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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Democracy debate part 1

Konrad Razumovsky challenged me to a debate in response to my contention that direct democracy is superior to representative democracy. This is his initial statement.

“My opinion, as I have previously expressed, is that the problems of "mob rule" of which the Founders so famously warned have proven to be considerably fewer and less problematic than the problems of establishing a political elite that uses the illusion of democratic approval as a protective shield. Now that technology makes it viable for larger polities, direct democracy is a moral imperative in any society with a government that is justified by the will of the people.”
—Vox Day

For the purposes of this, I am using a slightly modified version of the definition of democracy from Merriam-Webster: a democracy is “a form of government in which the people choose leaders, or specific laws, by voting”.

I do grant, and cannot reasonably dispute the following: one, representative democracies or democratic republics do limit the impact of the will of the people, by intention or accident is irrelevant; two, the most dangerous thing for a nation, in the long run, is a political elite which is divorced from the common man, a political elite who believe they are justified and also able to sell their chicanery to said common man with a gross misrepresentation of the intent of a particular government; third—and finally, technology does many exceptional things, with respect to man’s ability to influence his condition including the methods by which government can be built.  That said, I have no real issue with direct democracy in theory, or in practice, but I am forced to dispute the implicit claim that a democracy is an appropriate form of government for a larger scale polity, with or without technological intervention and irrespective of its moral gravity.  That is to say that a direct democracy has a number of internal issues which render it ineffective, if not outright detrimental, to a civilization of a certain size.  Briefly, these are: one, no amount of technological development is equal to the task of preventing the poor use thereof; two, democracies derive their legitimacy from the collective people of the nation, which would be fine if governments existed to care for the people, which they do not; three, economics applies to voting just as much as everything else; fourth—and finally, though mob rule is, indeed, a historical falsity, something very similar to it does exist and is exactly the thing which placed the silly political elite into power in the current era.  There will then need to be some minor legwork done on historic democracies to determine if the theoretical framework matches the practice.

While it must be admitted by all reasonable men that modern information based technology has certainly made it possible for a democracy to function on a scale significantly larger than previously possible, in terms of both geography and population, these advances do little to address the frailty of the ballot box.  In the more traditional rendition of a democracy, there are legions of little vote counters who, being human, can each be induced by their own ideologies or the machinations of others to forget or misplace certain votes; there are instances of the dearly departed or even pets casting votes; and there is one supreme holder of the ballots who could, were he so inclined, read a different name than the one at the top of the chart.  I freely admit that technology removes the human element from these scenarios, the vote counters are machines who are incorruptible by their own bias and cannot be blackmailed; a machine is compelled to follow its programming regarding the necessary certification that a particular voter is eligible to cast such a vote, thereby reducing the rate at which Spot or Aunt Mildred interferes with mortal affairs; and a machine is honest about who is where on the final printout. 


All of this rests on the assumption that the machine(s) administering the vote enjoy a state of being free of that kind of harassment designed to cause a shift in the eventual outcome of the vote being so administered.  Obviously, direct and physical tampering with these Democratic Servers is undesirable, so steps must be taken to remove the possibility of such.  I see two feasible solutions: one, the voting process may be moved entirely to the cloud, divorcing it from a physical existence; or two, the physical Democratic Servers must be fiercely protected against intrusions.  The problem with the first is that everyone on the planet would have access to the voting system, regardless of the level of authentication required to vote, a machine is only a machine—it is easily fooled by anyone with sufficient knowledge of the systems which compose it.  In other words, the account security for these voting systems would need to be impregnable, not only from foreign agents, but also from those running for office.  Due to the grand and illustrious history of impregnable vaults being busted, unsinkable ships being sunk, irrefutable evidence being refuted, and unstoppable armies being crushed, it strikes me as a point of absurdity to assume that any such system built today will last any serious amount of time.

The solution to this seems simple enough: just appoint a certain group, a set of experts—if you will, to continually update the security protocols.  Of course, this puts the entire democracy at the mercy of these programmers for its integrity, which undermines the entire point of a democracy in the first place, in that the government is derived by the will of the people.  We would be better off simply making the computer programmers the oligarchs of the new world order from the get-go to avoid all of the inevitable build up to that point.  Which leaves the second option: defending the physical counting machine.  This is also a doomed scenario because the defenders of the machine become like the programmers in the first scenario, able to unaccountably pick and choose what inputs the machine receives thereby determining the outcome.  Ultimately, this is not a new problem: every democratic system, above a certain size, will have a praetorian guard of some sort.  None of which is meant to say that technology has no place in a democracy, simply that technology does not solve the problem of the concentration of political power into the hands of a few over time.  So, to put a finer point on it, technology does not preclude in any way, shape, or form the establishment of a political elite who use the illusion of democratic approval as a protective shield, either as the wielders of legislative or executive powers.

Strip away every piece of government and political theory, until the very first portion of it is obvious, and we will see that government cares precisely not at all about the people under it because they are not its purpose and concern, in the West at any rate.  This singular purpose is the recording of property beyond that which is unquestionably within an arbitrary individual’s control.  Indeed, the entire function of government is to provide the threat of violence necessary to keep the integrity of property lines.  I could go into considerable detail regarding this facet of government, but this is neither the time nor the place for that.  Suffice it to say that physical property which is too large to conveniently command as an extension of oneself is the thing which demands the fomentation of a government of any variety.  To put it bluntly, a democracy, even if that democracy functions perfectly, places political power in the hands of all living members of a particular society regardless of their standing in terms of property which requires the existence of a government.  If all members of this democracy share a portion of this property, there is no problem as each member of the democracy ultimately has the same interest: the protection of the integrity of property as defined by the legal code enacted by this democracy; if only some members of the democracy enjoy the privileges of property ownership, then there becomes a schism in the end goals of the populace due to one group having property and the other not.  In times past, I would probably feel compelled to simply dismiss this schism as the product of the basest portions of human nature and therefore an ignorable affliction in an enlightened society, however, the past few decades serve as ample evidence that even the mightiest and most careful cultures can be brought low.  The moral standing of property envy is irrelevant at this point, it exists and must be countenanced and thwarted in some more robust manner than an appeal to fragile culture.  Until such a time as men become wholly divorced from their envy and petty jealousies, such that those without strive to achieve the same status as those who by grace have instead of simply using any and all possible leverage—including the use of government force—to deprive the latter group from their holdings, allowing such men, those who do not bear some interest in the ultimate good of the nation—and, by extension, the weight of property, dilutes or undermines the ultimate point of the establishment of a government in the first place.  Therefore, a democracy will eventually destroy itself.

Economics, the study of rational choice, is most assuredly a matter of concern for the democrat, simply because it is the ideal means by which men do their voting.  Obviously, the hope is for every voting member of a democracy to make his choices rationally, but the decision to vote is, itself, subject to a rational tradeoff.  It is a common observation that a vote in a democracy above a certain size is functionally useless.  A single vote in a nation of one hundred is worth considerably more than a single vote in a country of millions.  Granted, technological advances can make the costs associated with voting, leaving work early, time consumed casting the ballot, among others, much smaller but does little to ensure that a particular vote is actually worth casting in the grander sense.  Consider California, where it is not uncommon to find men of the right choosing not to vote simply because there is no point in doing so.  The analysis by these men is a simple one: there is a significant number of individuals within the State of California, to the point where an individual vote is insignificant, and the vast majority of Californians simply disagree with these right leaning voters.  A callous solution would be to instruct these people to move elsewhere, where their neighbors tend to agree with them, but this is an implicit admission that the discrete vote matters not at all.  Were the large scale democrat to admit that his ideology necessarily ignores the trees for the forest, I would have considerably less of a problem with the whole system of thought as the link between an increase in large scale democracy and the decline of individual rights could be more adequately documented and discussed.  To put it in a slightly more direct way, if a democracy exceeds a certain population threshold, then the democracy ceases to be able to effectively operate in a manner which is consistent with classically liberal thought.

