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Author: Subject: The Problems With Democracy

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  posted on 26/4/2003 at 06:59 AM
Whenever I used to try to debate the merits of "democracy" as it is practiced today, the person(s) that I would be speaking with would almost invariably resort to the same childish platitude to defend their position (That position was tacitly understood by the end of the conversation to be: "No matter how many people might be hurt by the way we do things, we'd better not change anything because that might affect me"). This happened with such annoying frequency that I began to know with certainty at what portion of the conversation we were at at any given time and could graph out the rest of it in my head. I could see my conversant's expression growing either more detached or more irritated until finally they would spout the well-worn bromide that "Democracy is the worst form of government there is... except for all the others." Then they would quickly excuse themselves for a meeting that they just remembered that they were late for. Maybe I have Missouri blood in me somewhere, because I'm going to need something in the way of demonstration here.

I like to think of a real democracy as occuring when each person in a civil society has an equal voice in how the affairs of state are managed. While this definition may not actually be wrong, it is far too Marxist for a venture capitalist to stomach and venture capitalists are the ones who are and have been running the show. Nobody that I know actually accepts that they have much of a voice at all, much less one equal to a richer person (not to mention the powerful voices of corporations, who are, at the end of the day, not even people at all). They accept that their vote is meaningless when the electoral college (again, not a person) is not bound to view thier say as so much as even a recommendation. So, if "people" who are not really people have the greatest voices, and an increasingly small percentage of very wealthy people are pulling those corporate strings, why do we not come out and call what we live in a plutocracy? Why do we pretend to have one highly flawed system of governance when we actually have another highly flawed system of governance?

I'm going to reveal my deepest prejudice here. I loathe and detest rich people on a visceral level. Almost more than I hate stupid people. I have fought with people over this, but I don't think that my prejudice is entirely emotionally based. The reasons that I feel that way are because we swallow the most absurd myths to explain away what are nothing short of criminal inequalities in our society, and yet, despite what they tell you to the contrary, there are only three ways to generate wealth (real wealth) in our culture... namely, inheritance (aristocracy), unfairly exploiting people and the environment (being a bastard), or sucking up to someone who unfairly exploits people and the environment (being a toady to a bastard). Hard work and conscientious business practices do not make that list. There are a growing number of business people who have addressed this problem by chanting the mantra "We can do well by doing good!", but it never amounts to more than a meditation session. As soon as they hit the fields "doing good!", they realise that the bastard down the block who hasn't limited his or her options by ethical compunctions is now free to really clean up by taking unfair advantages. "Doing good!" isn't so attractive once you find that you can no longer "do well!" (or as well). Lloyd Dangle (the author of the alternative political comic "Troubletown" summed it up this way: "People desperately want to be good, and admired for being good, but they also want to be rich. These things rarely fit together. Honest investors who study the market realize that the stocks with the highest rates of returnare the ones that cause the most evil to humanity." He is absolutely right. There is no via media between being rich and being good and when forced to choose, being rich always wins. Further, the process of choosing between being rich and good seems to make people highly adept at rationalising indefensible things to themselves, so you end up with extremely neurotic rich bastards who manage to convince themselves that they are "doing good!" while they are wringing the poorer majority dry.

Another huge problem with democracy is the aristocratic dynasties of career politicians that have developed out of our need not to be able to think for ourselves. That there should be such a thing as a "career politician" is inherently anti-democratic in the first place, but to breed them out of the same very wealthy families makes this absurd practice nearly unbelievable. I have heard the (fallacious) argument that, since we go to a doctor when we are sick, we should go to an expert to run the affairs of government. Beyond the fact that this is really comparing apples to horse droppings, it pre-supposes that the affairs of state are too complex for the average person, or that the average person is too stupid to be able to cross the street on the own. If affairs of state are too complex (they are made needlessly complex to maintain their elite status), then they should be streamlined so that they can be taught to high school students. If, on the other hand, the stupidity of the people is the problem, then this needs to be addressed and a mandatory, minimum of education must be implemented. You can't cry for an open and free society and still cling obstinately to your ignorance. I'm sorry, one or the other will have to go, you can't have it both ways. My vote is that the ignorance should be the one to be sacrificed, but I seem to be in a smaller and smaller minority here.

I have a great many more problems that I see here, but they will undoubtably come up if people actually jump into this forum and debate (if they were just going to look at it and scratch their heads, I don't need to waste my time typing anymore anyway). This should be enough to begin with. I maintain that in order for a democracy to exist the following minimum conditions must be satisfied:
1.) The people must be reasonably educated, informed and serious about taking control of their lives.
2.) The leaders of a society should be fully accountable for their actions and their practices must be subject to the principle of transparency.
3.) The media, which represents the flow of information and the voice of the people, should not be controlled by a small number of corporate interests.

