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Is Democracy the solution to all problems?

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With the US forcing "Democracy" down everyone's throat, I'm forced to think, is democracy really the solution to everyone's problems? Actually, is it the solution for every country? A few case studies:

1. Iraq: Under Saddam Hussein's "Dictatorship", the country was actually running, there were relatively no suicide bombs, and the economy was actually stable.

2. Pakistan: Under the new democratic rule, the economy has tumbled down, bombings are on the rise. The economy has deprecated because they've allowed for a corrupt democratic government to me elected.

3. Afghanistan: Yes, this is an exception to the rule, the Afghans do have a better quality of life under Hamid Karzai but then again he is an American puppet.

4. Singapore, all the PMs are from the same family, which technically doesn't make it a democracy. It's a flourishing country.

Anyway by my observation, democracy works, yes, in the West. That does NOT mean that democracy must be forced upon everyone.

Thoughts?

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The fact that a two party state considers itself a democracy is rather ridiculous.

Despite this, I would argue that democracy of any sort is innately and irreparably flawed because it grants a right without a responsibility. The right is the right to an equal say as anyone else in the country, and the responsibility should be, but is not, the responsibility to be able to make informed and rational choices. Proportional representation attempts to fix the problem by allowing people to vote for more competent representatives, but the innate incompetence of a good portion of the population allows incompetent representatives to be elected. Now, you could make the counterclaim that I'm being way too harsh against the majority, so the onus would be on me to cite evidence to prove this point. Instead of listing the obvious issues involving the current presidential debate, the public's misconceptions on the Iraq war, the fact that the least competent half can rule the most competent half of the population, etc, I'm just going to post a question. Would you honestly trust that a random stranger would, by virtue of being a citizen of any developed nation, be able to make an informed, moral, and rational decision, without being afflicted by apathy, fallacies in media or other means, or self interest generated by the promise of immediate gratification at the most likely concealed expense of the future?

Anyways, my own solution to the problem would be to create a oligarchical dictatorship led by a group of philosophers, scientists and moralists. The authoritarian/libertarian, or the left/right position would be irrelevant, provided the most competent people were making the decisions. Basically, there is a reason Socrates/Plato suggested that a philosopher king lead a group of people, and there is also a reason that the man who first put a name to democracy did so while declaring that it was a flawed and dysfunctional system. The reason democracies of the day are successful is because in reality, they are oligarchies of representatives based on constitutions and principles established by some men who weren't so bad. The major benefit to making people think they have a say in things while only giving them a limited degree of influence is that it works to increase nationalism, (In a good way, not the expansionist type of nationalism, though that does happen as well) because it defines the country as being the people's country.

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Yes, REAL democracy is the solution to most problems, I think. But that kind is rarely ever observed (and DEFINITELY not in America let alone any of the countries it supposedly liberates), because in our modern society such an approach would be too ineffiecient. I think the closest version of real democracy that has ever existed would be tribalism, which is how indigenous peoples historically have usually operated.

From this, it would logically follow that tribalism is the best solution for all our problems, and in order for that to happen modern society needs to go to hell. :)

In the words of Noam Chomsky:

Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on grounds that private vices yield public benefits in the classic formulation.

Now it's long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist—with whatever suffering and injustice it entails—as long as it's possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can.

At this stage of history either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community issues guided by values of solidarity, sympathy, and concern for others; or, alternatively, there will be no destiny for anyone to control.

As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now, that means the global community.

The question is whether privileged elites should dominate mass communication, and should use this power as they tell us they must – namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the "stupid majority" and remove them from the public arena. The question in brief is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved, or threats to be avoided.

In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured, they may well be essential to survival.