Mob rule, or the tyranny of the majority, does not exist, in any meaningful form, but its close cousin, let’s call it the tyranny of geography, does.  For example, communities on the edge of the ocean have considerably different concerns than the community on a mountainside.  It would be unreasonable to expect the mountainside community to build houses on stilts to avoid tidal flooding, and the seaside community to have steeply sloped roofs to more effectively shed snowfall.  Such dichotomies can be found everywhere, with certain areas developing a particular solution to a problem which does not exist elsewhere.  Now, geography and climate can certainly cause people to behave differently discretely, but it has not been established that this would impair the ability of the aggregate of such localities to enact an effective democracy.  Indeed, if the total population of the seaside community and the mountainside community are virtually equivalent, then neither party would be able to force every house to have stilts or steep rooves, instead getting what seems not disagreeable to both.  The only problem is that such an arrangement simply does not happen in reality.  Let us examine New York State.  There is a collection of a few cities along the coast which dominate the entire policy of the state despite the rest of the state being of precisely the opposite political affiliation.  In other words, a concentration of people, brought about by geographic concerns, such as the suitability of a particular place to function as a port or commerce hub, may very well have certain governmental needs which do not exist outside of the densely populated areas, a governmental solution which could very easily eliminate the livelihood of these rural or suburban communities, and a democracy places complete authority over these potentially suffocating policies in the hands of those who choose to live in hyper concentrated areas without providing serious recourse to those in the boonies.  In a democracy, cities warp the political landscape to their own benefit, sometimes costing the smaller and more numerous communities which share its jurisdiction greatly.  If the wholesale ruination of the nonurban is permissible, then a democracy with a large footprint is acceptable; if not, then democracy must be limited in geographic size.

To briefly reiterate, a successful democracy would be fairly small in size and scale, encompassing a small area geographically and inhabited by a certain, relatively low, number of residents.  Bold claims to be sure, but not without historic precedence: I would draw your attention to both the Iceni tribes of pre-Roman Britain and the Her Majesty’s Privateers of the colonial era.  Both cases are successful democracies, successful in that they enjoyed social stability and developed cultures which further lubricated the systems put in place, with the community placing authority in an individual, either chief or captain, whose concern ensured that the democracy as a whole was benefited.  Should this figure of authority be found wanting, he did not have armies at his disposal to put down a vote of no confidence because his army consisted of his neighbors and friends who had a real interest in the good of the community as a whole.  In short, if the chief or captain failed to perform their duties in an acceptable manner to the people of the democracy, then removing them was an almost trivial matter: the army which did the removing was the army who followed his orders was the people who did the voting.  Of course, these examples merely show that a democracy does work on a local level but fails to evidence an inability of the system to meet the needs of a larger populace, in terms of both raw numbers and territory.  For this, we should investigate the history of Athens which, after having demonstrated its superiority in every possible field to its harshest critic—Plato, quietly fell apart due to internal issues between the various voting groups as these groups matured past their nascence within a few generations.

None of which quite addresses the most obvious point of a pure democracy: the laws or leaders enjoying the vote.  How precisely does the leader enact his will?  If historic trends are any indication, then a democracy is simply a form of government used to legitimize a dictator.  Does the democracy then choose to be of the form where every proposed law is voted on by the general populace?  If so, then one of two eventualities arise, either: one, the populace appoints, presumably by democratic means, a body of persons who propose laws, which is the establishment of a political elite who are naturally compelled to use their power for their own purposes; or, the laws are crowdsourced in some fashion, which would probably result in charming little laws akin to the naming of certain Antarctic Icebreakers.

All of these issues combined, or any one of them—really, is sufficient to fully dissuade the serious political philosopher from accepting democracy as some great panacea for the ills of society.  There is a place for democracy, to be sure—as it is very good at what it does under the appropriate circumstances, but its structural integrity is built solely upon its locality.  If a democracy reigns supreme over too large an expanse of people or places, then it will eventually destroy the very livelihood of those different people and places simply due to the nature of the thing.  This is an observation noted by the Founders, and was solved in their day by establishing requirements beyond that of mere life for voters and building the United States Senate upon the legislatures of the various states.  In fact, there was a little war fought over how ineffective these precautions were in thwarting the tendencies of democracies from 1861 to 1865, with numerous potential solutions being offered by one of the sides in that conflict.  More than any other factor, the spread of the belief of the justness of a pure and true democracy has contributed to the decline which is now so apparent throughout the West.  Insisting that more of the same is the solution is to argue that the United States, and nations like it, should cease to be one nation; a perfectly acceptable assertion, to be sure, but very different from the initial conceit of an objectively superior form of government for a nation of any serious size whose government derives its legitimacy from the will of the people.

I will post my response here sometime in the coming weeks, but I will note that Konrad appears to have completely missed the target by attacking the concept of democracy itself instead of defending the superiority of representative democracy to direct democracy. I have no intention whatsoever of defending the core concept of democracy itself, as my argument is neither theoretical nor idealistic in nature, but entirely practical, eminently possible, and directly relevant to the present political situation.

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112 Comments:

Anonymous appropriated libations July 10, 2016 8:40 AM  

Discussions of the functionality of systems of governance must be started with full understanding of exactly who is to be governed. The requirements for governing (adequately) homogeneous and diverse peoples are fundamentally different. Diversity, whether racial or religious, ALWAYS createa additional social, political, and economic instabilities whose management must be accounted for in the design of the machinery of government.

Anonymous johnc July 10, 2016 8:47 AM  

The first thing that comes to mind is that a direct democracy (in the US) would be about equivalent to just letting the media enterprise run the entire nation. They are so effective at forming public opinion that we might as well just skip the middle step. I could see them repealing the 2nd Amendment within 30 days.

Though I always fall back to my default POV which is that regardless of the system of government, a society that strays from God's way is a society that's going to be punished one way or another.

Anonymous Nym Coy July 10, 2016 8:48 AM  

Have you been following blockchain tech and it's application to governance?

Blogger Ceasar July 10, 2016 8:56 AM  

For most of my life, I have believed that the electorate tends to slightly lean to the left then the right then to the left...and so on. Most of these swings are due to seeing mistakes made by each side and not wanting to pay for the consequences any more. That belief is completely dead for me. At least up until recently, I also thought that while the elections were not perfect, they were fairly clean in providing the results that reflected reality. This belief is also gone. With a country so equally split/polarized, it does not take much to swing an election. Politicians and government are more than happy to sway elections to get the results they want.

What is the best use of technology in elections? Right now it is using technology to prove that the politicians/government are cheating at elections and particularly at the ballot box. Until we get to the point of only live US Citizens voting, we will continue heading down this disastrous road.

Anonymous artaud July 10, 2016 9:20 AM  

"For the purposes of this, I am using a slightly modified version of the definition of democracy from Merriam-Webster: a democracy is “a form of government in which the people choose leaders, or specific laws, by voting”."

One thing I reaaaaally hate is the resort to "dictionary definitions" by people who are as smart as you are. Anybody who's studied a lick of history and four or more languages doesn't need a dictionary to tell them what a word means. Dictionaries are for retards. It's like the stupid thing they say about patriotism and scoundrels.

