Reason for a New Age

Words – Democracy (and Socialism)

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/11/13


The last word I described was a “scary” word that ended up being innocuous. This week’s is the exact opposite. We do not want Democracy, for it is something scary, and you should be glad we don’t live in one.

A democracy is, simply, a governmental system where everything is decided by popular vote among the general populace. Ignoring extreme cases like California’s amendment process where it’s fairly simple for the general populace to directly create and pass law, the US is a Republic. We have people who work as professional legislators, examining issues and the options for resolving them, who are free to make decisions for us all based on the power invested in their job. That is by any definition a Republic, not a Democracy. And it points out one of the principal issues of a Democracy — the average man does not have the time nor resources to study an issue and all the complexities around it. Asking him to vote on the topic is just as useful as getting together a panel of average people and having them vote on the best method for making cheese — yet none of them even knows how to make cheese.

Most central to the thoughts of the founders of our nation, however, was the issue of the Tyranny of the Masses.

In a Democracy, if everyone around you is Christian, they will all vote that you must attend church every Sunday, that you must not have sex before marriage, that you must pray before classes at school, etc. And because their vote is law, you are forced by them to do all of these things regardless of whether you are Hindu, Shinto, or atheist. It’s only when you have respectable, philosophic judges in power who can look at the greater issues like personal freedom that you have any protection from everyone else.

In a Democracy, if the people are enraged, they’ll lash out in an emotional way. Imagine if back in the 80s, when Japan’s automotive industry was overtaking ours and people were taking hammers to Japanese automobiles in the street, that we had lived in a Democracy. Perhaps we wouldn’t have gone to war, but certainly we would have imposed stiff tariffs or simply banned their automobiles from entering the country. And the end result would have been that our cars would have remained worse, falling apart, unsafe, and using far too much gas, while the rest of the world was zipping along to work every day in much better vehicles.

The only task given to the people in our system is the power to decide who we think is a reliable, honest person who can be trusted to fairly examine issues and make reasoned decisions about them. Even at this I would say the general masses have failed. Instead, we vote the same way that we watch sports, picking a team and jeering at the competition.

This is, however, where the misconception that we are a Democracy comes from. Ancient Republics did not have their legislators chosen by the general populace, whereas ours does. Hence we are termed a “Democratic Republic”. While I think that there are better terms than that which would be less prone to confusion, “Popular Republic”, “Modern Republic”, etc. the point remains that the key word is Republic. A blue dog is not a “blue”; it is a “dog”.

Now I’d like to return to the question of Socialism, to address a point that I couldn’t until I had first discussed Democracy.

Some might complain that my statement that “Socialism is a desire to end classism” is wrong. They would likely argue that Socialists sought governmental rule by the proletariat (i.e. the common man), and that this is the true definition. While technically this is a historically accurate definition, I personally don’t buy it any more than I buy that Socialism refers to a particular economic system.

Firstly, let’s say that this definition is true and in the world there are such things as a Proletariat and a Bourgeoisie (i.e. the elite), then do they really mean that they want the elite of the nation to switch places with the common man? I’m fairly certain that they do not really mean that the average person should be allowed to govern while the elite work the farms and milk the cows, if for no other reason than because this makes the commoner elite and the elite into a commoner. You’d still have the elite ruling the nation; it would just be a different group of people. Overall, it makes no sense. What they must really mean is that everyone, elite and commoner together, are equals and govern the nation together. But that’s just Democracy. If they were really seeking that, they wouldn’t have needed to coin the term “Socialist”. There was already a word for what they wanted.

Just as in the case of Socialism getting linked to economics, I’m fairly certain that the issue here is that Socialism was also linked to politics. They sought to become a classless society and many felt that a Democratic system of government would be necessary to achieve that. A Republic or other hierarchical system of government would implicitly create classes of above and below, whereas in a Democratic system there wouldn’t be that divide. Presuming that some secondary option exists to have a classless society than Democracy, however, I think that Socialists would have been perfectly happy with it. And as it turns out — in my opinion at least — a Republic is not antithetical to a classless society. I don’t think a politician is my better, I just think he’s a professional in his field just as I am a professional in mine. I suspect that most people feel the same.

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