Archives for posts with tag: mob rule
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Last time I checked, for a rebellion to make sense, it had to be against some precise thing. Otherwise…

On the other hand, there are only two kinds of freedom.
‘Against all others’ – which starts as anarchy and very soon becomes atrocious dictatorship. Where the dictator is free to rule and the oppressed are free do obey. Or to attempt to climb into the dictator’s shoes…
Or ‘with all others’. Also known as ‘democracy’. The real thing, of course, not the ‘mob rule’ variety which is currently creeping upon us.

Hence the only sensible rebellion would be the one against any form of dictatorship and ‘executed’ in concert with the rest of the oppressed.

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At any given moment, things are the intersection between ‘what could have been’ and ‘what we wanted out of that situation’.

It’s obvious, for even the most careless observer, that something must be possible before our wishes might start shaping that something.

My point being that we are not necessary for nature to exist but we do bear the responsibility for what has happened since we started to wish.

Let’s consider a hydroelectric dam, for example.
For us to be able to build one, we first need a river. A big enough one, flowing through a certain configuration of terrain… but nevertheless, we need a river. Before everything else.
Yet it’s not the presence of the river which is responsible for the existence of the dam. We, the builders, have built it. We are responsible for it.

And this is valid for other things too, not only for the ‘material’ ones.

Democracy, for example.

War taught us that destruction is not inevitable. Wars have to be started before destruction begins.
After killing each-other for long enough we’ve learned that we’re not so different.
We bleed the same kind of blood and our mothers weep the same tears.
Eventually, we replaced war with sport.

History taught us that democracy works better, in the longer run, than authoritarianism.
That observing the world from multiple perspectives – and pooling the data, leads to way better results than meekly following orders.

Both war and sports are ample demonstrations that winning is temporary and surviving trumps everything else.
And, contrary to our ‘immediate urges’, that fair play goes a lot further towards survival than ‘winning at all costs’.

Similarly, both surviving and decaying/crumbled down democracies are compelling proof that democracy is based on mutual respect between the members of the democratically self governed community.
And that when ever that mutual respect starts to vanish, democracy – the real thing, starts to fade. Usually into ‘mob rule‘. And further, if the process is allowed to continue.

So.
What’s gonna be?
Are we going to allow our craving for ‘success’ to return sport to blood sport? A.k.a war?
And to demote functional democracy, oriented towards the survival of the community as a whole, to mob rule?
Declaratively geared – by the interested party, towards the putative survival of the ‘establishment’? Never, as yet, achieved even on the medium term… let alone the long one

For more than a year now I was struggling to understand the circumstances that have produced the current political mess in America.

I finally figured it out.

Confusion and dissatisfaction!

If you have enough people that are both confused and malcontent then all kind of ‘strange’ things will happen.

Only one of them won’t be enough to explain the whole gamut of what’s going on and that’s why I wasn’t satisfied by any of the many articles that pointed out one reason or another for the ‘popular discontent that brought the Donald to the White House’.
In fact no amount of ‘unhappiness’ can explain how two mature parties can nominate such lousy candidates. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump fit, not even loosely, the profile of a decent President. That’s why the voter turn-out was the lowest in the last 80 years or so.

But if you add ‘confusion’… things begin to clear out.

And no, I’m not speaking here about the regular people being confused as a result of the ‘politicos’ having misbehaved horribly.
I’m afraid things are way deeper than this.
Even those who believe themselves to be educated in these matters seem to be swimming in a sea of thicker and thicker fog.

Take, for instance, the current debate about the differences between ‘republic’ and ‘democracy’.

A republic is a representative type of government, and its goal is to simultaneously control the majority while protecting the minority. For example, in the republic of the United States, the government is limited constitutionally, and power is divided between the three branches of government.

A democracy is a type of government that grants eligible citizens the right to equal participation. This right is provided directly through the creation and development of laws or through elected representatives. The interest of the majority is the most important aspect in a democracy.

A republic is a representative form of democracy. A republic has an elected head of state, such as a president, that serves for a specific period of time. In a republic, the interest of the majority rules through its elected representatives. However, a republic has a constitution that protects the minority from being entirely overruled or unrepresented.