Edited by Mr. Shiver

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Well, a common criticism of that statement is that despite the assertion that it is unwise to allow any portion of the public to rule, the claim is made that if the portion is greater than half of the population, it suddenly becomes justified. This contradiction can only be fixed by the assertion that the portion of the population that must rule will be exactly one hundred percent of the population. This is because if half of the population makes an assertion that is morally wrong, and ten percent would have disagreed with that assertion, then it is obvious that the ten percent would have been more fit to rule by authority in that case. If there is a complete consensus, then the argument cannot be made that a given minority would have been better able to make decisions, and therefore Chomsky's argument only stands if democracy is redefined to be a rule by complete consensus instead of a class comprising of slightly more than half of the population. In a tribal situation, ruling by consensus is not far fetched in any way, but to do so in a huge society would not be feasible. A democracy is not an appropriate approximation of a consensus-based system.

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Well, a common criticism of that statement is that despite the assertion that it is unwise to allow any portion of the public to rule, the claim is made that if the portion is greater than half of the population, it suddenly becomes justified. This contradiction can only be fixed by the assertion that the portion of the population that must rule will be exactly one hundred percent of the population.

I think you misunderstand the argument, and this isn't entirely your fault since the context of Chomsky's words here isn't immediately apparent. It is not claimed by Chomsky to be unwise for "a portion of the public" to rule, since majority rule is still considered democratic if it has been democratically obtained. So there's no contradiction. What is considered unjust and thus unwise is when the upper class is given a monopoly on popular opinion through the use of corporate media and propaganda. For the interests of the community to be determined using democratic principles, popular opinion cannot be controlled by a privileged few. Otherwise it's not democratic.

This is because if half of the population makes an assertion that is morally wrong, and ten percent would have disagreed with that assertion, then it is obvious that the ten percent would have been more fit to rule by authority in that case.

This is an entirely hypothetical argument, which in any case I can't really see happening in real life without some sort of propaganda influencing the decision of this majority.

If there is a complete consensus, then the argument cannot be made that a given minority would have been better able to make decisions, and therefore Chomsky's argument only stands if democracy is redefined to be a rule by complete consensus instead of a class comprising of slightly more than half of the population.

I think this line of thought loses its validity after considering the above clarifications. But either way, you based your reasoning on a hypothetical argument, whereas the necessity for democracy has been proposed in lieu of millenia of elite rule (dating back to the first proposals of such a model by Plato), on the grounds that it hasn't been successful in dealing with contemporary problems in a just and sustainable manner.

In a tribal situation, ruling by consensus is not far fetched in any way, but to do so in a huge society would not be feasible.

I was sort of joking about a reversion to tribalism. But only sort of. Because I'm of the belief that decades down the road the state of the world will be so bad that there may well be a fundamental change in the way we as a human species think about our role in it. And I hope that when that happens, it will involve a return to some of the more "pre-modern" (i.e. before the agricultural revolution) attitudes, so to speak.

A democracy is not an appropriate approximation of a consensus-based system.

As I mentioned before, it doesn't have to be.

Edited by Mr. Shiver

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Your points all seem to rely on the assumption that in general, people will do things that are moral and just. I think that there is enough injustice and immorality going around to make questioning that assumption necessary.

Chomsky makes the assertion that a privileged elite will use their power to dictate society and they will do so in such a way as to favor themselves, and I won't deny that, but I would return the assertion that a majority would be likely to use their power to favor themselves above others in such a way as to be immoral and unjustified in their actions. You stated earlier that the majority would only be wrong with "some sort of propaganda influencing the decision of this majority." That is a serious knowledge claim on human nature, and should not be presented without evidence, especially considering the horrible things humans have been capable of.

In any case, true democracy relies on a moral and just majority in order to be free of minority persecution, disregard for the environment, aggressive nationalism, and would have problems making decisions that may have undesirable short term consequences. Right now, we rely on constitutions, worldwide councils (The UN), and appointed senates to serve as a wall between potential minority oppression. A true democracy would give the people complete ability to persecute minorities, which is a power that should not be held by any group of people.

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Your points all seem to rely on the assumption that in general, people will do things that are moral and just. I think that there is enough injustice and immorality going around to make questioning that assumption necessary.

