I Hate Democracy

Democracy isn’t necessarily the best form of Government, argues Reece Warren

Let’s start with the more well-known argument of John Stuart Mill’s ‘Tyranny of the majority’ – that democracy is merely the oppression by the majority on to the minority. In other words, your viewpoint is only validated if the majority of people believe it.

If we take the issue of ‘incest’ (just as a random example) then it’s clear that the vast majority of people view it abhorrent, distasteful and morally corrupt – but does that mean it is? For me, it simply doesn’t. I’m not for one minute advocating incest, but what I’m saying is that, just because people have an opinion that it’s wrong doesn’t make that fact – yet people believe it does. Democracy is a form of Government which not only oppresses but also alienates individuals from society, because they are either (a) tolerated or (b) shunned from society.

So what if we try a different example? In the 19th century (and before), prior to women having the right to vote, it remained perfectly legal for a husband to rape his wife, and the majority of people felt there was no issue with that. But does that justify rape? No it doesn’t. What I’m trying to illustrate is that, in a democracy, the majority’s viewpoint is the be all and end all of Government – and with the advancement of direct democracy through things such as e-petitions, people are getting stronger.

So that’s the traditional argument out of the way, but let me try this from a slightly different perspective – infallibility. People (on a whole) are particularly ignorant beings – some even argue it’s part of our human nature. We live in a generation where media and technology ultimately dominate our lives, which leaves us open to complete manipulation.

If (in the next few years, for example) the Press were under State regulation, what’s stopping the State choosing what we see and what we don’t see? The media already influences our political viewpoints, so if the State controlled the press, what’s stopping a particular political party running false stories that portray them in a ‘godly’ light? What’s to say they’re not doing this now? All of this comes under Marcuse’s theory of repressive desublimation, one which I feel is undeniable.

election flyerSo where does this link in with democracy? People are easily manipulated to feeling in a particular way and being ‘fed’ things they want to hear – in other words, the people within society cannot be trusted. This point will be heavily disputed and is often used against me through personal insults, but let me explain – if the media and technology has the ability to control your viewpoints, why are you in a position to cast an informed vote for a political party? You simply aren’t until you think for yourself. Most of you will sit there and believe that you do think for yourself, but do you? How much do you rely on your smart-phones, the internet etc? What if those things didn’t enhance your knowledge (through internet research etc) but actually restricted it? With this in mind, people cannot be trusted to cast a well-informed vote, due to repressive desublimation.

Sophistry has been corrupting minds for thousands of years – acting as a drug to the minds of every-day people. Political parties have always been built upon an exploitative platform which promises the world to every single person in the desperate grasp for  power, and today is no different. Democracy is not only an oppressive form of Government but also an exploitative one. People are far too orientated in short-term gains which sophistry plays to – do wild beasts stop to ponder the meat they’re about to feast upon in case it’s bad for their internal organs? Or do they devour the piece of meat because they’re hungry and have been socialised (through imitation) into doing so?

So is there an alternative? Yes. The Platonic solution for me is one of the only solutions that can solve these fundamental issues. What if we had a ruler that knew justice? A ruler that had obtained the ‘form of the good’ which enabled them to see the entirety of other forms (much like the sun’s light allows us to see what’s in front of us). What if we had a ruler that could objectively and justly rule a state that wasn’t susceptible to the average person’s shortcomings? Wouldn’t he be best to rule?

This is an opinion I share – a philosopher-ruler. Rather than political parties making a false claim into what they ‘believe’ is right, the philosopher-ruler would ‘know’ what is right – and that is a huge difference. Whether you admit it or not, political parties and people as a whole are vulnerable to constant fallacies which mean their judgment is constantly clouded – the philosopher-ruler would not be. When we leave a room that’s been pitch-black dark into a bright light, it takes a few moments for our eyes to adjust – after which our eyes remain clear-sighted. The average person is stuck within that dark room with unadjusted eyes and blurred sight, whereas the philosopher-ruler experiences the latter. People will contest this by asking me ‘how do you know if these people know justice?’ and I say to you that you will not know – as you would not understand justice, so cannot be the judge of whether someone has it or not.

So if there is a ruler who knows the true form of justice; who knows how to implement this justice; who knows what’s best for each of his/her citizens within society; then why shouldn’t this person be in charge? They should be – as they are best fitted to rule. Rather than this media hype surrounding party politics in order to corrupt the minds of citizens to vote a certain way – there should be no votes. This viewpoint is particularly similar to countries who have an unelected monarchy where, rather than the ruler being decided on their ‘blood line’, it’s be based on education and the ability to rule itself – also known as techne.

Is this solution perfect? No it isn’t – of course there remain difficulties – but just because something is more difficult to begin with, doesn’t mean that it’s not the solution nonetheless. Please feel free to comment and dispute any of my points and if I’ve missed something out then I’ll do my best to clarify in my responses to your questions. There’s a hell of a lot I’ve missed out, but this is my viewpoint summarised in a brief article.