Jump in or be silenced. I am, I was, I will be

~Monolycus, the perpetually disgruntled.

 

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  posted on 26/4/2003 at 11:55 AM
It makes you wonder what goes through the minds of people who are quite happy to discard Communism as an essentially flawed principle decause it is diametrically opposed to the major factors of human nature, but are then happy to exist in a Democratic society.

 

____________________
Light is changing to shadow, and casting a shroud over all we have known.

 

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  posted on 26/4/2003 at 04:46 PM
I think that the most sad part of that equation is that what is going through their minds is, in all likelihood, the same garbage that is coming out of their mouths. It's part of that strange neurosis I described in my original post where they have had to jump through so many logical hoops to keep themselves from feeling like a bad guy (which they are, let's be absolutely clear about this) that they are accustomed to dissociating fact from fancy. It's where you get corporate raiders inventing and believing in the existence of "compassionate conservatives" or angry liberals who think that their hearts really are bleeding for fair play to everyone as long as they are not white or male. It is the process by which the most polarised, partisan people on a political spectrum can accuse their detractors of being polarised and partisan. You can not call their Orwellian misuse of language and ideas "propaganda" in any pure form because they employ these very techniques to repress in their own minds the amount of damage that they are doing. Yes, pure communism is indistinguishable from pure democracy. No, we have never seen either put into practice because it cuts into profit margins.

Of course, ours is a culture based upon a logical paradox. We cherish Thomas Jeffersons' noble but naive 1776 declaration that "(w)e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (m)en are created equal" when, in fact, our every action is to reinforce the inequalities in the lives of men (with or without capital letters). We believe that all men are created equal, but our wealthy leaders maintain that we can not socialise health care because that would cut into the quality of medical attention that only they can afford to receive. We believe that all men are created equal, but we accept the mythological sanctity of a duocracy in which only the wealthiest citizens with the most connections can realistically aspire to become policy makers. I'll stop there; I could spend all day itemising that basic hypocrisy.

Here at Shmeng, we have a lot of people with pet boogiemen. For some, it is the treatment of minorities. For others, it is the meat industry. For me, the big boogieman is the social inequalities that express themselves as class distinctions. I believe that the hypocrisy that I outlined in the above paragraph is the one around which all the other boogiemen revolve. Once we begin to address and try to level the playing field for all members of our society, most of the other hypocrisies will not be stood for. When no member of a community has any unfair advantages over any other member of the same community, then and only then will we begin to regulate and address the other problems. When people aren't viewed as profits and cast aside when they are no longer economically exploitable, then and only then will we be able to use only the talents we are born with or are able to cultivate to distinguish ourselves instead of fostering our mediocrity and falling into the underclass of human beings who can only live paycheque to paycheque. Once the entirely artificial distinctions of upper, middle and lower classes are abolished, will we all be able to become human beings instead of statistics; once we are able to define ourselves by the amount of good we have done for our communities instead of the entirely imaginary profit (which has a one-to-one relationship with the entirely real suffering we have caused) we have generated during the last arbitrary fiscal year, will we be able to make a global difference for the better; and once we treat compassion as a virtue instead of a liability we will be able to create meaningful lives for ourselves and our descendents instead of a precedence of pollution, illness, debt and death.

Hmm. I guess I do sound like a Marxist, don't I? Well, in the spirit of changing the language to suit our Weltbild, we'll call what I am espousing democracy. Or happy-fun-sunshine-flower-time. It's time for us to rise above increasingly arbitrary labels and look at what we are honestly talking about anyway.

~M.

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 04:45 AM
Wow...
okay, well to start I must for one thing object to yor prejudice against the rich (almost entirely because it means yoo hate mee) despite the fact that I as well share it. I was born into the aristocrasy and I believe that to hate someone for being born into money is not really all that different from hating someone from being born into a family of a different ethnicity. I also earned my money from my own buissness a few years ago which was extremely profitable that I eventually discontinued because of the fact that I stepped back and saw what a monster I had become.Wow...
okay, well to start I must for one thing object to yor prejudice against the rich (almost entirely because it means yoo hate mee) despite the fact that I as well share it. I was born into the aristocrasy and I believe that to hate someone for being born into money is not really all that different from hating someone from being born into a family of a different ethnicity. I also earned my money from my own buissness a few years ago which was EXTRMELY profitable that I eventually discontinued because of the fact that I stepped back and saw what a monster I had become.

I have been unemployed (quite comfortably) since that time as I am trying to dedicate the rest of my life to my spiritual practices realizing that quite soon this will probably force mee into poverty and the cushy life I've been living far too long will be no more (unless I come up with another get-rich quick scheme which, knowing mee, I probably will find myself doing (oi...).

I also think yoo are forgetting that some people are wealthy due to TALENT. Given, this is the exception and not the rule, and also depends on yor definition of wealth.