See what I mean? Adding insult to injury this definitions were published by a site which calls itself ‘reference.com‘ …

I’m not going to pick truth from fiction in that quote, that would only add to the already too thick confusion.

Enough for me to say that ‘republic’ is indeed a manner in which societies are organized (a.k.a. ‘governed’) while ‘democracy’ is a manner in which societies decide for themselves. Yes, these two things have a lot in common but we should not confuse them.

There are republics which only pretend to be democratic – like the late Soviet Union or the current Democratic Republic of Korea, some which are democratic in a rather strange way – Iran for example, or which are slowly ‘loosing’ democracy behind – like Orban’s Hungary or Putin’s Russia. History has also a few examples of republics which had given up democracy all together. Hitler’s Germany, for instance.

On the other hand there are monarchies (OK, constitutional monarchies) which are perfectly democratic. The British Commonwealth, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Belgium…

What can explain the current confusion?
‘The interest of the majority is the most important aspect in a democracy’?!?
A major lack of understanding about what democracy really means?

A terrible confusion between the formal aspects of democracy – freedom to vote for what ever candidate accompanied by a fair account of the ballots – and the really important tenets of democratic behavior – honest, open and mutually respectful exchange of ideas about the current state of affairs between the interested members of the society?
My point being that true democracy is about the opportunity to rationally convince those around you/making yourself available to be convinced by rational arguments, not about the majority imposing its view on the minority. That is nothing but mob rule, a horrid perversion of what democracy was meant to be.

Basically, what happens – under all forms of social arrangements/forms of government: republic, constitutional or absolute monarchy – in a society is that people need to know where that society is headed to. Authoritarian societies are run by the ruler – and the people, willingly, unwillingly or with mixed spirits, agree for the time being – while the democratic societies entertain a certain ‘effervescence of ideas’ which bring forward the important problems that need to be resolved and what would be the socially acceptable manners for those problems to be fixed.

But in order for that ‘effervescence of ideas’ to be efficient, the ordinary people have to contribute in earnest to the exchange and the politicians need to pay close attention and to cooperate among themselves and with the rest of the society towards solving those problems.

That’s why I’d like you to remember when was the last time that people on the different sides of the political divide have actually talked together?
Why do we have a ‘political divide’ in the first place?

Aren’t we supposed to be ‘all together’ in our respective countries?

What’s gotten into us that made us fight each-other so bitterly?

Why do we succumb so easily to ‘divide and conquer’?

Why are there still so many politicos who keep using this method, despite the ample proof that has been provided to us, through out the history, that ‘divide and conquer‘ inevitably ends up in disaster?

When your own rhetoric gives you license to commit mayhem. And worse

Modern technology has produced some rather perverse ‘side effects’.

What used to be called ‘democracy’ has slowly been driven into ‘mob rule’.

It is hard to determine whether this is the desired effect of some (un) ‘intelligent design’ or an unforeseen consequence of the callous machinations of the ‘power hungry’ but it doesn’t matter much, does it?

Let me first clarify some concepts.

For me ‘democracy’ is way much more than what happens in and around the polling stations.
Fairly counting the votes is indeed important but even more important is what takes place long before the ballots are cast.
A really functional democracy is that where every stakeholder has the opportunity to voice their concerns and where the rest pay attention to everything that is said in the public square. By both their political friends and by their political adversaries.
In fact no ballot can be cast efficiently unless the voters have developed a fair image of what is going on in their society. While no one can develop an actually complete understanding of anything, let alone one regarding such a complex system as an entire society, we must jealously keep in our minds that ‘not entirely complete’ is one thing and ‘heavily biased’ through a severe lack of pertinent information is quite a different one.

On the other hand ‘mob rule’ is a what happens when voters’ passions are so high that enough of them are no longer able to think with their own heads and allow themselves to be ‘led by the nose’. Into voting for a specific somebody or, alternatively, into not voting at all ‘because it doesn’t matter, anyway’.

At first democracy actually meant first hand, person to person, meetings in the public square.
The Ancient Greeks solved their ‘state affairs’ in the Agora, the Romans in the Forum while “Althingi” (the name of the oldest parliament that is still in existence, that of Iceland) means ‘General Assembly’.