Reece Warren

8 COMMENTS

  1. Incest, which leads to inbreeding and reinforcement of negative traits, is bad. There is no way around this. Just ask the Spanish Habsburgs.

    Oh, sorry, you cannot, because they bred their family line into complete physical and mental incapacity.

    The reason “…that the vast majority of people view it abhorrent, distasteful and morally corrupt” is that it is known to be a very bad idea indeed, in terms of offspring.

    And if you do not understand this, then may I suggest that a short course in genetics is definitely called for?

    The rest of the article is, sadly, on about the same level of uninformed silliness.

  2. Guys – you’ve all left some comments which are extremely valid arguments so I’ll try and answer them all in one go.

    There seems to be some issue of how I use the word ‘democracy’ – what I think of with regards to democracy is what it’s become and more importantly, the Greek derivative. To avoid going into the nitty-gritty of the different types of democracy, I’m arguing that all forms of democracy tend to degenerate into the same problems one way or another.

    If we consider the argument from infallibility – you’re right, there’s no guarantees that the philosopher ruler would be an exception, as this can’t logically follow. However, what is apparent is that if an individual has obtained the true form of justice and knows what IS good, surely they’re the best to rule in addition to being the ‘least’ fallible, to put it simply.

    The argument against Plato himself – if you’re naive enough to suggest that Plato’s whole argument was due to him being a philosopher and being power-hungry etc, I’d suggest you do far more research into him. After studying him religiously for the past two years, I have to say you’re making presuppositions. Plato was certainly a product of his time and your argument with regards to slaves should be applied to most people throughout the Western world of the past few thousand years – that doesn’t make his argument incorrect.

    With the argument regarding my comments involving revolution – then for me this is the only logical way this can ever be out into practice however ideally, it’ll be particularly similar to Ancient Athenians (CF The Athenian Constitution – Aristotle). To summarise, this was when both the rich and the poor were about to have a violent war due to exploitation and tension, and Solon was asked to take over as ruler (yet wasn’t democratically elected, ironically).

    I disagree with the notion people can govern themselves as I honestly believe they can’t – to say that for me is extremely naive due to things like the welfare state, distribution of wealth, etc. Rulers are required in my opinion.

    So what about the argument saying that a philosopher ruler has never existed so will never exist – that point is daft to be honest – just because something hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it CAN’T. Think of it like the introduction of electromagnetics within the laws of physics.

    The points regarding Churchill I can totally sympathise with as I feel them myself to be honest, but I disagree that it’s ‘the best of the worst’ as for me, it’s the best out if the simpler and easier methods of government.

    I know full well I’ve missed points but I’m trying to reply on my phone which is a bit of a mission in itself haha! Thank you for the comments and I’m more than happy to try and defend myself and what I’m saying.

  3. Sorry, but I’m almost speechless at the fact that someone can think something like this still. But I’m not completely speechless, so I’m going to gently rip your argument to shreds, probably in the order it appears in the article, depending on how much my mind strays whilst writing:

    From the get go, what do you even mean by democracy? Because from what I’ve read it appears that what you are referring to is representative democracy. And along with this view of democracy, implying that there can be no other forms of democracy, you appear to have a very centralised view of the concept. I’m not denying that this isn’t the form we have now in the UK, but to imply that it is the only form is dismissive of huge swathes of scholarship (Autonomism, anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism) and actual real world examples of different forms of democracy (large parts of Spain just before Franco crushed the CNT and co, the Paris Commune, even the early stirrings and lessons of the Occupy movement).

    So, on this point, what I’m trying to convey is that representative parliamentary democracy is not the only form of democracy available. And, if I were to push an agenda, I’d say that it itself is not democracy, because democracy is rule by the multitude, not in their name, a practise which leads to the sort of homogenisation and ‘dictatorship of the majority’ that you referred to above, but by their own powers of creation and association.

    Regarding your comments on the apparent stupidity of humankind:

    I think you are particularly misguided here.You note the influence of media and other forces in misinforming people’s opinions and governments putting out false information etc etc, but then you seem to attribute the effects of this to some sort of human nature, instead of being the result of the actual factors you yourself described. Do you find it easier to believe that democracy can be radically reformed (nay destroyed!) than a complete overhaul of how we learn about the world through media and the like?

    If these forces are so misguiding people, then does it not surely lead us to the conclusion that if we change these forces then they will cease to have such a negative effect on people? If that can be accepted – which I can see no reason for it to not be – then we are only left with some notion of an inherent stupidity in humankind, which of of course easily dismissible by the fact that many people aren’t “stupid”. There’s no reason why everyone can’t be a philosopher-ruler in their own right! If given the right chances.

    As for Plato, he was a sexist so-and-so who kept slaves and lived a lavish life off of the back of the destitution and labour of those below him, in contrast to which he was deemed a “better” within the caste system of Ancient Greece. His notion of philosopher-rule is deeply rooted within his social position – one in which he was a philosopher!

