Democracy

Our analysis suggests that applying that cure at the present time could well be adding
fuel to the flames. Instead, some of the problems of
governance in the United States today stem from an excess of democracy. ….

Needed, instead, is a greater degree of moderation in democracy.
In practice, this moderation has two major areas of application. First, democracy is only one way of constituting
authority, and it is not necessarily a universally applicable one. In many situations the claims of expertise, seniority,
experience, and special talents may override the claims of democracy as a way of constituting authority. ……

The arenas where democratic procedures are appropriate are, in short, limited. ……

Second, the effective operation of a democratic political system usually requires some measure of apathy and
noninvolvement on the part of some individuals and groups.
In the past, every democratic society has had a marginal population, of greater or lesser size, which has not actively
participated in politics. In itself, this marginality on the part of some groups is inherently undemocratic, but it has also
been one of the factors which has enabled democracy to function effectively. Marginal social groups, as in the case of
the blacks, are now becoming full participants in the political system. Yet the danger of overloading the political system
with demands which extend its functions and undermine its authority still remains. Less marginality on the part of some
groups thus needs to be replaced by more self-restraint on the part of all groups.

(Crozier, Huntington, Watanuki, 1975, p. 113-114)

Crozier, M., Huntington, S. P., & Watanuki, J. (1975). The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission. New York University Press.

 

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For Shannon the information is the message and the data is 0 and 1. I have proposed an informatics theory that considers the pieces of news as data and the meaning people make of it as information.

An informatics theory of effective democracy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_voter_theorem

 

Early U.S. Majority Rule Problem

In America, when the majority has once irrevocably decided a question, all discussion ceases–Reason f or this–Moral power exercised by the majority upon opinion–Democratic republics have applied despotism to the minds of men.

 

IT is in the examination of the exercise of thought in the United States that we clearly perceive how far the power of the majority surpasses all the powers with which we are acquainted in Europe. Thought is an invisible and subtle power that mocks all the efforts of tyranny. At the present time the most absolute monarchs in Europe cannot prevent certain opinions hostile to their authority from circulating in secret through their dominions and even in their courts. It is not so in America; as long as the majority is still undecided, discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent, and the friends as well as the opponents of the measure unite in assenting to its propriety. The reason for this is perfectly clear: no monarch is so absolute as to combine all the powers of society in his own hands and to conquer all opposition, as a majority is able to do, which has the right both of making and of executing the laws.

The authority of a king is physical and controls the actions of men without subduing their will. But the majority possesses a power that is physical and moral at the same time, which acts upon the will as much as upon the actions and represses not only all contest, but all controversy.

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. In any constitutional state in Europe every sort of religious and political theory may be freely preached and disseminated; for there is no country in Europe so subdued by any single authority as not to protect the man who raises his voice in the cause of truth from the consequences of his hardihood. If he is unfortunate enough to live under an absolute government, the people are often on his side; if he inhabits a free country, he can, if necessary, find a shelter behind the throne. The aristocratic part of society supports him in some countries, and the democracy in others. But in a nation where democratic institutions exist, organized like those of the United States, there is but one authority, one element of strength and success, with nothing beyond it.

In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-f‚, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him. Before making public his opinions he thought he had sympathizers; now it seems to him that he has none any more since he has revealed himself to everyone; then those who blame him criticize loudly and those who think as he does keep quiet and move away without courage. He yields at length, overcome by the daily effort which he has to make, and subsides into silence, as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth. (Tocqueville,1839, p. 250)

Tocqueville, A. de. (1839). Democracy in America. G. Adlard.

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Investment theory of party competition

Political parties (and the issues they campaign on) are created entirely for business interests—separated by the interests of numerous factors, such as labor-intensive and capital-intensive, and free market and protectionist businesses.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investment_theory_of_party_competition

 

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http://www.auburn.edu/tann/

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Political leaders can cry ‘education, education, education’, but with their
manipulation of the media, sound-bites, and emotive slogans rather
than reasoned public debate, Mill might have had difficulty
recognizing them as products of an educated democracy. And our
media now muddle or mendaciously confuse what the public
happens to be interested in with older concepts of’the public
interest’.  (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.11)

The first usage is found in the Greeks, in Plato’s attack on it and in
Aristotle’s highly qualified defence: democracy is simply, in the
Greek, demos (the mob, the many) and kratos, meaning rule. Plato
attacked this as being the rule of the poor and the ignorant over the
educated and the knowledgeable. His fundamental distinction was
between knowledge and opinion: democracy is the rule, or rather
the anarchy, of mere opinion. Aristotle modified this view rather
than rejecting it utterly: good government was a mixture of
elements, the few ruling with the consent of the many.

