Wednesday, August 11, 2004

More on democracy

No, not moron democracy, but just more, on democracy.

As I said yesterday, anarchy - strictly meaning: "without leaders", but more generally meant to mean without formalised political procedures/officers - just leads to a brand of oligarchy. This is due to an essential premise of democracy: that we have a common interest.

To back-track a little, Otto Neurath in the collection 'Empiricism and sociology' makes the distinction between democracy between enemies, and democracy between friends.

Imagine a hold-up by bandits - the badits brandish their guns. The guys on the stage coach brandish theirs. Both sides tally up their firing strength, and the side with the least backs down before their inevitable defeat. That is democracy among enemies, sizing up relative strength before surrendering the point they cannot win. Both sides acting on the common basis of wanting to survive the enounter.

Democracy among friends is like a goup of mates walking hom, faced with a choice of routes, some favour A, and some favour B, and after discussion they all take the same path, because, at the end of the day, they want to stay together.

That is, democracy implies some common connexion, an outcome which will effect all parties to the matter at hand. If you have no formal discussion and decision, then a minority will impose its will over the whole majority. This fact, of the interelatedness of interests invalidates many anti-democratic theories, specifically those based on Arrow's theorum. There are public goods, and any lack of democracy means a violation of the no dictaorship rule.

Until we come to live in personal pocket unierses this remains true.

That is, given a community of interest, there is only the choice between majority decision and minority decision. Even consensus is in reality a majority system, since in many instances, people who object to a proposal will change their 'vote' (on the reason for the scare quotes hangs anotehr post for another time) once they kno wat the majority thinks, rather than be seen to veto. Of course, is they do veto, that is a minority dictatoing to the majority.

That is, consensual systems promote misrepresentation of views. That is, they inhibit the flow of information. As shoudl be obvious from my previous post on democracy, any restricon on the flow of information is in effect an inhibition of democracy (as we shall see further in a later post).

Hence why I do not like to call my self an anarchist. I may oppose leadership as a social principle/practise, but only as a democrat. It is possible to be an anarchist and not a democrat, and so I prefer to retain the narrower term.


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