"Many-Rule" is kind of vague.
January 16, 2008 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Democracy is a system for splitting power between individuals and creating oversight relationships between them. Ideally, it means that every agent of the state is subject to the scrutiny of the public and other oversight bodies. The idea is more to counter tyranny and corruption than to promote some universal good. Indeed, it can be argued that the central purpose of democracy is to give everyone a fair shot at pursuing their individual conception of the good, with controls in place to keep others from making that aim impossible.
posted by sindark at 6:58 AM on January 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Democracy is a little tweeting bird, chirping in a meadow. Democracy is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:24 AM on January 16, 2008

Yup, sindark nailed it. I see three big brilliant but unused ideas in modern democracy :
- better voting systems
- deliberative democracy -- all laws must pass a jury trial, i.e. it's a bad law if your lawyers can't even convince 100 ordinary people (the oppositions lawyers get to talk too)
- budget referendums -- referendums work best if they are repeated votes with immediate consequences, allowing voters to adapt, so the budget is the obvious candidate, and also the one with the most potential for mitigating corruption.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:35 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Democracy seems to have become generally understood as electing leaders to make decisions for us. We now have the scientific know-how to put into effect a full-scale democracy that could do away with leaders altogether; but this would still leave us with the problem of how to make the decisions: by simple majority, or two thirds majority or?...etc. And would it be safe to put decision making in the hands of such a variety of people with such a variety of mental ability, training and education?
posted by Rogo at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2008

Put it in the hands of a bonobo with electrodes stuck in its brain.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:32 AM on January 16, 2008

Hmm, I'm not sure. Let's vote.
posted by vertriebskonzept at 9:25 AM on January 16, 2008

Why is the U.S. taken as the pattern for democracy?

Not that it's a bad one, necessarily, but it's far from the only one. (Not even the oldest, though I think the oldest with universal male sufferage). What about all of those very sucessful multi-party Parliamentary governements and constitutional monarchies? I mean, it's not like Britain or the Netherlands has had a dictator lately.

Somewhere I thought I once heard that parliamentary style governments (aka British-style) in the developing world were more stable than the presidential ones, but I can't remember where I heard it, so take it as on-topic hearsay.
posted by jb at 5:34 PM on January 16, 2008

fellow citizens,
the problem never was the Democratic
System, the problem is


Charles Bukowski from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain
posted by ersatz at 5:57 PM on January 16, 2008

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