Democratic / Autocratic

Democracy               -                       Autocracy
Poly                          -                       Mono
Equal                        -                       Unequal
Horizontal                -                       Vertical
Dynamic                   -                       Static

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

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?

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?

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? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is just conceivable that Brexit will eventually turn out to be a good thing. I gravely doubt it, but I’m not qualified to judge. And that is the point. I wasn’t qualified to vote in the referendum. Nor were you, unless you have a PhD in economics or are an expert in a relevant field such as history.

Am I being elitist? Of course. What’s wrong with that?

We want elite surgeons who know their anatomy, elite pilots who know how to fly, elite engineers to build safe bridges, elite athletes to win at the Olympics for Team GB, elite architects to design beautiful buildings, elite teachers and professors to educate the next generation and help them join the elite.

In the same way, to decide the affairs of state, as we live in a representative democracy, we can at least hope to elect elite parliamentarians, guided and advised by elite, highly educated civil servants. Not politicians who abdicate their democratic responsibility and hand important decisions over to people like me.

[Richard Dawkins]
'Richard Dawkins: We need a new party - the European Party'

The essential thing in a good and healthy aristocracy is, however, that it does not feel itself to be a function (of the monarchy or of the commonwealth) but as their meaning and supreme justification - that it therefore accepts with a good conscience the sacrifice of innumerable men who for its sake have to be suppressed and reduced to imperfect men, to slaves and instruments. 

Its fundamental faith must be that society should not exist for the sake of society but only as foundation and scaffolding upon which a select species of being is able to raise itself to its higher task and in general to a higher existence: like those sun-seeking climbing plants of Java - they are named sipo matador - which clasp an oak-tree with their tendrils so long and often that at last, high above it but supported by it, they can unfold their crowns in the open light and display their happiness. 

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 25

“The mass will never rule except in abstracto. Consequently the question ... is not whether ideal democracy is realizable, but rather to what point and in what degree democracy is desirable, possible, and realizable at a given moment."

Oligarchy will always remain; but it may be possible to put some limit and restraint on the absoluteness of oligarchy. This cannot be effectively done by a utopian and sentimental idealism concerning the possibilities of democracy.

“Nothing but a serene and frank examination of the oligarchical dangers of a democracy will enable us to minimize these dangers, even though they can never be entirely avoided.”

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.151

Envy is not simply a resentment of others for having more than oneself. It also has a moral element, because democratic morality makes all inequalities seem wrong and unfair.

In aristocracy, the experience of hierarchy and privilege is softened by the principles that provided a rationale for inequality. Democracy provides no such rationale. Thus, “the least superiority held by one member of society over another appears as an unjustifiable privilege.”

The belief in equality sharpens the experience of relative hardship, then, by adding a sense of injustice to it.

Tocqueville […] explains that the nature of industrial enterprises threatens to trap low-level workers in jobs and situations that do not admit of change. For those workers, the hopes kindled by the new egalitarian politics are more illusion than reality.

[Dana Jalbert Stauffer]
‘“The Most Common Sickness of Our Time”: Tocqueville on Democratic Restlessness’, The Review of Politics 80 (2018), p.451

Aristocrats enjoy a tranquil sense of superiority.

But in a democracy, “since each person is surrounded by a million others who possess quite similar or analogous advantages, pride becomes exigent and jealous; it fastens on trifles and defends them stubbornly.”

The men of democracies are eager to show off any advantages they acquire, because they are uncertain of their superiority. They feel the need to confirm it both to themselves and to others.

[Dana Jalbert Stauffer]
‘“The Most Common Sickness of Our Time”: Tocqueville on Democratic Restlessness’, The Review of Politics 80 (2018), p.452

Democracy is [...] an acceptable legitimating tool only as long as its practices exist within, and are broadly supportive of, liberal assumptions.

When democratic majorities reject aspects of liberalism - as electorates throughout western Europe and America have done in recent years - a growing chorus of leading voices denounce democracy and the unwisdom of the masses.

American elites have periodically assayed the possibility of severely limiting democracy, believing that democracy will undermine policies preferred by experts. In particular, those favoring the expansion of liberalism beyond the nationstate, and thus policies that increase economic integration and the effective erasure of borders, have increasingly become proponents of further constraining democracy.

One such authority is Jason Brennan of Georgetown University, who has argued in a book entitled Against Democracy that voters are consistently ill-informed and even ignorant, and that democratic government thus will ultimately reflect the deficiencies of the electorate. Other libertarian-leaning liberals such as Bryan Caplan, Jeffrey Friedman, and Damon Root believe that when democracy threatens the substantive commitments of liberalism - which they maintain will be unavoidably the case, since uneducated and uninformed voters are illiberal - it might be better simply to consider ways to jettison democracy.

Brennan has instead called for rule by an "epistocracy," a governing elite with tested and proven knowledge to efficiently and effectively govern a modern liberal and capitalist state and social order.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.157