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The Future of Democracy

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The Future of Democracy
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OldMaxPosts: 3Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:34 pm Gender: Male

Post The Future of Democracy

I'm new to LoR, so I thought I'd kick off with (what I HOPE) is a biggy. I think it's an important issue anyway, since even the mature and relatively stable democracies (US and European) are showing signs of ailing. On the U.S. side, we have the Trump phenomenon (the idea of a Trump administration scares the hell out of me), and in Europe we have the emergence of extreme nationalist (not to say xenophobic) parties intruding into the mainstream. And now, of course, we have Brexit which has caught the global political and financial elites horribly by surprise (the early responses from the corridors of power in Europe were particularly enlightening). What I found instructive was that the turnout of voters in the referendum was almost twice what recent general elections have managed (for which the turnout has been in steady decline). This demonstrates that the British at least still have an appetite for direct democracy, so why do the normal workings of democracy excite diminishing engagement, especially among the young?

It may be a generational thing, but, to my mind, a properly functioning democracy is a necessary component of any healthy society - ensuring the empowerment of a people, giving it a proper stake in its own future.

Is democracy dying? If so, what would a post-democratic world look like, and would any sane person want to live in it? If we don't want it to, how can it be revitalised, and what form would it/could it/should it take?

Thoughts please.

Old Man Max

"Being a democracy doesn't stop a state doing bad things. It just means the blood's on everybody's hands."
Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:52 pm
Gnug215ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2498Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

Welcome aboard!

Very good post. I've been thinking a lot about the same thing in recent years.

Sadly.... I have no good answers for you. I think things might just chug along as they have for a while, where we get the occasional Trump in the road. I just assume that after such disasters, more reasonable alternatives will become more appealing again.
I think the time of great revolutions might be over. I doubt sufficient amounts of people can be swayed to anything too drastic, as long as the Internet is around. Too much information flowing, instead of the one-way-street of propaganda that is required.

But we'll see, I guess.
- Gnug215

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The horse is a ferocious predator.
Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:05 pm
WarKChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1163Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:59 am Gender: Tree

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

Hello and welcome.

I see DOOM!!!!!

Seriously.

I think latter part of 20th century will be looked at in the future as a short period when there was democracy.
We're moving to what we had before democracy. That is, some kind of oligarchy only those with power will come from the super rich, aided with technology that slowly enslaves us.

The US isn't too democratic anyway. It seems like it's the corporations who rule the country. They throw money at politicians and those who win have to pay the debt.

In Europe we have the Brexit. This shows how easy it is to dupe people into shooting their own foot. On the other hand it's the rise of right wing, racism, xenophobia and all the good things.

With current surveillance by the state it'll be possible to stop any revolutions or even anti-government demonstrations. In the UK the police will come knocking on your door for a tweet. Muslims will come for your head if you draw a cartoon.

Places in Europe like Poland or Hungary don't look too good either. Authoritarians are in power. It's worth remembering that 2nd World War was started by a democratic state.

Damn you, OldMax. I'm depressed now.
Did you see that ludicrous display last night?
Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:36 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2199Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

Sun Jul 10, 2016 10:33 pm
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 2772Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

Greetings,

Welcome to LoR, OldMax! :D

As has been noted, what's occurred recently is a repeat of the early 20th century's problem: the resurgence of the military-industrial complex, which had been addressed with legislation (in the US).

Essentially, we have a form of fascism, rather than a genuine democracy, where special interests (both corporate and billionaires) have usurped citizens' position as the decision-makers.

In the US there's a distrust of "Big Gubmint" - completely missing the fact that there're two other major threats to democracy: Big Corporation and Big Citizen (the 1%).

There needs to be another government effort to break up these monopolies as there was in the early 20th century.

As for how to get an apathetic populace out to vote again, I think how questions on ballot papers are put should be changed so that one has to vote "Yes" for change, rather than keep the status quo.

That way, if you want change, you have to get out and vote "Yes" - if you don't, and are afraid that things will change, you have to get out and vote "No".

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:11 pm
OldMaxPosts: 3Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:34 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

Evening Folks.

