Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, December 24, 2007

What's Wrong With Elitism? What's So Good About Democracy?

Upgraded and edited from Comments:

A reader asks: What is so bad about elitism? Is democracy a good thing in itself?

Rather than simply dismissing this question out of hand, I think it is often clarifying to try to think through and explain basic convictions that we so rarely have explicitly to defend that we lose track of what the stakes are in affirming them.

The short answer to the question is an easy one, of course (and verges on a dismissal): Elitists are always assholes and usually dumbasses: "If this was a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier, as long as I am the dictator."



Of course, one can still affirm as desirable one's membership in who knows what kinds of rarefied subcultures, societies of weird enthusiasm, marginal headspaces, marvelously perverse lifeways, or incredibly arcane and difficult professions, and be therefore a kind of "elitist" in the pursuit of one's private path of perfection. But it seems to me that these essentially aesthetic and moralist projects are only elitist in the troubling anti-democratizing way under discussion when they acquire public ambitions, when they seek to dictate or circumvent the interminable process of pluralist politics, the ongoing reconciliation of the diverse aspirations of stakeholders who share the world with us even if they are not members of our moral communities or sympathetic to our esthetic lifeways.

Longer answer: Let us begin with Thomas Hobbes, from his Leviathan, CHAPTER XIII:

OF THE NATURAL CONDITION OF MANKIND AS CONCERNING THEIR FELICITY AND MISERY

NATURE hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.

And as to the faculties of the mind, setting aside the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding upon general and infallible rules, called science, which very few have and but in few things, as being not a native faculty born with us, nor attained, as prudence, while we look after some what else, I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men in those things they equally apply themselves unto. That which may perhaps make such equality incredible is but a vain conceit of one's own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater degree than the vulgar; that is, than all men but themselves, and a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they approve. For such is the nature of men that how so ever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of any thing than that every man is contented with his share.

From this equality of ability arise the quality of hope in the attaining of our ends.


Hobbes and I part ways at this point in the argument, but up to this point in Chapter 13 I find little to disagree with at all.

As for your second question: "Is democracy a good thing in itself?"

I define democracy as the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them. Do you disagree that this is a good thing? Even if you do believe such a thing (which is surely doubtful given the reliance of most modern conceptions of human dignity on widely shared intuitions about autonomy and consent), it is hard to believe that you will be willing to say this in public (inasmuch as it means you lose the argument before you begin, since few people are foolish enough to affirm a belief in elitist authoritarianism even if they share it).

The options for the would be elitist are either to agree with the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them (but then to direct the debate as quickly as possible onto actually fraught questions of how specific democratic struggles and institutional experiments to implement this idea in history should play out), or to make some conspicuously qualified claim for elitism in certain constrained circumstances (parents for offspring, advocates for clients, experts for general stakeholders on difficult questions directly connected to their expertise, and so on), although one still does find conservatives occasionally stumbling clumsily into versions of the more generally elitist claim that some people should make decisions affecting others for them (because some minority or other is the "natural constituency" of decision due to birth, money, position, education, merit, professional qualification, and so on and so on), which they are usually quick to disavow or explain away when this attitude is exposed to public scrutiny.

Except in highly qualified and constrained cases (I mentioned a few obvious ones above) those who claim to represent such natural constituencies will tend to be exposed eventually and rather hilariously as self-serving and dangerously delusive. Meanwhile the arguments that tend to provide the rationale for elitism (the masses are too ignorant, subjective, intemperate, greedy, passionate in some generalized way that the valorized elites in question are not, blah blah blah) tend to disqualify the exemplars of the so-called elites from the position of legitimate decision making exactly as readily as they would everyday people upon closer scrutiny in any case.

17 comments:

peco said...

First thing: What if there is a system better than democracy that is not obviously elitist? See this blog (basically, government as a for-profit corporation).

Second thing: Some of the "highly qualified and constrained cases" are not that obvious. this post on Marginal Revolution talked about ways to stop teenagers from taking too many risks, but one commenter said that teenagers might have valid reasons to take more risks than adults should.

Other than that, I agree completely (only with the second thing).

Dale Carrico said...

"government as a for-profit corporation"

Just shoot me.

Anonymous said...

Sendahole.com is perfect for elitist assholes.

peco said...

I agree with Mencius that such a government would be very economically efficient, but I don't know if it would keep everyone happy.

Dale Carrico said...

Good governance properly facilitates fairness and freedom, equity and diversity. Beyond that, I think we should leave actual happiness to those who are lucky enough to achieve it on their own terms for as long as they can swing it.

peco said...

Then a for-profit government would achieve the first two but not (necessarily) the last two.

Dale Carrico said...

Uh huh. Legitimacy is an altogether different category from profitability. When you say "for-profit government" I must say that this sounds to me like a perfect description of contemporary neoliberal governments, which are essentially slaughterhouses in my view. The world is literally perishing right here right now from the brutal idiocy of incumbent interests and their interminable profit-taking at the expense of sustainability, social justice, vulnerable populations... When you say "for-profit government" I immediately ask the questions, profit -- for whom? profit -- on what terms? profit -- short term or long? profit -- as against what and whose losses? Probably you aren't yet another facile online market fundamentalist, and you are actually stretching the phrase "for-profit" to accommodate some other idea of governance here, but honestly you need to frame this better. Given the prevalence of dot-eyed libertopians online I can't be bothered to give yet another proposal about radically privatized corporate-militarism the time of day. Honeslty, no offense intended.

peco said...

Read the most recent post on the blog I linked to.

profit -- for whom?

For the government's shareholders.

profit -- on what terms?

I don't understand you.

profit -- short term or long?

Whatever benefits the shareholders most.

profit -- as against what

Again, I don't understand you.

...and whose losses?

Profits would come from taxation.

Probably you aren't yet another facile online market fundamentalist, and you are actually stretching the phrase "for-profit" to accommodate some other idea of governance here, but honestly you need to frame this better.

I was "remterbacysi'ox". Mencius Moldbug's idea is for government to be a for-profit corporation with some changes to make it work as a government. If I'm still not explaining this well, you can read his blog.

Legitimacy

A government doesn't have to be legitimate -- it just has to work.

"for-profit government"

It's also important for the government to be a public corporation.

contemporary neoliberal governments, which are essentially slaughterhouses

Yes, they are, but a for-profit (corporation-based) government might tax corporations for those things, since they reduce the government's future profit. Taxing them (a carbon tax, for example) would both earn the government a lot of money and help it earn more money later.

