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Democracy does not make a government legitimate. Nothing does.

Discussion in 'Debate Forum' started by Philosophizer, May 19, 2017.

  1. Philosophizer

    Philosophizer Member

    Many people still believe the ritual of “democracy” is legitimate for some of the following reasons:

    - It is fair, since people are allowed to choose between various options by “voting”.
    - By voting, the majority of people are agreeing to the results of the referendum, what the politicians enact as “law”, etc.
    - As the majority of people agreed (or consented) to the democratic government’s actions by voting for those in the democratic government, this is where its legitimacy and its right to implement its laws comes from. This is also referred to as “The Consent of the Governed” or “The Social Contract”.

    These myths can be easily disproved, which I will demonstrate below:

    The majority of people agreeing to something doesn’t make it fair, right, or just. As an example, the majority of the southern states in the United States supported the concept and practice of slavery, and laws were implemented and enforced to propagate and protect this practice. The majority of the people in Nazi Germany also voted for the Nazi party and for the parties that allowed the Nazis to form a coalition to enact its laws. To use a much more recent example, gays in the U.S. were only just granted the right to marry in all 50 states by the Supreme Court less than two years ago.

    Should they not have had that right until the state governments and/or the Supreme Court deem it is acceptable, since the people in the state governments are elected by the majority of the people, and the Supreme Court Justices are appointed and confirmed by politicians who are elected by the majority? Another related question is: why is it okay to refuse to marry gays as long as gay marriage is not “legalized” by some group of politicians, but all of a sudden not okay when it is “legalized” by another group of politicians?

    In addition, a majority, or even a vast majority, of people believing in something doesn’t make it true. Going back to my example of slavery, the practice of slavery was widely believed to be acceptable in ancient times, even though it never was and never will be. Right now, many people believe the ritual of “democracy” legitimizes “democratic governments”, even though it never has, never can, and never will. The act of “voting” does not give those politicians in government the right to force anyone to obey them just because they write it on a piece of paper and call it “law”. They can write anything they wish on paper and call it “law”; it doesn’t mean that “law” should automatically be obeyed.

    If you’re thinking: “If the majority of people don’t agree with some of the government’s laws, they can vote for politicians in the coming elections who will pass laws they do agree with”, that is missing the point entirely, as that thought doesn’t address whether those laws should be obeyed and/or enforced in the meantime simply because they are “laws”. If a law is immoral or unjust and you reply with “It can be repealed or changed when other politicians are voted in”, that is like saying: “Yes, it’s bad to steal, but the person who was stolen from can always recover what was stolen from him or her.” Does the fact that he can get back what was stolen from him make it okay for the thief to steal from him in the first place? Does the fact that a bad law can be changed later make it okay for that bad law to be enforced in the meantime?

    People have the right to defend themselves and retrieve stolen property regardless of what “the law” says, making it irrelevant as well.
     
  2. snorlax512

    snorlax512 Well-Known Member

    Democracy might not be perfect, but it is the best system we've got.
     
  3. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    Of course democracy legitimises bad or 'immoral' policy. Of course it doesn't guarantee against bad decision-making. The value lies in the fact that administrations and governments are held to account for said policies, and can be turfed out on a pretty regular basis.

    It's entirely possible for a dictatorship and an elected government to impose similar policies, but the former has nothing to fear in respect of accountability. The latter is incentivised to good policy through regular performance reviews.

    Also, can we put paid to this myth about the Nazis attaining elected power? Hitler got the job through a back-room deal when the Weimar institutions chickened out to the detriment of the people they were supposed to protect.
     
  4. Team Volt Grunt

    Team Volt Grunt Pokémon Collector

    "Immoral" and "just" are relative terms. What one person thinks is wrong or unfair isn't always wrong or unfair to another person. You can't argue that democracy doesn't work because laws are passed that are immoral. The majority at the time didn't see slavery as immoral like we do now.
     
  5. lemoncatpower

    lemoncatpower Cynical optimist

    i completely agree for the most part. Democracy is not the best government. It just seems to work when you only have shitty people to choose from for leading your country, just don't give them all the power.

    But god Canada is being dumb and doing this:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/victims-of-communism-memorial-1.4119012
    and it pisses me off so badly. Like no, it's not communism itself, it's leaders with horrible views and beliefs chosen to lead in a communism government, when they shouldnt be.
    So lets totally ignore the actual bad people themselves and BLAME IT ON COMMUNISM! Also Im Canadian, just in case anyone thinks it's offensive that I called Canada dumb (no Canadian would but yeah)
     
  6. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    Good on Canada. Communism - where atrocity is a feature, not a bug - is one of the most consistently lethal ideas in human history and every one of these monuments is another nail in that wretched coffin.
     
  7. lemoncatpower

    lemoncatpower Cynical optimist

    Capitalist communism, yeah definitely. Otherwise no I disagree entirely. Communism itself is not a threat, but when mixed with negative aspects it can go awry. Just like democracy. Instead with democracy, they make it seem like you voted for the corruption lol.
     