We both know exactly what the word "democracy" means in our present context. It is meaningless, it is gibberish, and we wouldn't want it anyway, even if it meant what it is supposed to mean.

The rest of your argument I have yet to digest, and I'm sure it's worth the trouble. But this "dictionary" stuff, come on, man.

Blogger Dave July 10, 2016 9:46 AM  

@Artaud: give us an idea how smart is Razumovsky as I've not read anything he's written. Nitpicking the definition thing is a little harsh for those of us that don't know him.

Blogger Human Animal July 10, 2016 9:53 AM  

How much criticism of this can we go into without being in the territory of advising or assisting VD? I remember from one of the free trade debates that such annoys him.

Blogger Nick S July 10, 2016 9:57 AM  

@2

I've given this a great deal of thought, John, and while I agree with you in principle, I think some mitigating buffers (checks and balances) could be implemented to keep the pendulum from getting hung up at one apex or another. Things like congressional veto powers and requiring super-majorities in referendums for certain critical votes like the one you mentioned. Getting the bugs worked out could be tricky, but it might be worth the effort.

Blogger Al Cibiades July 10, 2016 10:00 AM  

Familial suffrage and not individual suffrage might be an interesting compromise and help mitigate for laws passed on muh feelz and muh sciences

Blogger Derek Kite July 10, 2016 10:03 AM  

I would define democracy as a means of getting rid of rulers without having to resort to hanging them. The actual ruling, making of legislation and the like is no different under democracies than authoritarian regimes, except that the entrenched power gets diluted. The ACA for example is written by bureaucrats, unelected, unaccountable, and the only way to change something is indeed to start hanging people.

So I would identify the problems of governance with an entrenched bureaucracy that cannot be controlled either by elected officials nor the population.

Take two instances. 9/11 happens, the electorate is fully behind the idea of breaking something and getting someone. What happens? We have a large and powerful and well entrenched box of ideas sitting around, and here is an opportunity to do them. Knock off Saddam, get involved in a major, long, ultimately fruitless military campaign only orthogonally connected to the original incident.

On the other side, ACA. Health care for all, great idea. So an accumulation of bad ideas are put together, with the most salient of all being 'The Secretary Shall'. The politicians and electorate didn't get what they want; the nice tidy arrangements and connections of the connected get what they want.

This is repeated everywhere from the local government taking advantage of the low turnout and disinterest to pad the pockets of the government workers. Etc.

Political parties essentially become a means of channeling influence in return for power.

Direct democracy can break the stranglehold, but also can be a means of the majority stealing from the few.

A few broken heads and burnt down monuments from time to time keep clear the stakes.

Anonymous Eric the Red July 10, 2016 10:04 AM  

There's also the danger that direct voting via technology would have incessant demands for re-votes by the side that lost. Some kind of issue finalization is necessary.

Blogger seeingsights July 10, 2016 10:15 AM  

I take referendums as a prime example of direct democracy.
There have been hundreds of referendums world-wide, and I am not familiar with most of them.
I like the result of some prominent ones though, such as the recent Brexit. Another is California's Proposition (1978) which limited taxes. Switzerland recently had a referendum where a free shit proposal--basic income--was trounced. I also generally support referendums for national independence.
In Contiental Europe, there is support for referendums concerning limiting immigration and withdrawal from the European Union.
Notice that the recent referendums are congruent with the populist/nationalist/alt right view.

Blogger Achilles July 10, 2016 10:18 AM  

I'm more concerned with whose will is represented rather than how. That seems a bigger factor in results. But I look forward to seeing how this debate plays out.

Anonymous 5343 July 10, 2016 10:22 AM  

How much criticism of this can we go into without being in the territory of advising or assisting VD?

The remedy for which would be not to post Konrad's original statement until his reply is ready to roll. Since Vox didn't hold it back, I trust we're okay to bang away at the ideas Konrad laid out.

Anonymous johnc July 10, 2016 10:26 AM  

@8

That is a good point. In general I tend to be anti-democracy and this "direct democracy" strikes me as more democracy rather than less of it. So my initial inclination is to be against it. But I'm sure there are structures that can be put in place to allow it to perform at least as awful as our current system.

Blogger Jack Ward July 10, 2016 10:31 AM  

Using modern tech, ie computer voting via the internet, should or could be made to work. The safeguards might require the polity to man up and allow easy access to who or what they voted for. The tech would be vote on line for whatever; your full identity and your vote are given a code number. After the election, before it is declared valid and law of the land, the polity are required, by law, to check and see if their vote was correctly logged and not changed in any way. Complaints must be looked into before any voted on person or law is valid.
I think this might work. Until the ptb figure a way to screw around it.

Blogger Al From Bay Shore July 10, 2016 10:48 AM  

I felt like I just read something by an Anti-Federalist. Midway through this commentary, I grabbed one of my books on the Anti-Federalists, went into the index in search of "localism", turned to one of the pages listed beneath that term and found this:

"It is necessary that there should be local laws and institutions; for a people inhabiting various climates will unavoidably have local habits and different modes of life, and these must be consulted in making these laws. It is much easier to adapt the laws to the manners of the people, than to make manners conform to laws"
- Agrippa (John Winthrop)

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd July 10, 2016 10:50 AM  

It's a fallen world: any system will work until the elite-wannabes figure out how to game it. That means no system will work long.

Direct democracy means we would need to limit what can be voted on: e.g., no ``Let's vote to kill Bob.'' That requires some sort of constitution, and we all know how they turn out.

In short, your proposal is inherently flawed and won't work in the long run, but might work better and longer than what we have now. The inherent flaws, of course, are in us, not in our real current or hypothetical future governments.

Blogger Durandel Almiras July 10, 2016 10:51 AM  

I no longer believe in democracy. I also no longer believe in large nations. What does DC have to do with Nashville? NYC with Atlanta? Heck, NYC with Buffalo? We need to apply subsidiarity to government again, bring government back to neighborhoods rather than some foreign federal post.

It does seem that Konrad wants to debate if any form of democracy is useful rather than if one form is better than another. Still shall be fun to read.

Anonymous EH July 10, 2016 10:56 AM  

There are basic questions: who is part of the nation, what does the nation want, are their wants consistent and sustainable, how will competing wants be recognized and ranked or reconciled, what are the means to be used in pursuing those ends, how effective are the means, how will that be measured and debugged, who will decide the answers to these questions? No system of government has had good answers to any of these questions, particularly recognizing and reconciling competing ends, judging the effectiveness of means, and selecting the ablest judges.

People don't differ as much in desires as they do in their ability to fulfill those desires. The franchise to decide national goals can be extended more broadly than that to decide means or to evaluate their effectiveness.

Blogger praetorian July 10, 2016 10:59 AM  

To briefly reiterate, a successful democracy would be fairly small in size and scale, encompassing a small area geographically and inhabited by a certain, relatively low, number of residents.

I believe you could substitute X for 'democracy' here.

Or maybe "X populated by 100+ IQ folks"

Blogger CM July 10, 2016 10:59 AM  

His case focuses heavily on the issues of democracy in a nation with a large central government.

So... power of the states works better with direct democracy. Also, decentralized government would break the cabal of large media by requiring more and smaller media to address local concerns (harder to bullshit when its your backyard) with fewer national issues making Big Media less lucrative.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd July 10, 2016 11:01 AM  

Darn. I forgot to add: subsidiarity is going to make any system harder to game on a large scale, and thus last longer. Pushing power down to a local level, keeping it close to smaller groups of people, and keeping power away from larger groups, will make any system work better.