Dale Carrico said...

Read the most recent post on the blog I linked to.

I could waste the rest of my life reading dumb libertopian screeds. My point is you have to give me a reason to think I'll find something new there before I'm willing to devote my time to its consideration. You haven't done so yet. Doing so will be a useful exercise for you, if you can manage it.

profit -- for whom?

For the government's shareholders.


Politics is the mode of praxis (warranted belief ascription and public practice) arising from the fact that we share the world with more than just those people with whom we identify morally and sympathize aesthetically. If everybody is a shareholder then the term adds nothing to our understanding of citizenship to justify the neologism, if shareholders just represent preferential benefit to members of communities of identification this is just anti-democratic politics as usual, pernicious and wrong for the usual reasons.

profit -- on what terms?

I don't understand you.


Really?

profit -- short term or long?

Whatever benefits the shareholders most.


Answer the question.

profit -- as against what

Again, I don't understand you.


There are always costs, risks, and benefits all at once, distributed unevenly. "Profit" isn't a magic word that finesses stakeholder diversity away.

...and whose losses?

Profits would come from taxation.


[1] Taxes are the price we pay for civilization, [2] taxes pay for the social administration of basic needs that ensures the scene of consent to historical developments is non-duressed by the threat of violence or conspicuous want, [3] taxes ensure sufficient equity among citizens so that valued diversity does not disable the shared commitment to democratic politics and the preservation nonviolent alternatives for the resolution of disputes, [4] taxes coupled to representation ties the maintenance of an organization invested with legitimate recourse to force with all the authoritarian dangers inhering in that state of affairs directly to the maintenance of its democratic legitimacy.

Taxes aren't profits.

Mencius Moldbug's idea is for government to be a for-profit corporation with some changes to make it work as a government. If I'm still not explaining this well, you can read his blog.

As I said, you have to convince me to do that. It will be a useful exercise for you. So far you are asserting rather than explaining that government should be for-profit in some sense, and that this is a new idea in some way.

A government doesn't have to be legitimate -- it just has to work.

This is simply flat out wrong. Legitimacy is an ineradicable and indispensable concept in politics -- there can be no question of government "working" as government without legitimacy. Unless you explain your assumptions and how you are using your terms the radical idiosyncrasy of these formulations simply suggests ignorance of the subject matter rather than an interesting contribution to it. If you really are making a contribution rather than simply exhibiting basic confusion this shouldn't be a difficult matter to rectify.

"for-profit government"

It's also important for the government to be a public corporation.


Uh, okay.

contemporary neoliberal governments, which are essentially slaughterhouses

Yes, they are, but a for-profit (corporation-based) government might tax corporations for those things, since they reduce the government's future profit.


So government is a corporation among other corporations, in competition with these other corporations, but empowered to tax them, and the losses incurred to the shareholders of taxed corporations presumably don't bother them because they are also shareholders in the government corporation in some sense, and... I shudder to think what becoming competitive in matters of regulation and policing consists of, especially if all that is wanted is something that "works" (according to what standards? on whose say-so?) rather than legitimacy... Why this isn't just the usual warlordism of anti-democrats is not at all clear to me.

Taxing them (a carbon tax, for example) would both earn the government a lot of money and help it earn more money later.

I want government to create alternatives for the nonviolent resolution of disputes, to ensure the legitimacy of the scene of informed nonduressed consent to historical developments, and to provide people with a say in public decisions that affect them. I do think that the professional police and representatives and administrators who work to ensure these good ends should be honored and rewarded citizens. If you mean by profit something other than this, it seems to me this is a recipe for disaster, corruption, cronyism, parochialism, greed, bloodymindedness, and gang warfare.

peco said...

This is simply flat out wrong. Legitimacy is an ineradicable and indispensable concept in politics -- there can be no question of government "working" as government without legitimacy. Unless you explain your assumptions and how you are using your terms the radical idiosyncrasy of these formulations simply suggests ignorance of the subject matter rather than an interesting contribution to it. If you really are making a contribution rather than simply exhibiting basic confusion this shouldn't be a difficult matter to rectify.

If a government achieves what it is supposed to achieve, it doesn't matter if it is legitimate. It doesn't matter what the goals of the government are, as long as legitimacy isn't one of them.

If there was an illegitimate government that achieved "fairness and freedom, equity and diversity" then it would be better than a legitimate one that didn't achieve those things.

Unqualified Reservations is not a libertarian blog. At least, the author says he is not a libertarian.

Basically, the most recent post says (part by part):

It is very hard to show that any new form of government is superior to that practiced now. It is even harder to show that any new form of government is superior to any practiced ever.

Nonetheless, unless these problems are not just hard but actually unsolvable, innovation in the form of government is possible. It is worth noting that government in history has ever encouraged its subjects to believe that it could be innovated away. Which is a rather straightforward explanation of the fact that few have ever believed it possible. Which does not make the proposition true, but does suggest one way in which it could be true.

Certainly, the very idea of innovation in government should not frighten you. If it does, there is no point at all in thinking about government. This is conservatism to the point of mental disorder. I simply cannot contend with it, and I refuse to try. If you cannot set yourself outside your own beliefs and prejudices, you are not capable of normal civilized discourse.

Today's post, despite its precious, neologistic title, is about one of our favorite subjects here at UR, democracy. Most people are conservatives with respect to democracy. They like it, they want to conserve it, they consider it sacred and holy and good.

And perhaps, of course, it is. I mean, even Churchill - hardly history's picture of a democrat - said, "democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others."

Of course, Churchill also drank a fifth of Scotch every day. Perhaps he was drunk. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps he was lying. Perhaps he was both wrong and lying. Perhaps he was so lying, so wrong, and so drunk that he actually turned out to be right. Perhaps he was an Armenian. Perhaps...

As Jimmy Cliff put it in The Harder They Come, who can know this thing? So why shouldn't we take a minute or two, and actually think about it? (Google Analytics, which I certainly trust no more than I trust Churchill, informs me that the average time per page on UR is four minutes. Which means either that our average reader is a faster reader than me, or that a lot of people are going "Hm," and then skimming. Or both.)


If democracy is not absolutely perfect, there is something better.

