Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mass Democracy Has Failed

..this is a comment I made in a friends LJ..

"I have come to the conclusion that The Great Experiment of Mass Democracy has failed. It has taken me a few decades to be willing to admit such an outcome, but it has been driven home to me over the past half dozen years.

You've known me long enough to be fully aware that Politics to me is like Sports for most American males. I eat, breathe, and sleep the stuff, have done so since I was a kid, and these days I can do that 24/7/365.

But even with that capacity and inclination, modern society and civilization and all of its myriad mechanisms is still too much for even someone like me to keep track of in an effective fashion. The 'average citizen' is then far more lost in, and overwhelmed by, these things, even those who share my inclinations, and there ain't all that many of those.

Joe Bageant's Anonymous Political Consultant said here; “
The mastery of the political right over the past thirty years has been primarily to better understand the irrational factors in politics. Conservatives have always understood that when it comes to politics, people rarely act in their rational self-interest but instead on emotion, fears and the perception of their interests.”

Most people do not want to wake up, especially here in The Republic. Too fucking scary. And a fair number of those are in fact constitutionally incapable of waking at all.

Another type of social order is needed. What that new construct might be is now the responsibility of the Aware Individual."
...I ended there, but kept thinking about this...

Participatory democracy does not seem to work when the citizen base gets beyond five or ten thousand. At that point 'political mechanisms' seem to grow almost organically and began to remove the process from the reach of 'the average citizen'. The increase in social complexity creates the Political Specialist. Add Economic and Technological Systems, and 'the average citizen' is finished ...except as a Cipher for Those Who Rule.

However, any discussion of 'qualifying' the Franchise brings howls of rage and, given past performance, rightly so.

But should not the electorate of such a powerful nation as this be required to meet some Standard beyond accident of birth? Should not 'the average citizen' be required to pass something like The Naturalization Test our new citizens must take before being entrusted with a Vote?

It's really not that hard a test...if you have a fucking brain in your head.

Of course, I'm not holding my breath in that matter. But I am pursuing a Course of Action.

In the long term, my own personal belief on where we need to go is to use a version of Heinlein's Federal Service Model as a transition to a society that is some combination of the two cultures Peter Hamilton calls Edenism and Adamism. I suspect we'll get a bit closer to the latter.

The above set of paths are templates I propose for the path of The Temple in this matter. Of course, I know things will shift and change.

One of the most interesting things I've read in the last few years came from William Gibson, Godfather of Cyberpunk. He was amazed that in his very prophetic novel Neuromancer, he had completely overlooked the potential impact of cellphones, totally dropped the ball on the subject.

I take his revelation to heart, both as a writer and as Her Prophet.

For those that dismiss this as mere 'sci-fi thinking', please note you happen to be reading this on The Internet and probably own one of those pesky cellphones, too. Science Fiction is Right Now.


Infidel753 said...

Another type of social order is needed. What that new construct might be is now the responsibility of the Aware Individual.

Hasn't this already been tried many times with disappointing results? Many countries have been ruled by self-appointed elites claiming superior knowledge which was supposed to make their rule superior to the messy results of mass democracy. They always ended up being outperformed by societies like the United States. Capitalist democracy seems best suited to taking advantage of the emergent properties of self-organizing systems; this is probably the only practical way of making a large modern nation-state function anything like optimally. Elite rule would just get in the way.

As for limiting the franchise, once we start doing that on one basis or another, we open the door to everyone else who has a bee in their bonnet along the same lines. Care to guess how much support could be whipped up for disenfranchising atheists vs. disenfranchising morons (however defined)? There's also the problem of undermining the state's aura of legitimacy. Yes, letting morons vote causes a certain amount of harm, but probably less harm than any plausible scheme to limit the franchise would do.

If mass democracy has failed, then what is the superior model relative to which it has failed? The internet and the cell phone, which you cite, were both invented in democratic societies. Where is the non-democratic society which has produced even more impressive technolgical innovations and been even more effective at spreading them among the masses? Where is the non-democratic state which has a years-long waiting list of people trying to immigrate to it from the United States and other capitalist democracies? Where is the non-democratic system that delivers more freedom and less corruption than our system does?

ZarPaulus said...

Here's what I think:

Basically I think that a Transhuman Meritocracy led by an elite that has used technology to become better than the masses would be better than mass democracy.

Nebris said...

The internet and the cell phone, which you cite, were both invented in democratic societies.

Not so much.

The Internet grew out of ARPLANET, which was a Dept of Defense network created for govt. And cell phones also grew out a war related need, their common ancestor being a Nazi armored vehicle com system.

And there ain't so many people trying to get here now, are there?