Our experience with our current constitution shows that subsidiarity is unstable, and easily subverted by the elites. Again, the inherent flaws are in us.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd July 10, 2016 11:09 AM  

praetorian wrote:To briefly reiterate, a successful democracy would be fairly small in size and scale, encompassing a small area geographically and inhabited by a certain, relatively low, number of residents.

I believe you could substitute X for 'democracy' here.

Or maybe "X populated by 100+ IQ folks"


I think you're on the right track here. Any system might work well, on a scale small enough that everyone knows everyone. Perhaps fewer than 100 families. That small scale is unstable. The inherent flaws are not in the proposed system but in us.

Blogger James July 10, 2016 11:17 AM  

My problem with direct democracy is that the "majority" is even more unaccountable than a ruling class. Who will punish the "majority" when they screw up "royally," as it were, so to speak? Who will send the majority to the guillotine for crimes against the People? Who will line the "majority" up against a wall and shoot them for their temerity and insolence? Who will impeach the majority? The majority needs to be held in check just as much if not more so than any other concentration of power. Also, it occurs to me, I hate the majority in any case. I want the stupid asshole majority to get out of my face and leave me the hell alone. Is rule by an amorphous and constantly shape-shifting majority compatible with Constitutional limitations on government? Is a rule by democratic majority consistent with delegated enumerated powers? A Bill of Rights? Separation of powers? A federal system of national, state, and local governments? I agree with James Madison and John Adams and HL Mencken: The majority is not to be trusted with absolute power.

Blogger James July 10, 2016 11:22 AM  

I hate the majority, and I see no reason why the majority of people in the world should not feel the same way.

Blogger praetorian July 10, 2016 11:23 AM  

Perhaps fewer than 100 families.

I don't believe you need scale that small to see the benefits. See Switzerland.

You do need to have prerational commitments in the population (to the race or the party or, my preference, to the creed) to overcome the prisoner's dilemma of civilized behavior. The stronger those commitments are, the larger your country can be. (Restricted mobility/immigration also helps, since it makes the prisoner's dilemma iterated.)

Form of government isn't irrelevant, and, due to experience, I tend to buy whatever VD is selling, but smaller national scale (increased skin in the game, to use Taleb's characterization) seems more important to me.

Anonymous EH July 10, 2016 11:25 AM  

Deciding the best course of action can only be achieved by selecting those who are most likely to be right. Counting the opinions of the many ignorant fools as being superior to those of the few knowledgeable and intelligent men is a recipe for dystopia.

Blogger Derek Kite July 10, 2016 11:25 AM  

The desire for stability and something that 'works' is the problem. Nothing works except consequences for bad decisions. That is the kernel of democracy, that bad ideas get rejected quickly without having to burn the whole place down.

Start from that assumption. Think of the worse SJW you can imagine, give them and their followers the power in your scenario, and imagine the results.

So the basis of a working democracy has to be that the list of things that can be even discussed is short, and that the populace is armed to the teeth and empowered to blow your head off if you go too far.

The US is pretty close to that, but it is too big. For example, the minister of Health in Canada, which ends up by design being the Minister of Health in a province oversees pretty large budgets but not enough to tip any scales. A Health Secretary in the US in a single payer arrangement would oversee an unbelievably large budget with enough money to twist worldwide markets in health care services. Rounding errors in the purchases of rubber gloves would make a large number of people very very rich, and the corruption would be inevitable and eventually cause the whole thing to fail.

So the area of responsibility has to be small. Security costs are very very high, and a small tax base can't afford them, making the leaders vulnerable and hence accountable.

Blogger Derek Kite July 10, 2016 11:38 AM  

To illustrate, an example. In Canada we have the Charter of Rights, broadly similar to the Bill of Rights in the US, with guarantees of due process and the like. For what it's worth.

Cultivation of marijuana was possibly the largest industry in my province a few years ago. From the police's standpoint it was a waste of time. They would go through the work of catching and putting a case together on someone, and they would get off with a fine of $2000. So they would simply dismantle the facilities. They needed a reason to get in, so the provincial safety regulators were used. Unsafe electrical, etc.

One of the regulators, a friend of mine, told of a meeting he attended where the lawyers told them that they were not subject to the due process limits of the Charter. They could enter a home and inspect the electrical, gas, plumbing, etc. facilities without notice. So they were used to get into places, find the grow operations, call the police, and the place was dismantled.

Fine as far as it goes, but these same people oversee what I do, and that same legalized unaccountability means an out of control bureaucrat.

In any case, the whole thing came to an end by a very simple means. My friend is a gas inspector, and had no connection to the police/grow op stuff. He stopped to have a pee when travelling and was cornered by a couple guys. He was told that if he showed up he would be shot.

He turned around and went back to the office. None of these guys, essentially trades guys looking for less physically strenuous job, signed up for that, so they refused. The whole legal abuse of government authority came to an end because someone threatened to shoot someone.

Another important aspect of this is that at the time Canadian provincial and federal governments would lose elections if they ran deficits, so there wasn't an unlimited amount of borrowed money around for militarizing gas inspectors. Another natural limit on the accumulation of power.

Anonymous Wendy July 10, 2016 11:50 AM  

I will say this on the topic, I was specifically told that the two parties which dominate our politics are "private organizations" and can do as they please. Which is very true. I think the majority of Americans do not understand this concept at all.

Also, to this point, "To briefly reiterate, a successful democracy would be fairly small in size and scale, encompassing a small area geographically and inhabited by a certain, relatively low, number of residents," the 10th Amendment was very specific in trying to guarantee that concept but it has been ignored and buried to such an extent, no one really understands what it means anymore.

Blogger Human Animal July 10, 2016 12:12 PM  

Alright. I've tinkered with this and VD's take is dead on: He's skipped past VD's statement to make a general attack on democracy. If his next volley is on point, then I hope he tightens up his style a li... well, a lot.

VD's paragraph isn't flowery or reflective, but it could be arranged in shorter statements.

The first thing I had to do in a physics exam was parse a question and lay it out neatly, for my examiner. I'd have started with that if I were him.

Blogger LurkingPuppy July 10, 2016 12:19 PM  

James wrote:Is rule by an amorphous and constantly shape-shifting majority compatible with Constitutional limitations on government?
Only if they're WASPs. Democracy can only work in a homogeneous nation.

Jack Ward wrote:Using modern tech, ie computer voting via the internet, should or could be made to work. The safeguards might require the polity to man up and allow easy access to who or what they voted for.
Vote against bugger marriage, get eiched.

The privacy-preserving voting protocols require a crapload of incompressible data, can't be audited without a trustworthy high-speed computer (very difficult and/or expensive to build), and some of them don't prevent people from proving how they voted (so, prove that you voted for bugger marriage or get eiched).

People who really understand the technical details of how electronic voting systems would be implemented don't want Dieboldocracy.

Anonymous BGKB July 10, 2016 12:21 PM  

I don't believe you need scale that small to see the benefits. See Switzerland.

There pay as you go model had 1000 white taxpayers outraged at paying $60,000 + USD for 8 refusegees.

Blogger Cail Corishev July 10, 2016 12:23 PM  

Voting starts at dawn every day. Bingo, you just eliminated the vast majority of the gimmedat population, because they won't get up that early.

Point is, a lot of the objections to direct democracy come from not having thought about it for more than a few moments, so perhaps they can be solved by someone who actually spends some time on it.