Surprising as it may seem, there's actually is an easy way to show that any new form of government Y is superior to today's brand X. Simply present a convincing picture of Y, then present an egregious escalator by which Y devolves into X. An egregious escalator is a sequence of historical events, each of which is in some way egregious - demented, fraudulent, retarded, barbaric, predatory, psychopathic, or otherwise nasty - by which one thing turns into the other. Since no number of wrongs can make a right, X must be more egregious than Y, which makes Y superior to X.

Of course, we are making large, broad judgments here. It is impossible to entirely eliminate all forms of nastiness from every human affair. On the other hand, if you can't just agree that Nazism and Communism were nasty, you must get water on the brain every time it rains. Any fool can keep an open mind. UR's readers do not strike me as nonjudgmental people.

Also, the procedure above is a bit too direct for me. To avoid pressing political hotbuttons, and to make the argument more modular, I prefer to show that Y can devolve into Z, and Z is equivalent to X.

So we'll start by showing that neocameralism can devolve, through a series of nasty steps, into a system called massarchy. Massarchy is of course our Z. But we will not spoil our suspense by considering it further.

Note that the steps in an egregious escalator need not be inevitable, or even plausible. They just need to be undesirable, ie, egregious. The only axiomatic assumption we have made so far is that nastiness obeys a total order - if B is more nasty than A and C is more nasty than B, C must be even more nasty than A. If you differ on this, we have different definitions of nasty - to say the least. And I must ask you to take with your nasty, and somewhere else click.

So, for example, if an egregious step is absolutely physically impossible, we don't care at all. We can just introduce aliens into our Gedankenexperiment. They can fly in on their big silver Frisbees and fuck all kinds of random shit up.


If you start with a form of government and come up with a worse form of government, and then a form of government that is even worse, all the forms will be worse than the original. In this case, the end of the chain is democracy, and the beginning is "neocameralism." How you get from neocameralism to democracy is irrelevant -- the steps can even be physically impossible.

Let's start with my ideal world - the world of thousands, preferably even tens of thousands, of neocameralist city-states and ministates, or neostates. The organizations which own and operate these neostates are for-profit sovereign corporations, or sovcorps. For the moment, let's assume a one-to-one mapping between sovcorp and neostate.

A neostate is a city-state. Each neostate is ruled by one sovcorp, which is a sovereign corporation.

Let's pin down the neocameralist dramatis personae by identifying the people who work for a sovcorp as its agents, the people or organizations which collectively own it as its subscribers, and the people who live in its neostate as its residents. Secondary corporations which it sponsors are its subcorps. Nonprofit organizations which operate with its permission are its suborgs. Illegal organizations are illorgs.

Residents fit into two classes: patron and dependent. Dependents are not legally responsible, and are under the authority of their patrons. There is no dependent without patron, although subcorps or suborgs may act as patrons. The neocameralist state is not a charitable organization, but it has no reason not to tolerate a genuinely apolitical charity.


Patrons are politically relevant residents of the neostate. Dependents are (mostly) politically irrelevant. Employees of the government are agents, residents are citizens, shareholders are subscribers, subordinate for-profit corporations are subcorps, subordinate non-profit organizations are suborgs and illegal organizations are illorgs.

Since patrons generally act in place of their dependents, we need not consider the latter from a political perspective. So any politically relevant person P, with respect to any sovcorp S, can be marked or unmarked with three bits of state: subscriber, agent, patron.

For example, it is generally unhealthy to have a large quantity of patron-subscriber overlap. When a sovcorp's patrons and subscribers are the same people, the conflict of interest is inherent. Actions which harm most or all subscribers may turn out to benefit some or many patrons. Do you want to go there? You don't. (But perhaps we'll see what happens if you do.)


Every person is either a subscriber, agent or patron. Patrons and subscribers shouldn't be the same people -- citizens shouldn't control their government at all.

Every patch of land on the planet has a primary owner, which is its sovcorp. Typically, these owners will be large, impersonal corporations. We call them sovcorps because they're sovereign. You are sovereign if you have the power to render any plausible attack on your primary property, by any other sovereign power, unprofitable. In other words, you maintain general deterrence.

(Sovereignty is a flat, peer-to-peer relationship by definition. The concept of hierarchical sovereignty is a contradiction in terms. More on this in a minute.)


Every patch of land is owned by one and only one sovereign corporation (sovcorp). Sovereignty is the ability to make any plausible attack unprofitable. There is no hierarchical sovereignty.

The business of a sovcorp is to make money by deterring aggression. Since human aggression is a serious problem, preventing it should be a good business. Moreover, the existence of unprofitable governments in your vicinity is serious cause for concern, because unprofitable governments tend to have strange decision structures and do weird, dangerous things.

The government's business is to deter violence.

(Nuclear deterrence (mutual assured destruction) is only one small class of deterrent designs. To deter is to render predictably unprofitable. Predictably unprofitable violence is irrational. Irrational violence is certainly not unheard of. But it is much, much rarer than you may think. Most of the violence in the world today is quite rational, IMHO.)

Irrational violence is rare, and the government should deter all kinds of violence.

General deterrence is a complex topic which deserves its own post. For the moment, assume that every square inch of the planet's surface is formally owned by some sovcorp, that no one disagrees on the borders, and that deterrence between sovcorps is absolute.

This is an ideal world. That's perfectly fine, though.

This does not solve the problem of constructing a stable sovcorp. The central problem of governance is the old Latin riddle: who guards the guardians? The joint-stock corporate design solves the central problem by entrusting guardianship in the collective decisions of the corporation's owners, voting not by head but by percentage of profit received.

The joint-stock model is hundreds of years old. It is as proven as proven can be. Anyone who questions its potency in producing profit and annihilating waste and graft might as well believe in the international Jewish conspiracy while they're at it. (I mean, anyone can be a world socialist. Isn't it much cooler to be a National Socialist? Did you ever know anyone who got kicked out of high school for believing in the UN?)


Corporations solve the "who guards the guardians" problem very well, and they are quite efficient.

However, in the sovereign context, the corporate joint-stock ownership and decision structure faces serious challenges which do not exist for a conventional secondary corporation.

A corporate government has some serious problems that normal corporation don't have.

In the conventional secondary corporation, the control of the owners is unchallenged and unchallengeable, at least as long as the sovereign's rule of corporate law is functioning properly. The corporation is incorporated under the oversight of a sovereign protector, or sponsor. This is what makes it a secondary corporation.