  8. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that's a great relief to the victims of Russian collectivisation, the crushing of the Hungarian Uprising, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge, Tiananmen Square, the Red Holocaust, the Kims, Angolan famine, gulags worldwide, etc.

    Slaughter is absolutely the rule, not the exception.
     
  9. Mordent99

    Mordent99 Banned

    If I may make my $0.02 here

    Hobbes claimed that a dictatorship is necessary for human survival. He claimed that that all humans are naturally entitled to everything, and that when two humans try to assert their right to the same thing, conflicts ensue. The result is a "state of nature" in which every individual becomes a judge of what is right based on their own beliefs. The only solution that will allow humans to co-exist peacefully is for humans to agree to relinquish nearly all of those natural rights, on the condition that everyone else do so as well. In order to ensure that everyone "plays nice", a Sovereign, which can be either an individual or an assembly, has to be given enough power to browbeat people back into line. As soon as people agree to follow the rules laid down in this "social contract", they are free to assert their right to whatever they can, within that framework. Not everyone has to agree, but as soon as a majority signs up, the rest will follow, either by application of carrot or by application of stick. And considering the alternative is a life that is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short", most people will agree. (This is detailed in his book Leviathan, agreed by most to be his best work.)

    It is worthwhile to note that Hobbes never stated that a ruler must be autocratic, positing that an assembly could do the job as well. He also never stated that the Sovereign could not be democratically elected. On the other hand, he did insist that the Sovereign—be it an assembly or a single person—have absolute power.

    Oddly enough, one can say he got his wish shortly after his death: after the "Glorious Revolution" in 1688, the British monarchy became thoroughly subordinated to the Parliament—a figurehead, with minute and highly contingent power (that would be gone within a century), subject to the authority of Parliament. As for Parliament, under the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy, it could do whatever it liked, subject only to political restraints. It's worked marvelously for Britain.

    Now, whether Hobbes is correct or not is hard to say. His theories are directly countered by those of Rousseau. He did not philosophize that humans in their natural state were actually "good", but rather humans who are without a social contract have no morality/concept of good and evil and as such, will act in their own self interest but cannot do so maliciously—that is to say, that people are naturally innocent in the same way we understand children to be. They are born with a "blank slate", so to speak.

    But regardless of who you agree with, maybe a large government is not necessarily a bad thing...
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  10. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    That's a good $0.02. I don't pretend to know the first thing about philosophy but as a more recent example, Acemoglu and Robinson (http://whynationsfail.com/) argue for something similar - a powerful, centralised, inclusive state that has strength to effectively safeguard the political and economic freedoms that make for a prosperous society. The Glorious Revolution is a great example, as it saw a wave of economic liberalisation that paved the way for the Industrial Revolution, which could only exist as long as the state protected property rights and maintained law and order.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2017
  11. While communism, historically, has been implemented by authoritarian governments, I don't think that speaks to the truth or efficacy of communism itself.
     
  12. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    An authoritarian government is a necessity to affect Communism - you have to overturn private property rights by force. The argument that Communism simply hasn't been 'done right' loses weight after about a century of trial-runs and several million bodies.
     
  13. snorlax512

    snorlax512 Well-Known Member

    Communism would work great in a utopia where human nature doesn't exist.
     
  14. Mordent99

    Mordent99 Banned

    Oh, I agree.

    Here, a fun way to learn the complete history of the Soviet Union:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWTFG3J1CP8

    Who says history class has to be boring??
     
  15. Not necessarily. Democracy is a political system, communism is an economic one. They don't have to be exclusive. It's possible for communism to be a slow transition. Further, functioning communist societies do exist and thrive, like the Israeli Kibbutz.
     
  16. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    The issue is the necessity of voluntarism - a Kibbutz is a self-forming group of a larger whole. For large-scale state Communism, you need a government to distribute resources with impunity. Anyone who wants to keep what they earn/make/produce cannot be tolerated, to say nothing of purging the compliant simply to instil compliance with such a regime. Even then, the underlying assumption that the state is best placed to allocate resources is fundamentally flawed, as evidenced by the numerous state-instigated famines throughout history or the dire economic situation in Venezuela today.
     
  17. Sadib

    Sadib Time Lord Victorious

    America isn't a true democracy. It's a democratic republic. I think. Someone else should probably elaborate further on this.

    For those who don't know TC, he's not saying that there's a better government type that democracy. He's an anarchist. I've had discussions through vm in the past with him about this, but he stopped responding. This was my last reply.

    You can view the full conversation if you want. Anarchists are so naive.
     
  18. Mordent99

    Mordent99 Banned


    Naïve and stupid. The "state of nature" Hobbes spoke of if what anarchy would cause.
     
  19. an1mey123

    an1mey123 New Member

    what is good about democracy?
     
  20. Scammel

    Scammel Well-Known Member

    The fact that leaders are dissuaded from acting with impunity due to extreme job insecurity. Democracy doesn't guarantee good policy, but it does discourage terrible policy.
     

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