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Monday, February 04, 2013

Mailvox: errors of the equalitarians

Boris rejects my proposed liberty metric:
"So my question to Mr. Trimnell is if he accepts the number of laws and regulations in effect as a reasonable metric for measuring human liberty in this regard?"

This is a terrible metric. The content of the law is far more important wrt liberty than the actual number of laws. It can hardly be argued that American society is less free today than in 1919.  In any case, a more complex society will always have more laws, so your metric is not well thought out at all.
Boris's objection is nonsensical on its face.  How can he reasonably compare the content of a single law to the total number of laws?  Alternatively, if by "the content of the law" he means "the cumulative content of all the laws", how can he possibly ignore the fact that since all laws contain restrictions on human behavior, the larger the number of laws, the larger the number of restrictions on human behavior that they collectively contain?

It is true that the cumulative content of restrictions imposed by all the laws is a better metric than the mere number of them, but the latter is much easier to calculate, harder to dispute, and is demonstrably a reasonable and effective metric even if not the ideal one.

Furthermore, it can very easily be argued, indeed, it can very easily be proved, that American society is considerably less free today than in 1919.  I invite Boris to either attempt to prove that American society is considerably more as free today than in 1919 or retract his assertion.

Finally, what is "a complex society"?  Wikipedia defines it as: "the extent of a division of labour in which members of society are more or less permanently specialized in particular activities and depend on others for goods and services, within a system regulated by custom and laws."  Since a complex society features a regulated system by definition, it should be clear that the complex society's inevitable tendency to have more laws not only fails to disprove the metric, but instead underlines its effectiveness.

I also asked The Great Martini about his preference for democracy or limited democracy:
"Question for you: what better expresses the will of the people, direct democracy or representative-limited democracy? And which do you favor?"

Direct democracy would be preferable if a practical system could be devised to implement it. There's the question of whether it would even be feasible to run a government by constantly consulting all the people every time a decision had to be made. If everyone were versed in everything and if everyone would actually agree to a process of constant polling it would no doubt be a very effective expression of the will of the people. The internet has made that more feasible, but still I think impractical.
What does feasibility have to do with the more perfect expression of the will of the people?  Is direct democracy via the Internet truly LESS feasible or a less perfect expression than the system of limited representative democracy when it took weeks for information to travel from Washington DC to the various Congressional districts across the nation?  Is it even less perfect than the present system that involves gerrymandered representatives voting on giant bills consisting of thousands of pages that they have not even read?

The point I am making here is that even the most die-hard equalitarian favors strict limits on democracy.  They might appeal to feasibility, practicality, voter ignorance, or any number of other factors, but at the end of the day, every single one I have ever encountered favors concrete limits for the electorate.  Therefore, this is a purely practical debate and the metaphysical arguments upon which the pro-suffrage equalitarian rhetoric is based are irrelevant and inapplicable.

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75 Comments:

Anonymous Idle Spectator February 04, 2013 6:02 AM  

Simple.

a = a /\ b = b /\ a =! b.

QED.

Anonymous Idle Spectator February 04, 2013 6:12 AM  

For the not-math people, a = a is called the reflexive property.

/\ is the wedge symbol for "and," or a logical conjunction. a := man, b := woman. And := means "defined as."

QED is quod erat demonstrandum, Latin for which had to be demonstrated.


QED to the equal-tardian errors, bitches.

Anonymous OCS February 04, 2013 6:27 AM  

Or for the programmers/server-side scripting people out there:

var a = a;
var b = b;

echo (a!=b ? 'QED' : 'Shut up Tad');

So much simpler.

Anonymous VryeDenker February 04, 2013 6:28 AM  

I don't see how a direct democracy could be any better than a representative democracy. It still relies on the political class to accurately communicate its intentions. From personal experience, we tried it in South Africa in the early 90's with our well-known referendum. The question: "Should the government engage in negotiations with the ANC, MK,etc.". 80% voted yes. Next thing you know, it 's reported that 80% of people voted to hand the reigns over to a revolutionary (read "terrorist") movement.

In a representative democracy, the representative ignores the will of his constituents. When faced with a direct democracy, the government can simply phrase things a certain way and get on with business as usual. The obstacles are different, but the end result is largely the same.

Anonymous Idle Spectator February 04, 2013 6:28 AM  

"But Idle, who is magnificent, brave, clean, strong, garrulous, and silky smooth like a fine yogurt, the reflexive property seems trivial. Is there some place where the center does not hold?"