Slowly, as the constituencies grew larger, the stakeholders needed some more sophisticated manners of keeping in touch. Luckily for them, Gutenberg had already invented the printing press. The American Founding Fathers – who had made good use of this first instrument of what was going to be the mass-media – had insisted passionately on the ‘freedom of the press’. And for good reasons. As I pointed out a little earlier, access to information is paramount for an efficient decision. Further more printed material is a very handy tool when it comes to conveying information from one person to another. Its rather stable nature allows it to survive unadulterated, at least for a while. So it can be handled around or kept for further reference since it is relatively easy to organize. And searched at will. All these discouraging the ‘communicators’ from lying – blatantly, at least. Since lies where relatively easy to pin-point and prove those who needed to maintain their credibility refrained themselves from ‘exaggerating’ too much. The fact that the general public was rather particular about this kind of things also helped in this matter.

Later, when radio and television were introduced, things had become more complicated. Given the fleeting nature of spoken – rather than printed – words, the ‘talking heads’ felt less compelled to stick to the straight and narrow.
Things were compounded by the advent of the ‘political-marketing specialists’ and of the ‘bean counters’.
The latter kept insisting that the mass-media venues have to be as profitable as possible – hence publish more and more of ‘what the audience asks for’ instead of bona-fide information while the former kept telling to the politicians that they have to ‘get under the skin of their constituents’ – by, again, telling them what they were more likely to believe instead of treating them as the grown-up adults they were.
The consequence of all this merchandising was that the erstwhile more or less compact public has been gradually carved up into discrete, and growingly separate, ‘publics’. Otherwise known as ‘echo-chambers’.

The apparition of the Internet/social networks has further deepened the already existent divides. People no longer know what the others really think or feel. But their ignorance doesn’t keep them from having opinions. Or from voting about things they do not really understand. So they vote how they are told by their trusted ‘analysts’/’experts’.

Now, is it of any use for us to blame anybody for what had happened?

Or would it be a lot better for all of us to grow out of this before the ‘whirlwind’ makes a ‘hard landing’ on top of our heads?

 

It depends on the meanings we attach to these two concepts.

Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s ex finance minister, is convinced that ‘Capitalism will eat democracy – unless we speak up.

Since he has some experience in this matter I’ll follow his line of thinking – for a while.

His point being that you can have successful capitalism in undemocratic societies – like Singapore and China – and that effective power has slowly shifted from the political sphere of the society to the economic one – which is undemocratic by definition.

Can’t say he’s entirely wrong, can we?

But we can say he’s somewhat confused…
So, he mentions Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore and China as capitalistic success stories and then says that  the political sphere is gradually falling  under the yoke of the economic one… Well, last time I looked, in China the state was still in full control of everything that moved and the state was firmly in the hands of the politicians. Same thing was happenning during Yew’s tenure as Singapore’s good willed dictator.

Unfortunately there is some truth in his words when we look at what’s going on on the both sides of the Atlantic and that’s why I’m going to examine whether we have the same kind of capitalism in both situations.

By Google-ing the word I got two definitions for the concept.

The first definition that was offered by the search engine came from Oxford Dictionaries, “An economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state” and the second one came from Merriam Webster: capitalism is “an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market“.

Putting them together we have private ownership, private decision, free market and profit as a goal.

Are these enough to describe a reasonably well functioning economic system?
I’m afraid not.

Let me give you some examples.
The French state has a controlling interest in Renault and the land of Bavaria quite a sizeable one in VW. Renault is in good shape and VW was too, until very recently. So private ownership is not an absolute necessity.
In the US we had quite an interesting situation. Two out of the three big car manufacturers  had to be bailed out by the state. All three were privately owned so we must look somewhere else: the Ford family still has a powerful word in the management of the single one which didn’t had to be bailed out. In Europe the best run auto company seems to be BMW – again controlled by a single family, the Quandt’s. It seems that it helps a lot if those who call the shots have a long time interest in the well being of the company versus the situation in which the top management has (short time) profit as the single/obsessive target.
Coming back to Renault and VW, they can be compared to Singapore, China and, maybe, Spain. Singapore was able to develop a ‘capitalistic’ economy despite it being an authoritarian society simply because Lee Kuan Yew was a very special kind of ‘dictator’ – one that not only cared sincerely for the greater good of his people but also didn’t loose his head during his long stage at the helm. A similar thing happened in Spain – Franco was the sole dictator who had made preparations for a democratic evolution after his demise, while China had to wait for another good-willed dictator to grab the power – Deng Xiao Ping – before it could steer towards the present course. No other authoritarian regimes but these two have ever managed to replicate this feat – we still have to wait a little before pronouncing Vietnam as the third, and very few other publicly owned companies fare so good as Renault does.