My assumption is that lots of people would vote at first when it's new and cool; and the media might be able to whip up occasional interest for certain bills; but for the most part, people would start to say, "Ugh, a bill about drilling for oil in Alaska? Who cares? Turn on the X-box." So you'd have a regular voting population that actually cares enough to sign in -- including all the people who would vote "no" on every damn spending bill. Could be worse.

Blogger rcocean July 10, 2016 12:32 PM  

Diversity kills true democracy. The history of the world has been a struggle between the few and the many. The few always want to rule the many for their own fun and profit. Diversity makes their job so much easier. Divide and conquer.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 12:33 PM  

I have a very full life. Don't really have time to investigate every law thoroughly. In a direct democracy people without jobs or famlilies wpulf have an advantage. Moreover I lack knowledge in some areas, so my vote should not count as much as someone with expertise.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 12:35 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 12:35 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger rcocean July 10, 2016 12:36 PM  

It should be noted that if we were to have the same ratio of Representatives to people that existed in 1861, we'd have 2,000 Congressman and not 435.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 12:38 PM  

And direct democracy would give stupid people the same vote as smart people, unless you have some sort of test before a person can vote. I think that was tried before.

Blogger rcocean July 10, 2016 12:38 PM  

If you really want to improve Democracy, get rid of the US Supreme Court's ability to rule on the actions of local, state, and the Federal government. They are nothing more than 9 philosopher Kings untethered to the constitution.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 10, 2016 12:43 PM  

I will note that Konrad appears to have completely missed the target by attacking the concept of democracy itself instead of defending the superiority of representative democracy to direct democracy...

Yeah, none of the problems he mentioned aren't part of representative democracy too. Maybe Vox can steer him back onto topic.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 10, 2016 12:44 PM  

The size of political systems is key. Only small polities can even briefly restrict the scope of questions to be decided by vote.

Today there are no limits on what questions can be decided by the polity. This makes it the era of the total state.

I think I'd prefer to live in a world with much smaller polities.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 10, 2016 12:45 PM  

@natschuster: And direct democracy would give stupid people the same vote as smart people

Representative democracy does too. You're not arguing against direct democracy, you're arguing against universal suffrage.

Blogger Escoffier July 10, 2016 12:49 PM  

James wrote:My problem with direct democracy is that the "majority" is even more unaccountable than a ruling class. Who will punish the "majority" when they screw up "royally," as it were, so to speak? Who will send the majority to the guillotine for crimes against the People? Who will line the "majority" up against a wall and shoot them for their temerity and insolence? Who will impeach the majority? The majority needs to be held in check just as much if not more so than any other concentration of power. Also, it occurs to me, I hate the majority in any case. I want the stupid asshole majority to get out of my face and leave me the hell alone. Is rule by an amorphous and constantly shape-shifting majority compatible with Constitutional limitations on government? Is a rule by democratic majority consistent with delegated enumerated powers? A Bill of Rights? Separation of powers? A federal system of national, state, and local governments? I agree with James Madison and John Adams and HL Mencken: The majority is not to be trusted with absolute power.

And yet the majority you so despise consistently get the civilizational and existential questions exactly right.

Here is just one example...

http://cis.org/ElitevsPublicOpinion-ImmigrationViews

When I used to write about illegal immigration I used to ask why a 60-75% majority against illegal and many aspects of legal immigration didn't seem to add up to a political majority? Or why no politician (with a few seriously marginalized examples like Tom Tancredo) could turn those numbers into electoral hay?

I'm with Buckley on this one. I would rather the first X # of names from the phone directory than the so-called elites that currently mismanage us. All the credentials in the world can't give these people courage or decency.

And I would just note it was when Trump spoke out on civilizational and existential questions (Mexican wall & Stopping all Muslim immigration) that his numbers soared amongst normies and plummeted among our latte sipping treason weasels.

I think a simple rule of thumb is this: the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of tyrants and the wisdom of normies.

Blogger Escoffier July 10, 2016 12:55 PM  

natschuster wrote:And direct democracy would give stupid people the same vote as smart people, unless you have some sort of test before a person can vote. I think that was tried before.

Just curious Nat, you ever spend much time among the highly credentialed elites who currently rule us? I have but as one of the servant class (see my nom de screen for a clue) and again, I would cheerfully take the local mechanic, who has worked for a living, or any small businessman over our current lot of gasbags.

I was cooking the breakfast shift at a local hashhouse, this was about thirty years ago, which was located in the courthouse district. All the local lawyers would congregate for beers and eggs in the morning before court. One morning they were particularly agitated so I went out with a coffeepot to investigate. It turns out the owner of a local car repair shop had the temerity to not only run for office, but to win as well. The horror.

The contempt these shitbags showed for this basic tenet of America blew me away. And for what it's worth I'm seeing a lot of the same elitist contemptuous nonsense here as well, not to mention some serious cognitive dissonance.

Blogger Nick S July 10, 2016 12:56 PM  

Make it compulsory. Permanent neighborhood kiosks, qualified PC and cell phones with some combination of facial recognition, voice recognition, retina scanners, fingerprint, palm print verification. Blockchain vote coins can be mined and must be purchased by the government to be issued to individual citizen accounts free of charge unless they go unused. There are lots of creative possibilities to explore.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 1:22 PM  

Jack amok:

In a representative democracy people have to run for office, that requires, imho, a minimal intelligence. It can serve to filter out the stupidest.

Anonymous #8601 Jean Valjean July 10, 2016 1:23 PM  

The common argument against democracy is that it's like two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for dinner. However, this argument assumes a multicultural society. The wolves and the sheep should have never been living together in the first place. As someone said up thread, democracy works best in a homogeneous society.

The other argument against direct democracy is MPAI. Unfortunately, I don't have a good rebuttal for that one!

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 1:27 PM  

The wolves could be rich people and the sheep is a poor person. Or the wolves could be young people and the sheep is old. It doesn't have to be different cultures.

Anonymous E. Lasker July 10, 2016 1:32 PM  

Easy fix:

1) Revert to constitution + bill of rights.
2) Amendment to limit federal budget to a small pittance and fedgov pay to paupers wages.
3) Success!

Anonymous #8601 Jean Valjean July 10, 2016 1:34 PM  

@51 Natschuster

It certainly would be interesting if the rich outnumbered the poor! But your general point is well taken.

Blogger synp July 10, 2016 1:40 PM  

My problem with direct democracy is that the questions up for decision are always bound to be yes/no questions or a small-set of choices in a multiple choice question. There is no place for nuance. Britain either exits or it does not.

The obvious issue is who gets to phrase the questions, but I'm worried about something else. Take any group of people, no matter how individually intelligent, and a majority of them will vote for increased spending on education, for increased spending on security, for reducing taxes, and for reducing the deficit. It won't be the same people in each majority, but each proposal will win a majority and the total does not make sense.

Representatives form committees. And the committees can discuss alternatives and then present a compromise to a larger voting body. Parkinson said the committee should never number more than 9, but that may be situation-dependent. The larger voting body can number hundreds. If it numbers millions, I don't believe it could exert the proper influence on the small committee.

Parliaments and governments deal in whole budget proposals or at least spending bills. A voting public cannot.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 10, 2016 2:23 PM  

In a representative democracy people have to run for office, that requires, imho, a minimal intelligence. It can serve to filter out the stupidest.

It does an even better job filtering for grifters and parasites. Are you sure you want to make an argument using the quality of the people we have running for office today as a reason for supporting the current system? You might want to rethink that.