Of course my son. Consider the relations < or >. a < a with natural numbers is wrong, such as 3 < 3. That is irreflexive, or anti-reflexive.


So sayth the Spectation of Idle.
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritūs Sancti, amen.

Anonymous Asher February 04, 2013 6:39 AM  

Metaphysical arguments inapplicable?

You don't say!!!

Anonymous zen0 February 04, 2013 6:44 AM  

Direct democracy is useful to decide the big questions like secession and establishment of an income tax or Federal Reserve system, and homo-marriage. I makes people think they have a say. If the vote goes against what the elites want, they can nullify it through corrupt judges and administrative convenience.

Ergo, the only objection to DD has to be a result of sheer laziness.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 6:47 AM  

Metaphysical arguments inapplicable? You don't say!!!

Stay on target, young Jedi. This is not an excuse to hijack the thread. Just watch, they'll retreat to metaphysical ground as soon as I trounce them on the practical side. But that is not the topic at hand.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 6:48 AM  

In a representative democracy, the representative ignores the will of his constituents. When faced with a direct democracy, the government can simply phrase things a certain way and get on with business as usual. The obstacles are different, but the end result is largely the same.

This is not true. You will note that Switzerland is not a member of the EU; this is solely because the direct democracy twice overrode the will of the elected representatives.

Anonymous Krul February 04, 2013 7:09 AM  

I invite Boris to either attempt to prove that American society is considerably more free today than in 1919 or retract his assertion.

Boris didn't say American society is more free today than in 1919. He said:
It can hardly be argued that American society is less free today than in 1919.
Therefore his point stands if he can demonstrate either that American society is more free today than it was in 1919 or that it is equally as free today as it was in 1919.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 7:12 AM  

It is an elemental mistake to try and speak of these matters solely within the parameters, and/or within the strict logical vocabulary, of the limits which have been selected here. The world has logical elements, of course it does, just as it has many elements, but the world in and of itself does not bow to logic. It can't. Can you not see why? To invert a famous phrase of the sainted D. Boon and Mike Watt, God does not bow to math. I refer you good people to Chuang Tzu, one of the only philosophers besides Nietzsche and Confucius who genuinely holds my interest, and who can paradoxically clear a lot of these things up for you by pointing out how much cloudier they are than you think they are. It doesn't mean we have to think or live in a total cloud, or be imprecise or lacking in logic by deferring to the inchoate; but it does mean that we have to look clearly at where we really are, and acknowledge the limits of being logical.

Humans use logic as a tool, but it is only one of many tools which humans use, and they do not in their entirety comprise a complete effective kit which can disclose the universe completely to human perception merely by virtue of being logical: human perception of the universe is not compleat. H.P. Lovecraft would find the thought hilarious (if he found anything hilarious). A spider has the virtuous capacity to construct a web, and it also has the virtue of being able to suck the blood out of the creatures who become caught in the web, so we would say that a spider is very skillful, and has a craftsman's place in the cosmos... and yet somehow I would not ask a spider its opinion about The Brothers Karamazov.

"Boris's objection is nonsensical on its face."

Well it is, and it isn't, depending on your perspective. It is often necessary to go and sit on a rock by a river somewhere for a while, and meditate about what perspective, or perspectives, might actually be. Then you come back and dispute, with maybe a bit more humility, which is always helpful.

Here, this might help...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AagWK9004

Not for the words. For the spirit.

"How's that for the spirit? How's that for the thing?"





Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 7:35 AM  

Therefore his point stands if he can demonstrate either that American society is more free today than it was in 1919 or that it is equally as free today as it was in 1919.

I stand corrected. I invite Boris to either attempt to prove that American society is equally or more free today than in 1919 or to retract his assertion.

Anonymous VryeDenker February 04, 2013 7:35 AM  

"This is not true. You will note that Switzerland is not a member of the EU; this is solely because the direct democracy twice overrode the will of the elected representatives."

I stand corrected.

Anonymous Anonymous February 04, 2013 7:41 AM  

old white guy says....... if you live long enough you can actually experience the loss of freedom. i know i have.

