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InvisibleFutureExPatriot
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Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 3
Loc: the capitalist state
What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1)
    #959712 - 10/14/02 02:48 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Nowadays, "democracy" rules the world. Communism has fallen, elections are happening more and more in those poor underdeveloped third world nations you see on television, and world leaders are meeting to plan the "global community" that we hear so much about. So why isn't everybody happy, finally? For that matter?why do less than half of the eligible voters in the United States, the world's flagship democracy, even bother to vote at all?

Could it be that "democracy," long the catch-word of every revolution and resistance, is simply not democratic enough? What could be more democratic?

Every little child can grow up to be President.

No they can't. Being president means holding a hierarchical position of power, just like being a billionaire: for every one president, there have to be millions of people with less power. And just as it is for billionaires, it is for presidents: it's not any coincidence that the two types tend to rub shoulders, since they both come from a privileged world off limits to the rest of us. Our economy isn't democratic, either, you know: resources are distributed in absurdly unequal proportions, and you certainly do have to start with resources to become President, or even to get your hands on more resources.

Even if it was true that anyone could grow up to be President, that wouldn't help the millions of us who inevitably don't, who must still live in the shadow of that power. This is an intrinsic structural difficulty in representative democracy, and it occurs on the local level as much as at the top. For example: the town council, consisting of professional politicians, can meet, discuss municipal affairs, and pass ordinances all day, without consulting the citizens of the town, who have to be at work; when one of those ordinances inconveniences or angers some of the citizens, they have to go to great lengths to use their free time to contest it, and then they're gone again the next time the town council meets. The citizens can elect a different town council from the available pool of politicians and would-be politicians, but the interests and powers of the class of politicians as a whole will still be in conflict with their own?and anyway, party loyalties and similar superstitions usually prevent them from taking even this step.

If there was no President, our "democracy" would still be less than democratic. Corruption, privilege, and hierarchy aside, our system purports to operate by majority rule, with the rights of the minorities protected by a system of checks and balances?and this method of government has inherent flaws of its own.

The tyranny of the majority

If you ever happened to end up in a vastly outnumbered minority group, and the majority voted that you must give up something as necessary to your life as water and air, would you comply? When it comes down to it, does anyone really believe in recognizing the authority of a group simply because they outnumber everyone else? We accept majority rule because we do not believe it will threaten us?and those it does threaten are already silenced before we can hear their misgivings.

No "average citizen" considers himself threatened by majority rule, because each one thinks of himself as having the power and righteous "moral authority" of the majority: if not in fact (by being so-called "normal" or "moderate"), then in theory, because his ideas are "right" (that is, he believes that everyone would be convinced of the truth of his arguments, if only they would listen sincerely). Majority-rule democracy has always rested on the conviction that if all the facts were clear, everyone could be made to see that there is only one right course of action?without this belief, it amounts to nothing more than the dictatorship of the herd. But such is not always the case?even if "the facts" could be made equally clear to everyone, which is obviously impossible, some things simply can't be agreed upon, for there is more than one truth. We need a democracy that takes these situations into account, in which we are free from the mob rule of the majority as well as the ascendancy of the privileged class. . .

"The Rule of Law"

. . .and the protection afforded by the "checks and balances" of our legal institution is not sufficient to establish it. The "rule of just and equal law," as fetishized today by those whose interests it protects (the stockbrokers and landlords, for example), does not protect anyone from chaos or injustice; it simply creates another arena of specialization, in which the power of our communities is ceded to the jurisdiction of expensive lawyers and pompous judges. The rights of the minorities are the very last thing to be protected by these checks and balances, since power is already reserved for those with the privilege to seize it, and then for the lumpen majority after them. Under these conditions, a minority group is only able to use the courts to obtain its rights when it is able to bring sufficient force upon them in the form of financial clout, guileful rhetoric, etc.

There is no way to establish justice in a society through the mere drawing up and enforcement of laws: such laws can only institutionalize what is already the rule in that society. Common sense and compassion are always preferable to adherence to a strict and antiquated table of law, anyway, and where the law is the private province of a curator elite, these inevitably end up in conflict; what we really need is a social system which fosters such qualities in its members, and rewards them in practice. To create such a thing, we must leave representative "democracy" for fully participatory democracy.

It's no coincidence "freedom" is not on the ballot.