So, we have rather strong evidence suggesting that ‘skin in the game‘ trumps blind insistence on short time profit and that a free, democratic, society offers greater chances for economic development than a authoritarian one. In fact the politicians that need periodic confirmation from the people they govern do have some skin in the game while the authoritarians are in a position that is somehow equivalent to that of the CEO’s of the huge corporations whose stock owners are so disspersed that practically don’t count much – the members of the board practically slap each-other on the back and are able to do practically what they want with the companies. Look what happened at GM, Chrysler and, for example, ENRON.

But how free should be that society in order for capitalism to thrive?

Could it be so free that a guy could come from the street and claim your house as being his own? No?

So we need a free but orderly society. One where private property changes hands only when its owner says so – or has previously entered into a contract which stipulates that in certain conditions that transfer has to take place.

Meaning that in order to have a functioning capitalist society we need not only private ownership but also private owners who have enough trust in each other to start making business together.

You see, the feudal lords of the Dark Ages did have a lot of private property but capitalism couldn’t take hold in earnest as long as the (absolute) monarch could strip a man of his property and give it to somebody else. They couldn’t enter into (longish time) contracts because the era was dominated by huge uncertainties regarding various aspects of the social and economic life.

In fact it is exactly this well tempered freedom that is the crux of functional capitalism. Enough freedom so that everybody could feel confident that he is his own master but tempered by rules enforced in a pwerfully enough manner to give everybody sufficient trust that most contracts will be executed faithfully.

In this sense for capitalism to work properly we need to have a market that is free in more dimensions that one.

It has to be free from political intrusion in the sense that the government should leave it alone as a rule of thumb but also that the same government should keep it free from becoming cornered by a single group of interests.
In fact there is no difference from a market that is run by a governmental agency or by a monopolistic corporation – no matter if the latter is private. As soon as decision making becomes concentrated in too few hands mistakes starts happening. And their effect accumulate until the system finally collapse. Or is dismantled by some ‘exasperated’ more powerful agency – as Standard Oil and  ‘Ma Bell’ were dismantled by the US government. Which, by doing so, created the premises for  the huge development of those two respective markets – oil and communications.

Only this freedom of the markets can seldom be preserved by an authoritarian regime. Yew’s Singapore and contemporary China are exceptions, not the rule. Most authoritarian regimes cannot resist temptation and start meddling in the economic life of their countries. By doing so, they introduce a lot of ‘noise’ into the system. Eventually, this noise drowns the useful signals and ‘blinds’ the decision makers.

Same thing happens – and here Varoufakis has a valid point – when economic agents become so powerful that they can dominate the policy makers. The politicians can no longer preserve a balanced stance towards the economy and give in to ‘special interests’. This way the markets loose their freedom, with all the malign consequences that come with this situation. Among them, the lack of trust that slowly creeps in the souls of those who have to do business in the no longer free markets. Which lack of trust is very bad for all those involved.

And another thing about which Varoufakis is absolutely right. A lot of money are not being moved through the ‘front doors’. Not that they are not invested at all but because they are kept somewhat hidden they do not contribute as much to the well being of the world economy as they could/should.

2.1 $ trillion have been accumulated, as of  October 2015, in off shore accounts by the top 500 American companies in order to avoid taxes and
Between $21 an $32 trillion have been hiding in 2012 in various offshore jurisdictions.

Why is that? Simply because those who are called to decide about these money do not ‘trust’ that by bringing these money home and by investing them there, after paying the taxes, will be able to generate profits equivalent to those produced by leaving them off shore?

So what should we do? Tell them ‘democratically’, by electing somebody who is crazy enough to implement such a measure, to bring them home? Or even  confiscate them, one way or another?