Anonymous Bob Ramar February 04, 2013 7:51 AM  

There are, imo, two reasons Politian’s create more laws:
1. They want be seen as 'doing something' for their constituencies (not necessarily the people they are supposed to represent). and,
2. It creates a situation where anybody can become a ‘criminal’.
This is it folks, especially the second. If somebody in power wants you, he can find a way to get you.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 7:57 AM  

"Therefore his point stands if he can demonstrate either that American society is more free today than it was in 1919 or that it is equally as free today as it was in 1919."

American society in 1919 simply was not subject at the time, as it is now, to the manifold toxins released into the social system by the greatly augmented power and influence of Jews and blacks. Briefly, it's not the same society. So the basis for comparison cannot be the same, and even the word "liberty" itself cannot mean the same thing as it did then. This is merely an organic comparison: blacks and Jews are simply different creatures from whites in certain important ways, and have different methods by which they thrive, often directly contrary to the ways in which whites thrive, and so crying "racism!" is not only silly, it's also somehow perfectly accurate in an unexpected fashion. It is not unlike introducing peaches and radishes into a garden suited only for tomatoes. One may like peaches and radishes just fine, and yet concede that they require different conditions than tomatoes to thrive. This isn't really a moral nor an ethical question, it is simply a practical one. One might even say it's a horticultural one.

An account of American society from say 1945 to the present which does not clearly discuss and identify the noxious, poisonous intellectual, social, cultural and economic toxins released by Jews and blacks into American society, and which actively poison the otherwise natural development of white society, is simply not an accurate account. This is not a matter of opinion as many would have one think; it is a matter of simple and easily observable fact. Until this question is rectified and the discourse is pursued with a spirit of accuracy rather than political whim, what serious progress can possibly be achieved? Other than the course of progress presently intended by subterfuge and deceit, that is.

Anonymous zen0 February 04, 2013 8:06 AM  

It is often necessary to go and sit on a rock by a river somewhere for a while, and meditate about what perspective, or perspectives, might actually be.

A word of caution:

Choose your rivers carefully, for a Grizzly may happen by, think you are trying to usurp his fishing rights, and rip your quivering guts out.

Blogger LP 999/Eliza February 04, 2013 8:07 AM  

Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges;

The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government...

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 8:19 AM  

"a Grizzly may happen by, think you are trying to usurp his fishing rights, and rip your quivering guts out."

Well of course it's a rather funny Herzogian scenario to be sure; but then again a man who approaches the tao doesn't quiver about bears and such. (That is not the same thing as being foolishly unwary of bears and such, you understand.) This would be lesson one.

Anonymous Roundtine February 04, 2013 8:22 AM  

Laws are something produced by governments. They produce a lot of them. The number of words used expands. Eventually, it becomes very complex: common people do not understand and specialists dominate the government. This is why many times in history, there is a reform leader who cuts the number of laws and simplifies them. America is at the point where it needs a leader to tax an ax to the legal code.

I don't know how someone can say we are more free: complexity is itself a cost. If you have two societies equal in legal content, the more complex society (the one with more laws) is clearly the less free society. So Boris needs to show that the gains from other areas offset the losses. On a percentage basis, America in 1919 had a low income tax, only on the rich. Drugs and alcohol were mostly legal, except there were dry states and counties. Today, alcohol and cigarettes are highly taxed, drugs illegal. Income tax is roughly 15% direct, plus 7% payroll direct, plus 7% payroll indirect. You could own a machine gun.

The left likes to point out women and minorities have more freedom, but this is actually a social change. Most white people in 1919 didn't want to marry black people and vice versa, and both thought they should stick to themselves. All people lost the freedoms listed above. And where the law forces equality, it creates a burden on someone else. All affirmative action does is take from Peter to give to Paul. It's at best a net zero. And one can argue it's a net negative.

All transportation and technological gains are not from laws. It doesn't matter if government funded 100% of the gains, every new field had zero regulations at the outset. I'm not going to look it up, but I assume there was little to no airline regulation in 1919.

Anonymous Orville February 04, 2013 8:26 AM  

There is another factor Boris doesn't account for and that is the Executive branch's use of the cancerous Federal Register. There is so much more defacto law enacted there than what Congress proposes, and essentially with no vote and only a laughable comment period.

Blogger mmaier2112 February 04, 2013 8:38 AM  

@Orville: Well the US Federal Pigs throwing folks in jail for buying lobsters that are too small according to South American law won't happen by itself!

Anonymous The Great Martini February 04, 2013 8:48 AM  


The point I am making here is that even the most die-hard equalitarian favors strict limits on democracy. They might appeal to feasibility, practicality, voter ignorance, or any number of other factors, but at the end of the day, every single one I have ever encountered favors concrete limits for the electorate.