Freedom is not a condition?it is something closer to a sensation. It's not a concept to pledge allegiance to, a cause to serve, or a standard to march under; it is an experience you must live every day, or else it will escape you. It is not freedom in action when the flags are flying and the bombs are dropping to "make the world safe for democracy," no matter what color the flags are (even black!); freedom cannot be caught and held in any state system or philosophical doctrine, and it certainly cannot be enforced or "given" to others?the most you can hope is to free others from forces preventing them from finding it themselves. It appears in fragile moments: in the make-believe of young children, the cooperation of friends on a camping trip, the workers who refuse to follow the union's orders and instead organize their own strike without leaders. If we are to be real freedom fighters, we must begin by pledging ourselves to chase and cherish these moments and seek to expand them, rather than getting caught up in serving some party or ideology.

Real freedom cannot be held on a voting ballot. Freedom doesn't mean simply being able to choose between options?it means actively participating in shaping the options in the first place, creating and re-creating the environments in which options exist. Without this, we have nothing, for given the same options in the same situations over and over, we'll always make the same pre-determined decisions. If the context is out of our hands, so is the choice itself. And when it comes to taking power over the circumstances of our lives, no one can "represent" us?it's something we have to do ourselves.

"Look, a ballot box?democracy!!"

If the freedom so many generations have fought and died for is best exemplified by a man in a voting booth, who checks a box on the ballot before returning to work in an environment no more under his control than it was an hour before, then the heritage our emancipating forefathers and suffragette grandmothers have left us is nothing but a sham substitute for the true liberty they lusted after.

For a better illustration of real freedom in action, look at the musician in the act of improvising with her companions: in joyous, seemingly effortless cooperation, they actively create the sonic and emotional environment in which they exist, participating thus in the transformation of the world which in turn transforms them. Take this model and extend it to every one of our interactions with each other, and you would have something qualitatively different from our present system: a harmony in human relationships and activity, a real democracy. To get there, we have to dispense with voting as the archetypal expression of freedom and participation.

Representative democracy is a contradiction in terms.

No one can represent your power and interests for you?you can only have power by acting, and you can only know what your interests are by being involved. Politicians have made careers out of claiming to represent others, as if freedom and political power could be held by proxy. Now, inevitably, they have become a priest caste that answers only to itself?as politician classes have always been, and will always be.

Voting is an expression of our powerlessness: it is an admission that we can only approach the resources and capabilities of our own society through the mediation of that priest caste. When we let them prefabricate our options for us, we relinquish control of our communities to these politicians in the same way that we leave technology to scientists, health to doctors, living environments to city planners and private real estate developers; we end up living in a world that is alien to us, even though our labor has built it, for we have acted like sleepwalkers hypnotized by the monopoly our leaders and specialists hold on setting the possibilities.

The fact is we don't have to simply choose between presidential candidates, soft drink brands, competing activist organizations, television shows, news magazines, political ideologies. We can make our own decisions as individuals and communities, we can make our own delicious beverages and action coalitions and magazines and entertainment, we can create our own individual approaches to life that leave our unique perspectives intact.


--------------------
We told truths to each other no one had dared tell before.

When we fight, we're fighting for our lives.


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OfflinePhred
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Registered: 10/19/00
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy? [Re: FutureExPatriot]
    #959968 - 10/14/02 04:31 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Who wrote that essay? Parts of it are correct, lots of it are wrong. I'm a bit short on time at the moment, so I'll just cherrypick a few points for now --

Every little child can grow up to be President.

No they can't. Being president means holding a hierarchical position of power, just like being a billionaire: for every one president, there have to be millions of people with less power.


This is just sophistry... a cheap rhetorical trick with no relevance to anything. No one has ever said every child can be president, they say any child can.

"The Rule of Law"

. . .and the protection afforded by the "checks and balances" of our legal institution is not sufficient to establish it. The "rule of just and equal law," as fetishized today by those whose interests it protects (the stockbrokers and landlords, for example), does not protect anyone from chaos or injustice; it simply creates another arena of specialization, in which the power of our communities is ceded to the jurisdiction of expensive lawyers and pompous judges.


That doesn't mean that the concept of objective law is invalid. It merely means that many of the laws in existence today have no justification. A framework of objective laws applying equally to every individual may not be perfect every time in every situation, but it is superior to any other alternative.

The rights of the minorities are the very last thing to be protected by these checks and balances, since power is already reserved for those with the privilege to seize it, and then for the lumpen majority after them. Under these conditions, a minority group is only able to use the courts to obtain its rights when it is able to bring sufficient force upon them in the form of financial clout, guileful rhetoric, etc.