The sovcorp a subcorp is in is called the sponsor. The sponsor keeps everything running normally.

The sponsor of a secondary corporation manages the relationship between owners and directors, and directors and managers. The ideal sponsor does not tolerate any hanky-panky in these relationships, and nor does it insert its own weird ideas about how the company ought to be run. The owners are in absolute control of the directors, the directors are in absolute control of the managers, period.


(more of the same)

In a properly sponsored corporation, whatever the details of its organizational structure, authority flows in one direction. It does not go around and around in a big tangle, it does not reverse its course like a tidal river or a broken sewage valve, it certainly does not ferment in big lagoons like industrial pig waste.

No. Not just in a properly sponsored corporation, but in any healthy corporation, primary or secondary, power flows down and profit flows up, and this flow never stops in either direction. Think of the two paths as xylem and phloem, arteries and veins, water and sewer, etc, etc.


All (secondary or sovereign) healthy corporations have a centralized power structure.

As Bernard Bailyn points out in one of his footnotes, classical political thought concurred in considering imperio in imperium, ie, internal subauthorities powerful enough to resist or even control the center, a political solecism. In case you are not too special to have ever worked in a cube, you are probably aware that imperio in imperium is a solecism in Powerpointia as well. One small difficulty, however, is that imperio in imperium means basically the same thing as separation of powers. Hm.

Internal management in modern Western corporations is pretty good. At least by the standards of modern government, imperio in imperium is nonexistent. (It should not be confused with the normal practice of internal accounting, which does not in any way conflict with an absolute central authority and a single set of books.)


"internal subauthorities powerful enough to resist or even control the center" are very bad. "Separation of powers" means the same thing. Modern corporations do not have a problem with internal subauthorities.

In a secondary corporation, external management - the top two layers, shareholder to director and director to executive - are and must be regulated, or at least overseen, by the sovereign sponsor. As one might expect, external management these days is not as healthy as its internal counterpart. Boards are infested with inside directors, voting is intentionally obfuscated, CEOs and CFOs often manage to cheat shareholders. While I am hardly an expert in the subject, from my casual standpoint it doesn't look like American corporate law and governance deserves any grade above a C. Perhaps some commenters will beg to differ.

Still, the US is almost certainly the most efficient, least corrupt sovereign sponsor in the world today. Wall Street has one regulatory mechanism which actually works, and forces managers to act in the interest of investors. This is the takeover. One can separate sponsors into those which generally allow takeovers, and those which generally don't. As a very broad statement, the latter are not to be trusted. And America is the original home of the takeover.


The top two layers of management must be regulated in some way. The United States is a very good corporate sponsor. Takeovers are a very good way to make sure managers act in the interest of investors.

In the context of sovcorps, the idea of a takeover starts to sound suspiciously like violence. Which we thought we had eradicated, permanently, for good. But violence is hard to eradicate. If you suspect that you may not have gotten rid of it, you probably haven't. So it's worth taking another look at the fascinating problem of sovereign corporate governance.

(mostly irrelevant)

Briefly, there are two options for sovcorp governance on a neocameralist patchwork planet. One is cross-listing and the other is cryptogovernance. In cross-listing, sovcorps list on each other's secondary exchanges, taking great care to select only the most reputable sponsors, and demanding a backdoor in which they can switch sponsors at the slightest hint of weirdness.

Cross-listing can probably be made to work. However, it is dangerous as a single line of defence. For an ideal sovcorp, it should be combined with some degree of cryptogovernance.


Cross-listing means having subscribers come from other neostates (only?). It is dangerous by itself.



Cryptogovernance is any system of corporate government in which all formal decisions are endorsed and verified cryptographically. A sponsor can still be very useful for cryptogovernance, but it is not required. Shareholders in a cryptogoverned corporation - known as subscribers - use private keys to sign their contributions to its governance. They may or may not be anonymous, depending on the corporation's rules.

Cryptogovernance is the use of cryptography to verify all formal decisions.

If you are an American, have you ever wondered what the letters SA, or similar, which you see all the time in the names of European companies, mean? They mean "anonymous society." If this strikes you as weird, it shouldn't.

(Unfortunately, in the wonderful real world of today, anything even remotely resembling anonymous cryptogovernance is known as "money laundering" by our friends in Washington. Therefore, I do not recommend you run out and try it. If you do, you certainly should not use real money. The first rule of the successful reactionary: never annoy authority.)


(mostly irrelevant)

The neat thing about cryptographic government (which is actually much easier than it sounds - we're talking a few thousand lines of code, max) is that it can be connected directly to the sovcorp's second line of defense: a cryptographically-controlled military.

Cryptographic weapons control, in the form of permissive action links, is already used for the world's most powerful weapons. However, there is nothing in principle preventing it from being extended down to small arms - for example, with a radio activation code transmitted over a mesh network. Military formations loyal to the CEO will find that their weapons work. Rebel formations will find that theirs don't. The outcome is obvious. Moreover, the neocameralist state has no incentive to deal kindly with traitors, so there is no way for an attacker to repeatedly probe the system's weaknesses.


Cryptogovernance is very simple to implement. If all weapons are cryptographically locked, rebels will never win.

The one difficulty with cryptographic weapons control is that it fails, and devolves into simple military rule, if the authorization keys are kept anywhere near the weapons. Weaponholders can gather unlocked or noncryptographic weapons secretly, and use them to arrest the keyholders - for example, the directors of the sovcorp.

The solution is simple: keep the sovcorp's directors, or whoever has ultimate control of the highest grade of military keys, outside the sovcorp's neostate. Even if the CEO himself rebels, along with all of his subordinates, any formation loyal to the directors can defeat them. The result is internal military stability.


The people in control of the most powerful weapons need to be kept outside the neostate.

This result does depend on the planetary neocameralist patchwork. If this degrades, perhaps thanks to mergers and acquisitions, into a few giant megasovcorps, it will be at risk. How does the neocameralist patchwork avoid this horrendous fate?

There have to be many small sovcorps, not a few large ones.

One way is for subscriber covenants to prohibit chain states, or suspicious combinations of shares that might result in a chain state. However, since in a cryptogoverned state the subscribers hold absolute power, they cannot be forced to obey these covenants. They can sell every share in the sovcorp to Google if they like. Leading to a terrifying new era of permanent global Googocracy. Yikes! Me not like so much.

Subscribers must show that they are individual investors.