They do argue the best ways to implement democracy, and direct and representative are two possibilities, but the electorate still has a voice in both varieties. The disenfranchised would have a voice in neither. So you're really talking apples/oranges. A restricted electorate is no longer a democracy. Call it what you want, all male voters (androcracy?): it's not a democracy by today's standards. By definition, democracy is rule by the people. The only reason democracies of a couple hundred years ago could get away with calling themselves democracies is because they didn't consider women (blacks, etc.) as political beings. Today we do.

You can argue the point in terms of things like childhood voting or felon disenfranchisement, and those are germane to the topic, but in today's world, a democracy that doesn't include women is not a democracy.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 8:54 AM  

Alternatively, if by "the content of the law" he means "the cumulative content of all the laws", how can he possibly ignore the fact that since all laws contain restrictions on human behavior, the larger the number of laws, the larger the number of restrictions on human behavior that they collectively contain?

This is facially untrue. All laws do not contain restrictions on behavior.

A huge percentage of the laws on the books are simply administrative measures that have no general effect on liberty. Another big chunk are simple "It is the sense of the Congress..."

Anyone who actually reads the Federal register can see clearly that the majority of these laws are actually garbage but don't have any effect liberty.

Anonymous Splash Daddy February 04, 2013 8:59 AM  

The number of laws and regulations is a reasonable and practicle primary metric. A singular metric - or even a set of primary and secondary metrics - do not by themselves prove anything. Rather, metrics are indicators only, providing you with a starting point for further, in depth analysis.

Boris apperently doesn't understand metrics. The total content of all laws and their net effect would require complex, detailed analysis full of interpretations about intent, cause, and effect. It would also involve scope issues. Would you include marginal tax rates, blue laws, compulsory education and service, and/or whether or not you can turn right on red? Determining content and effect would be conclusions based on an analysis. It is not practicle as a primary metric.

One of the biggest and most difficult communications issues I find is that most people do not understand the difference between deterministic and probablistic functions. Most people are binary thinkers. Everything is yes/no, either/or, if/then, etc. They do not really grasp the concepts of probabilities and tendencies regarding human behavior, reliably resulting in folly.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 9:08 AM  

This is facially untrue. All laws do not contain restrictions on behavior. A huge percentage of the laws on the books are simply administrative measures that have no general effect on liberty

Are administrators human? Do the "administrative measures" have any effect on their behavior?

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 9:10 AM  

You can argue the point in terms of things like childhood voting or felon disenfranchisement, and those are germane to the topic, but in today's world, a democracy that doesn't include women is not a democracy.

So, you are saying that Athens was not a democracy and the USA prior to 1919 was not a democracy? Moreover, that all of the democracies described by Thucydides, Cicero, and the Founding Fathers were not, in fact, democracies?

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 9:11 AM  

So you're really talking apples/oranges. A restricted electorate is no longer a democracy.

Is the present U.S. electorate unrestricted?

Anonymous The Great Martini February 04, 2013 9:15 AM  

It seems to me that it all depends on which side of the law you happen to be on whether it increases or diminishes your liberties. If you happen to be a criminal, criminal law is going to diminish your liberty. If you happen to be a wrongful defendant in a civil claim, it diminishes your liberty, but as a wronged plaintiff, it increases your liberty by allowing you to sue for grievance. Or, you can disqualify all these things and limit the argument to just those kinds laws you think limit your freedom. Begging the question is always a very good way to win an argument.

Blogger Tom February 04, 2013 9:20 AM  

Let babies vote! Whichever candidate they drool on the most is the one they pick. Or, you could do it the way my children have the baby "choose" their diaper. Hold up the two options and whichever one the baby looks at longer is the winner.

Anonymous The Great Martini February 04, 2013 9:20 AM  


Is the present U.S. electorate unrestricted?


Reasonably unrestricted. It restricts by age, by criminal status, and of course by citizenship status. Probably others ways I'm not aware of. There is a reasonable effort to allow every eligible person who wants to vote to vote.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 9:24 AM  

It seems to me that it all depends on which side of the law you happen to be on whether it increases or diminishes your liberties.

But we are told that everyone breaks, on average, five laws per day. Therefore, we are all criminals and we all experience diminished liberty.

It restricts by age, by criminal status, and of course by citizenship status.