There is no such thing as "group rights", only individual rights. An individual neither gains news rights nor forfeits existing ones through his association with other individuals. Just as it is wrong for the biggest gang (the majority) to vote themselves extra privlieges, so it is equally wrong for smaller gangs to extort extra privileges.

Note that the smallest minority in the world is an individual.

There is no way to establish justice in a society through the mere drawing up and enforcement of laws: such laws can only institutionalize what is already the rule in that society.

Untrue. It is possible to establish objectively correct and moral laws. It is not a particularly easy task, and historically some societies have done better at it than others, but it is by no means impossible.

Common sense and compassion are always preferable to adherence to a strict and antiquated table of law....

Well, duh! The legal system is in place for those situations when that which is "preferable" doesn't occur.

To create such a thing, we must leave representative "democracy" for fully participatory democracy.

Why must we do that? To force people to create "a social system which fosters such qualities in its members, and rewards them in practice"? Sorry, that is not a sufficient reason to initiate force.

Freedom is not a condition?it is something closer to a sensation... blah blah blah

This is the worst part of this article. The author either has no real concept of a very simple term or is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of those who do. Freedom is pretty simple to understand -- it is that condition wherein individuals are not prevented from acting as they choose.

...freedom cannot be caught and held in any state system or philosophical doctrine, and it certainly cannot be enforced or "given" to others...

Actually, yes it can. All that is necessary to give freedom to others is to leave them alone. Freedom is enforced by restricting the actions of those who interfere forcibly with others.

It appears in fragile moments ... the cooperation of friends on a camping trip...

It is not necessary to cooperate in order to be free.

... the workers who refuse to follow the union's orders and instead organize their own strike without leaders.

It is not necessary to organize in order to be free.

Freedom ... means actively participating in shaping the options in the first place, creating and re-creating the environments in which options exist.

No it doesn't. That is what fighters for freedom do. In a free society it is not necessary to participate in anything -- be it shaping, creating, or re-creating -- if you choose not to.

... given the same options in the same situations over and over, we'll always make the same pre-determined decisions.

Who you calling "we," paleface?

If the freedom so many generations have fought and died for is best exemplified by a man in a voting booth...

But it's not best exemplified by a man in a voting booth.

For a better illustration of real freedom in action, look at the musician in the act of improvising with her companions: in joyous, seemingly effortless cooperation, they actively create the sonic and emotional environment in which they exist, participating thus in the transformation of the world which in turn transforms them.

Once again, the collectivist agenda of the author reveals itself. Note how every single example of the author's concept of "freedom" involves groups rather than individuals.

Representative democracy is a contradiction in terms.

No one can represent your power and interests for you?you can only have power by acting, and you can only know what your interests are by being involved.


Involved in what? Presumably the author means the political arena. One does need need to be involved in politics to know what one's interests are.

That'll do for now.

pinky


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Offlinefrogsheath
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy? [Re: Phred]
    #971059 - 10/18/02 01:39 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

To create such a thing, we must leave representative "democracy" for fully participatory democracy.

Why must we do that? To force people to create "a social system which fosters such qualities in its members, and rewards them in practice"? Sorry, that is not a sufficient reason to initiate force.

Pinky, What's wrong with that idea? I like it.


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Offlinefrogsheath
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy? [Re: frogsheath]
    #972240 - 10/18/02 02:44 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Granted it can't be implemented all at once, but as an idea it merits considering how it might be done gradually --through the passing of new legislation making democracy more participatory and less representative (using the internet and computer technology perhaps). Why not?


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OfflinePhluck
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy? [Re: Phred]
    #972296 - 10/18/02 03:03 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

pinksharkmark, well said, for the most part.


--------------------
"I have no valid complaint against hustlers. No rational bitch. But the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes." -Hunter S Thompson
http://phluck.is-after.us


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OfflinePhluck
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: FutureExPatriot]
    #972299 - 10/18/02 03:05 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

The general jist of this thing is:
"I don't like democracy because usually I'm right and everyone else is wrong."


--------------------
"I have no valid complaint against hustlers. No rational bitch. But the act of selling is repulsive to me. I harbor a secret urge to whack a salesman in the face, crack his teeth and put red bumps around his eyes." -Hunter S Thompson
http://phluck.is-after.us


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InvisibleXlea321
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: FutureExPatriot]
    #972376 - 10/18/02 03:41 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Nah, I don't buy that propaganda about communism has failed because russia is in economic difficulty. First thing is russia wasn't communist (how can dictatorship by one man be considered communist?) Second thing is economically it was never going to compare to the US simply because it started from a completly different point, had an entirely different set of circumstances and bore the brunt of the most devastating war in human history.