The solution here is the patrons. The key is that the less monopoly power a sovcorp holds, the more it has to fear competition, and the lower its primary rents ("taxes") will be. In other words, if its patrons do not have the practical option of switching to a competitor, it will be possible to extract more money from them.

Patrons can vote -- by moving away. If moving away is very expensive, the government can tax the patrons more and make more money as a result.

(A rational monopoly neostate still has no motivation to personally abuse its patrons. It would always rather tax than abuse, and why not just forget the abuse altogether? And once you do this, all you have is a baroque tax structure, which is abusive in itself. So this will go as well. Of course, if some patron is causing a security problem, abuse is assured.)

A rational sovcorp has no reason to abuse its patrons unless they are causing a security problem.

Therefore, just as patrons prefer a neostate which maintains the rule of law and does not make sudden, unexpected demands on their person, they will prefer a neostate that requires its subscribers to show that they are individual private investors who are not residents. If the sovcorp fails to enforce this restriction, it will be treated like any neostate in which a breach of legality occurs - instant real-estate price collapse. (No, not every resident needs to flee with children and suitcases for the sovcorp's subscribers to taste the pain. There is pretty much no way to spin a collapse in the price of your only capital asset as management success.)

If something suspicious does happen, many patrons will leave. This would be a huge problem for the sovcorp.

This covenant effectively acts as a poison-pill defense, preventing acquisitions friendly or hostile. A truly hostile attacker, who uses fronts to purchase shares, will find that the value of the purchased business is much lower than the price paid, because the acquisition is illegal by the neostate's own internal law. So the mechanism requires no external enforcement. It works by deterrence, like any other effective defense.

The covenant is a deterrent to attackers who want to buy the sovcorp.

The cost of the covenant is that, since it eliminates the takeover as a guarantee of effective governance, it requires active participation of the subscribers in corporate control. Of course, the subscribers will probably find it desirable to nominate independent proxies. Aside from takeovers, proxy voting does not really work in any corporate governance system in the world today, but I feel this just reflects incompetent regulation on the part of sponsors. It could work, it should work, and in the absence of takeovers, subscribers will have an incentive to make it work.

Subscribers will have to actively participate in the government or get proxies to vote for them.

So we have constructed what I think is a reasonably convincing stable sovcorp, and by extension a stable design for a planetary patchwork of sovcorps. There are still a few little loopholes we have not covered, but hopefully the commenters can describe them.

This is the initial form of government.

Now let's break one of our neostates - call it "New Frisco" - and try to make it into a massarchy. Whatever that is.

"New Frisco" will be made into a "massarchy." (not necessarily a democracy)

The first step is simple. The CEO of New Frisco's sovcorp, Friscorp, manages to find some way to hack the directors' keys. As a result, she becomes an absolute monarch - not CEO, but Queen of New Frisco. Friscorp, it is her. She unifies ownership and control in a single person. No leader in the English-speaking tradition has been this powerful since Elizabeth I. At least.

The CEO hacks the keys and becomes an absolute monarch.

If the Queen is acting in her own best interest, she will end the experiment here. She is now the sole subscriber of her own sovcorp. She is also the sole director. The original subscribers have been thoroughly pwned by her egregious hack, whatever that may be (perhaps the aliens helped). They now have no role to play. They can curl up in a ball and cry. Waah.

Therefore, the Queen's best decision is to sell New Frisco to a new set of subscribers, using the usual IPO process. As part of any such IPO, she will almost certainly have to resign. She is not exactly what you'd call trustworthy. Would you hire her? I wouldn't hire her. And hopefully this new sovcorp, which to honor the utter blandness of government in the neocameralist era we'll call Nextcorp, will come with a new set of encryption routines.

However, she does not do this. This is not because she is acting in her own best financial interest. This is because she is an ironclad bitch and she loves power, and no amount of cash can substitute, in her own personal opinion, for the sheer awesomeness of being Queen of New Frisco. I mean, it's not like she's short of money, anyway.

However, the Queen fails to notice something else, which is that the encryption keys that control her military are compromised. Just as she hacked the directors, her generals hack her. They cannot obtain the keys, but they can break the system so that no keys are needed to operate their weapons. While no other neostate in the world will allow the sale of more weapons to a failed neostate whose military control framework has broken down, the generals of New Frisco have all the weapons they need for the moment. They certainly have enough to arrest the Queen and have her shot at once, which they do. New Frisco is getting ugly.


The generals manage to overthrow the queen.

The generals are now in command. New Frisco becomes a classical military despotism. Probably at this point it becomes difficult for patrons to leave New Frisco. It certainly becomes difficult for them to leave with all their assets.

In theory, it is possible for normal social existence and economic activity to continue in a basically normal way under a classical military despotism. Portugal under Salazar, Spain under Franco, Mexico in the Porfiriato are all good examples. Military rule, or militarchy, is still one of the closest governmental forms to neocameralism, and if there was such a thing as a stable militarchy it would be quite satisfactory.


Military rule (militarchy) can be acceptable if it is stable.

However, militarchy is not stable. The problem is that the generals can only rule for as long as the soldiers are willing to follow them. And also there is the question: which generals?

The difference between militarchy and neocameralism is that militarchy is informal. The only way to know who the soldiers will follow is to have a coup and see what happens. Ambiguity of power raises its ugly, ugly head.

If they are acting in their best interests, therefore, the generals will do what the Queen should have done, and get out while the getting is good. They should construct a new subscriber structure by issuing shares, probably pro-rated by rank, to the entire military. The military can then sell those shares, probably gradually over time, and neocameralism reasserts itself.

However, they do not do this. Perhaps they are ignorant, or pigheaded, or something. These conditions have certainly been noted in military men. So the egregiousness continues.


Militarchy is not stable and not formal, so it is worse than neocameralism. The generals can overthrow each other.

The generals therefore take the second best option, and convert their militarchy into an oligarchy. The present government of China is an excellent example of an oligarchy. An oligarchy is an informal system of government in which militarchy has broadened to include all influential individuals in the state. When soldiers govern, the distinction between soldiers and administrators disappear. The oligarchical system of sovereignty works by convincing potential leaders that they are more likely to succeed by staying in the tent, rather than outside of it. Any one-party state is essentially an oligarchy.

In its modern form, at least, an oligarchy tends to take the form of a hierarchical pyramid with not one leader, but a committee, council or parliament, at the top. Like all governments, it distributes its profits in the form of power and money. Some people like power, some prefer money. You certainly cannot buy the former with the latter - at least, it is never a simple transaction.