And anyway, you're misunderstanding how intelligence matters. It matters only to the degree it helps solve a problem. You'll get better results asking dumber people to solve easy problems than asking smarter people to solve really hard ones.

Asking people to pick responsible leaders who will govern according to the Constitution has proven, over the last 2+ centuries, to be pretty damn hard. It's a much easier problem to ask people to evaluate how a proposed law will impact them and whether they want it or not. The initiative process - where it exists - generally proves that point.

Take WA state for example. The same populace that consistently votes for initiatives that lower taxes and restrict spending also consistently votes to elect Democrat politicians who then go on to raise taxes and increase spending.

Ask people if they want to be taxed an extra $1k a year to fund program X and they can give you a coherent answer. Ask the same people to pick which politician will do the best job of deciding that question plus a bunch more for them and they can't do it.

Because if you ask people to vote on individual items, they can understand individual items. But when you ask them to vote on representatives, you're asking them to understand all the items all at once.

Not even smart people can get that question right. You may notice a whole bunch of smart people around this blog support Trump but freely admit they (we) don't know for sure if he'll be the right answer or not. We just know he's got a better chance than anyone else we have to pick from. But if you ask us questions about individual policies - what should we do about immigration? what should we do about BLM / police violence? What should we do about banking? We've got answers to those questions, confident ones.

But you ask us who to vote for? Shit. Well, that guy seems like the best choice, but I dunno if it'll work out.


Blogger Ponce Du Lion July 10, 2016 2:43 PM  

I agree completely. Democracy is more democracy the closer it's to people.
My ideal system for a county wide context is:1 great independence of towns 2 direct democracy with the only representative being the executive. 3 weighted vote. People who are business owners, heads of family, and basically anybody with non anti-freedom, anti-national or anti-community interest vote should have a heavier influence.

Blogger maniacprovost July 10, 2016 2:44 PM  

I award Konrad zero points, and may God have mercy on his soul.

Blogger CM July 10, 2016 3:16 PM  

Take WA state for example. The same populace that consistently votes for initiatives that lower taxes and restrict spending also consistently votes to elect Democrat politicians who then go on to raise taxes and increase spending.

This is largely a gerrymandering issue that could be corrected with changing the rep-constituent ratio that was mentioned in a previous post.

Having 1000+ reps is a little closer to direct democracy than 435. Its not the same, but altering the rep process could be a legitimate compromise.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 10, 2016 3:30 PM  

I still think VD is trolling when he speaks of democracy. Anyone who has raised children knows how impossible, even inside a family, it is to maintain order.

The market should decide most answers, because only in the market is there much hope of avoiding the problem of displaced cost. Politics is by its definition arrayed against the market, so it is by definition the primary means of coercively ordering relationships.

Mankind has struggled throughout history in the search for a system that doesn't quickly morph into one or another form of slavery.

My preference is some form of aristocracy. At least there's a chance the king won't be a fink.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 10, 2016 3:32 PM  

This is largely a gerrymandering issue that could be corrected with changing the rep-constituent ratio that was mentioned in a previous post.

No, that wouldn't help at all. Governor and Senate elections are statewide, and voters have elected a consistent string of liberals to those positions while simultaneously voting right-wing on the majority of state-wide initiatives.

Blogger Artisanal Toad July 10, 2016 3:33 PM  

This singular purpose is the recording of property beyond that which is unquestionably within an arbitrary individual’s control. Indeed, the entire function of government is to provide the threat of violence necessary to keep the integrity of property lines.

Twaddle.

As Mr. Justice Fields stated in Butchers' Union Co v Crescent City Co, 111 U.S. 746 (1884):

As in our intercourse with our fellow men, certain principles of morality are assumed to exist without which society would be impossible, so certain inherent rights lie at the foundation of all action and upon a recognition of them alone can free institutions be maintained. These inherent rights have never been more happily expressed than in the declaration of independence, that new evangel of liberty to the people: "We hold these truths to be self-evident" -- that is, so plain that their truth is recognized upon their mere statement -- "that all men are endowed" -- not by edicts of emperors, or decrees of Parliament, or acts of Congress, but "by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" -- that is, rights which cannot be bartered away, or given away, or taken away, except in punishment of crime -- "and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these" -- not grant them, but secure them -- "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The Declaration of Independence declared all men were Created equally sovereign and had the right to govern themselves. They fought a war and secured their right to do so by force of arms. After winning that war they agreed on a government to secure and preserve the rights God granted them:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

They created a nation ruled by Law and administered by a government under the Law:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

While it's easy to look at recent events and say race or immigration issues are the major structural problems today, that isn't true. Today the Rule of Law is dead because the Constitution no longer honored or upheld as the supreme Law of the Land... and the participation of women in the electorate over the last 96 years is provably the major cause of that.

In other words, the problem is with the people who were later granted the privilege of voting, not the system as designed.

Morally, in the absence of Law the only recourse for redress of grievances devolves to war. The systemic violations of the Constitution have been either for the benefit of women (c.f. peonage of men) or because of women (security fears), so how does the problem get fixed as long as they're part of the electorate? That's the discussion nobody wants to have, which makes the inevitable violence a certainty.

Blogger dc.sunsets July 10, 2016 3:39 PM  

People supporting representative rule fail consistently to recognize just WHO volunteers to serve as ruler.

It's no surprise Hayak said, "in a democracy the scum rises to the top."

Blogger dc.sunsets July 10, 2016 3:44 PM  

The US Constitution was dead before its ink was dry. Surely you're familiar with Marbury v. Madison.

I laugh heartily at people who still believe magic words written on parchment can master human nature.

Language is a human endeavor and will always be one of the weapons in the criminal arsenal.

Newspeak was named by Orwell but it was the second concept verbalized by a man.

Anonymous Eduardo the Magnificent July 10, 2016 3:51 PM  

Konrad's statement = Jim Marshall's safety

Blogger RobertT July 10, 2016 4:01 PM  

As he says, modern technological advances have made it possible for a democracy to function on a scale significantly larger than previously possible, unfortunately it has also made it possible for a far off power structure to cook the books. I don't see how any reasonable person can trust reported results unequivocally.

Blogger mntngt July 10, 2016 4:04 PM  

@ 2

Proverbs 30:21 'There are three things that make the earth tremble - no, no four it cannot endure; a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers, a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, a servant girl who supplants her mistress, '

Pause and reflect how our modern concept of ' democracy ' encompasses all the above

----- Though I always fall back to my default POV which is that regardless of the system of government, a society that strays from God's way is a society that's going to be punished one way or another.------

The problem with Christendom is that 'Christians' keep thinking that if just put 'Christians' into office all will get better, yet after much pondering and study of what Biblical governance might look, I've come to understand that we are lucky if 1 or 2 Christians out of a hundred have even the slightest clue how that might/should manifest.

----

Up here here in Canada the topic of electoral reform keeps coming up, always the issue being how the votes should be counted (or twisted) NEVER is the issue of WHO should be allowed to vote brought up.

Jack Ward @ 16 makes a very valid point that I have long held, that participating in 'democracy' requires "standing behind your vote" this crazy requirement of anonymity is it Achilles heel
Also anyone receiving a paycheck from the public purse is inherently in a conflict of interest and should be barred from voting.
Another possibility with having 'actually registered traceable' voters is ones vote could be weighted in accordance to tax dollars contributed. Think about it, those actually paying the piper calling the tune....WOW what a concept !! ( which is biblical by the way )

The basic tenants of Biblical governance:
Rulers of tens, fifties, hundreds, thousands,ten thousands etc. Everything decided at lowest level possible by direct democratic voting by the 'Elders' sitting at that level of council having been chosen/appointed from the council below. Participation in base level council requires being head of a basic family unit or His representative, to lead base level council and represent on up requires 'Eldership' qualifications. No career politicians allowed.