    Furthermore, the notion of philosopher-rule is no more valid than that of an absolute monarchy. Absolute monarchs like/d to think of themselves as having the highest wisdom and greatest foresight. How do they claim to prove this? Why, because their own wisdom tells them so! Can you see what I’m getting at?… Philosopher-rule would be no more than the dictatorship of the self-validating. And what is supposed to be done when it turns out that the philosopher-ruler is not fit to rule and run everything perfectly according to their wisdom (as would definitely arise; no one is perfect bro)? With no accountability they could create a hellhole. It’s a lot of faith to put into one person. And what about the next philosopher-ruler after they die? Would they choose their sucessor? You’ve just gone and granted a single person the power to determine the whole fate of a society and give it to whichever friend they most like.

    No one if infallible, and a philosopher-ruler is no exception. Philosopher-rule rests on the appearance of a single omniscient person, who will never and has never exist/ed.

    Ctrl + f isn’t working in my browser for some reason, so I can’t find the exact passage quickly, but at some point in the article I’m sure I remember you mentioning that the people would rise up, have a revolution, and instigate this philosopher-ruler. You know what that means? That ignorant and mass rabble – the people, the multitude, whatever you want to call them – is where the power lies! They are the ones that can shape the world to their will and do with their lives what they please. Why should they give the power to a centralised ruler? Why can they not rule themselves? They are, after all, responsible for everything that happens in human society, from production to child-bearing to security to philosophy. Within the multitude of humanity there are all the forces needed to run society. So why should they delegate these powers to a central authority such as the one you propose as a solution?

    Why should they not, as the people, rule society. Something like rule of the people, which, if I remember my Greek correctly, can help us formulate a word sounding something like “demos-cracy”.

    You’re fair to have gripes with democracy as it currently stands somewhere like the UK right now. But don’t for a second believe that that is what democracy actually means. The word has been tainted. Just as other brilliant ideas have been used throughout history to entice people and then whip out the carpet from underneath them and give power to a few, so has democracy.

    I’m not saying true democracy would be easy. But giving authority to centralised power and saying “You know what, we’re too stupid you run stuff for us, oh mighty leader with your intellect so large!” is to deny the creative capacities of the multitude.

    So to summarise my stream of hopefully coherent thoughts:

    People aren’t stupid. Misguided at times? Likely so. However, there is nothing intrinsic to humans that makes them stupid. Take a kid out of a slum, give her good food, a good education, good experiences, love and let her express her humanity, and she will not be the ignorant brute of a human that needs taming with some central philosopher-ruler that you seem to be referring to (at least more subtly than I just described). The problem is that many people are not given such a chance and are denied the ability to articulate and realises their desires and contribute in their own way because of the forces of centralised government, capitalism, greed, corruption and sophistry that surround us all.

    Have more faith in humanity. Don’t paint everyone with the brush of their oppression, and _especially_ don’t seek to fix that by suggesting more oppression.

    Everything humanity does descends from the power of humans, not rulers. So, at the end of the day, humanity is the one that will decide its own fate. It may unconsciously decide to acquiesce to the power of central authority – whether that be in the form of a faux, representative democracy or a philosopher-ruler – but they will always be the ones with the power.

    [Feel free to ask for more clarity on these somewhat jumbled thoughts.]

  4. Interesting thoughts… and confirming one of Churchill’s quote: “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”
    On the other hand Churchill, who btw. was a philosopher,writer and artist, said also : ” It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

    I think you will never find an all-knowing philosopher who is so saintly that power doesn’t corrupt him. Who will vote for this one brilliant man and how long can he be ruler? Is there anyway to get rid of him?

    I agree with Churchill’s second quote, that democracy is still the best options as all other systems have failed. Good democracy needs “check & balances” , a separation of powers , so the ruler can’t abuse the minority . The US Constitution is pretty good and although some presidents abused some of the amendments, you can ultimately impeach the President. Nobody is above the law…

    For me the best form of government would be a libertarian one. Where you have only courts, police and the army and hardly any government

  5. I think it would be far more dangerous and oppressive to put political power in the hands of one person than in the hands of the majority. Do you really think it’s possible for there to be a ‘philosopher ruler’, someone who is infallible and will always know what justice is? If anything, Plato’s vision is totalitarian and verging on theocratic – the philosopher king would be able to say “I know that this is just because I have seen the light and you have not, therefore you must do as I say.”

    • I completely understand what you’re saying Sam, but you have to remember that Plato’s philosopher ruler sees things clearer than anyone else – knows better than anyone else.

      Is a ruler who provides justice for all and harmony amongst their people considered totalitarian? More often than not, no.

      But your question regarding if its possible – yes it is. However, the media and technology make it (in my view) impossible. The only way it would be possible is to have a revolution which the people themselves create – and alongside this, democracy to collapse – if there was then an opportunity for a ruler to be necessary and the philosopher took over, then he/she could implement what they wanted in order to topple the influence of the media and technology.

      It’s very top-down, but Plato said that’s the only way to achieve a Utopia.

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