Democracy

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The task before parliamentary socialism is that of articulating and advocating its policies to an ill-educated electorate in a society where there is freedom to choose one's representatives;

in short, where there is always the danger that the electorate will choose self rather than society.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos, p.120


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You are stranded on a desert island with ten other people. Every one of them is under ten years old, apart from one who is an elderly gentleman. You must begin to make collective decisions in order to survive on the island. You decide upon a democratic system in order to make your decisions.

These under tens are a particularly headstrong group, and have a number of their own ideas as to how best to spend your time on the island. Every view is heard and each is put to the vote. Majority rules.

How long will you survive?

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The main requisite for a functioning democracy is maturity. 

This can be defined as the ability to not only know and understand the self - and thus to know what is best for the self - but to also know and understand the whole (i.e. society) - and to know what is best for the whole.

Look around at society and ask:

1. How many have the ability to work out what is best for themselves?
2. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their families?
3. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their community?
4. How many have the ability to work out what is best for their society?

A democracy takes for granted that those within it have all four of these abilities. Not only that, it also assumes that they can put aside the first three in favour of the last, number 4. Because it may be that what is best for you, your family or your immediate community is not best for the majority of people.

Again; look around at you and ask: are we capable of democracy?

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Every time you see a piece of litter left in the street, or dog-mess left on the pavement, you are seeing a demonstration of why democracy does not work. Or to be more precise, why we are currently incapable of democracy.

When someone litters or leaves dog-mess, they are showing you that they do not think communally. These are selfish acts, committed by people who do not think of the wider affect that their actions will have.

When it comes to voting, do you think these people will be weighing up the options in light of what is best for the greater good? Or will they cast their vote in light of their own self-interest? 

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“Sometimes it seems like everyone’s a manager,” says Karl Marginson, who has been FC’s team manager since the club was established, as he sits on the team bus on the way to a fixture at Whitby.

“Everybody who comes along to football has an opinion. They’re very quick to tell me how I should be doing things. I’m sure it’s the same for Louis Van Gaal.”

Marginson says he will listen to anyone’s opinion. Though rather like Brian Clough, once he has listened, he then does what he believes is right. A couple of years ago, the then Conference club Ebbsfleet did an experiment whereby they invited supporters to vote weekly on who should be in the first team. Had FC’s members not been tempted to try the same thing?

“There’s a difference,” Walsh says of the Ebbsfleet idea. “We’re serious.”

“Listen, that could never work,” adds Marginson. “If you give out 200 pieces of paper to 200 people and asked them to work out a team, you’d get 200 different combinations. At some point there’s got to be one person making those decisions.” 

[Jim White]
'How FC United rose to the brink of the big time'


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Molly Dineen: But do you not think its important to be democratic?

Earl of Romney: Well, its a sort of excuse isn't it?

MD: For what?

ER: For consulting everybody and doing what nobody wants.

MD: Do you believe in democracy?

ER: No, I don't.

MD: What do you believe in?

ER: A benevolent government of the well informed [...] The way democracy works, its so irresponsible

MD: Irresponsible?

ER: Yes, people say, 'what's he done for me' or 'I don't like the look of his face, I wouldn't trust that fellow' - haven't you heard people say that?

MD: Yes

ER: Well is that the way to use your vote?

Dialogue from documentary 'The Lords' Tale' by Molly Dineen


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If the situation calls for authoritarianism, then it is proper to be an authoritarian; and if the situation calls for democracy, one should be democratic. 'Good authority' that sets necessary limits is a lost art in many families and schools, having been confused with punitiveness, regimentation, and rigidity.

At the same time, 'democracy' has almost been deified as the definitive, universal end-state model for decision-making, whether the active MEMEs in a group can handle it or not.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.279

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Molly Dineen
: Why do you feel so strongly?

Baroness Miller: I'll tell you why I do. If they decided to reform the House of Lords - which is fine - I still say its the finest rising chamber in the world - but if they felt that the hereditary peers' [...] time has come and they want to revise it, reform it, do whatever they will, then do it for all of us.

[...] At the end of the day, why am I in the Lords, Molly, I ask myself. I'm there because a Prime Minister sent me - its modern day patronage. And when you saw the glee of all those noble Lords on the other side, that, finally, they'd somehow got rid of the hereditary peers, and they're so thrilled. But have they ever stopped to think, why are they there? Tony Blair sent a whole reef of them in lately.

[...] Will we be better at scrutinising legislation because its modern day patronage?

MD: They would argue because you personally earned it, and not your father

BM: Well maybe they would argue that, but I would say that I'd rather have patronage of several hundred years ago, when the noble lords, who have served this country well, can look at it dispassionately, and they do not owe their position here to this Prime Minister, or the one before.

Dialogue from 'The Lords' Tale', a documentary by Molly Dineen

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Debates about which leadership form is 'the best,' whether in the General Assembly of the United Nations or in a university management seminar, miss the point.

The argument should turn on what are the prevailing Life Conditions and which MEMEs will awaken. Once the color(s) are identified, the appropriate leadership follows naturally.

[Don Beck & Christopher Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p. 126

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The history of societies shows a constant tendency toward the formation of a nobility as the apex and crown of any given society.

It would seem that all efforts at socialization have as their ideal some kind of aristocracy, of rule of the best, even though this goal may not be admitted.

The holders of power, whether they have been kings or an anonymous group, have always been willing to further the rise of a nobility by protection and the granting of privileges. This has been so no matter what the nature of the nobility: political, by birth, by selection and education.

The favoured nobility has always basked in the sunlight; but from a certain stage of development on, its place in the sun, its privileged state, has always constituted a temptation and led to its corruption.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p.348

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If a number of individuals were to undergo (psychoanalysis) separately, and - provided their motive was strong enough - were to experience a change of attitude, they could subsequently form a group, a leading minority, which might become the nucleus of a larger body of people. 

Their numbers could be increased

a. by individual treatment
b. by suggestion through authority

The great mass of people is led by its suggestibility. It cannot be changed in its attitude, only in its behaviour. The latter depends on the authority of leaders whose attitude has been really changed.

A nation consists of the sum of its individuals, and its character corresponds to the moral average. Nobody is immune to a nationwide evil unless he is unshakably convinced of the danger of his own character being tainted by the same evil.

But the immunity of the nation depends entirely upon the existence of a leading minority immune to the evil and capable of combatting the powerful suggestive effect of seemingly possible wish-fulfilments.

[C. J. Jung]
'Techniques of attitude change conductive to world peace (Memorandum to UNESCO)', Civilization in Transition, p. 609-10, 612


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Related posts:-
A Mature Society?
Rights and Responsibilities
Negative Space
Ownership
Maturity  

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