I would argue, as Chomsky does, that the source of most injustice and immorality is a result of the private control over resources, not any innate greed of human beings since I believe we are conditioned to be greedy. Power corrupts, and so in order to avoid corruption, power--including the outlets for communication of information--must necessarily be shared by everyone. Unless that happens, there will continue to be rampant injustice and immorality largely as a result of compliance with authoritative pressures.

Chomsky makes the assertion that a privileged elite will use their power to dictate society and they will do so in such a way as to favor themselves, and I won't deny that, but I would return the assertion that a majority would be likely to use their power to favor themselves above others in such a way as to be immoral and unjustified in their actions.

Explain this. How would the majority use power in a way that would favour themselves unjustfiably? Against whom would this majority use power in an unjustified way? Because the way I see it, there are constitutional rights and freedoms to prevent that sort of thing from happening, and these are a lot harder to outright abolish democratically than you might think they are.

You stated earlier that the majority would only be wrong with "some sort of propaganda influencing the decision of this majority." That is a serious knowledge claim on human nature, and should not be presented without evidence, especially considering the horrible things humans have been capable of.

I didn't mean the majority would be wrong with the influence of propaganda. That would imply that immoral decisions made without the influence of propaganda would be justifiable. I meant they would only make immoral decisions because of the influence of propaganda. Otherwise I simply can't see how or why the majority would want to make an immoral decision. Perhaps you could help me out with that.

So you want evidence. Well, evidence would be pretty hard to find to support an explanation for this hypothetical case, because as we can both agree, true democracy has seldom if ever been observed in modern civilization. But I guess an example of a current democracy would suffice for the purposes of a knowledge claim.

Let's look at the US (because it's an example I'm fairly familiar with), where patriotism is the easiest type of propaganda to use. If you criticize the activities of the government, guess what? You hate America!

You want specific examples. Well, I think foreign military affairs is a good example of an area in which a lot of immorality takes place. Take just about every war that America has been involved in since WWII. Anti-socialism became a huge ruse for getting detrimentally involved in Vietnam, and while it was widely protested towards the end, in the beginning it was allowed to happen with little opposition because of the red scare.

Central America involvement during the 1980s, particularly the CIA's training of the Nicaraguan Contra forces, was faced with so much opposition that the US Government had to continue its operations underground, thus effectively removing the majority from the decision making process. During these underground operations the CIA oversaw the drug trafficking of cocaine from Nicaragua into America (profits sent back to the Contras so that they could buy weapons), which was then processed into crack cocaine in Los Angeles and other cities, creating the biggest crack epidemic to ever hit black communities. And America claims to be fighting a war on drugs! When this story was reported in 1996, the journalist, Gary Webb, was absolutely destroyed by the mass media who accused him of his integrity and handling of the story (baseless accusations, as I understand them to have been), all of which were efforts to suppress the story because it gave people a glimpse of some of the horrible stuff their government is involved in. Less than a decade later, he committed suicide because he couldn't find a job and was about to move out of his home. Maybe this isn't defined as "propaganda", but I would certainly call it concentrated media efforts to control public opinion on an issue that is clearly immoral.

Afghanistan's another one. During the 1970s/1980s, the Soviets invaded. The CIA trained Afghan soldiers to fight back and eventually they won. Then, when the Soviets left, the country fell into complete civil chaos and ended up in ruins. America also left, because they had no more interest there. After being abandoned like that, it's no wonder that some Afghans were bitter enough to organize the 9/11 attacks. But guess what? The attacks gave America a perfect excuse to go back to war, now against the very Afghans they had trained. "The War on Terrorism", if you think about it, is quite the paradox, because how could America be fighting a war against terrorism by they themselves committing terrorism against the Afghan people?

Another example? Look at the Iraq War. "Weapons of mass destruction"? "Liberating the Iraqi people"? "Rebuilding the country and giving it democracy"? "An act of God's will"? Give me a break.

Almost half of the US budget is spent on the military, and in order to prevent resistance to these spending policies, there needs to always be an enemy to keep the American people in war fever in some fashion. Otherwise their war activities would be met with resistance and they would have to be done underground, which is a lot more difficult to do.