Everyone in a oligarchy is always jockeying for position. The informal personal conflicts within an oligarchy can often be poisonous, but at least they are political only in the sense of "office politics." That is, they do not involve the banner-waving tropes of mass politics. So oligarchies, too, can be quite satisfactory places to live and work.


Oligarchy is not stable, but it doesn't have coups. It is not better than militarchy because it has "office politics."

All of today's governments, whether proto-neocameralist such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, or post-democratic as in the US and Europe, contain significant oligarchical elements. That is, their decisions are affected by many people who often have no formal decision-making position, or whose formal position inadequately describes their real influence.

For example, the Western bureaucratic system operates under the delusion that there is some distinction between "political" and "nonpartisan" government. The latter can therefore be conducted by permanent officials who are unaffected by elections, as well as by NGOs which are not even formally part of the state. As long as the system can sustain the illusion that the political officials are making all the real decisions, and the nonpartisan ones are only carrying out technical directives, the present Western model combines some of the political advantages of massarchy with some of the administrative advantages of oligarchy.


All of today's governments "contain significant oligarchical elements." Oligarchy has administrative advantages over massarchy, and massarchy has political advantages. Modern Western governments combine the best of the two.

Massarchy becomes necessary because oligarchy is unstable. Once we enter the oligarchical phase, it become clear to everyone anywhere near New Frisco that its power base (which would be its subscriber base, if formality had not broken down) is expanding at a rapid and uncontrollable speed. Therefore, the patrons start to get in on the action. They are, after all, right there. And they are no more noble than anyone else.

Massarchy is any system of government in which those who hold power are confirmed by the allegiance of the masses, or at least some segment of them. Political power is always hierarchical, and political leaders and factions always gain power by building a critical mass of supporters, or clients. The rise of massarchy under the Gracchi marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.


Oligarchy is unstable because everyone (not really) wants to become part of the government. The patrons try to become part of the government, converting the government into massarchy.

Massarchy is any system of government in which those who hold power are confirmed by the allegiance of the masses, or at least some segment of them. Political power is always hierarchical, and political leaders and factions always gain power by building a critical mass of supporters, or clients. The rise of massarchy under the Gracchi marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.

In massarchy, popular opinion matters (for the first time so far). Power is hierarchical, and politicians need supporters.

An interesting question is why, considering the ineffectiveness of unprofessional mobs in combat against professional soldiers - especially in the modern military era, but the profession of soldier is hardly new - popular mass is at all relevant. Why does it matter who has the biggest mob? Doesn't it just boil down to who has more divisions?

It doesn't. And the reason it doesn't is that soldiers don't just follow their generals. They tend to have personal connections in one mob faction or another. Thus, the size of the mob indicates the number of divisions who are likely to agree with it. Soldiers, like everyone else, want to be on the winning team, so the headcount of the mob becomes a Schelling point.


Mobs are not effective against soldiers, but soldiers have personal connections. If the mob is large, many soldiers probably agree with it, so even more soldiers join them because they "want to be on the winning team."

Massarchy is best defined as a system of government in which the opinions of residents are captured and controlled by one or more political factions. One easy way to capture a resident's opinion is to dangle the possibility of plunder generated by political cooperation. Especially when said plunder is distributed in the form of both power and wealth - for example, in the form of government jobs - opinion, responding to the great human capacity for flexible self-interest, will swing in its favor.

Massarchy is when political factions try to change public opinion.

The inevitable consequence of massarchy, therefore, is a strange systematic distortion of popular opinion, in which residents (perhaps at this point we had better call them citizens) adopt not those theories of government and society which are most accurate, but those which are most likely to win power. These tend to be those theories which tend toward expanding the State, increasing its revenue and authority, etc.

The most politically convenient theories of government, not the most accurate ones, become popular because politicians promote them. These tend to be about "big government."

In a massarchy, expansive theories of the State tend to prevail over contractive theories, through the natural process of political entrepreneurship. If you are a leading supporter of an an expansive theory of government and your faction gains power, you are likely to get a job out of it. If your faction holds contractive theories and it wins, there are more likely to be layoffs. Thus, if the probability of victory is equal, you are always better off joining the expansive forces. Thus expansive forces tend to win, another good reason to join them.

Factions promoting small government will shrink if they win, so it is in your best interest to join the ones promoting big government.

Remarkable as this may sound, massarchy demands that every adult citizen of a state support some political faction and maintain some theory of government. You can eat cheese, you can even be a connoisseur of cheese, without knowing anything about how cheese is made, having some opinion of who should and should not be making your cheese, etc, etc. In a massarchy, everyone is expected to be a cheesemeister. If they fail at this task, the result is bad cheese. Fortunately, most of today's massarchies do not actually inflict government cheese on most of their citizens, but the fate is not difficult to imagine.

In a massarchy, everyone (every adult) is expected to have a political stance.

It is only natural that in a massarchy the most influential individuals become those who influence public opinion. The course of future decisions in a massarchy will be set by its journalists and professors. Those who wish to "change the world," ie, exercise power, will aspire most to these roles.

Journalists and professors have a huge influence on public opinion in a massarchy.

The aphorism that academic politics is "so bitter, because the stakes are so small" is an easy misapprehension of this situation. Actually, academic politics is the most important thing in the world. In policy debates in a massarchy, the only card that trumps Popular Opinion is Science, and this card is not infrequently played. Massarchy corrupts science just as it corrupts popular opinion: by favoring the victory of views which lead to more expansive programs of government, regardless of their accuracy.

Popular Opinion comes after Science, even if the science is distorted (to support "big government"...).

Massarchies also seem to develop large extra-governmental agencies which are not formally part of the State, but nonetheless are influential in setting policy. In the early phases of a massarchy, formal administrators can exercise enormous amounts of power. However, this attracts the jealousy of other administrators. The compromise is often to adopt a formal process by which decisions are made. The result of the process is typically determined by extra-governmental players which succeed in presenting themselves as impartial experts.

Special interest groups gain power.

The modern massarchy senses public opinion largely through the mechanism of polling, ie, random sampling of its residents' opinions. Before polling was technically practical, it relied on the more primitive system of periodic elections. Officials produced by these elections still exist, and are often still relatively influential. However, for obvious reasons, they are only in a position to influence policy for such time as polls confirm their popularity.