The closest example in fairly resent history that I can think of is how the Swiss used to do it, Unfortunately I think they are now trying to catch up with the rest of us in the western world

@ Derek Kite,
was hoping you might live here on Vancouver Island but I see you don't.....might you know a Bonnie A..in N

@ Artisanal Toad
Your last three paragraphs...Yup, Have been reading some of your postings on marriage and have some questions, how can I email you...

Blogger praetorian July 10, 2016 4:15 PM  

I think I'd prefer to live in a world with much smaller polities.

Amen.

Blogger RobertT July 10, 2016 4:15 PM  

Honestly, Mildred counting votes in your county and reading whomever she prefers, is a minor problem in a nation wide referendum, compared to cooking the books technologically from a central position. Technology makes it possible for one person to control the whole shebang.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 4:17 PM  

The leaders of tens, hundreds etc were appointed by Moses. Moses was appointed by G-d. Moses appinied his successor, Joshua. The process of central leader appointing his successor continued at least until the time of the monarchy. Of course those people received prophecy.

Blogger CM July 10, 2016 4:17 PM  

No, that wouldn't help at all. Governor and Senate elections are statewide, and voters have elected a consistent string of liberals to those positions while simultaneously voting right-wing on the majority of state-wide initiatives.

How odd. I concede your point then.

Anonymous fred July 10, 2016 4:46 PM  

In distressing times like these, I serenely recommend the following action: Sit down, take a deep breath, and listen to the three greatest records ever made, which are: "Ramones," "Ramones Leave Home," and "Rocket to Russia". Oh, and also, dance around like a retard.

Pay particular attention to Leave Home, you won't be sorry. And Rocket to Russia will make you larf yerself silly, which is a good thing, and a clarifying one. As I think maybe Robert Christgau said (or was it Lester Bangs? whom I prefer), something like "the best joke in the world, and they keep telling it over and over, and it's still funny."

Then when you're done, it's time for "Little Johnny Jewel." And Schubert of course, we can't leave out the Schubert.

Clear sinuses are a human right!


Anonymous Shirt July 10, 2016 4:48 PM  

As I started to read this post, a thought came to me: I don't know if any major problem was solved by a debate. There are two sides and they don't work to help solve the issue, they work to prove how smart they are, and how uneducated the other person is.

Blogs/opinions/alternative media were great for a while, but now it seems they don't fill any need except entertainment. Not even some form of "high brow" entertainment. Just mush on screen.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 4:58 PM  

In a direct democracy will the people be voting only on the laws or for everything a government does? For example will everyone be voting on who is to be hired to process the paperwork? How will bureaucrats be hired?

Blogger Artisanal Toad July 10, 2016 5:19 PM  

@66 mntngt

artisanaltoad at gmail

Or, you could stop by my blog and ask pretty much anything you like in the comments.

Anonymous Generations July 10, 2016 5:26 PM  

What a world do we live in.

More than 1.5 billion people are members, some benign some not-so-benign, of a death cult. But who's to say what's benign if you are in a death cult. Governments of most advanced civilization that ever existed are run by people who are, seemingly, demented. And here is me, reading what a person who calls himself Supreme Dark Lord thinks about democracy.

Blogger Marc DuQuesne July 10, 2016 5:39 PM  

Direct democracy with the ability to assign proxies takes care of the people who are too busy to follow what's being voted on. Instead of having to pick the lesser of 2 evils, you pick the person in the polity you feel best represents your beliefs and interests. If there is nobody else like you, then you can cast your own ballots.

With electronic voting it should be easy to setup

Blogger Noah B July 10, 2016 5:43 PM  

Eliminate people receiving government entitlements from voting. Bring back poll taxes and literacy tests.

Blogger Noah B July 10, 2016 5:46 PM  

Also, Constitutionally forbid conscription and stipulate that volunteers have the right to resign rather than deploy to foreign soil.

Blogger synp July 10, 2016 6:15 PM  

natschuster wrote:The leaders of tens, hundreds etc were appointed by Moses. Moses was appointed by G-d. Moses appinied his successor, Joshua. The process of central leader appointing his successor continued at least until the time of the monarchy.
That is inconsistent with scripture. Judges 17:6 and other places within the book of Judges say: "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

The chain was pretty much broken from Joshua until Saul.

Blogger Arthur Isaac July 10, 2016 6:23 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Arthur Isaac July 10, 2016 6:24 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Arthur Isaac July 10, 2016 6:25 PM  

Tocqueville.

Blogger VD July 10, 2016 7:40 PM  

The first thing I had to do in a physics exam was parse a question and lay it out neatly, for my examiner. I'd have started with that if I were him.

I don't write for people insufficiently intelligent to grasp complex sentences. That is the first and lowest bar they have to clear.

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 8:45 PM  

Sync:

There was no king, but there were judges. They were military leafed when it was necessary, and they judged. Judging required a thutpugh knowledge of the Torah that ad acquired by leatnin from a master.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 10, 2016 8:52 PM  

How odd. I concede your point then.

It's odd but it's the key to understanding Vox's proposal.

First of all, there's a wishcasting element to things. When you present a fully-formed liberal proposal to people, most of them - even the minus-1 SD ones - can see the obvious problems it would create. They may still like the bennies that come with it, but they don't want the consequences.

But, if you present the same people with a con-man, er politician, promising to deliver the bennies without the consequences, they fall for it far too often because they want the bennies and think he'll find a way to deliver.

Second is the principle-agent problem, made worse by insisting the principles have to use an agent...

Blogger natschuster July 10, 2016 8:56 PM  

Sync:

There was no king, but there were judges. They were military leafed when it was necessary, and they judged. Judging required a thutpugh knowledge of the Torah that ad acquired by leatnin from a master.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY July 10, 2016 11:27 PM  

dc sunsets.,
You libertadians are hopeless fucks. Every god-damn one of you should be be shot on the spot.
Traitors, the lot of you are.

Anonymous Mr. Rational July 10, 2016 11:36 PM  

@86 Your typos are not improved by posting them twice.

A LOT of folks are chronically double-posting.  Can y'all find a way to stop that?

Note:  I thought I posted this comment, but I've (a) reloaded and (b) a new comment has appeared since without it appearing.  I know it's not spammed because killing JS doesn't make it show up.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY July 10, 2016 11:50 PM  

"Also, Constitutionally forbid conscription and stipulate that volunteers have the right to resign rather than deploy to foreign soil."
Where have you seen forced conscription in our military as of late ? You don't. Quit trying to make stuff up to fit your agenda.

Blogger synp July 11, 2016 12:11 AM  

natschuster wrote:Sync:

There was no king, but there were judges. They were military leafed when it was necessary, and they judged. Judging required a thutpugh knowledge of the Torah that ad acquired by leatnin from a master.

And they were local leaders and local judges. There was no nation of Israel - just a bunch of somewhat-related clans.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY July 11, 2016 12:17 AM  

"I don't write for people insufficiently intelligent to grasp complex sentences. That is the first and lowest bar they have to clear."
I'm not a genius, but I get this. God bless,sir.