In any case, true democracy relies on a moral and just majority in order to be free of minority persecution, disregard for the environment, aggressive nationalism, and would have problems making decisions that may have undesirable short term consequences.

Yes, and I think the majority of people are good by nature. I don't deny that there are some really screwed up people in this world, and some even more screwed up institutions, but like I said before I blame this on a system that is founded upon the private control over resources instead of being founded upon the principle of limited competition. I subscribe, roughly speaking, to the "man is bringing us down" theory. :)

Right now, we rely on constitutions, worldwide councils (The UN), and appointed senates to serve as a wall between potential minority oppression. A true democracy would give the people complete ability to persecute minorities, which is a power that should not be held by any group of people.

Please explain to me why true democracies would be free from constitutional rights and freedoms.

Edited by Mr. Shiver

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I would argue, as Chomsky does, that the source of most injustice and immorality is a result of the private control over resources, not any innate greed of human beings since I believe we are conditioned to be greedy. Power corrupts, and so in order to avoid corruption, power--including the outlets for communication of information--must necessarily be shared by everyone. Unless that happens, there will continue to be rampant injustice and immorality largely as a result of compliance with authoritative pressures.

I've no doubt that authoritative pressures of our time instill negative values in people. However, making the assumption that this is the only reason for these negative traits is not a rational way of coming to a conclusion. The assertion that power corrupts is also flawed, because it could be said that corrupt people actively seek power, whereas those who are not corrupt have a smaller tendency to do so. In Soviet Russia, Stalin was corrupt long before he came in to power, and his corruption and lack of scruples was largely the reason he ended up as the dictator of the Soviet Union. In the United States, you pretty much have to be a member of some elite group to even have the chance of getting power, so it is obvious that the corruption comes before the election. The same would be true for leaders like Hitler and Mussolini, and most likely quite a few other leaders. I could also show several instances in which good people have gained power and used it well, but I'm sure it goes without saying that in the past there have been instances in which power has not corrupted certain people. Anyways, the statement that power always corrupts cannot be proven, and I would go so far as to suggest that corrupt people seek power more often than people in power go mad with it. You may make the argument that in feudal times, power corrupted kings and other leaders, but the fact remains that with all of the takeovers and revolutions, many people gained power through violence or foul play who would never have held it otherwise. Plato's line of thought coincides with this one with his assertion that a philosopher king would not be a good leader unless he did not want power, but that he would accept power due to necessity.

Explain this. How would the majority use power in a way that would favour themselves unjustfiably? Against whom would this majority use power in an unjustified way? Because the way I see it, there are constitutional rights and freedoms to prevent that sort of thing from happening, and these are a lot harder to outright abolish democratically than you might think they are.

Constitutional rights and freedoms would have no bearing on a society that is purely self-determined. A constitution would cause a democratic state to become undemocratic, because the people would lose the right to determine their own laws and principles, their own political doctrines, etc. The current issue with proposition eight is proof that when the majority is given the power to make constitutional changes, then the danger of minority persecution is very real. In simple terms, the majority must have absolute power to make any changes, or it is not a true democracy. If the majority has absolute power, the minorities have absolutely no power at all.

I didn't mean the majority would be wrong with the influence of propaganda. That would imply that immoral decisions made without the influence of propaganda would be justifiable. I meant they would only make immoral decisions because of the influence of propaganda. Otherwise I simply can't see how or why the majority would want to make an immoral decision. Perhaps you could help me out with that.

The majority make immoral decisions all of the time, and to blame that on evil rich people seems to be a rather weak statement. In the USA, there had to be a war in order to end slavery, and it is apparent that the majority in the south was fine with having African slaves, in fact, many of them died for it. Go back 50 years in the states and you'll see countless examples of unpunished hate crimes against a minority race.