I’m afraid that here I part again ways with Mr. Varoufakis. And with Aristotle: the way I see it democracy is not ‘the constitution in which the free and the poor, being in majority, control government‘. That would be ‘mob rule’.
A truly democratic process starts before the vote. When every stakeholder can make its point known to those who are going to cast a ballot so they’ll be able to do that having a reasonably clear understanding about what’s going on.

Frankly I’d rather rephrase Varoufakis’ message. ‘Corporatism has a tendency to disembowel democracy and transform it into ‘mob rule’ – the situation where the poor are no longer that free simply because they are convinced through ‘unholy’ methods to vote one way or another.

What can be done? Explain, loud and clear, that if jobs disappear the same thing will happen with the aggregate demand?
Explain that by giving their workers as little money as they can in reality the results are way worse than if the wages were as high as the companies could afford?
Ford didn’t give his workers more money because he loved them but simply because he had understood that in the long run he would be better off himself by doing this, you know!

not2bdemocracy

Enter a caption

Our nation did not become great because our form of government was created as a socialist, communist, or any form of democracy; it was specifically created as a constitutional republic.

I’ve been trying for some time now to figure out the origin of this huge confusion.

Yesterday, during an exchange on this subject, a FB friend of mine used this link to prove her argument:

An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic

 

And there it was, laying in plain sight, THE explanation I was too blind to find it by myself.

It is important to keep in mind the difference between a Democracy and a Republic, as dissimilar forms of government.

Come again?!?

Since when democracy has become a “form” of government?
If you want to discuss about forms of government you have basically two: republican and monarchic. In a republic the head of state is changed from time to time, sometimes in a more or less democratic manner, while in a monarchy it is customary for that head of state to be replaced only after his death and by a person which has already been known for quite a while.

That was not what you had in mind? You meant what kind of interaction exists between the governed and the government?
‘Cause only in this realm we may speak about the difference between democracy – where the population has a say about its fate – and dictatorship – where the rulers don’t give a damn about the wishes of those who allow themselves to be ruled from above.

Don’t believe me?
Then please consider the British Empire. It is headed – nominally – by a monarch who has had no power for the last two hundred years or so and has NO – absolutely NO – constitution. Yet its democratic traditions can be traced down to the Magna Carta – a ‘compact’ signed in 1215 between the King (John of England) and his ‘free subjects’.

I used ‘ ‘ around ‘free subjects’ to highlight the fact that this is an oxymoron AND that the basic function of Magna Carta was to solve that oxymoron.
It actually doesn’t matter much what was written in that compact. The very fact that the King – erstwhile considered an almost divine person who until then had absolute power over his subjects and the land under his control – sat down at the same table with some of his erstwhile subjects and by his own signature conceded that they were “free” (‘all free men have a right to justice and a fair trial‘) signifies the dawn of a new kind of interaction between those at the no longer opposed ends of the society.

OK, things didn’t evolve smoothly. The Magna Carta wasn’t enforced in earnest until a lot later but still, the bird was out of the cage.

My point being that until we understand that the difference between ‘republic’ and ‘democracy’ is the same as the one between apples and oranges – and that we should stop comparing them – we are stuck.

So, am I somewhat implying that John Adams was wrong?

quote-remember-democracy-never-lasts-long-it-soon-wastes-exhausts-and-murders-itself-there-john-adams-0-19-42

Not at all. All I’m saying is that he used a poetic license and that the quote is not only incomplete but also used in a misleading way.

“I do not say that democracy has been more pernicious on the whole, and in the long run, than monarchy or aristocracy. Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty. When clear prospects are opened before vanity, pride, avarice, or ambition, for their easy gratification, it is hard for the most considerate philosophers and the most conscientious moralists to resist the temptation. Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.”

OK, he made the same confusion between ‘forms’ of government and social relationships between the people and those in power, only this is an understandable mistake. But, to his merit, he made it amply clear that it is the very “passions” of the people that “when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty”!

This is precisely the job that every constitution – not only the republican ones – is called to fulfill. Or a powerful enough tradition – please remember that the British ‘Empire’ has no constitution to this day.