I ENTIRELY agree with yoo that hard work and conscientious business practices do not make that list. It's a lie we're told from very early on to more or less become bitches of The Man. The educational system mostly teaches children that "Work will set yoo free." Yoo will notice that 4 of the 5 wealthiest people alive never attended college (the 5th, Bill Gates, dropped-out of college).

They (that is, They with a capital T) would have yoo believe that in order to get what yoo want yoo must jump through all the hoops the way they're laid out for yoo. For example, that yoo must be a solid A student to become president. Our current president was a solid C student in highschool as well as in Yale.

The truth, my friend, is that the system does in fact work. It does not, however, work in the way we're lead to believe it works. Thus I will continue voting, continue signing petitions, and continue demonstrating REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT IT WORKS in any direct manner of speaking because people need to be well aware that the TV doesn't broadcast the only perspective. I make myself the change I wish to see in the world.

I consider myself a patriotic American. Whoa! Squid said what? That's right, and to explain I will repeat one of my more famous quotes "The most patriotic thing an American citizen can do is openly disgree with the system!" This is SUPPOSED to be what the "Founding Fathers" wanted it to be (of course there were any number of corruptions within this idea, but still).

Okay, I'm giving this a rest for now. More of Squid later.

 

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i wanted to die, and then it progressed into wanting everyone else to die so i could watch, and then me die.

-ickgirl

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 06:21 AM
Squid: I don't disagree with very much that you said (or, more honestly, I don't disagree very vehemently with much that you said), but I would like to point out that I did specifically mention talent as one of the human attributes that are subdued under the present sytem (second entry, imbedded in the third paragraph). I did not really elaborate on that point, but I will outline it now. While there are those select few that have been able to find creative outlets and generate wealth that way (J.K. Rowling is a sterling example of this and there are, by necessity, only a handful of others), the basic economical principles that we follow are pyramidal. If we should have learned anything from the "dot.bomb" phenomenon, it is that the wealthy must be supported by a very large base of have-nots. If more people had greater access to the wealth, then the pyramid becomes unstable and wealth evaporates. Simply, you CAN use your talents to generate wealth in the present system, PROVIDED not many other people are doing so as the wealth MUST come from the backs of the majority (It was for this reason that I did not include having Ed McMahon show up on your doorstep with a giant novelty cheque in my list of ways to generate real wealth because I was limiting my discussion to what is realistic. Pursuing creative outlets can not be implemented by more than a small minority at any given time). Further, you describe that you had access to money when you implemented your successful business... that is significant. The average person does not have the capital to implement their natural talents and abilities, or, due to the constraints of the wage slavery system, does not have the leisure to cultivate them in the first place. I maintain that the present system fosters mediocrity because the only realistic pursuit of the majority (who are poor.. and that disparity is becoming even greater all the time) is to make themselves as bland and inoffensive as possible so as to be able to pursue a living wage. Cultivating talent and individuality is a luxury afforded only to the leisure class (viz. those whose security is assured to the degree that they do not have to spend the bulk of their time in pursuit of or retention of shelter and basic resources) or social dropouts.

I could not agree more wholeheartedly with your observation about patriotism. I believe that it is not only our right to object, it is our DUTY to be vigilant and police the sytem for abuses. In the meanwhile, I also "play the game". I have voted in every single presidential, midterm and local election that I have been able to since I came of the age of majority and will continue to do so. I also sign petitions and demonstrate against corruption. If I weren't optimistic that the system could be fixed, I wouldn't become so angry and vocal about it when it fails (and it is failing the majority very badly). I am at least convinced that the sytem is not going to fix itself and I'll be damned if I will sit around idly propping up something that is fundamentally wrong.

Arbeit macht Frei,

~M.

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 06:52 AM
I find that ANY individual (save for cases of disability, retardation, etc.) is perfectly capable of becomming obscenely wealthy but that it is partially that they #1 are not aware of the way wealth is actually aquired, #2 are afraid of the consequences of breaking rules, and/or #3 are unwilling to do what it takes. A pimp and a CEO are essentially the same person.

The masses are quite honestly FARMED. One of my major triggers is the capitalized medical system who has made mee their "cow" by telling mee that if I stop taking my medication that I will die (think about the dairies that are retirement homes). I am working to get to the point where I do not require medication to live but that is another conversation...

From Day One the system was corrupted by greed, not that this is really any different from any other governement out there. Without trying to sound too much like Kafka, the system is the way it is to serve the intersts of the system and individuality is frowned upon so the system can continue to function. The people must be kept happy enough not to revolt meanwhile still hungry for the carrot dangled before them on the "buissness as usual" treadmill.