Massarchy today "senses" public opinion using polling (not voting). Massarchy used periodic elections (to sense public opinion, not just for putting electing government officials) before polling was technologically practical.

In future, periodically elected politicians in a massarchy will probably become completely symbolic, as they largely have in the EU. Polling is quite sufficient for a stable massarchy, and much less subject to strange feedback effects. The State simply has to be able to track the polls and not deviate too far from them, or its security will be at risk.

Voting will be replaced by polling. Politicians can use polling to determine what decisions to make so that they will not become unpopular. Polling is not "subject to strange feedback effects." Voting will become symbolic instead of disappearing. "The State simply has to be able to track the polls and not deviate too far from them, or its security will be at risk."

Fortunately, since the State controls its citizens' education in a massarchy, its risk of losing control over public opinion is minimal. Massarchies can thus be relatively stable for long periods of time. However, they tend to deteriorate over time, due to the permanent "leftward" bias that favors expansive over contractive theories of government. And if the State does lose control over the mass mind, an accident which can happen due to the extremely low and continually degenerating quality of government that massarchy provides, it can degenerate into the only worse form of government, brutarchy.

The government controls most education, so public opinion is stabilized. This means that massarchy is quite stable. However, government will always expand and become worse. Massarchy is worse than oligarchy. If the government becomes bad enough to have a defective education system, it will lost control over public opinion. This will make massarchy turn into "brutarchy." (basically a police state)

A brutarchy is a massarchy in which public opinion is not merely molded by "education," but actually compelled by brute force. In this extremely nasty and unstable structure, public opinion turns against the State, and its system of indoctrination is not sufficient to turn it back. The residents are permanently disenchanted.

In a brutarchy, public opinion is controlled by force. Residents generally do not like the government, though.

However, because violence prevents them from expressing their actual opinion on the nature of the State, residents of a brutarchy can never be absolutely sure that most other residents of the brutarchy agree with them. Their collective opinion remains unknown and cannot be verified. It is thus of no military significance. The security forces, which typically include a substantial plainclothes contingent, remain in power. When this situation breaks down (one recalls the East German crowds chanting Wir sind das Volk!), the brutarchy falls.

Nobody can know what other people think, so they can't cooperate. This keeps the government secure. However, if people learn about other people's opinions, the government will collapse.

Note the considerable difference between a militarchy and a brutarchy. It is easy to confuse these forms, but it is also unforgivable. A militarchy, whose political power is unquestionably rooted in the barrel of the gun, need not bother itself with propaganda. It need not care what its residents think. As the Duke of Wellington put it: pour la canaille, il faut la mitraille. (Note that mitraille means grapeshot - a machine gun is la mitrailleuse, a later invention, but one which I'm sure would have delighted the Duke even more.)

Militarchy and brutarchy are different. In a militarchy, public opinion is irrelevant because the military can always beat the mob.

A brutarchy knows that if its soldiers ever learn that its residents despise it, they will refuse to shoot into the mob and instead overthrow the regime. Thus, the difference between militarchy and brutarchy is the loyalty of the army. In a militarchy, the army's loyalty is to the regime, the Leader, the junta, or even just the military itself. In a brutarchy, the army is loyal to the People - a cult which your average militarchy works very, very hard to discourage.

Soldiers in a brutarchy, however, will overthrow the government if they know about public opinion. In a militarchy, the military is loyal to the government, but the military of a brutarchy is loyal to the "People."

Brutarchy is nasty not only because it does nasty things, but also because it is very difficult for anyone in a brutarchy - even the nominal leader or leaders - to defuse and rewind back toward a healthy neocameralist model. The trope in which more expansive theories of the State tend to defeat less expansive ones does not lose its power with the transition from massarchy to brutarchy. These theories tend to simply detach from reality, and the mental world of a brutarchy is a world of lies and delusions, even more than in a massarchy. Returning to stable government without some kind of violent upheaval becomes almost impossible.

Brutarchy does nasty things, and it is very difficult for anyone (even the "nominal leader") to "defuse," especially without violence.

To me, at least, the most perverse fact about massarchies (including brutarchies) is simply that the first distortion they must bring their residents to believe, whether by "education" or by compulsion, is that massarchy is the optimal form of government. A massarchy which fails in this task is not stable. It remains after all a massarchy, and its residents will terminate it.

Massarchy has its residents believe that it is the optimal government. To him, that is the most "perverse" thing about massarchy.

To me, at least, the most perverse fact about massarchies (including brutarchies) is simply that the first distortion they must bring their residents to believe, whether by "education" or by compulsion, is that massarchy is the optimal form of government. A massarchy which fails in this task is not stable. It remains after all a massarchy, and its residents will terminate it.

Massarchy is not necessarily the same as democracy, but MM thinks so.

Dale Carrico said...

A dozen neologistic archies to bamboozle the ignorant. The only way I could get through this whole mess is if I were being paid to edit and grade it.

peco said...

My comments keep disappearing. I entered a long comment, but it disappeared, so I'll keep this extremely short.

If A is worse than B and B is worse than C, then C is better than A.
Neocameralism is the idea of a for-profit corporate government. Decisions would be verified cryptographically, and shareholders would not be residents, to prevent conflicts of interest. Cryptographically locked weapons would prevent the government from being overthrown.

A military dictatorship is worse than a neocameralist state because power is informal. A military dictatorship is also unstable.

An oligarchy is worse than a military dictatorship because of internal conflicts.

A "massarchy" is any form of government in which public opinion is important. Political factions that want to expand the government will attract more supporters because the supporters will get government jobs. This makes the government get bigger and less efficient. Eventually, it will become extremely inefficient. So, massarchy is worse than oligarchy.

Massarchy is basically equivalent to a democracy, although the USSR was a massarchy. Therefore, neocameralism is better than democracy.

---

I removed nearly all of MM's argument because I didn't want to write the entire comment again. If there is any specific thing you want me to expand on, I will expand on it.

Dale Carrico said...

Your comments should not be disappearing, and from my vantage you've got some pretty long ones here, so maybe you just need to refresh your browser or something.

It probably goes without saying that I cannot agree with you that what you are calling "massarchy" is worse than oligarchy. As a secular democrat I believe strongly that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them.