Thanks for all your responses, which reassure me that, here at least, interest in the subject is not dead. I'm also, perversely perhaps, reassured to find paranoia about government (in all its forms) is rampantly healthy.

A few more thoughts to throw in the mix:

I sometimes think in my more cynical moments that the only real difference between a modern western democracy and a tyranny is that, in the latter case, at least you know you've got no choice where it matters. In our kind of democracy, the average punter is bombarded with so many choices they don't even notice that the important ones aren't on offer.

Another thought: education is a two-edged sword for a leadership. Any industrial country needs a technically well-educated workforce in order to be able to compete effectively, but the last thing any leadership wants is a populace capable of critical examination and analysis, particularly about politics. The result is that kids don't get an education, they get a programming, i.e. they're not taught to think, they're just crammed full of the facts they need to pass examinations. In schools and colleges that have to compete for students (i.e. the private sector), the competitive pressure, combined with parent's desperation to ensure their kids get good jobs, takes care of that. The public sector intrinsically has no such pressures, so governments artificially create them. Here in the UK, we have published "league tables" of schools, based purely on exam results, which does the job very handily. If you were to propose to an educationalist (in which category I do NOT include teachers themselves - their opinions are not allowed to count any more) that education's role is to turn out well rounded individuals, you'd be met with blank incomprehension or incredulous mockery. Anyway, the result is a populace that is relatively easy to manipulate.

These and other thoughts lead me to the view that, to cultivate a healthy democracy, you need a populace that is encouraged, equipped (educationally) and, most importantly, empowered to engage in the democratic process. By that, I don't just mean using one's vote at the ballot box (although that would be a good start), but to demand of the political parties a better choice of candidates on the ballot paper. As things stand, there's a sort of Darwinian process going on whereby parties select candidates they deem most likely to get elected (how photogenic they are, how they cope with media pressure, what sort of sound bites they can come up with, and how well they stay on message - you know the sort of thing), which does nothing to ensure their competence or proper motivation to do the job when they get into office.

The result is to reduce politics to a reality TV show, a spectator sport, in which most people feel neither the inclination nor the ability to get involved - a vicious circle which trivialises an aspect of national life that deserves better.

I, like most people, have plenty of ideas about how ours or any other democratic system could be improved, but it would all be for nought without the popular will.

Another thought: there is a horrible phrase describing today's politics doing the rounds: "post-truth politics". It smacks of Joseph Goebbels' dictum: "if you tell the people the same lie often enough, they'll believe it". We certainly saw plenty of examples in the recent Brexit campaign. I'll leave colleagues over the pond to decide how much it applies to this year's presidential primaries. Which leads me to ask where are the guardians of the truth? The news media don't seem to be interested in that role any more, Independent experts have been so comprehensively vilified and slandered that they have lost almost all public credibility, and opposition politicians seem content just to catch government in gaffs rather than outright untruths and malfeasance.

Well, that's my hap'n'worth for tonight. Toodle-pip.

Old Man Max
Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:15 am
DustniteUser avatarPosts: 505Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:11 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

I'm an American and I think I have a slightly less somber view on the situation.

I think the Trump candidacy is a direct result of media shaping the narrative to the point where they have lost control of what kind of reality they were trying to create. I think regardless of whether Trump or Clinton is voted into office, the current political climate will not change and we will have the best possible outcome: maintaining the status quo of the inaction of Congress.

Trump is not going to build wall, it's economically unfeasible. Trump is not going to deport Muslims, it would never get past the Senate. The Presidential election is NOT what I'm worried about. I'm worried about mid-term election when we have the lowest voter turnouts and we finally cede control of our local governance to the Republican electorate. So 2018 is the year to worry about all this shit...
"But this is irrelevant because in either case, whether a god exists or not, whether your God (with a capital G) exists or not, it doesn't matter. We both are, in either case, evolved apes. " - Nesslig20
Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:57 pm
OldMaxPosts: 3Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:34 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

I hear ya, Dustnite.

I look at the US Constitution, and I'm green with envy. Then I look at the way it actually works, and I thank my lucky stars.