One example of a majority persecuting a minority would be in the South African general election of 1948, in which the coalition that formed the National party won a majority government by almost exactly half of the votes. It then set up the severely racist and immoral Apartheid system, which lasted for almost 50 years. Under this system, interracial marriages were banned, black trade unions were banned, and policies and practices of institutionalized racism and white domination were adopted. Effectively, the minority lost most of its rights and freedoms to the majority. Now, you could try to blame this on the media and its influence, but the fact that the party won on no uncertain terms (It didn't lie about its policies) should show that the majority was very willing to vote for the obviously immoral oppression of another group.

That in itself should be some evidence, though for fear of getting too long winded I'll leave it at that.

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I'm with Plato. People choose democracy in exactly the same way that women choose multi-coloured dresses.

I think it's quite simple, to be honest. Certain cultures just don't do democracy. Societies and values exist in different ways all around the world. Even very, very similar democracies (one is based on the other!) like the USA and the UK have massive divides-- such as the fact that in the USA everybody wants to be dependent of the government and free to live as they choose, and in the UK most people mourn any loss of the true welfare state like they've been stabbed (which, if they live in London, they may have). It's not because in the UK everybody is born with a natural disposition to give their money away to the poor, or in the USA everybody is born so free and independent that it is below them to even take milk from their mothers without a pang of lost rights. Take away the annoying voices (just joking, I think american people are lovely, even if they do talk through their noses) and an american often = an englishman.

We all grew up with democracy, it's been around for ages, and the values of our families and our societies gel with it like brillo. We all think it's the best thing since sliced bread because for us it works perfectly. I guess that the lesson we must take from a lot of the examples you came up with is that certain groups of people just don't tolerate it well, and not because they're messed up epitomes of anarchy. A staunch texan may well rather shoot me than let me take his ridiculously dangerous gun off him. Which sums up quite nicely the general state of the world, I think.

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I've no doubt that authoritative pressures of our time instill negative values in people. However, making the assumption that this is the only reason for these negative traits is not a rational way of coming to a conclusion.

I didn't say it was the only reason, I said "largely". But anyway, the Milgram experiment was instrumental in supporting this notion.

The assertion that power corrupts is also flawed, because it could be said that corrupt people actively seek power, whereas those who are not corrupt have a smaller tendency to do so. In Soviet Russia, Stalin was corrupt long before he came in to power, and his corruption and lack of scruples was largely the reason he ended up as the dictator of the Soviet Union. In the United States, you pretty much have to be a member of some elite group to even have the chance of getting power, so it is obvious that the corruption comes before the election. The same would be true for leaders like Hitler and Mussolini, and most likely quite a few other leaders. I could also show several instances in which good people have gained power and used it well, but I'm sure it goes without saying that in the past there have been instances in which power has not corrupted certain people. Anyways, the statement that power always corrupts cannot be proven, and I would go so far as to suggest that corrupt people seek power more often than people in power go mad with it.

Perhaps the notions "power corrupts" and "corrupt people usurp power" are not mutually exclusive. I would argue that while Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini were all somewhat corrupt to begin with, only by attaining power was this corruption able to be fully realized and exercised. I would also bring up corporations as a testament to the extent to which individuals will become corrupt in the process of seeking power (in the form of profit) given a system that encourages unrestrained growth.

"Power corrupts" can mean "power always corrupts" or "power tends to corrupt". I intended the latter. And for corruption to occur there doesn't have to have been an absence of corruption before that. The tendency for power to corrupt can be supported historically, and so too can the tendency for corrupt people to usurp power. I think we can both agree that in many cases personal corruption leads to the usurping of power which further leads to more corruption. I suppose where we're in disagreement here is that you believe that the initial personal corruption can be explained as an innate feature that has been actualized, whereas I believe that that personal corruption is due to the conditioning of a society that is based upon the principle of "individual material gain".

Yes, power doesn't always corrupt. But given power, corrupt people will use it corruptly. Therefore, I believe power should be shared among everyone, because I am skeptical of the notion that a majority would willingly display immoral or unjust behaviour provided that constitutional rights are observed and that propaganda does not significantly influence the decision-making process.