And therefore is not a democracy, by your metric. You're not so much moving the goalposts as tearing them down and putting them on a different field.



Anonymous Roundtine February 04, 2013 9:27 AM  

The administrators restrict people. And they have laws telling them how to do their job.

Anonymous Noah B. February 04, 2013 9:30 AM  

"But we are told that everyone breaks, on average, five laws per day."

That number strikes me as far too low.

Anonymous RC February 04, 2013 9:45 AM  

Arguments like Boris’ can only come from those who define freedom as safety, and even then in a wrong-headed manner. There is a giant and growing underclass that is fed and housed in prison by Leviathan (either hemmed in by known streets or by razor wire – it matters not) to keep them quiet and cooed. The elite are so well-connected that gross crimes against humanity are smoothed over – no harm, no foul – unless their sins impact other elites. See Jon Corzine for a most excellent example of many. The targets of Leviathan, the source of his blood money, are the middle and upper classes, entrepreneurs being the most versed in Leviathan’s manifold weapons, his Laws and Regulations.

One of the best examples I have ever seen of seeing a man shredded by government is Rick Reese and his family. They had owned a very successful gun store, New Deal, in New Mexico. His wife advised a deputy of some suspicious purchases that she thought might be straw purchases. The deputy involved the BATF goons who turned the straw purchaser against New Deal as informants, arrested them in mid-2011, and confiscated all their business and personal property and assets with a raid of 100 agents, Rick Reese (and one son) are sitting in prison to this very second, a year and a half later.

The government brought 28 charges; they were convicted on only 4 comparatively minor charges of selling weapons that they “either knew or should have known” were headed to Mexico. All four sales were to informants directed by the FBI and all of them passed the FBI background check. During trial a government witness used to impeach the Reese’s testimony was Detective Batts, the same agent that Mrs. Reese had originally contacted regarding the suspicious purchases. It was revealed post-trial that the good detective had been under FBI investigation for numerous crimes for ten years, a fact not disclosed to the defense as required by law. Even that information was only revealed because of one FBI agent’s honesty. (Let’s see what happens to him.) This past Friday the judge granted the Reese’s a new trial and will allow bail for Rick Reese and his son after 18 months in jail.

Their business has been utterly destroyed, their assets which were needed to mount a defense were confiscated without trial, leaving them unable to mount a top-notch defense, and their very freedom was stolen without trial. In a new trial, with Batt’s credibility now in tatters, the Reese’s will likely walk completely free. But to what end? They have been utterly destroyed by Leviathan. (One might find it interesting that, according to the FBI testimony at trial, FBI agents receive bonuses when assets are confiscated.)

Click here to have your eyes opened.

The government was vested with no such powers a hundred years ago. They could not confiscate assets and deprive the accused of assets to mount a defense! The law books are an armory filled with laws and executive orders and regulations just waiting to be employed at Leviathan’s pleasure to destroy his enemies. Yes Boris, cow on in your ignorance. You may be fed and ignored until his more capable and dangerous victims are destroyed. But even those well down on his enemy’s list are still on it.

Anonymous Noah B. February 04, 2013 9:49 AM  

The Reese family's ordeal is an example of the government not only abusing its power but proudly advertising its intent and ability to do so. This government is a corrupt joke.

Anonymous Just Asking February 04, 2013 9:50 AM  

So what's the endgame?

Anonymous Anonymous February 04, 2013 9:56 AM  

Shut up, Tad.

Blogger tz February 04, 2013 9:57 AM  

I think the article I read said three felonies (federal) each day.

Tax rates too are a measure. When the government takes half (promising benefits or not), I am half a slave.

House slaves had it good, so they might not object since the system dressed them in fine clothes and fed them well. But a fine and comfortable slavery is not liberty. Liberty is scary since it involves responsibility.

It is also not freedom to be allowed the fraud of broken promises. Are we more or less free with no-fault divorce, but uncancellable student loans instead of the reverse?

Having a "freedom" to be a slave to sin, and not be free to be righteous is the destruction of liberty.

Liberty is not amorphous or chaos. It has a telos, a purpose, an end. And that is what is missing. Are we being given the freedom to act as animals OR angels by these laws?

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 9:59 AM  

I'm not the subject, Tad. You're on the five comments per post limit until you can show that you are capable of discussing the topic rather than me. And, as is usually the case, your statements are obviously false.