As far as the midterms are concerned, you guys have the same problem as we have with local elections, which usually occur in the middle of a parliamentary term, and people tend to use them as an opportunity to punish the government of the day. At least in the US it makes some sense since a hostile Congress can rein in an unpopular administration (producing your desired paralysis), although that can lead to brinkmanship over budgets. Here in the UK, it makes no sense at all since local government has nothing to do with national government, producing very unfair local election results which serve local democracy poorly.

For that reason, I would advocate holding all levels of election on the same day, every four years in the States, every five years here. That way there would be no point in using one level of democracy to express an opinion about another - why, when you can do it directly? It would also dramatically improve turnout for local/congressional elections.

I know there are reasons for staggering elections, but most of them are historical, and those that still apply are pretty feeble.

And on that provocative note, I'll sign off.

Old Man Max
Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:07 am
The EnderPosts: 2Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:47 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The Future of Democracy

OldMax wrote:I'm new to LoR, so I thought I'd kick off with (what I HOPE) is a biggy. I think it's an important issue anyway, since even the mature and relatively stable democracies (US and European) are showing signs of ailing. On the U.S. side, we have the Trump phenomenon (the idea of a Trump administration scares the hell out of me), and in Europe we have the emergence of extreme nationalist (not to say xenophobic) parties intruding into the mainstream. And now, of course, we have Brexit which has caught the global political and financial elites horribly by surprise (the early responses from the corridors of power in Europe were particularly enlightening). What I found instructive was that the turnout of voters in the referendum was almost twice what recent general elections have managed (for which the turnout has been in steady decline). This demonstrates that the British at least still have an appetite for direct democracy, so why do the normal workings of democracy excite diminishing engagement, especially among the young?

It may be a generational thing, but, to my mind, a properly functioning democracy is a necessary component of any healthy society - ensuring the empowerment of a people, giving it a proper stake in its own future.

Is democracy dying? If so, what would a post-democratic world look like, and would any sane person want to live in it? If we don't want it to, how can it be revitalised, and what form would it/could it/should it take?

Thoughts please.

Old Man Max

"Being a democracy doesn't stop a state doing bad things. It just means the blood's on everybody's hands."


I don't think anyone could say with any certainty whether or not democracy is in trouble, but I will say that it's gone through worse than Trump or Brexit in the past - even the recent past, relatively speaking - and survived. Clearly there is an environment of incredible social tension right now, and a potential perfect storm of very serious & difficult to resolve problems that may ultimately collide (the refugee crisis in Syria, the rise of militarized Wahhabi fundamentalist groups trying to claim territory by force, the political empowerment of previously dormant white supremacy militia in the U.S., the continuation & expansion of western military adventurism, climate change, a market economy that is increasingly reliant on high risk leverage & unsustainably abused pools of labor in China & Southeast Asia, increasingly large wage bracket gaps, etc); under what circumstances such a collision may occur & what the consequences may be are anyone's guess (though said consequences probably aren't going to be positive).

A post-democratic society would likely be a regression to European colonial / imperial politics - a gory mess of endless wars between different factional powers with arbitrary claims on titles, lands, etc. Except this time the American military industrial complex with be in the mix, as well as multiple nuclear arsenals. No, a sane person would not want anything resembling that.


I think the current trend in political toxicity is that many people feel disenfranchised, and for good reason (many younger activists, for example, feel like nobody is ever going to do anything about climate change before things have gone too far off the rails... and these fears / frustrations are hardly unfounded; many trade workers feel like their years of hard work & study have been defaulted on and that now they're being ditched to save some Scrooge assholes a few nickels... and they aren't wrong; many young adults trying to make a new life for themselves feel like everyone is trying to sucker them with mortgage & car loan scams of one shade or another when they just want to buy a damn house & vehicle... and they're exactly right). The anger is often directed at the wrong thing (because it's easier to just blame a scapegoat than recognize that a system we rely is has a problem and needs repairs), but it's real and too often dismissed (...though in fairness, I don't see what can be done when raw anger - however justified the emotion itself may be - transforms into racism / homophobia / transphobia / etc). There's not an easy fix here because there are an array of real, deep cutting problems creating the toxicity that need to be addressed & that we have been allowing to get worse because action is so costly in the short term.
Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:16 pm
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