Thus people see what they have wanting more but see those in other countries have (and not even the worst of what goes on) and fear for their convenience. Televison is an extremely good means of showing people exactly what they need to be shown in order to maintain this and we are taught from an early age not to question what the "higher-ups" are doing. It is also an excellent means of hindering individuality.

The idea of controlling the material that is displayed on television in order to minimize violent behavior in TV viewers indicates that people have difficulty removing themselves from the illsuion that television creates. The fact that what is displayed IS CENSORED further indicates that our "Freedom of Speech" is not quite so free afterall. Censorship cannot exsist unless oppression exsists as well.

 

____________________


i wanted to die, and then it progressed into wanting everyone else to
die so i could watch, and then me die.




-ickgirl

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 08:35 AM
I don't see where the small point of contention I have with your economic observations undermines the basic thesis. I think we have a difference in focus, but not in fundamentals. Whether or not I disagree that ANY individual has it in them to generate real wealth (the homeless guy on the corner might be evil enough to succeed, but if he lacks the capital to cover his initial overhead he will never get off the ground), I think we can agree that EVERY individual can't (the entire premise of generating wealth is based upon the exploitation of a majority... the problem with the dot.com millionaires was that they thought EVERYONE could be a CEO in equal measure. Suffering isn't an egalitarian process).

As for your other observations, I can not disagree at all. The majority are, in fact, farmed to be exploited in the future. That was why I chose the three minimum requirements for a democracy to exist that I listed in my opening volley. The people must be serious and educated, leaders must be accountable, and the media must not be locked out to alternative views. I still see the bottom line as the unfair perpetuation of the class system. The people are kept uneducated and uninformed so as not to jeopardise the wealth of the elite, the leaders operate in secrecy so as not to have to justify themselves to anyone else and to consolidate their power and wealth, and the media are controlled by the powerful to distract and control the masses. It's a fairly simple, if evil, equation.

That was another reason that I attacked the idea of labels (beginning with "democracy"). We talk about undermining the right to free speech, but we define "free speech" the way we are told to define it by our controllers at the top. A disturbingly large section of the public has swallowed the recent media virus that we are somehow committing an act of treason by questioning our president. How is that not anti-democratic? The answer is that democracy is whatever we have been told that it is I tried to demonstrate that we live in a plutocracy and not a democracy (representative or otherwise) at all, but we are told to call it "democracy", and "democracy is good", so the majority repeat it and a large number of them internalise [I won't say "believe", the majority do not "believe" anything at all anymore] that as the truth.

I didn't expect a huge reaction to any of this, but I have to say that I am relieved by your responses, Squid. I was beginning to suspect that the datasphere might already be polluted beyond redemption.

~M.

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 11:58 AM
Only the first paragraph in my previous reply was in disagreement with yoo, Mono. Since my point waslost I shall elaborate.

My point is that if the homeless guy on the corner is evil enough (and is not effected by the other factors I listed previously) he can succeed. The capital required to cover his initial overhead can be generated using the same energy that would allow him to turn that into billions.

This brings up something which needs to be clarified. Are we considering "wealth" to be millions as in the majority of rich people who could have gotten it from any number of sources including dot.com crap, Ed McMahon, or one of the many ways people "stumble" into wealth or by "wealth" are we talking about billionaires who have spent their lives working long and hard to screw everyone else so that they could make it to the top?

 

____________________



i wanted to die, and then it progressed into wanting everyone else to />
die so i could watch, and then me die.






-ickgirl

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 01:59 PM
These are you premises for a democracy
1.) The people must be reasonably educated, informed and serious about taking control of their lives.
2.) The leaders of a society should be fully accountable for their actions and their practices must be subject to the principle of transparency.
3.) The media, which represents the flow of information and the voice of the people, should not be controlled by a small number of corporate interests.

There are some qestions that this list raises in my mind.

How do we decide what a "reasonable" amount of education is and how do we enforce it on those that dont want it?
which people? Everyone? only those that pass the tests? those that want to? everyone that can stand or see or talk or breath unaided? everyone with a pulse?

By what age must they be educated and informed? Educated in what way with what principles and what moral codes and which ethics? Which data sets must they know? economics? history? religion? basic reading? 6 languages? What must they be informed about? the whole world? thier own lives? thier community? mars?

What do you really mean when you say "take control of thier lives"? Do you mean wrest control of thier lives away from someone else? Do you mean keep others from telling them what to do? do you mean tell others what to do? do you mean live the way they want to live and ignore the shunning of others? When can they stop?

How do we hold someone "accountable" for thier actions if we dont know what thier lives are really like, since thier actions come from thier circumstances. How can a 65 year old grandmother of 14 be held accountable by the principle of transparency by an 18 year old boy?

How can the media be the voice of the people when there are truely that many voices speaking all at once about wildly unrelated things? Isnt this one in particular buying into the myth that people can and do speak with one voice and that one version of reality is "right"?