You may make the argument that in feudal times, power corrupted kings and other leaders, but the fact remains that with all of the takeovers and revolutions, many people gained power through violence or foul play who would never have held it otherwise. Plato's line of thought coincides with this one with his assertion that a philosopher king would not be a good leader unless he did not want power, but that he would accept power due to necessity.

It's an interesting notion, but in modern day society I don't think anyone would accept the role of a political leader without having some desire to do so.

I do believe there is a such thing as a benevolent dictator, or a group of them, but I don't believe such individuals would have a legitimate claim to power without the consent of the people they are governing. I don't think that such support would be very elusive at all if the dictator really was doing positive things for the country, although I must concede that such a model would probably have to involve a certain degree of propaganda, as well as suppression of opposition, to derive consent. I think Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, is a fairly good example of an authoritative ruler who has done a lot for impoverished Venezuelans and still gets popular democratic support. It's not my preferred model, but if it's just and sustainable then I suppose I can accept it.

For countries with a much greater global influence, however, I'd still stick with Chomsky's notions of democracy as the goals to work towards, even if expecting them to be achieved anytime soon is wishful thinking.

Constitutional rights and freedoms would have no bearing on a society that is purely self-determined. A constitution would cause a democratic state to become undemocratic, because the people would lose the right to determine their own laws and principles, their own political doctrines, etc.

I don't agree with this. I think democracy as a political system can still be considered societally regulated with basic constitutional rights and freedoms in place--in fact I would even go so far as to say that the absence these constitutional rights and freedoms goes against essential democratic principles. I'm not sure whether I would prefer those rights and freedoms being changed only by a rigorous process of approval which would elude a mere majority (for example, Canada's amending formula requires the approval of two-thirds of the provincial governments in addition to the majority) or whether a majority would suffice. But I think that would depend on the scope of the governing body.

The current issue with proposition eight is proof that when the majority is given the power to make constitutional changes, then the danger of minority persecution is very real.

Proposition eight does not entail persecution of minorities, because it does not prevent a same sex-couple from being together. You made a compelling case in the other thread about how the right of people to marry should not be taken away. But the issue here is whether the legal benefits of marriage can even be considered a universal right, and this further boils down to the definition of marriage. As such, I don't consider this a question of morality but a question of societal values. While I personally believe that since marriage is a civil institution the scope of its role as a civil right should be nothing short of universal, I recognize that many people believe otherwise, and given the nature of the legal concept of marriage, I don't see this as being a moral threat posed by democracy. Just an unfortunate reminder of how far we are from freeing ourselves of religious dogma. And in any case, the bill looks like it's receiving more opposition than support.

In simple terms, the majority must have absolute power to make any changes, or it is not a true democracy. If the majority has absolute power, the minorities have absolutely no power at all.

You're portraying democracy as a system that must be free from rules in order for it to be considered democratic. However, I think this definition is rather paradoxical, similar to someone attempting to make an objective claim that "all truth is relative". For a democracy to function properly it has to operate on certain rules, as far as I can see. Now I don't know all the different manifestations of democracy by different countries, but I do suspect that for most of them these rules are given by a constitution. When this constitution is entrenched in the governing body, then it should restrict power systematically, and give a structure to the system.

Where I really see room for improvement is not so much the democratic structure (although this also has merits), but the dissemination of information that would better allow the government to react to the interests of its people rather than vice-versa. While I realize that addressing this issue is much easier said than done, I believe it solves the problem of majoritarian rule because it promotes pluralism rather than mob mentality.

The majority make immoral decisions all of the time, and to blame that on evil rich people seems to be a rather weak statement.

Not the "evil rich people", but a system giving rise to a status quo that allows them to flourish at the expense of others (especially when it comes to foreign affairs).

In the USA, there had to be a war in order to end slavery, and it is apparent that the majority in the south was fine with having African slaves, in fact, many of them died for it. Go back 50 years in the states and you'll see countless examples of unpunished hate crimes against a minority race.

This can be explained just as plausibly, I think, by the fact that African-Americans initially had no constitutional rights and have since had to struggle long and hard for them. You bring up a good point, though. Without a sense of "empathy, solidarity, and concern for others", democracy can't flourish. And social Darwinism is constantly in conflict with these ideals.