 The few should have arete, excellence, the idealized concept of aristocracy.
But many more can qualify for citizenship by virtue of someeducation and some property (both of which he thought necessary conditions for citizenship). Democracy as a doctrine or ideal
unchecked by the aristocratic principle of experience and
knowledge was, however, a fallacy – the belief that because men are
equal in some things, they are equal in all’.(Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.11)

Demokratia was what the word meant: the rule (kratos) of
the people (demos). (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.14)

Aristotle pointed out in his book of lectures The Politics and in his studies of constitutions
that aristocracy as an ideal too often degenerated into either
oligarchy, the rule of the powerful, or plutocracy, the rule of the rich. None the less skill and wisdom were needed in politics and
the business of good government. The best answer lay in finding
some middle way: the few ruling with the consent of the many (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.17)

Perhaps the best that modern democracies can hope for
is not the avoidance of political elites but ‘the circulation of elites’, as
Joseph Schumpeter suggested in his Capitalism, Socialism and
Democracy (1942). (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.23)

Democracies can act tyrannically towards individuals and
minorities (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.32)

Machiavelli half believes, with Plato, that history is cyclical:
monarchy degenerates into tyranny, tyranny provokes democratic
revolt, but democracy then proves so anarchic that a monarch or
prince has to be found or restored, but then his rule degenerates
and provokes democratic revol (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.36)

In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had turned Locke’s
natural rights of all men from ‘life, liberty and estate’ (commonly
misquoted then and now as ‘life, liberty and property’) to ‘life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. ‘Jeffersonian democracy’
came to mean a political and social cult of ‘the common man’, the
person who could turn his hand to anything. He could work his own
land with his own hands, he could read a law book and tracts on the
issues of the day, he could present a case competently in a lower
court or in a town meeting, and he carried or possessed arms (by
constitutional right) to defend the common liberties if needs be.
The Jeffersonian would have agreed with Rousseau and Kant that
each of us has within himself a common reason and a moral
sensibility, general will or conscience – call it what you will – and if
we exercise it with humble simplicity, straightforwardly without
fashionable or learned artifice, without selfishness but with
empathy, we will reach conclusions very similar to those of our
neighbours and fellow countrymen. The common man had
common sense.  (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.50)

‘Monarchy is like a splendid ship, with all sails set it moves majestically on, but then it
hits a rock and sinks for ever. Democracy is like a raft. It never sinks but, damn it, your feet are always in the water.’ (Fisher Ames wuoted in Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.51)

the actual revolution only speeded up a process of centralization long underway; that the time
of maximum danger to an old order is when it tries to reform itself;
and that the revolution occurred at a time of economic
improvement not at a time of peculiarly great hardship. He
summed up the last two propositions by saying that men suffer
hopelessly under despotism and poverty; they only stir when there
are grounds for hope and signs of improvement. (Tocqueville quoted in Crick, Bernard. 2002, p. 62)

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear
in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an
innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly
endeavouring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which
they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the
fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to
him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is
close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he
does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone;
and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to
have lost his country. (Tocqueville quoted in Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.63)

Hard work, virtue, and a bit of luck became what was actually called ‘the
democratic gospel of wealth’. It was democratic because even if
there was not room for all at the top, the idea was that anybody
could get to the top regardless of social class. Most preachers of the
day (and many today too) took the view that riches are a heavenly
reward for virtue, albeit the rich had a duty to practise philanthropy,
to be charitable – to their own best judgement.( Luke quoted in Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.81)

Hannah Arendt in her Origins of Totalitarianism distinguished
between ‘the people’ and ‘the mob’. The people seek for effective
representation politically, whereas the mob hates society from which
it has been excluded. ( Arendt  quooted in Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.86)

Orwell understood the difference between what the public is interested in, and the public interest. (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.90)

 

Good government should be democratic, in both an institutional and a
social sense, but also include individual liberties, human rights,
economic progress, and social justice – which is something more
than equality of political rights.(Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.92)

All the ancient and modern authorities agree that a large middle class is essential (which is partly why Marxists used to reject modern democracy as a ‘capitalist, bourgeois
sham’). Extremes of wealth in the hands of a few can threaten democratic processes, and extremes of poverty remove people from the normal polity and can threaten order. (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.92)

The effective working of democratic regimes comes to
depend more and more on people having access to reasonably
accurate information about how the state is run and on the state
being able to assess public needs and reactions reasonably
accurately.  (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.98)

 open, transparent government and not merely freedom of information, its availability
and circulation, can be as important as actual participation. Not for
a moment to detract from the importance of participation (as an
underpinning for moral education as well as a mechanism of
democratic government), but on the scale of modern democracies
there are severe limits to that direct participation which was at least
the ideal of ancient democracies and city republics.

So governments of large territories are restrained quite as much by knowing that
people know what they are doing (something quite new in history),
in other words by public opinion, as they are by people being
directly participative. (Crick, Bernard. 2002, p.92)

Crick, Bernard. 2002. Democracy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford ; New York: Oxford Paperbacks.

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