Coming back to the notion of democracy I must add that it might not work properly, no matter how well written the constitution that presides over the process, unless the people who uses this form of collective decision making entertains the proper mental and moral attitude.
If the entire society isn’t permeated by enough mutual respect among its members then what Adams had warned us against is about to happen – regardless of any constitution. Or even under the cloak of the existing one.

You see, proper democracy works because it creates a frame where all those interested in the matter – all stake-holders – have the opportunity to express their grievances. This way the society is able to find out what doesn’t work properly and to take the appropriate measures.
But if there is not enough mutual respect going on around, things may become ugly, eventually. Just as Adams told us. When mutual respect weans out we stop caring about anything else but our own personae and ‘passions’ are no longer ‘checked’.
Society no longer acts like an organism and people become divided into smaller ‘mobs’ whose leaders fight each-other – sometimes under a democratic disguise – for followers.

That’s when democracy ceases to be a venue for a civilized debate about ideas and become an arena for the bloodiest sport of them all. Politician-ism.

That’s when some people start thinking like this.
democracy, bikes

Or even like this:
jbs_3

Let me tell you something.
I’ve been living under a republican regime for all my life. Only for the first 30 years that republic was a communist one. It even had a constitution – and at the first glance it wasn’t such a bad one. But believe me, you don’t want to experience that kind of republic.

What you really want is true democracy, the one where people respect each-other. It doesn’t matter if that happens in a republic or in a kingdom. It is enough that it works, and for that to happen it is enough for the people to ‘check their passions’.

And mind you!  Whenever 51% of the voters band together to confiscate the bikes that the others have acquired through honest means, that’s no longer democracy but mob rule. Something that could very easily degenerate into communism. That’s what you want to avoid, not bona fide democracy.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (Morry Gash/AP)

“Clinton hiring consumer marketing specialists “to help imagine Hillary 5.0.” “

Genuine democracy was about open discussion about all issues of public interest. It worked because openness made it so that the truly stupid (people and ideas) were weeded out before inflicting harm on a large scale.

The problem is that openness needs mutual respect.

Only that has become a thing of the past. Nowadays, when everyone knows better, political ideas are marketed like snake oil used to be not so long ago…

“Clinton’s campaign spent $18.7 million in the second quarter, dramatically more than any other. The mid-July report said she received $815,000 worth of services from strategist Joel Benenson’s firm alone. Since then, the campaign launched a $4 million ad blitz in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist, puts it somewhat more crudely: “Trump’s starring in a reality show of his own making, and treats every appearance like an episode,” chasing ratings in the form of fresh votes. But how do you turn appointment TV into a lasting candidacy? “You need a huge team on the ground doing the nuts-and-bolts work — collecting signatures to be on the ballot in certain states, bringing voters to the polls — and Trump is very late to the party,” says Cohn. “Most of his rivals have been at this over a year, and have those seasoned operatives locked up. And even if they’re available, is he really prepared to pay them a premium now?” ”
This third quote is from Rolling Stone’s “Trump Seriously: On the Trail With the GOP’s Tough Guy” by Bob Solotaroff.

I know some of you are quite familiar with these political realities but don’t you get goose bumps about what’s going on, at least occasionally?

How come these species of political operators are so sure about themselves being entitled to do what they are doing that they have no qualms when doing it?

Can any of these occurrences be, even remotely, associated with the concept of democracy? Or have we, all of us, demoted the whole process to just a little more than ‘mob rule’? A contest among spin doctors about who is the more competent manipulator?

“A top GOP pollster tried to find out why people love Donald Trump – and left with his legs ‘shaking’ “.