Doesnt all of this reinforce the myth that people need to be controled because they are bad?


One of the major challenges is to make more people want to think about themselves and be accountable to themselves BEFORE they try to think for others or hold others accountable. Even more important than education in theory and fact is compassion, not in the western sense of empathizing and interfering, but in the sense of seeing what the whole experience is and letting someone else have it for themselves.

In fact the destruction of the concept of owning another life is at least part of the root of this evil, owning someone else's decitions thereby making one life, the life of the "owner" more important than another, the life of the "owned". the complete removal of the idea of being one's brother's keeper is basic to real governemnt of the people by the people since it also removes the need of most government.

If we arent constantly telling each other what to do we dont need people to codefy those rules, adjust those rules, enforce those rules, and punish those that dont comply with the laws. And after all that is what a government is, a group of people enforcing rules.

 

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Real goths wear silver and crosses to keep the werewolves and vampires away.

 

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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 04:57 PM
This is where things have the potential to become academic or disingenuous. I don't think that's going on yet, so I'll try to keep my defensiveness down to a dull roar.

Squid: Your point wasn't lost, I just didn't agree with it. Still, it was a minor point in a larger picture that I did very much agree with, so I didn't see where much harm was done. I think that we are basically on approximately the same page.

As for your question about what constitutes "wealth"... that is not such an easy one to field since I believe that "wealth" is an artificial and entirely disposable societal construct to begin with. What I am referring to when I am talking about wealth is primarily the disparity between the haves and have-nots and the behaviours, luxuries, security, power and status that is unfairly accorded to the former by dint of their having it. I suppose that a concise way of looking at it would be the hoarding of either resources or access to resources at the expense of others and generally to the detriment of the collective environment. Does that help?

Callei: Those were not my "premises" for a democracy to exist, but rather what I view as the minimum conditions that must be satisfied before any genuine democracy can occur. I'll try to address and clarify your questions as best I am able, but much of it should have been able to be derived from the context of the discussion. I apologise if I have not been entirely clear.

The education that I am discussing would be the basic dynamics of the system of governance that a citizen expects to participate in. While a basic familiarity with art, history, literature, economics, religion, carpentry, as many languages as possible, sociology, achitecture, medicine, ad infinitum would be a fine thing for people to have in a general sense (and I would not dream of discouraging any academic endeavours), it is absurd to have people involving themselves in a system of self-governance (democracy) or consensual governance (such as a representative democracy) when they do not understand or appreciate how it works. It is not only absurd, I am inclined to think that it is illegal since it could be argued that their ignorance constitutes a condition of duress in which they are entering into a contract with implications that they do not, in any legal sense, understand or appreciate. Put very simply, people can not consent to something that they do not understand. A person should be able to pass a test regarding the basic principles of government by the time they reach the age of majority and vote. It should never occur that people who have presumably voted (or have a legal right to vote whether they have exercised it or not) should be shocked to discover that we live in a representative republic or that there are more than two political parties in this country. It is impossible for such a person to make an informed and responsible decision for themselves, much less one that profoundly affects the lives of everyone else around them. Is it so unreasonable in a country where you must be licensed to drive a car or catch a fish to expect that those who make decisions that affect every citizen's life should be able to demonstrate that they understand the dynamics and consequences of those decisions? I dealt with the subject of people who wish to remain ignorant in the fourth paragraph of the initial posting here. If you wish to remain uneducated, that is your own affair, but you must come to terms with the fact that you can not be willfully ignorant and also be secure. Someone WILL take advantage of you. That's the trade off... you can't have both your willful ignorance and empowerment. Nobody is forcing anyone to get a driver's license if they don't want one, either. But if they are willing to sacrifice their ignorance to learn the rules of the road, they can be rewarded by the greater freedom of operating their own transportation.

The accountability that I am demanding of elected officials should not come as any great offense to anyone's sensibilities, either. If an elected official engages in questionable activities, those activities must be made public. Even an educated person can not make an informed decision when they are not privy to all the facts. No administration in a democracy should operate behind an curtain of secrecy for any reason (and I am including national defense as well. There is no "secret" that is so sensitive that it can endanger people who are not doing things they shouldn't be doing). That is the principle of transparency. Ends have never justified illegal or dangerous means, and if an elected official engages in unsavory behaviour, they should be held accountable by not being re-elected. If an elected official engages in illegal behaviour, they should be held accountable by being removed from office and incarcerated. Somebody's grandmother is not an elected official and does not, therefore, fall under the umbrella of legal transparency... nobody is going to elect a new grandmother and I am forced to wonder about how genuine it was to pose that question. The "leaders" that we are discussing are those who are elected and lead a state, community or nation. I've no recommendations for how people wish to arrange their family lives and suggest that those decisions (like the vast majority of issues) fall outside of the purview of federal regulation.

