I am not really a fan of democracy. *holds up his hand to indicate there are more words coming and (potentially) to ward off any thrown objects*. So you’d prefer a dictatorship or some form of autocracy, you jerk? I mean it probably depends on the autocrat I consider thoughtfully. If I’m running the show then absolutely… is probably not the best of the choose-your-own-adventure text choices to select. Its makes people (unreasonably imo) grouchy to imagine me as their philosopher king. (Personally I think I’d be a great choice… until I lose my mind and become a twisted, corrupted, insane shell of my former self I mean and then get disposed by a plucky young rebellion… I mean I’ll obviously try and do my best and crush them under my iron-shod boot… then, when they win, they will create a inclusive Republic, and we will have to return to coda, as things are prone to do)
I sometimes default to quoting Winston Churchill…
I took my daughter riding on Saturday. This was chalked up in the tack room, up on the shelf, with the tea, a porcupine quill and a lone key, which feels a bit like an equine escape-room setup now that I stare at it.
The actual quote is (and I often paraphrase) democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried -Winston Churchill
A sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with (and also sometimes also use to defend Capitalism, substituting words as required). I actually don’t mind Winston Churchill… unless he was my prime minister… then I’d probably find him quite irksome and… rotund. But he is quite quotable, now that he’s dead.
Personally I blame the Greeks. (when in doubt go to the source). Well… some of the Greeks. Some of them were okay (says the guy whose whole life and pretty much all the benefits his life contains was built on a deep rooted foundation of Greek Philosophy). *looks over at his dog-eared, heavily highlighted Lucius Senecas ‘Letters’ sitting on the desk next to him.
Plato, for example never thought democracy would work out for us. In the Republic he predicted that democracies would be destroyed through ignorance, self-interest, short-termism, prejudice, envy and rivalry between groups. (which feels quite prophetic… as prophesies go I mean).
I wonder if other, maybe even most, people appreciate that ‘all’ the forms of government are really terrible… but democracy is the least terrible… but since its become this holy-cow… to speak against democracies shortcomings is quite taboo… and in some democracies quite a dangerous undertaking, and so we don’t really gripe about it as much as we should.
On some level we all (at some point) can appreciate (and channel) HL Mencken when he wrote;
The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
We know the system isn’t great. And reforming the system is… well I don’t want to say impossible. But even though modern democracies are seriously wonky… they allow us enough wiggle room to not really want to do anything about it. Better the devil you know. (or something along those lines)
Sure, there are the fringe elements on every part of the spectrum that want to burn it all down and reform the world with their imaginings. (Like Fundamental Joeyism, best ideology and belief system ever devised, if only you would take me seriously). But to move the colossus of governance over yonder to another pasture is quite a serious undertaking. Although how great would it be if we could just try the tip and see how it feels. Turns out most of us have better things to do. Like shop online, sip our Grande-lattes and project success on our Instagram accounts (#capitalismsucks), instead of poking at the status quo with a stick.
Reform feels like a lot of hard work.
You know (most) democracies aren’t really eh… democratic right? I mean if we are going to start somewhere. AC Grayling probably explains it the best. For context most democracies use First past the post principle to select their ‘representatives’.
A simple example demonstrates the undemocratic nature of the FPTP system. Consider a constituency or congressional district of 100 voters, in which 10 candidates stand for election. Suppose 8 of them get 100 votes each, one gets 9 votes, and one gets 11 votes. This last is elected, as having more votes than any other individual candidate – leaving 89 of the 100 voters wholly unrepresented.
Multiply the example just given by (say) 100 constituencies: between them they have 10,000 voters, of whom 1100 voters send 100 representatives to the legislature while the remaining 8900 voters send 0 representatives to the legislature. This is not democracy even on the most tenuous definition in which ‘having a vote’ is regarded as enough to make a system democratic. Yet this is the situation in all those countries – US, UK, Canada, India, and more – where the FPTP is the system in operation.
-The Good State, AC Grayling, One World, 2021.
Why aren’t more people more fucked off about this? I don’t even live in any of those countries and I’m fucked off about it! For the record I live in a (for-realsies) elective dictatorship. A one-party, hegemonic dynasty… *pauses to look up hegemonic just to make sure it means what I think it does*. I look on y’all with your two party political system with a weird sense of envy. How amazing would it be if someone else was ‘elected’ and fucked things up for four or five years I muse whimsically. I’m getting moist in my no-no-special place just thinking about it.
Alas… in my life-time at least this is unlikely to happen. Here on the arse end of Africa I mean. But probably other places too. Because… eh… well its complicated. Lets go with that. Also reform takes a really long time. Generations need to die… mostly because thats the only way they’ll stop voting the way they always have. Seriously old people are the worst. Damn boomers hanging on by their fingernails refusing to let Gen X save the world. Seriously, the window of opportunity is closing rapidly. Those Millennial… decelerates (its the nicest word I could think of) are waiting in the wings… and everyone knows we are truly fucked once they reach the halls of power. I laugh (sardonically)… but everyone knows its true.
In any event, if by any chance you guys want to give Plato a real go… I am available. On really short notice. I will wear purple and live on a mountain. And even grow a bushy beard. I will be fair and just and only murder people who are really annoying…
… and maybe people whom take part in Reality Shows… and Singing competitions…
… and people who fully recline their seats in economy class.
Those motherfuckers definitely need to die.
(I feel like I have this planetary leadership thing totally waxed)