His conclusion? Republican Leadership “need to wake up. They don’t realize how the grassroots have abandoned them. Donald Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”

I can agree with that but this is only the tip of the iceberg. According to Lowell Weicker, former Republican Senator and independent Governor, there is a “total disconnect…between reality and Republican Party”.
Most civilized people believe that democracy is ‘good for you’ but only a few of them are able to differentiate between bona fide democracy – a political space where all things are discussed openly and which is dominated by a hefty dose of mutual respect among those involved – and ‘mob rule’ – where a portion of the electorate is manipulated into voting for one party/candidate or another.
Mob rule sucks. It divides the society into barricaded compounds that hardly exchange any information. Business slowly grinds to a halt because of mutual distrust and the nation dissolves itself into a collection of individuals too concerned about their private interests to notice what is going on around them.
Real democracy works. Not because more brains think better than one  – that is not necessarily true – but because all ‘brains’ make mistakes. And if the brain at the top goes around unchallenged those mistakes might have huge repercussions for the entire society. During the negotiation phase of a democratic process (otherwise known as the electoral campaign) there are huge chances that most of the potential mistakes will be pointed out and eventually purged. But that happens only if the process is really free. If not, if the public discourse is hijacked by special interests or if the public itself suffers from (temporary?) blindness  things do not go as smoothly as they are supposed to happen.
And here comes Donald Trump.
It’s very hard to say on which side of the things he really is.
Until recently he was saying that he funds his campaign with his own money so that nobody will be able to ask anything from him ‘afterwards’. Now he says he’ll accept donations, big and small.
OK, people can have second thoughts. I have no problem with that. Not even when somebody flips a lot.
I have a big problem though with the con artists who say what the people want to hear instead of honestly speaking up their minds.
In this sense both Lowell Weicker and Frank Luntz, the GOP pollster, are right. The Republican elite has primed their grass roots so hard against the ‘liberals’ that no dialogue seems possible between the two sides. And when dialogue dies out, misunderstanding promptly catches up from behind.
I’m afraid that people who are happy that Trump voices, very loudly, some topics that have either been neglected and/or mismanaged, don’t understand that he doesn’t do it with the intention of solving any of them but because he knows that this is the sure way of mesmerizing the public.
Maybe all this is for the better. The neglected subjects are out in the open and must now be addressed.
Just as important, the pundits, on both sides of the political divide, should have understood by now that it’s high time for them to clean up their act.
Or get replaced by the Trumps of this world.

‘Democracy’ comes from ‘demos’, the Greek word for ‘people’.
Basically a democratic society is  a social arrangement where the people is in charge. Through representatives, as in most cases, or even directly – the Swiss organize referendums whenever they have something really important to decide.

‘Republic’ comes from Latin. ‘Res publica’ means ‘public matters (=issues)’ so a republic can be seen as a social arrangement where everything is out in the open.

Would it make any sense for the public to know everything that is going on if they don’t have any say in the matter? Could democracy work if people are kept in the dark?

So.
In communism the state (in fact the rulers) decide everything – who does what and who gets what.
In socialism there is not much difference from the previous state. (I can vouch for both propositions, I’ve lived under both regimes)
‘Anarchy’ means no rules. If you happen to have two cows you need to defend them constantly, by your own, against anyone who covets them. Remember, anarchy means ‘no rules’ whatsoever. You cannot cherry-pick. I like this rule (property rights are fundamental for me) so this one stays in place while the the rules that I don’t like will be discarded.
As in ‘I won’t respect but the rules I like and I’ll hold everybody else to respect mine’.
That would be an absolutely one sided anarchy. If you’d be able to enforce such an arrangement it would be perceived by everybody else as the most authoritarian regime ever and Stalin would be jealous of your accomplishments.
As I said before ‘democracy’ means people having their say about how things are settled in a that particular society. If people respect each-other you have real democracy. If people band together to decide, against the will of the owner, about the fate of those fabled two cows we can no longer speak about true democracy. That would be ‘mob rule’, just another form of ‘anarchy/authoritarianism’. One ‘organized’ by a ruler who is a callous spin doctor skilled enough in his trade to make a considerable portion of the population follow him, usually against their better interests.

I was just speaking about the mutual respect that exists among the members of a truly democratic society…. I have a distinct feeling that those who promote this meme think of themselves as being ‘the true democrats’… I’m not a religious person myself, not in the classic sense of the word anyway. But I won’t ever think of a religious person as being ‘ignorant’ based solely on his creed and I’ll never refer to him using such a word, regardless of his level of education. One of the reasons being that if I ‘indulge’ in such a barbarism he’ll never listen to me again.
Why should he? To get some more abuse from me?

