Reflexions on Democracy
Reflexions on Democracy
by David Preussen
Over the ages a lot of written about democracy, some in favor of it, some against it. Praised in the name of liberty, and rejected in the same name. The idea of democracy has caused a lot controversy through all ages. The most commonly repeated criticism of democracy is that it amounts to mob rule, rule of the stupid, the uneducated, the ignorant. The problem with democracy like we know it today, democracy based on universal suffrage, is that the greatest number is of necessity the least enlightened, and consequently the least capable. On of the antinomies, contradictions, of the principle of universal suffrage is that, even thought meant to secure the rights and interests of the majority, in practice it more often than not comes down the opposite, the violation of the rights and interests of those it is meant to serve. The political capacity found in the greatest number is of necessity the least developed, and a lack of capacity and understanding the road to wrong decisions. Without the ability and the background knowledge to analyze facts and to reflect on them, the intention to do the right thing sometimes easily leads to the opposite of what was intended. For this very reason parents do not let young children make decisions all by themselves, but guide them and look over them so that they may not cause harm for themselves and others by their lack of experience and understanding.
The principle of universal suffrage as it is understood today, the right of each individual to vote independently of his capacity, has added another contradiction to democracy and rendered it even less practical than is was in the time of the old Greeks. Universal suffrage has robbed the children of the protection of their parents to use an analogy. If that was done deliberately to undermine the very thing it claimed to serve, namely the interest of the majority, I do not know, but what I do know, and what is obvious for those able to reflect on facts and history, is that it did precisely that. Universal suffrage has undermined democracy and brought us into the mess we have today, the rule of the media over the weak minded and defenseless masses that are unable to use reason and to reflect on the situation and are thus moving to the beat of the drums like slaves on a galere. What was sold to the masses as an universal blessing and source of liberty, has become an universal curse and source of tyranny. The masses were unable to render what was given to them. The French philosopher P.J. Proudhon understood the political limitations found in the average voter and the resulting implications quite well. Shortly before his death he wrote a whole volume on the subject; “De la capacité politique des classes ouvrières” (The Political Capacity of the Working-Classes), a work of which I sadly haven’t managed to get hold of in a translated version yet. The fallowing quotation is from his first major work, “What is Property?”, written in 1840. “The people, incapable as yet of sound judgment as to what is best for them, applaud indiscriminately the most opposite ideas, provided that in them they get a taste of flattery: to them the laws of thought are like the confines of the possible; to-day they can no more distinguish between a savant and a sophist, than formerly they could tell a physician from a sorcerer. Inconsiderately accepting, gathering together, and accumulating everything that is new, regarding all reports as true and indubitable, at the breath or ring of novelty they assemble like bees at the sound of a basin.”  To the human lemmings the logic behind an opinion doesn’t count as much as the power and popularity behind it, and the reason for this is simple, the popularity behind an opinion they usually notice, while its logic, or the lack thereof, in most cases remains hidden from them. “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.”  The Italian philosopher Machiavelli wrote a long time ago and I could not put it better. The average voter is like a child making its first steps in the world of the adults, a world to complex for him and full of things he does not understand, a world full of predators that want to deceive and harm him for their own benefit. Like a child, the average citizen, as long has he hasn’t reached the required level of mental development and understanding yet, needs protection and guidance, protection from the predators, protection from making the wrong decisions, and consequently protection from himself. He is in need of guardians that watch out and guide him just as children are in need of their parents. For without protection, without a guardian, a small child is easy prey for predators and parasites.
