. Step 1.

    Onzadog
    Free Member

    Who was it who said, you can have your democracy providing I can choose the candidates?

    Like many things in life, it’s a spectrum. The real discussion is where do we actually sit between democracy and the illusion of democracy?

    stmachreth
    Free Member

    Policy is directed vie white papers by thinktanks who are funded by gigantic financial interests. That’s about as undemocratic as it gets, when you include that politicians in key positions serve corporate interests. You know this is true by the reliable frequency with which they take positions in the privately sector once they have outlived their public usefulness.

    *via

    stmachreth
    Free Member

    *privately sector. Yes.

    airvent
    Free Member

    Can we at least make it to 200 years of democracy in Britain before giving up on it? Just 8 more years.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    Don’t forget ‘Democracy’ is quite a large generic umbrella term that encompases various flavours. FPTP V’s PR for example.

    It’s fairly clear that FPTP pretty much results in a 2 party binary system, hence the UK flip flopping between Conservative and Labour every time the population gets too annoyed with party A or B, it’s always either party A or B that gets elected.

    PR is an enticing option, it will allow a few more MPs on the very fringes of sanity, which is not good but it should keep those more toward the middle ground more sensible but overall the vast majority of MPs elected should be more representative of the population in general.

    The 3 line whip system in the UK for example is a travesty..it forces MP’s to vote a certain way regardles of thier opinions, or the opinions of thier constituents, it’s either that or lose your job, pretty much, that’s not really democracy.

    stmachreth
    Free Member

    How can we reduce the influence wielded by the biased media?

    How do we stop entities like Cambridge Analytica from interfering with the electoral process?

    airvent
    Free Member

    You can’t. It will only get far, far worse with deepfakes, AI and social media algorithms and bots.

    It’ll be a case of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ which is tricky when one of you has morals and integrity and the other side don’t.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    How can we reduce the influence wielded by the biased media?

    Better education, especially in terms of critical thinking… there is a school of thought that if you keep the population dumb enough and fighting over smaller problems between smaller factions it can be used to great advantage by a rulling party. Therefore there is a lot to gain by underfunding the education system, health system, and local councils etc…

    When you have a population that struggles to differentiate a simple thing like the difference between fact and opinion, you have a huge problem.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    Democracy is to nations what rum is to enlisted seamen, it’s a sedative to prevent anarchy/mutiny at the total lack of real choice in our governors and their ineptitude.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    Democracy is to nations what rum is to enlisted seamen, it’s a sedative to prevent anarchy/mutiny at the total lack of real choice in our governors and their ineptitude.

    I disagree, The UK version of democracy needs work, the USA system needs a lot of work!

    But let’s say for arguments sake, that I do agree… what would be your suggestion for a better system, what would success look like to you?

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    As is probably clear from my recent posts, I’ve become increasingly disenfranchised by the concept of democracy.

    I don’t reckon it’s the concept of democracy you (or indeed most people) have a problem with. It’s the implementation of said concept as a real life system of government.

    Democracy isn’t a bad concept, what seems to have muddied the water for us (IMO) is capitalism plus a dash of ‘Neo-liberalism’ meaning that democratic processes can easily be corrupted or subverted by those with money.

    You’ll find good old filthy money somewhere close to the root of modern democracy’s failings IME.

    Daffy
    Full Member

    Proportional representation.  FPTP and the electoral college are just utterly rubbish for what is now a two party system.

    It’s actual democracy, not what we currently have here nor in the US.

    Caher
    Full Member

    My 2pence worth.
    I wonder if there are times pure (majority) democracy isn’t always the best vehicle for decision making. Such as if it went to a vote capital punishment would be reintroduced. And something like Brexit would arguably need a supermajority.

    gordimhor
    Full Member

    @airvent When did democracy for women start?

    somafunk
    Full Member

    Armando Iannucci nailed it years ago

    CountZero
    Full Member

    PR, wherever it’s used in other countries, always seems to end up as an almost endless series of compromises where a number of parties try to accommodate a bunch of different interests and demands in order to reach a working consensus by making compromises and concessions, and which almost always collapse into chaos in relatively short periods of time.
    Italy seemed to have a different government every six months at one time, and there are a number of other countries at the moment whose governments have collapsed in chaos and bickering. At least we do have more than just a two-party system like America, although the Electoral College there basically guarantees a non-democratic result because it’s loaded towards the right-wing GOP  and their wealthy donors.

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    PR, wherever it’s used in other countries, always seems to end up as an almost endless series of compromises

    That is a good thing, no? without compromise and consensus… in other words, agreement, what else can we have?

    At least we do have more than just a two-party system like America

    I’m not so sure about that.

    I mean, if you have a magical wand to wave, you’re leaving it a bit too late to wave it!

    Please tell us, you who are so wise, in the ways of politics, what is your grand ideal? what is your vision of utopia?

    thols2
    Full Member

    I wonder if there are times pure (majority) democracy isn’t always the best vehicle for decision making.

    Democracy isn’t about the best vehicle for decision making, it’s about giving everyone the opportunity to participate in choosing the government. Even when you don’t get the government you want, there’s still legitimacy because you were allowed to vote for your preference and you will have the opportunity to vote against the government at the next election. When people don’t accept that the government is legitimate and aren’t given the opportunity to vote it out, they will take up arms to overthrow it, so you end up with a civil war. It’s very easy to rant about governments that you dislike, but when you realize that the alternative to democracy is civil war, democracy starts to look a lot better. (And, for what it’s worth, I think a proportional representation system with coalition governments who openly bargain and compromise is much better than FPTP.)

    mattyfez
    Full Member

    Very well put.

    kerley
    Free Member

    Maybe we need to split into regions that best suit how you think society should work so the votes and wants of one group of people do not affect others society.