We don't need to know two laws restrict liberty equally to know that both of them restrict liberty. And, for the purposes of this discussion, that is all we need to know.

Anonymous Tad February 04, 2013 10:05 AM  

@Vox Day

So, you are saying that Athens was not a democracy and the USA prior to 1919 was not a democracy? Moreover, that all of the democracies described by Thucydides, Cicero, and the Founding Fathers were not, in fact, democracies?

Can they legitimately be called Democracies if the people are in fact not represented or voting? Really, they were more of MENOCRACIES.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 10:09 AM  

This is facially untrue. All laws do not contain restrictions on behavior. A huge percentage of the laws on the books are simply administrative measures that have no general effect on liberty

Are administrators human? Do the "administrative measures" have any effect on their behavior?


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/01/08/naming-post-offices-a-priority-for-congress-as-legislation-to-help-postal-service-failed/

15% of laws name post offices.

Is it the violation of some administrative persons liberty to have to call some post office George HW Bush Post Office or the Calvin Coolidge Post Office?

On top of post office namings, a goodly chunk of the code is defining the basics of the world in law. Things like defining how accounting works, defining the meaning of common words, defining "the sense of the government", the "sense of the congress", etc et all. These impinge human liberty no more than the Laws of Gravity impinge my ability to drift to the top of Mt. Everest instead of climbing it.

Anonymous Tad February 04, 2013 10:10 AM  

@Vox Day

We don't need to know two laws restrict liberty equally to know that both of them restrict liberty. And, for the purposes of this discussion, that is all we need to know.

Ah...OK...So, there is no contention here that increased restrictions on liberty indicates anything about women getting the vote. We are merely learning how to count. Got it. I'll sit this out until a less remedial post is offered

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 10:21 AM  

Can they legitimately be called Democracies if the people are in fact not represented or voting?

Of course. The historical systems define the term, not the modern interpretation. The scope of the eligibility is not the issue, merely the fact that eligible citizens are voting instead of hereditary rulers issuing commands.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 10:25 AM  

Of course. The historical systems define the term, not the modern interpretation. The scope of the eligibility is not the issue, merely the fact that eligible citizens are voting instead of hereditary rulers issuing commands.

There has to be more. It's like saying the triumvirate was a democracy because all three eligible voters participated.

Blogger James Dixon February 04, 2013 10:37 AM  

> Is it the violation of some administrative persons liberty to have to call some post office George HW Bush Post Office or the Calvin Coolidge Post Office?

Well, if enforced, yes. Most people I know use slightly more vulgar terms to refer to their post offices and the USPS in general. Forcing them to use the designated name would definitely qualify as an infringement of their freedom of speech. But probably no more so than background checks and waiting periods, so I'm sure you'd have no problem with it.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 10:38 AM  

There has to be more. It's like saying the triumvirate was a democracy because all three eligible voters participated.

No, it's not. When did the triumvirate hold elections in which they participated.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 February 04, 2013 10:47 AM  

If you are going to advocate direct democracy, then you might as well advocate anarcho-capitalism. Considering that the free market does a pretty good job of handling the demands of the individual, it makes no sense to have monopoly of power that is answerable to every individual in its borders by law when you can simply do it naturally.

I'm not an anarcho-capitalist per se, I'm just saying that there is little difference between both systems of government.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad February 04, 2013 10:49 AM  

I'll sit this out until a less remedial post is offered

What, no fake luncheon date to save you? Your condom is most transparent.

Anonymous What? February 04, 2013 10:57 AM  

It can hardly be argued that American society is less free today than in 1919.

Is he serious? He thinks we are not less free than in 1919? The claim is laughable on its face. Anyone who makes this claim simply is not a serious person (e.g., Tad).

Anonymous Heh February 04, 2013 10:58 AM  

It is often necessary to go and sit on a rock by a river somewhere for a while, and meditate about what perspective, or perspectives, might actually be.

Sit there long enough, and the corpse of your enemy will float by.

Anonymous Heh February 04, 2013 11:01 AM  

So, you are saying that Athens was not a democracy and the USA prior to 1919 was not a democracy? Moreover, that all of the democracies described by Thucydides, Cicero, and the Founding Fathers were not, in fact, democracies?

Precisely this asinine claim is made in response to the example of the War of 1812 as a refutation of the theory that "democracies don't wage war on each other".

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 11:58 AM  

No, it's not. When did the triumvirate hold elections in which they participated.