I included the prerequisite about the media because it falls complicitly under the issue of the population remaining informed. People can not make reasonable and informed decisions when they do not have access to the facts (see above: transparency), and they rely on newspersons to give them that information. While it is impossible for anyone to be entirely unbiased, it is preposterous that the same six corporations with approximately the same agenda (that is, to back the parties and individuals who afford them the most wealth) own and control virtually all of the printed news and telecommunications. It is to be understood that groups do not regulate themselves, but the control of information is the lifeline of how we understand what is in need of correction in the first place. While the internet has served to provide some platform where alternative viewpoints might find their way to the public, it is absolutely necessary to implement a free press with as many different voices being represented as is possible. I do not "...buy into the myth that people can and do speak with one voice and that one version of reality is 'right'..." and that is precisely why I included that condition. If you turn on the news or read the papers under the current system of corporate ownership you would be tempted to believe that there actually is only one story or version of reality. A greater diversity of biases helps to ensure that a single agenda is not over-represented or accepted as fact by a public who has no other means to determine differently. That is precisely why I feel that corporate ownership and monopoly of the media is dangerous to the principles of democracy and needs to be changed.

As for your suggestion that it is a myth that "...people are bad and need to be controlled", I would respond that I see little empirical evidence that it is a myth at all. However, the "control" I would propose would be the empowerment of people to participate in decisions that affect their own lives and the lives of their fellows. When people become invested in their communities instead of putting all of their value on themselves as individuals, then they are in a position to begin to become compassionate (which I agree is the bottom line of the equation. I can not thank you enough for bringing that up!). People ARE bad and destructive to one another when the individual is the highest priority for them... and when they feel that they have no voice in a larger scheme or feel helpless to effect beneficial change, then "individual" is the only place that they feel they can gravitate. When people feel productive and that the community is something of value and worth protecting and preserving (or that there exists anything of value beyond themselves), then they enter into the social contract in earnest and become immediately more compassionate and less "bad". Democracy (which has never truly existed, but would be really worth a shot) can give people that sense of empowerment and self worth and level the playing field to the degree that we can all actually become productive, reasonably well-adjusted members of society and finally leave behind the childhood of "individual" despair and hopelessness.

~M.

 

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Registered: 31/12/1969
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  posted on 27/4/2003 at 08:42 PM
Fuckin' Democrats!


Recently I've decided to throw political parties into the same box as religions...I don't much like 'em, nor do I have much use for 'em...

Honestly though, that was fun as hell to read...it's always nice when intelligent people speak out against something, and manage to maintain their dignity and composure. You guys rock.

I'd say something more...but honestly, my opinions, beliefs and social tendancies tend to fluctuate wildly based on events experianced. So if I say anything, it's likely to change completely in a week.

Dynamism is fun as hell ya?

 

____________________
In the valley of the Goats, the Goat Fucker is King

 

Fanatic




Posts: 470
Registered: 23/9/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 27/4/2003 at 09:24 PM
"the liberty each man hath to use his own power as he will himself for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life; and consequently, of doing anything which, in his own judgement and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto." -Hobbes (The Leviathan CHAPTER XIV paragraph one)

"Whensoever a man transferreth his right, or renounceth it, it is either in consideration of some right reciprocally transferred to himself, or for some other good he hopeth for thereby. For it is a voluntary act: and of the voluntary acts of every man, the object is some good to himself. And therefore there be some rights which no man can be understood by any words, or other signs, to have abandoned or transferred. As first a man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force to take away his life, because he cannot be understood to aim thereby at any good to himself. The same may be said of wounds, and chains, and imprisonment, both because there is no benefit consequent to such patience, as there is to the patience of suffering another to be wounded or imprisoned, as also because a man cannot tell when he seeth men proceed against him by violence whether they intend his death or not. And lastly the motive and end for which this renouncing and transferring of right is introduced is nothing else but the security of a man's person, in his life, and in the means of so preserving life as not to be weary of it. And therefore if a man by words, or other signs, seem to despoil himself of the end for which those signs were intended, he is not to be understood as if he meant it, or that it was his will, but that he was ignorant of how such words and actions were to be interpreted. " (paragraph 8)

I think that in your standing argument Mono most of the participants in our currently mislabeled Democratic society have aquised the last of those rights above, and do not understand the consequences of those actions.

I was speaking with my good friend Sam the other day about the state of the world. He lamented that it is impossible to live in a world comprised of nothing but Nation States, and how unfortunate it is that we have come to a time where only Nation States exist.

There are so many problems with the govermental bodies we create to control societies that there seems to be an essential paradox in creating any goverment to control men, and yet, at the same time, how do you break free of that. Democracy was the aim, but there are simply too many people who want to be a part of a clear running opertating system. There is a mass of peole who want to tie themselves to what they believe as being good goverment, regardless of whether or not that acutally exists. How can you educate those who come from the edges? How can you truly educate those already in the system who are commited to belief in that system like a religion.