    Over simplifying it for UK we could have a left, centre and right and you live where suits you best.

    As a tory hating person why should I have to put up with a tory government for ~70% of my life so far.

    Would be an interesting experiment as I would imagine those people who are ignorantly voting for a party (a lot of people) would soon find themselves wanting to move region.

    thols2
    Full Member

    As a tory hating person why should I have to put up with a tory government for ~70% of my life so far.

    Labour have not put forward candidates and policies that persuade enough people to vote for them. If you want that to change, join the Labour party and work towards having your ideas adopted as policies. I think that the Tories have been a disaster for the U.K., but turning against democracy is not going to improve things.

    supernova
    Full Member

    Democracy isn’t the problem, education is.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    Maybe we need to split into regions that best suit how you think society should work so the votes and wants of one group of people do not affect others society.

    Over simplifying it for UK we could have a left, centre and right and you live where suits you best.

    As a tory hating person why should I have to put up with a tory government for ~70% of my life so far.

    Would be an interesting experiment as I would imagine those people who are ignorantly voting for a party (a lot of people) would soon find themselves wanting to move region.

    Wasn’t that one of MTG’s more recent Brain farts?
    Basically Let the ‘Red states’ secede so they could go fully fascist on their own terms and all the LGBTQ and Brown people could just flee while Q loving Militia take over.

    It would be an “interesting experiment” in the same way as the Warsaw Ghetto was.

    It would be an “interesting experiment” in the same way as the Warsaw Ghetto was.

    Or you could visit Portland and see how the Blue States do business.

    For balance, of course.

    dazh
    Full Member

    Said it many times but representative democracy doesn’t work. It provides the illusion that voters hold the power when in reality it ensures they have very little. If giving voters power to decide what’s in their best interest is the goal, then how does giving elected representatives carte blanche to do what they like serve that aim? The answer is more direct involvement of voters in policy decisions and less freedom for MPs and their parties to make their own decisions.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    How can we reduce the influence wielded by the biased media?

    How do we stop entities like Cambridge Analytica from interfering with the electoral process?

    Comes back to my earlier point about money having undue influence.

    My own brain farts on the topic:

    The first thing that needs to happen is cutting the direct ties between politicians and the media. The point of interface is the appointed press officer, no writing ‘editorials’ or ‘opinion pieces’ or moonlighting on GBN. Media meddling comes under member’s interests IMO. Any MP found to have directly contacted a media representative outside of an interview or press conference arranged through their parties press officer(s) carries a big kicking in front of a select committee, a fine, suspension and a second offence is a removal from post offence. No more texting chums!

    And members interests (mostly financial) should attract a zero tolerance approach. They have a Job, they don’t need a second so no consulting or executive directorships on the side while in office.
    Shares owned should go into an independently audited trust to manage when they enter office (certainly if they become a minister) to ensure no undue influence and absolutely every contact, chum and association for both the MP and their spouse/partner needs to be reported.

    Comms should not be conducted via WhatsApp or texts, and certainly shouldn’t be deleted. And an FOI fast track should be setup (and staffed) specifically for government Comms requests so that scrutiny by press and public of the ‘mundane’ business of government is built in by default…

    I also think any MP leaving office should be prevented by law from holding certain jobs i.e. no becoming a director or member of a company board for at least a year. Write your memoirs instead.

    Flouting the rules should carry significant fines and potentially prison time.

    Basically it needs to be made such an embuggerance and the risk/reward calculation skewed so hard towards risk, that you might actually coax honest people with a desire to do good for their community into the commons rather than grifting old boys with the right school ties and a wives and wall paper habit to fund.

    Alongside all of that you’ll never kill the propaganda mills but press regulation needs actual teeth, headline lies once fact-checked and proven false need proportionately bigger retractions and apologies, run an unverified bit of bullshit the apologies need to get double the font size, and double the air time, with proportionately big fines to match.

    Websites and social media that serve up any sort of news need to have the facility for (independent) fact checking built in and that should come with a direct link to details and a ‘traffic light’ style marking (Green= factually correct, Amber= significant omissions or distortion of facts presented, Red= outright lies and bullshit).

    That last one is probably the hardest in many ways because it means imposing national rules on the veracity of content on foreign (mostly US) companies who have no real love of truth over profit. Of course a larger organisation, say some sort of ‘Union’ at the continental level, might have the clout to make such things stick, if only we were in such a club eh?

    Everything else is within the UK’s locus of control, but you’d never implement it, the people you’d need to do it are the corrupt bastards it’s targeting…

    kelvin
    Full Member

    When you’re elected and fail to enact the changes you’ve long promised are easy to achieve, the wheels fall off

    Or course… the smart populist changes the system to rig democracy in their favour (or in the extreme remove much of it completely), and make opposition and scrutiny more difficult… before the public get a chance to get wise.

    Or… push through your changes fast without too many further votes getting in the way… ideally in a way that’ll take decades to reverse… after which you’ll be long gone and have taken advantage for yourself, and perhaps your family.

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