When you compare russian economic performance "like with like" to places where American capitalism has run riot - Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, etc you'll actually find that Russia compares very well. If you look at any country in south america I think you could easily reach the conclusion that free market capitalism is a miserable failure. Or places like Indonesia which has diligently followed "free market" world bank philosophies for the last 20 years and suffered a catastrophic economic collapse.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


Edited by Alex123 (10/18/02 03:43 PM)


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InvisibleEvolving
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Registered: 10/01/02
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: Xlea321]
    #972735 - 10/18/02 06:06 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

In reply to:

Nah, I don't buy that propaganda about communism has failed because russia is in economic difficulty



Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... another ignorant communist apologist. Propoganda? History is more like it. I love you guys, "We can't say communism doesn't work because it's never really been tried." How many more people have to be enslaved to the collective, how many more lives have to be ruined by forced egalitarianism before you idiots realize that utopia means "no place." Communism is a simpleton's concept of utopia based on flawed assumptions about human nature.

In reply to:

If you look at any country in south america I think you could easily reach the conclusion that free market capitalism is a miserable failure. Or places like Indonesia which has diligently followed "free market" world bank philosophies for the last 20 years and suffered a catastrophic economic collapse.



MORE DRIVEL! How the hell can you consider any of these economies true free markets? The World Bank is not a free market institution, it's underwritten by GOVERNMENTS, so the taxpayers take all the risks while the operators of the world bank can get all the benefits. This is not a true free market institution. In a free market, bankers would have to loan at their own risk, not count on bailouts from government connections.


--------------------
To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.


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InvisibleLallafa
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: Evolving]
    #972813 - 10/18/02 06:46 PM (14 years, 1 month ago)

the failure of the soviet union did not signify the failure of communism, rather the failure of the revolution to spread, especially in its immediate aftermath to germany.

stalinism (what people refer to as communism) was not the inevitable outcome of the revolution, it was the outcome of counterrevolution.

stalin's purges were not aimed at purging away capitalism, but purging the Left Opposition

evolving, give us a history on the Left Opposition and its program, since you know so much about "communism".

if you ever care to have a non-rightwing learning experience, read:
http://csf.colorado.edu/psn/marx/Other/Trotsky/Archive/1936-Rev/

"Communism is a simpleton's concept of utopia based on flawed assumptions about human nature."

human nature huh.

an equally "flawed assumption" is that mankind has reach its highest social order, in the form of the so-called "free market"

you are quick to call anyone who doesnt think like you an idiot, let me be the first to say that it makes you look that much more intelligent

and this is coming from someone who claimed hitler was a socialist


--------------------
my tax dollars going to more hits of acid for charles manson


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InvisibleXlea321
Stranger
Registered: 02/26/01
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Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: Lallafa]
    #973697 - 10/19/02 02:01 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

Good points Lallafa.

I wouldn't waste too much time on this evolving tard tho.


--------------------
Don't worry, B. Caapi


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InvisibleEvolving
Resident Cynic

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 5,385
Loc: Apt #6, The Village
Re: What Could There Possibly be Beyond Democracy?(P1) [Re: Lallafa]
    #974115 - 10/19/02 05:10 AM (14 years, 1 month ago)

In reply to:

the failure of the soviet union did not signify the failure of communism, rather the failure of the revolution to spread, especially in its immediate aftermath to germany.



Huh? You going to have to be a little more vague, your attempted misdirection explains nothing.

In reply to:

stalinism (what people refer to as communism) was not the inevitable outcome of the revolution, it was the outcome of counterrevolution.

stalin's purges were not aimed at purging away capitalism, but purging the Left Opposition



So... utopian, romantic ideas run into the wall of reality. To me, that means failure. In order to implement communism, it must be FORCED upon people. It REQUIRES a dictatorship. It REQUIRES men with guns to take from those who will not cooperate. Is it any wonder that once this power is available, one individual or faction will be seduced by holding it and desire to consolidate and expand it?

In reply to:

human nature huh.

an equally "flawed assumption" is that mankind has reach its highest social order, in the form of the so-called "free market"



Who has made this assumption? Not I. My studied opinion is that utopia is not an option, that it is arrogant and self deluding to assume that any individual or group knows how to properly control or direct a society consisting of a multitude of unique individuals with unique needs, talents and desires.


--------------------
To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.


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