OpenID vfmshadow0342 July 11, 2016 1:07 AM  

"Where have you seen forced conscription in our military as of late ?"

Try not signing up for the draft, and see how many rights you have in current US society.

OpenID aew51183 July 11, 2016 1:15 AM  

VD, the success of the wide-spread disinformation campaigns the left uses to retain power is damning to your assertion regarding direct democracy.

It's bad enough even with indirect "representative republic".

If your ideal system of government were put into place right now we'd live in a Maoist police state with BLM as the new SS.

Absolute monarchies are a better solution all around. Policies remain stable, the king has nobody to blame for unpopular policy, and it only takes a tiny minority of pissed-off people to get rid of the king should he piss off any one group enough.

Anonymous jOHN MOSBY July 11, 2016 1:21 AM  

Quit whining, SIGN UP. You think that you have a right not to ?
Who in blue hell do you think you are any more special than the rest, you god- damn pussy ?

Blogger Human Animal July 11, 2016 3:32 AM  

I don't write for people insufficiently intelligent to grasp complex sentences. That is the first and lowest bar they have to clear.

My bad. I meant Konrad should have started by re-arranging your statement, not that you should have done it for him.

I'm relatively smart, but inconsistent. I need to write down the math steps because I'm not careful enough with my thinking.

Blogger James July 11, 2016 11:54 AM  

John Adams said that our form of limited Constitutional government was adequate only for a moral and religious People, and would not be enough for any other kind of People. I would say that it doesn't matter about Democracy or Monarchy or Dictatorship or a Republic: when the People are rotten no good fetid drecky excrement they and their society are doomed and there is nothing anyone can do about it. This is why I say we are doomed no matter what. The vast majority of people now, thanks to socialism and libertinism and the like, are incapable of living in a free society, because living in a free society requires that one be capable of self government.

OpenID vfmshadow0342 July 11, 2016 1:45 PM  

"Quit whining, SIGN UP. You think that you have a right not to ?"

Name me the last US war that was NOT conducted for the sake of 'nation-building', imperialistic ambitions, or progressive dreams like 'making the world safe for democracy'.



Anonymous Generations July 11, 2016 3:07 PM  

@VD

I don't write for people insufficiently intelligent to grasp complex sentences. That is the first and lowest bar they have to clear.

It's curious, since you are a writer, that you don't understand this about writing: simplicity equals impact. It takes skill to present complex idea in simple form. And that's rewarded by complex idea having most impact.

But who cares anyway. All these "serious" Voxday posts did for me was to remind me of Dave Chapelle sketch about Ja Rule.

Blogger James July 11, 2016 3:13 PM  

98. Anonymous Generations

Simplicity is relative. Not all ideas can be boiled down to one short little pithy sound bite. Occam's Razor tells us that the simplest explanation is to be preferred, but it doesn't say that the simplest explanation will be simple enough for an imbecile like you to understand it.

Anonymous Generations July 11, 2016 3:13 PM  

@VD

To avoid "insufficiently intelligent" misunderstanding, one more thing. When I say simplicity equals impact it means impact to one reader, not impact in a sense of wider reach. Like this - message written simply is like sharpened knife, while message written in some "complex" format is like a knife with blunt blade.

Anonymous Generations July 11, 2016 3:16 PM  

99. James

So, everything is relative and let's just label the other as imbecile. That's right out of SJW's playbook.

Anonymous W. Lindsay Wheeler July 11, 2016 3:17 PM  

Democracy is where the Vulgar class plays at governing.

Democracy always, always fails.

Blogger James July 11, 2016 4:30 PM  

101. Anonymous Generations

To be fair I should have said that your comment was imbecilic. I don't know you well enough to know if you your self have earned the label, "imbecile." I admit that I've made imbecilic comments and statements before my self, so don't feel bad. We all do it from time to time, especially when we are attacking Vox Day about things that went over our heads.

Anonymous Generations July 11, 2016 5:42 PM  

103. James

What a generous conclusion on your part - the topic is just over my head, so that must be it :) I would say that the writing presented is somewhat above my elbows, now that you started the metaphor.

As for you, mister poop-mouth-until-you-get-called-on-it, I didn't write anything that draws your master conclusion:

Not all ideas can be boiled down to one short little pithy sound bite

I said any idea can be presented in simple form and benefit from it by having more impact on reader. But, it takes varying level of skill to do it. A writer who says he intentionally writes complex sentences to avoid "insufficiently intelligent" people is missing the main reason to write in simple form. And to me that's curious for a writer to say.

Now, since you believe that whoever thinks that is an imbecile, or at least has imbecilic thoughts, I don't have much faith in you to understand what I just wrote.

Maybe that's why you are such a fan of Voxday :)

Blogger James July 11, 2016 6:37 PM  

All I'm saying is that simplicity is a very subjective term and cannot always be accomplished whilst retaining the desired accuracy. As for what Vox said about intentionally writing in an obtuse manner I'm pretty sure he's pulling your leg and yanking your chain, at least for the most part. I'm also having a bit of fun at your expense because you seem to take your self so seriously.

Anonymous Generations July 11, 2016 7:05 PM  

105. James

Well, ha ha indeed. Anyway, since I'm here longer than I intended, just for kicks...

Here's what Voxday wrote:

I will post my response here sometime in the coming weeks, but I will note that Konrad appears to have completely missed the target by attacking the concept of democracy itself instead of defending the superiority of representative democracy to direct democracy. I have no intention whatsoever of defending the core concept of democracy itself, as my argument is neither theoretical nor idealistic in nature, but entirely practical, eminently possible, and directly relevant to the present political situation.

And here's the same thing quickly edited:

I will post my response in the coming weeks. For now, I want to note that Konrad seems to have missed the target. He goes after the concept of democracy itself instead of defending representative democracy against direct democracy. I will not debate the concept of democracy. My argument is not about theory or ideals, but what is practical and relevant to the present situation.

Second message, in my opinion, reads better and is more impactful, even if only in nuance. There are redundancies in original message that just mud it, don't help it. Anyhoo...

Blogger James July 11, 2016 7:58 PM  

106. Anonymous Generations
I wish I could recall the name of the guy who said that if he'd had more time he would have written a shorter letter. Some people just have a way with words, while others, not have way.

Blogger LurkingPuppy July 12, 2016 12:26 AM  

Generations wrote:It's curious, since you are a writer, that you don't understand this about writing: simplicity equals impact.
He does. He has written entire blog posts and book chapters on rhetoric.

Generations wrote:It takes skill to present complex idea in simple form.
“Dieboldocracy.” But Konrad was going for dialectic, not rhetoric.

James wrote:I wish I could recall the name of the guy who said that if he'd had more time he would have written a shorter letter.
Blaise Pascal?

Anonymous Jack Amok July 12, 2016 5:09 AM  


I wish I could recall the name of the guy who said that if he'd had more time he would have written a shorter letter.

Blaise Pascal?


Mark Twain, you illiterate savages.

Blogger LurkingPuppy July 12, 2016 5:24 AM  

Jack Amok wrote:Mark Twain, you illiterate savages.
Pascal wrote it earlier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lettres_provinciales#Other

Blogger James July 12, 2016 10:24 AM  

No wonder I couldn't remember who wrote it because it was written more than once. I'm not so much illiterate as Alzheimerate when it comes to remembering things.

Anonymous Generations July 12, 2016 5:08 PM  

Exhibit 106

Theodore Beale's original message: Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease score -0.9

Quickly edited message: Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease 51.8

A writer who muds his message, and is proud of it. Sounds fishy to me...

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