The creation of The Republic, is just that.





 

____________________
It's like kegel exercises for your throat.~Monolycus

 

Fanatic




Posts: 580
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 06:08 AM
Dolo: I would throw partisan politics on that list of "threats to democracy" as well. I don't think that any of us should have beliefs that are entirely dictated by party loyalties, or, if you do, you should tie a bell around your neck so that your shepherd won't have any trouble finding you later. Incidentally, you were only joking and did not think that our discussion of democracy had anything to do with the Democratic Party, weren't you?

DK: I'm not sure what the alternative to nation states would be if not the fabled and mythical One World Government (allow me to shudder at that thought for a moment). I see nothing inherently wrong with nation states, as long as they are small, numerous and remain in communication and respect for those around them. I support local autonomy wholeheartedly and would fight a homogenous, monolithic one-world culture with every fibre of my being.

~M.

 

Fanatic




Posts: 580
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 08:10 AM
DK: Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay... I took Sam's remarks in entirely the wrong direction. I apologise, before the coffee kicks in I am as dense as plywood. I presume now that the alternative to nation states would mean city states, tribes and chieftainships and small autonomous collectives. Yes, yes, yes, that would be far preferable to what we currently enjoy as it would give the individual a far truer sense of identity and scope to their lives (where a person identifies first as a Hessian, next as a German, or first as a Rhode Islander, next as an American). Unfortunately, most of the options available these days do not satisfy... many people are proud to proclaim themselves New Yorkers, but that has become meaningless and hollow because, in this example:
a.) They do not feel "part" of a single culture (New York is too large and diverse),
b.) They do not feel that they are able to meaningfully contribute to that culture (New York is too large and diverse)
c.) They do not feel that they are "heard" by the leadership of New York any more than they feel "heard" by the leadership of the country (New York is famous for shady dealings involving city planning).
They are therefore not Athenians, or Romans, or Aztecs... they are only New Yorkers because they happen to live there. There is no benefit conferred to them by this fact, and nobody would notice if they moved away. They need something smaller and more "hands-on" to be satisfied. They proudly proclaim themselves as "New Yorkers" anyway, because the need for identification still exists.

Unfortunately, the kinds of communities that actually do nourish their constituents are inherently transient and prone to consolidation into the nation state, and that consolidation nearly always takes a measure of violence and oligarchy to bring about (see Book 30 of Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws for prime examples of this). As a matter of fact, the US is currently eliminating some of the last remnants of this kind of cultural identity on earth by accentuating the negative aspects of it and labelling these communities as "regional warlordships". Still, the most soul-satisfying identification a person is able to make involves smaller, more accessible groups... the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 could never have come about if the peoples of Russia had not felt that their entire identity was one of being neglected by a far away and inaccessible monarchy. More and more, nation states do not represent the people that they govern (Arthegarn mentioned recently, and he is correct, that Spain is nominally an ally of the United States in their "coalition of the willing" despite the fact that greater than 80%, and some sources I have read have cited 90%, of their population disagrees with this position) and these kinds of situations will lead to revolt if not addressed and corrected. When an individual does not feel a part of the state or feels that they are helpless to make themselves heard by the state (viz. "shut out" from the processes of democracy), they will either express their own individuality in negative, criminal ways (such as insular violence), or they will be forced to attach themselves to more accessible groups such as religious movements, small, private colleges, militias, cults, web sites, et cetera to remedy that feeling of marginalisation. Rarely do these "emergency" identifications result in positive consequences... ask the Heaven's Gate people (wait, you can't).

As a quick sidebar, I just read an interesting monograph about how J.R.R.Tolkien's Lord of the Rings was really about preserving small, communal lifeways (represented by the Shire) against hostile nationalism (as represented by Sauron and Mordor) and corporate technocracies (as represented by Saruman and Isengard). It didn't seem off-topic, so I thought that I would mention it. Let's have a small moment of thanks to Claude Lvi-Strauss and all Structuralists everywhere for giving us such rich and interesting new ways for us to waste our time.

~M.


 

Extreme Fanatic




Posts: 856
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 08:14 AM
To tell you the truth Mono, I'm so used to talking three different ways I no longer understand myself...>shrug< heh heh...oh well.


 

____________________
In the valley of the Goats, the Goat Fucker is King

 

Extreme Fanatic




Posts: 759
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 08:48 AM
MonO i was not being silly when i asked about the transparency of a grandmothers life. IF we are talking about a democracy then everyone is "the leader". you dont have a democracy just to hire and create a seperate class of leaders. you may hitre people to do a specific job like research something or report on something or moderate a certain debate, but you dont have a seperate level of govenment by leaders in a democracy. so the grandmother would be a leader AND so would the 18 year old. both of thier lives must be open to each other.