You seem to disagree with that. I honestly cannot grasp how you square any sense of basic dignity or autonomy worth having with an indifference to people having a say in public decisions that affect them -- perhaps you simply assume you will always be one of the lucky ones who dictates the terms of control in the "efficient" hierarchies you prefer to messy masses? Am I misunderstanding you here?

As it happens "opinion" is important in every form of government, inasmuch as governance is governance of plurality, and opinion is the expression of that plurality. This isn't a consideration relevant to one kind of politics, a subset of politics, but the point of departure for political thinking as such (as opposed to other modes like morality, aesthetics, ethics, science, and so on).

Even authoritarian governance that prioritizes the opinions of particular minorities over others still has to take into account the plurality of interests and opinions, if only to police their expression and control the organization that arises from them.

You make the point that democratic governance is big and inefficient. First of all, I can't help asking, why is this anything other than straightforward right wing bullshit exactly?

But to strive for greater judiciousness here, it is a propos to remind you that efficiency is always efficiency in the service of what ends among others? efficiency preferentially benefiting whom over whomever else?

If democratic minded people like me insist that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them and if we describe as an optimal political outcome any one that nonviolently reconciles the diversity of ends of the stakeholders to a developmental question by their own lights, then something that looks inefficient from the perspective of, say, making some people more profit in that situation might instead be enormously efficient in fact for the majority who prefer a say over some getting a profit.

I have to say I think it is disastrous to say the least to try to organize governance with an eye to parochial profit making. Profit is an impoverished indicator vis-a-vis the complexities of the public good on a planetary scale and over generational timescales. An overemphasis on questions of profit as panacaea seems to me to have been the principal intellectual (in stricto senso anti-intellectual) blight of the last 25 years. This neoliberal tide is turning at last and you will do well to attend to the significance of these shifts. Friendly advice.

peco said...

Your comments should not be disappearing, and from my vantage you've got some pretty long ones here, so maybe you just need to refresh your browser or something.

I don't think the comments ever get posted. I need to make sure that they do...

It probably goes without saying that I cannot agree with you that what you are calling "massarchy" is worse than oligarchy. As a secular democrat I believe strongly that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them.

You seem to disagree with that. I honestly cannot grasp how you square any sense of basic dignity or autonomy worth having with an indifference to people having a say in public decisions that affect them -- perhaps you simply assume you will always be one of the lucky ones who dictates the terms of control in the "efficient" hierarchies you prefer to messy masses? Am I misunderstanding you here?


The part after the dash, yes. I don't necessarily want control. Also, in MM's ideal world, most shareholders own shares in other governments, not their own. I wouldn't have any influence in my neostate's government -- nobody would.

Also, I don't agree completely with MM, but I agree with his main point.

"Basic dignity and autonomy" doesn't have to be about government if the government has a small impact.

As it happens "opinion" is important in every form of government, inasmuch as governance is governance of plurality, and opinion is the expression of that plurality. This isn't a consideration relevant to one kind of politics, a subset of politics, but the point of departure for political thinking as such (as opposed to other modes like morality, aesthetics, ethics, science, and so on).

Yes, but only in a democracy is public opinion very important. Public opinion matters in the neostates too, because residents can move away.

Even authoritarian governance that prioritizes the opinions of particular minorities over others still has to take into account the plurality of interests and opinions, if only to police their expression and control the organization that arises from them.

A non-democratic government doesn't have to be authoritarian. "They say what they want. I (we) do what I (we) want." would be the case if the neostate doesn't have a weak military -- the public has freedom of speech, but the government has the freedom to not listen.

By the way, this is about the ideal government, not one that can realistically be created (it has to be practical in every other way, though).

You make the point that democratic governance is big and inefficient. First of all, I can't help asking, why is this anything other than straightforward right wing bullshit exactly?

Read my (MM's) argument. It's not wrong just because conservatives say it (I am not a conservative).

But to strive for greater judiciousness here, it is a propos to remind you that efficiency is always efficiency in the service of what ends among others? efficiency preferentially benefiting whom over whomever else?

The goal is to provide as much security as possible with as little money as possible. Economic growth would be another goal.

Of course, there are other things that a government should provide, and that is where I disagree with MM.

If democratic minded people like me insist that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them and if we describe as an optimal political outcome any one that nonviolently reconciles the diversity of ends of the stakeholders to a developmental question by their own lights, then something that looks inefficient from the perspective of, say, making some people more profit in that situation might instead be enormously efficient in fact for the majority who prefer a say over some getting a profit.

Yes. We don't seem to agree on what a government should do, so: If the government had the power to do anything, even something physically impossible, what should it do? It doesn't have to be something normal governments should do. Normal governments restrict what they do because they can't do everything. Since this one can, you could have it develop software or something.

I have to say I think it is disastrous to say the least to try to organize governance with an eye to parochial profit making. Profit is an impoverished indicator vis-a-vis the complexities of the public good on a planetary scale and over generational timescales. An overemphasis on questions of profit as panacaea seems to me to have been the principal intellectual (in stricto senso anti-intellectual) blight of the last 25 years. This neoliberal tide is turning at last and you will do well to attend to the significance of these shifts. Friendly advice.

Yes, profit is not everything. Money seems to be associated with "good" things, though.

---

Also, I don't know what you ultimately want democracy, fairness, equity, happiness, etc. for. Which of these things do you consider to be good by itself/themselves? I'm getting the impression that you want democracy for fairness, equity, etc., and not just because you want democracy.

Dale Carrico said...

Also, I don't know what you ultimately want democracy, fairness, equity, happiness, etc. for. Which of these things do you consider to be good by itself/themselves? I'm getting the impression that you want democracy for fairness, equity, etc., and not just because you want democracy.

Are you, like, a killer robot from outer space?

peco said...

No. Why would you think so?

Greg in Portland said...

This has got to be one of weirder things I've seen here. While, like Dale, I could not get through the whole manifesto above it all seems to hinge on two fallacies. First, that the "better" in the formula "there is some form of government better than democracy" can be defined. Better in what sense and for whom is always the question here and Dale is right to ask it. One can always define "better" so that for any A and B "A is better than B" or its opposite will always be true. Secondly, even allowing, for the sake of argument, that it can be defined with any precision, the mere knowledge of a thing's existence does not allow us to discover that thing. Consider Graham's number, a constant with more digits in its decimal exponent that there are particles in the entire universe. Now consider that there is a prime larger than that. We know this from the infinity of primes. In practice, we will never learn this prime though.