The majority of links in the chain of individuals a society is composed of are what we may call “weak links”. And as a rule, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link it is composed of. A chain made of a huge number of links of which the multitude are weak links that provide no or not much support, is by necessity weaker than a chain composed of less but stronger links providing more support. Quality here clearly wins over quantity! The old Greeks were aware of this and did not provide voting rights to all, just to those holding citizen rights, and in some cases, a certain amount of property also. Women, slaves, guest worker, and the like, were commonly excluded from voting and participation in political matters. This practice, even thought questionable in many aspects, never the less managed to reduce the number of weak links in the political chain and made the Greek democracy, like it existed in city states like Athens, somewhat more resistant against predators than are those shameful excuses for real democracy we see today. The democracy of ancient Athens also included various other forms of political participation apart from mere elections and the citizens were truly involved in the political process. Of course, even the forms of democracy seen in ancient Greece were still far from perfect and that in various aspects, the fact that only certain classes were able to participate in elections and other political matters for example was a possible source of social unrest and eventually revolts, and just because someone had citizen rights did not necessarily imply that he had the capacity for meaningful participation in political matters also. Citizen rights a son gained by birth right from his father, while his abilities, knowledge, and understanding, the raw capacity to gain them at some point, was not always transmitted. Never the less, the reduction of participants in the political process had overall a positive impact on the Greek city states because it made their form of democracy more feasible, functional, and meaningful than that what is today commonly sold as “democracy”. Today everyone is free to vote, the thing is that it does not seem to matter what people vote for or think anyway. Elections after elections we get the same empty rhetoric, lies, and propaganda, and in the end they do the opposite of what the people want them to do anyway. And why is this undemocratic behavior possible to continue year after year? It is possible because the majority are morons, human lemmings, so to speak, which are so easy manipulated that it is easy for the media to make them believe what they want them to believe and than to vote accordingly. By reading about the history of propaganda, or public relation like it is often called today, the reader is lead to believe that around the end of the 19. century the people discovered from one day of the next that empty rhetoric and lies are more successful in guiding the voter than are reason and arguments, which is a lie, or rather a half-truth. Vital information to understand the cause of this change are usually left out because they have become political incorrect and highly unpopular in our time. Namely that this change in tactics was the direct result of the introduction of universal suffrage and the inclusion of women and morons, “weak links”, into the chain of political participants in elections. The citizens of ancient Athens, not obstructed in the political process by unreasonable women and so many morons, would have chased a leadership as corrupt and rotten as what we see today here in the west out a long time ago. Including those not able to meaningful participate has crippled democracy and made possible a dictatorship of the few under the guise of majority rule. Proudhon noted that “the history of universal suffrage, among all nations, is the history of the restrictions of liberty by and in the name of the multitude.”
Even thought up to this point it may appears this way, this essay is not meant as an ode to aristocracy, quite the opposite, I’m writing in the defense of democracy and the pursuit of what is the most precious to a free man; liberty. My faith, my love, and my hope, lie in liberty. Summa lex summa libertas; the fullness of liberty lies in the fullness of reason, and so what I’m advocating here is a return to the principles of reason in the hope to reestablish and eventually increse liberty in our sacred lands. My proposal is a modification of the principle of universal suffrage, what I have in mind is to limit the participation in political issues to those able to demonstrate the required political capacity for meaningful and responsible participation. I thought of a kind of “voter license” which, similar to a driver license, every citizen may acquires in case that he fulfills the necessary requirements and wishes to participate in elections and the political process. I believe it is a equally fair and effective method, and that much more so than it was the case in ancient Greece, for the removal of weak links from the political process in order to restore a functional democracy with a healthy defense capacity against those I call predators. We do not let anyone drive a car, let alone fly an air plane, but participation in elections is open to any moron without any qualification or understanding when it comes to political issues whatsoever. A practice which by the way made George W. Bush “the leader of the free west”! The system is obviously broken and that not just since yesterday. As I see things, the only way to safe democracy lies in limiting participation in the political process to those able to participate in it in a responsible and thoughtful manner. And to those who believe that this would be “undemocratic”, let me remind you that we already have a system based on representation of the many by a few, at least that is what those in power were originally meant to do, even thought they seem to have forgotten that. Letting the more educated and capable citizen represent the rest by elections and other forms of political participations, is no different than letting a few rule in the name of the majority, representation is representation!
The road to liberty is called reason, ignorance is the name of the road that leads to tyranny and misery, and it is on us to decide which we gonna take. Letting everybody independently of his capacity vote comes down to leaving the elections to the least educated, the least capable, the most ignorant, for they constitute the majority. It in not in the interest of society that the ignorant dominate elections, and it is not even in their own interest. I propose a return to the reign of reason, let reason become the light to guide us out of the darkness!
1. P.J. Proudhon in a letter to the Members of the Academy of Besançon. PARIS, June 30, 1840
2. Nicolo Machiavelli , “The Discourses” (1531) Book I. Chapter XXV.
3. P.J. Proudhon’s “What is Property?” (1840) p. 446
~ by metadave on July 4, 2008.
Posted in Philosophy/Metaphysics, Science, Solutions
Tags: anciet greece, aristocracy, Democracy, metaphysics, p.j. proudhon, philosophy, political science, politics, reason, skeptikosexaminer, universal suffrage, voting rights