I also want to speak about the idea that all people are born bad. this is a strange idea to me since i have been around small kids alot. They arent bad people. some are more curuous than others some are shyer than others. but they arent "bad". it is thru abuse and social training that they come to think of themselves as bad. it is thru long term helplessness that they come to want to control others so as to no longer be helpless.

There is lots of "empirical" (giggle like anything can be about groups of humans in changing situations) evidence that most people arent born bad. jsut as there is much that says they go bad when abused, ignored, outgrouped, and taught to think of themselves as bad. I think in this you are projecting your upbringinf on to others and expressing your feelings of helplessness and perceived lack of control of your life.

if we are daydreaming utopian societies here then let me have my day dream too, that people will not be raised to think that they are born in sin, full of sin, and must always commmit more sins. You cant have a democracy when everyone knows everyone else is "bad" and worthy pf punishment. You perhaps can when people think that other people are, well, just people, like themselves and as complex as themselves, who's questions and issues are as important as thier own.

In a democracy we dont need "daddy" (elected leaders) to tell us what we can vote about, think about, or debate. we dont need him to decided when somehting is important or not.

 

____________________
Real goths wear silver and crosses to keep the werewolves and vampires
away.

 

Occasional Poster




Posts: 38
Registered: 26/4/2003
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 10:37 AM
Just a little about the humans evil thing. When most people lose the Governement or anything else that controls them they tend to lose control themselves, Riots and looting all over the place.. So it does seem that most people given the chance would do it. not sure though, always exeption to the rule. Perhaps something to do with the animal in us?

 

____________________

 

Extreme Fanatic




Posts: 658
Registered: 27/5/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 11:12 AM
I might mention that whether or not humans are actually born "bad," they quite honestly tend to follow the flock. This is a fact commonly exploited by leaders. "A group is easier to control than an individual" as Hitler said.

Civil behavior (and likewise, civil disobedience) is a question of what the flock wants. Governemnts act as shepherds and we are lead to believe that without them, chaos ensues. This is an interesting idea because it implies that there are no consequences without a governing system. Is this true?

We are lead to believe that without police there would be murder and rape and robery. Yet we have police and there is murder and rape and robbery.

But like dogs humans tend to form packs (in this case mobs and corperations) and those outside of the pack quickly find themselves it's victim. The purpose of a governement should be to keep these packs from bullying the indiviual. However, like in Babylon (as the Rastafarians refer to the US), the system is run by the corperations.

In order to progress an individual's rights we must take the people must hold the power, not the corperations and although the US is very fucked-up in the degree buissness controls it, it is not so far gone that it can't be corrected.

 

____________________




i wanted to die, and then it progressed into wanting everyone else
to
/>

die so i could watch, and then me die.








-ickgirl

 

Fanatic




Posts: 580
Registered: 31/12/1969
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 03:12 PM
We're going to have to agree to disagree about the basic natures of people, Callei. I will consider your suggestion that I am just projecting due to my background, but I really don't think that's the case. I've been collecting stories of atrocities for years now, and I can tell you that children are capable of the most vile and criminal acts against one another and anything smaller and more helpless than they are when they can get away with it regardless of how privileged and loving or economically-depressed and abusive a background they spring from. Of course, if "badness" were only a reflection of how helpless and disenfranchised a person's life is, then the greatest evils against people and the environment should not spring so regularly and predictably from the wealthiest sectors... but they do. I do not believe that the badness in people needs much cultivation, it merely needs opportunity and excuse.

Then again, if you really believe that humans should not have rules imposed from outside themselves and that they will get along just fine if given an opportunity, perhaps you could make arrangements for this site to go without moderation and spankings for a bit. If your theory is correct we should not need anyone here to enforce guidelines for reasonable behaviour. I find it odd that someone with the status of editor and pantheon member should take the stance that everyone in a community is an equal leader, but then I hear a lot of things from the apex that I do not necessarily agree with.

~M.

 

Occasional Poster




Posts: 38
Registered: 26/4/2003
Status: Offline

  posted on 28/4/2003 at 04:37 PM
quote:

We are lead to believe that without police there would be murder and rape and robery. Yet we have police and there is murder and rape and robbery.


and if it hadn't been for the police all those people would keep on raping, rob, etc.. and I am certain that there is a couple of people that don't act on their desires for the fear of punishment. Like something I read somewhere "morale is a little voice saying someone sees you"


quote:
But like dogs humans tend to form packs (in this case mobs and corperations) and those outside of the pack quickly find themselves it's victim. The purpose of a governement should be to keep these packs from bullying the indiviual.


Perhaps not the point but they form packs like the gangs that pray on the weak?

 

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