Now it's your historical inaccuracies that are bleeding through. The founders of democracy didn't have elections. They had assembly. No representatives were elected. No voters elected.

So before you can even start a solid definition is of course required.

There has to be a good definition. And it doesn't involve elections.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 12:23 PM  

Now it's your historical inaccuracies that are bleeding through. The founders of democracy didn't have elections. They had assembly.

Very well, if you prefer, when did the triumvirate hold a similar assembly? And obviously, you've shown that elections are not necessary for democracy.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 04, 2013 12:56 PM  

I assume Boris choose 1919 because of Women's Suffrage, but it's an interesting year for another reason. It was the height of the Wilson administration, which Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism called the first fascist government in the modern west. Predating Il Duce and Herr Schicklgruber, Wilson nationalized railroads, created a government propaganda office, revoked mailing privliges of people who criticized the government, shut down newspapers critical of the government...

He even added a little Bannana Republicanism into the affair by being incapacitated by a stroke which was kept from the public while his wife and cabinet continued to act in his name.

Warren Harding won the 1920 electon with a campaign slogal of "A Return to Normalcy."

So the interesting thing is that Boris - perhaps accidentally - picked what was up until that time, a high-water mark of American totalitarianism. It was also, as best I can tell, the last time a surge in totalitarianism was followed by a dramatic reversal and re-establishement of liberty during the 20's. Every surge in government power since then has had at best minor, and usually not even that, retreats.



Blogger The Requital February 04, 2013 1:13 PM  

During the same period could it also be said that though fewer, some liberties were added, even if undesirable consequences caused more liberties to be lost?

Womens right to vote is a liberty is it not?
Racial minority voting is a liberty?

I realize that quite a few laws were added to restrict freedom because of those laws passing and to make things "fair". But since there is an overwhelming majority of negative liberties, would it not be easier to find how many actual liberties were granted?

Or possibly make a case on how many negative liberties are attached to any actual law that increases the liberty of a population.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 1:32 PM  

Very well, if you prefer, when did the triumvirate hold a similar assembly? And obviously, you've shown that elections are not necessary for democracy.

Well it seems i have argued myself no where, because both triumvirates were composed only of people who hated each other and apparently never agreed on anything.

Anonymous VD February 04, 2013 1:45 PM  

Well it seems i have argued myself no where, because both triumvirates were composed only of people who hated each other and apparently never agreed on anything.

It was certainly an unexpected choice... but the riposte on the assembly vs elections was nice.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 2:12 PM  

So what is the grown-up definition of democracy, or does it not matter?

Blogger tz February 04, 2013 2:20 PM  

Note the amendments which were around the same time.

Income tax
Women's suffrage
Direct election of senators
Prohibition.

Only one has been repealed so far, but lives on in the mutated war on drugs.

"Would you give up the right to vote if you never had to pay income tax again?" Is another way of focusing things.

Note it was for each individual state before, the fierce western women were not a threat as much as the city men.

The right to vote is no magic creative force - you cannot vote prosperity. The lost liberty is a direct attack at creation. In the first Narnia book, the sexes are wrong - the girls would sell themselves for turkish delight.

Anonymous DonReynolds February 04, 2013 2:54 PM  

Democracy at some point (like 2012) becomes Mob-ocracy. Now we have rule by the Mob in the streets. Somehow that is better than anarchy, but I hasten to add that dictatorship by a majority can trample the rights of man just as surely as a drunken despot. In our particular situation, the mob majority does not have a collective political conscious of their own. They are openly and shamelessly manipulated by a faceless Plutocracy, determined to frustrate the will of the people of this great nation.....leading them by the nose to a place they would never agree to go. Like Judas goats, they lead the others to slaughter and demise.

Anonymous dh February 04, 2013 4:05 PM  

hey are openly and shamelessly manipulated by a faceless Plutocracy, determined to frustrate the will of the people of this great nation.....leading them by the nose to a place they would never agree to go. Like Judas goats, they lead the others to slaughter and demise.

Exactly right. This is why either by democracy or representation, we still get endless bailouts.

Blogger James Dixon February 04, 2013 4:21 PM  

> "Would you give up the right to vote if you never had to pay income tax again?"

Do you really think they would that stand if you said yes?

Blogger James Dixon February 04, 2013 4:29 PM  

> So what is the grown-up definition of democracy, or does it not matter?