Now lets get this straight.
Mutual respect is absolutely essential for democracy.
There can be no such thing as mutual respect among individuals whose goals are mutually exclusive.
This meme actually doesn’t make much sense. No matter how well armed the lamb is, a determined wolf would eventually sink its fangs in the lamb’s sweet flesh so a rational lamb would do his best to shoot the wolf at the first opportunity. What kind of democracy are we speaking about here?

Most governments don’t get this. You can stretch it only that far. At some point, no matter how authoritarian the regime, people will take to the street.
This doesn’t mean that democracy will automatically be installed after a public uprising, far from it. The Arab Spring is only the latest example.
It only means that people have it in themselves to try to improve their lot. If they find a way to do this together then the sky’s the limit.
And this is a fact. Only the democratic America successfully landed a man on the Moon. The Soviet Union was the first to start this game but wasn’t able to keep up.

Yeah? And what are bragging about here?
About not finding a candidate to suit your wishes AND not doing anything about this situation?
How about running yourself? Or at least going there and annulling your ballot…
If you do not vote at all the political establishment will consider that you are either content with what is going on or so despondent as to not care anymore. So why should they even consider your plight? In which direction should they change their behavior in order to suit your needs if you don’t express them when you have the chance?

Really? Is he indeed unable to make distinction between democracy and mob rule?
‘Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing’…
I’m afraid he didn’t get the gist of it!
Real (=functional, stable over long periods of time) democracy IS good while mob rule IS bad. Period.

So, any chance for this cute fellow to have nailed it?

Close but there is space for improvement so I’ll try to rephrase this.
A democratic system invariable becomes weak/unstable if the general public becomes complacent and the power is grabbed by short-sighted but arrogant and callous spin doctors who, by eviscerating the true nature of democracy, transform the concept into an empty shell. This way the democratic process becomes a beauty pageant and an erstwhile democracy becomes a subtle dictatorship.

The strangest part of all this is that exactly those who should have known better – the professional politicians and some members of the academia – are the first to fall into the trap.

 

Democracy_People_Power
Democratia nu inseamna ‘dictatura majoritatii’, aia este ‘mob rule’ – dictatura gloatei pe romaneste. N-am sa intru acum in amanunte despre cum este aglutinata si manipulata aceasta gloata de catre diversi operatori politici.

Democratie este ceea ce se intampla inainte de vot, discutia pe fata cu privire la problemele cetatii si propunerea de solutii. Dupa aceasta discutie sunt alese solutiile, nu oamenii care sa le puna in practica. Acestia sunt secundari solutiilor, chiar daca ei sunt cei care au propus aceste solutii. Mai mult, democratia nu este nici macar despre alegerea celei mai bune solutii. S-ar putea ca in cadrul acelei discutii sa nu fie identificata solutia optima sau chiar ca cel care o sustine sa nu fie in stare sa o prezinte convingator sau ca marea masa sa nu fie inca pregatiti/suficient de maturi pentru a accepta acea solutie. Dar in mod sigur in timpul discutiilor – daca sunt cu adevarat libere – vor fi eliminate propunerile idioate.

Pentru aceasta este nevoie de libertatea de expresie si de simt civic – adica de niste alegatori suficient de treji incat sa isi dea seama ca este vorba despre soarta lor si nu a altora.

Si nu, nu este acceptabil sa nu te duci la vot. Nu sunt de parere ca votul ar trebui sa fie obligatoriu dar nici sa-i lasi sa faca ce vor fara ca macar sa-i intrebi de sanatate… N-ai inteles nimic? Asta inseamna ca ei nu s-au straduit destul, ca nu si-au facut cu adevarat treaba in campania electorala – discutia aia despre care vorbeam la inceput. Nici unul dintre ei nu iti inspira incredere? Si nu te duci?!?
Asta inseamna ca de fapt nu iti pasa! Daca iti pasa te duceai si anulai votul. Le transmiteai ca ar fi cazul sa se apuce serios de treaba. Asta este singurul fel in care poate fi sprijinita democratia.
Daca nu te duci inseamna doar ca ii sprijini pe cei care sunt la putere, adica esti multumit cu ce se intampla sau nu te intereseaza  ce ti se intampla. Cu alte cuvinte le dai o imputernicire in alb sa continue pe mai departe ce ti-au facut pana acum.

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