One example of a majority persecuting a minority would be in the South African general election of 1948, in which the coalition that formed the National party won a majority government by almost exactly half of the votes. It then set up the severely racist and immoral Apartheid system, which lasted for almost 50 years. Under this system, interracial marriages were banned, black trade unions were banned, and policies and practices of institutionalized racism and white domination were adopted. Effectively, the minority lost most of its rights and freedoms to the majority. Now, you could try to blame this on the media and its influence, but the fact that the party won on no uncertain terms (It didn't lie about its policies) should show that the majority was very willing to vote for the obviously immoral oppression of another group.

Well, I did some quick research because I'm not familiar with South African history. But it appears to me that South Africa could hardly be called a democratic country before the Apartheid. The rights of black people prior to the Apartheid were already almost nonexistent. For example in 1936, blacks in the Cape province effectively had their remaining voting rights taken away by the Representation of Blacks Act. Apartheid may be politically called a majority rule but it can't really be recognized as such if the blacks (who represented a majority of the population) were not fairly represented in the vote.

I suppose we can agree to disagree on whether this injustice would be similarly observed in a democracy that gives voting rights that are more fairly representative of the population. Incidentally, South Africa right now would be a good place to keep an eye on in this respect, because it looks like the African National Congress is starting to fall apart in the face of corruption and internal strife, and the country is having some xenophobic issues with refugees just in time for next year's election.

Whew. That took a while. I hope I haven't contradicted myself. :P

Edited by Mr. Shiver

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Let me be clear about one more thing: I do not agree with imposing democracy on other countries, but I think that American intervention in other countries' affairs should not be looked at as spreading democracy, because this would be missing the point, which is that--as any superpower would--America seeks hegemony.

I think democracy should be encouraged everywhere, but before that I think it's more important to make sure that we as individuals and as a society are ourselves living up to the aims of democracy, namely "to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, to achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the community, strengthen the cohesion of society and enhance national tranquillity, as well as to create a climate that is favourable for international peace", at a level that we're comfortable with.

Edited by Mr. Shiver

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democracy is considered to be the best, for a lack of a better economical system.

in my opinion, it's useless. There is tons of exploitation, too much compeitition, and many other problems that i have no time for to list. It theoretically works, but in reality, its just a bunch of bul****

i'd go with free market capitalism

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Free market capitalism is usually democratic, but that would technically be something to vote on within a country.

Let me be clear about one more thing: I do not agree with imposing democracy on other countries, but I think that American intervention in other countries' affairs should not be looked at as spreading democracy, because this would be missing the point, which is that--as any superpower would--America seeks hegemony.

I think democracy should be encouraged everywhere, but before that I think it's more important to make sure that we as individuals and as a society are ourselves living up to the aims of democracy, namely "to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, to achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the community, strengthen the cohesion of society and enhance national tranquillity, as well as to create a climate that is favourable for international peace", at a level that we're comfortable with.

Well, I have to same you make a very compelling case, and that you addressed all of the concerns I presented in a quite adequate manner. I think that, with all of those things considered, the principles upon which you base your arguments are largely similar to mine, so I have no problems there. Notably, by addressing the need for governing rules and a constitution, we address the need for a means of ensuring morality. The issue with this system is that unless the constitution was impeccable, attempted changes in it would be rather undemocratic because a minority could oppose a constitutional change. You mentioned Canada's system, but you might also note that this system is responsible for allowing Quebec veto power on constitutional changes that might end the advantage the french speaking people get all over the country. Since one province having veto power is anything but democratic, it is apparent that a high requirement for constitutional changes can be used by minority groups to take advantage of any flaw in the initial constitution, since flaws are generally introduced due to the process of determining a nation.