I'd say that a democracy is any system in which the will of the people is reflected in the government. Whether directly or indirectly is probably not important.

Blogger James Dixon February 04, 2013 4:31 PM  

Needless to say, by that definition, we don't really have one. But then, we were never supposed to be a democracy.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 4:44 PM  

"both triumvirates were composed only of people who hated each other and apparently never agreed on anything."

Oh, so in other words, just like a modern-day democracy.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 4:45 PM  

Or, to be more precise, just like a democracy in which whites, Jews, and negroes (to say nothing of foreign mystery meat) all have ostensibly equal standing.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 4:55 PM  

The point seems to have become irrelevant, but just for the sake of clarity...

"It's like saying the triumvirate was a democracy because all three eligible voters participated."

Define a heap.

"Can they legitimately be called Democracies if the people are in fact not represented or voting? Really, they were more of MENOCRACIES."

Define a heap.

"Call it what you want, all male voters (androcracy?): it's not a democracy by today's standards. By definition, democracy is rule by the people. The only reason democracies of a couple hundred years ago could get away with calling themselves democracies is because they didn't consider women (blacks, etc.) as political beings."

Again: heap.

"you are saying that Athens was not a democracy and the USA prior to 1919 was not a democracy? Moreover, that all of the democracies described by Thucydides, Cicero, and the Founding Fathers were not, in fact, democracies?"

Heap. Sigh.

One of the interesting features of a democracy in say ancient Greece was that the electorate, whether all-male or all-landowning or whatever, was nevertheless pretty much a bunch of Greeks voting on what was best for the Greeks. Somehow they didn't grant the vote to foreigners who were members of the Let's Destroy the Greeks Party. Funny that.

Anonymous The Great Martini February 04, 2013 6:33 PM  


So, you are saying that Athens was not a democracy and the USA prior to 1919 was not a democracy? Moreover, that all of the democracies described by Thucydides, Cicero, and the Founding Fathers were not, in fact, democracies?


Getting back to the definition, a democracy is "rule of the people," which might as well be interpreted as "rule of the eligible people," so the debate reduces to who are/should be eligible to vote. I'll defer to Ed Trimnell's well worded post, that women have evolved since ancient times into integral parts of our economic and political landscape; therefore there is a moral imperative to include them as eligible to vote. They have a stake in the political process.

Anonymous kh123 February 04, 2013 10:57 PM  

"Well of course it's a rather funny Herzogian scenario to be sure"

There's also being randomly hit by gunfire while giving an interview in Los Angeles. "No, iz ok; I've bin schot vit vurse."

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 04, 2013 11:28 PM  

"There's also being randomly hit by gunfire while giving an interview in Los Angeles."

Did that actually happen to Herzog?

Well, if you can survive working with Kinski, you can pretty much survive anything.

Anonymous Toby Temple February 04, 2013 11:35 PM  

dh: Now it's your historical inaccuracies that are bleeding through. The founders of democracy didn't have elections. They had assembly.

vox: Very well, if you prefer, when did the triumvirate hold a similar assembly? And obviously, you've shown that elections are not necessary for democracy.


Are both of you talking about the initial assembly conducted by the Founding Fathers? Then it was not a democracy. It was a founding or the establishing of a democratic government/republic of America.

Anonymous dh February 05, 2013 2:16 PM  

Are both of you talking about the initial assembly conducted by the Founding Fathers? Then it was not a democracy. It was a founding or the establishing of a democratic government/republic of America.

You were only off by approximately 1800 years for the first triumvirate, and 2500 years for the first democratic assembly.

Anonymous Boris February 05, 2013 2:26 PM  

"Alternatively, if by "the content of the law" he means "the cumulative content of all the laws", how can he possibly ignore the fact that since all laws contain restrictions on human behavior, the larger the number of laws, the larger the number of restrictions on human behavior that they collectively contain?"

This is obviously false. Consider this law, from society 1:

1. No citizen may be permitted to own a firearm.

Then these two laws in society 2:

1. Citizens may not carry their firearms into any casino or gambling establishments.
2. Citizens may not own a firearm if they are under the age of 21.

Despite twice as many laws, society 2 is obviously more free.


Anonymous Toby Temple February 05, 2013 10:09 PM  

You were only off by approximately 1800 years for the first triumvirate, and 2500 years for the first democratic assembly.

I reread your post. I'm not really sure what you meant by founders of democracy....

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