Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Never Trust a Hippy: Tumbleweed

Rule 1 of blogging: quoting yourself incessently is bad. Rule 2: Letting someone else take credit for something you said is worse. In a comment to this post I said:
You're not alone... Representative democracy is an essential tool for a tolerant society, direct democracy leads to great thinkers drinking hemlock at the whim of the populace.
And, to answer Paulie's question, as far as I know it's original. And no, you can't steal it ;-) Use it freely though.

I am strongly in favour of referenda for Constitutional issues, ie we should decide how we're governed. I am strongly opposed to referenda on political issues. I take my lead from J.S. Mill on that one, the tyranny of the majority is a significant danger to the interests of minorities of any type, I do not want to live in a conformist, identikit society, and I don't want the latest media scare story to be the ultimate determinate of law, let alone who lives and dies.

Representative democracy, although flawed, allows us to elect people to make decisions on our behalf, to debate and analyse the options, to vote and refine them. Note it 'allows'. Our current system is deeply flawed, and need improving in many ways, it actively encourages bad politicians and crowd pleasing policies. But that is due to the system used to elect the representatives, not the principle itself.

Socrates was one of the founders of western philosophy; he trained Plato, who trained Aristotle, who trained Alexander. For the crime of 'corrupting the youth' he was forced to drink Hemlock by the Athenian assembly, a form of direct democracy. While I'm pretty sure a modern country wouldn't get that bad, I'm not 100% certain; I remember with horror the time when everyone's favourite traitor ran her anti-child abuse "campaign" that led to peadiatricians being attacked. Mob rule of the worst order.

Politicians are at times venal, self centred and blinkered. Some are arrogant, some corrupt, others simply useless. Yet some are deeply respected, utterly committed and genuinely capable. The answer to this is to improve our methods of electing them, give the electorate more choice, and get more people involved in the process.

I started by quoting myself. I'll finish by quoting the inspiration:
For the avoidance of doubt, I'm prepared to argue that people who advocate more direct forms of democracy are a greater threat to liberal democracies than a bunch of religious fanatics who have control of a load of passenger aeroplanes over Manhattan.
Agree with every word.

Paulie? I'll do the 7*7 thing, but it'll be on the journal at some point later, I'm trying to keep personal stuff out of this political blog. I've actually been putting off doing it for awhile now...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the "Traitor" link - her Wikipedia profile comes up #4 in a Google search