In any case, the goal of a government should be to place power in the hands of uncorrupted, morally just, and capable people, and to ensure that those people stay that way. Obviously, this means that for an ideal government, the people must have a voice, because their interests are the interests of a country. But, we also must note that sometimes the interests of the people are not what they want directly, so there must be a way for that to be considered. Then, we must have a way of giving minorities a say in things, even though by majority they have no power. There's a large difference between 20% of the votes, and 20% decision making power. The former cannot include compromises. Democracy makes a good attempt, but fails at recognizing that the 49% of the population who may not agree with something would justify holding back a 51% majority in favor of a mutually acceptable conclusion, and fails at recognizing that sometimes the needs and wants of the majority are different. As such, the optimal system would be one that guaranteed one or more morally just and capable individuals to lead the country. Sadly, this does not and will not exist as long as things are similar to what they are now.

Anyways, just as an idea, I would say that perhaps the majority is the best way of coming to moral and ethical principles, but not the best way of coming up with policy or specific decisions, because at this point, the potential for hypocrisy, self-favoritism, and confusion arises. A group may say that it is wrong to steal, but they may be fine with exploiting slave labor for cheap clothing. I would then argue that some person or group is required to translate premises in to actions is a categorical imperative manner, essentially, someone to interpret the moral principles of a constitution. Right now, judges hold this place, and they often oppose the entire government on the foundation that it attempts to do something unconstitutional. This common procedure is rather undemocratic and often annoys voters, however, it is necessary for the insured reliance on certain founding principles. I would wonder if the same people that would vote for proposition 8 would tell you that it's wrong to treat people unequally for personal choices, race, gender, or affiliation. That being considered, it would seem that an ideal picture for democracy would be one that would contain a good degree of authority, which would be a contradiction, though perhaps not a bad one.

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Free market capitalism is usually democratic, but that would technically be something to vote on within a country.

Actually, in the very long run, it would lead to a monopoly: one person would control the whole economy, and become a dictatorship. This is extremely theoretical, of course.

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A totalitarian state implies control of the press, and to some extent the press is responsible for the communication of the problems to the people. Relating directly to the question, wouldn't an authoritarian regime, at least on the outside, solve all problems as these problems cannot be known to the general public? In Russia, in 1917, when the Provisional Government was on power, freedom of the press was installed and this led to opposition as people became aware of problems and different views that sometimes criticised the government actions. Here, it is democracy that is actually causing problems.

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With the US forcing "Democracy" down everyone's throat, I'm forced to think, is democracy really the solution to everyone's problems? Actually, is it the solution for every country? A few case studies:

1. Iraq: Under Saddam Hussein's "Dictatorship", the country was actually running, there were relatively no suicide bombs, and the economy was actually stable.

2. Pakistan: Under the new democratic rule, the economy has tumbled down, bombings are on the rise. The economy has deprecated because they've allowed for a corrupt democratic government to me elected.

3. Afghanistan: Yes, this is an exception to the rule, the Afghans do have a better quality of life under Hamid Karzai but then again he is an American puppet.

4. Singapore, all the PMs are from the same family, which technically doesn't make it a democracy. It's a flourishing country.

Anyway by my observation, democracy works, yes, in the West. That does NOT mean that democracy must be forced upon everyone.

Thoughts?

Well under your first example, Saddem Hussien was basically killing millions of people. It seems that whenever a country is in a dictatorship, millions of people end up dying through their government. Saddem Hussien being ousted from power is good thing not bad. But I do believe that our form of democracy might not fit into many other countries form of democracy and trying to fit it into their country would be like trying to stuff a square peg in a hole for a circle peg. It is not going to work. But as the United States is the super power of the world, it is our moral obligation to stabilize countries while at the same time stop the violation of human rights and a form of democratic ideals might be able to do that

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But as the United States is the super power of the world, it is our moral obligation to stabilize countries while at the same time stop the violation of human rights

That's what they want you to think. Unfortunately, US motives for intervening in other countries are far less noble than that.

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That's what they want you to think. Unfortunately, US motives for intervening in other countries are far less noble than that.

And even more unfortunately, they find ways to screw up the interventions so that their initial motives go down the drain in a flurry of taxpayers' dollars.

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