A system better than democracy

In my previous post, I wrote about the deficiencies of democracy as usually practiced. A commenter asked in jest whether I think other systems like fascism, communism or anarchy were better. My original response was in Slovene, but I think it's well-expressed enough that it warrants its own post, so I'm translating it to English.

Anarchy does not exist, or to the extent that it exists, we already live in it. Democracy, communism, feudalism and other systems are phenomena that spotaneously arise within an absolute anarchy.

We know that fascism and communism do not have major advantages on democracy. The problem in fascism and communism is, they permit (or even encourage) oppression of the majority on behalf of a minority. Democracy is good to the extent that it prevents a minority from oppressing the majority.

But on the other hand, democracy fails to the extent that it allows oppression of minorities on behalf of a majority.

In the developed democratic economies of present time, a major issue I see is that the less capable majority is enforcing a socialism-like discrimination against the more capable, which in the long term inhibits economic progress and decreases the long-term well-being of everyone, including the oppressing majority.

In general, there is a trend of ever greater curtailing of an individual's freedom in the name of social good. The majority is using the democratic process to move itself towards socialism. Eventually perhaps even towards totalitarianism.

The fundamental problem of democracy is that most people vote in line with values they learned in school. Most people do not form their own values, they inherit them from their environment when growing up. As a result, the trends that compete in the voting booth are usually not well-thought-out ideas, but largely irrational fixations that spread as memes.

If we want to be successful in the formation of truly beneficial policies, we need to ensure that the most influential voices are those who are the best informed about those policies and have dedicated to them the most thought. Such voices will always be a minority. In a democracy, these voices are ignored, drowned by the voices of populism and the less well-informed majority. The opinions of those who understand are drowned by opinions based on prejudice acquired in school.

A system that were to improve on democracy would:
  1. build on the basis of democracy, in the sense that it would ensure that a minority cannot oppress a majority; but it would also
  2. ensure that a majority cannot oppress a minority; and it would
  3. ensure that when a policy is being debated, the opinions with the most influence are those that are best informed - i.e., those that bring the most added value.
Such an improved system could be:
  • SD-2 (Structural Deep Democracy), which identifies the better qualified voters using the PageRank algorithm; or
  • my idea about wiki laws, which proposes a direct democracy, but where every new law must be met with a high threshold of agreement in the population; or
  • an enlightened absolutism, where a wise ruler protects the rules of engagement until his or her death or abdication, while a congress of psychologists and teachers keeps in readiness a multitude of young and exceptional candidates for succession, one of whom is randomly selected to become the new ruler when a transfer of power occurs.
Finally, an optimal system could perhaps also be found by the enactment of a universal constitution which would guarantee everyone the right to move wherever he or she is accepted, as well as the ability to take their money and capital with them; and that everyone posessing a territory larger than x000 square kilometres is free to form an independent state. However, in enacting such a system, it would be most important to prevent a reoccurence of the tragedy of the United States, where the federal government is now the source of tyranny from which it was originally supposed to protect its people.


Aurora Miller said…
Thank you for posting this - it is very effectively phrased, and extraordinarily insightful!
denis bider said…
Appreciated :)
Rees Sloan said…
Denis, I liked your article. I've been thinking of some of the shortcomings of democracy myself. Namely, it doesn't take into account the fact that whats right for the majority might not be right for everyone, or, the majority might be wrong.

I've come up with an alternative concept that takes some of the core principles of fairness but builds on them. Its called factionalism. Read through it if you like, I'm curious to know your thoughts.

denis bider said…
Hi Rees,

yours is an interesting proposal. What I don't like about it is that it takes an existing system, which is already exceedingly over-complex, and makes it factors of magnitude more complex.

I think a basic problem to which democracy has tended is the violent increase in the amount of law, as in the U.S. after FDR. A fundamental problem with modern government, its laws and its taxation is that the whole of it is incomprehensible to anyone who doesn't spend a lifetime studying it.

In order to reduce this complexity, we need to simplify, remove, limit; not add.

Other than that, I like your idea of being able to opt out of government policies depending on what you vote for. I think however that the representative form of government is an evil that was necessary in the past, which is necessary no longer. Representative government is a form of aggregating people's various viewpoints down to a number of representatives small enough that they can deal with one another. A form of aggregation is necessary, but electing someone to "represent" you for years on end is a highly flawed solution. Using modern communication, much better systems can be designed.
John Dorman said…
Our society's institutions, even outside of government, are persistently becoming more complicated. Reducing government is not viable. There can be no opting out. One leak in the bucket and it will soon be empty. Anyone who understands the economic concepts of externalities and the outcomes of strategic circumstances in game theory should see my point. If not, then I should sound like a ideologue .
denis bider said…
Hello John,

I understand these points and I agree.

I am not an anarchist; I do believe that government must provide a framework of rules within which freedom can function.

However, I do believe that the rules we have at this time are the result of a flawed government process that needs to be fixed, or else we're throwing away our potential every day the current political state of things drags on.

I would in fact compare the current system to a deteriorating bucket with lots of holes that are leaking, and lots of attempts to plug these holes.

I would compare a new system with a new, working bucket.
Anonymous said…
I liked your post. I was thinking along similar lines when I came up with this blog--- http://betterthandemocracy.wordpress.com/
ali asgher said…
hey denis, i read your post and it is good but to me the options you put out are not good enough... I mean I am a muslim and in Islam there is a much purer way but during the 1400 years of it spread in many cultures the system became sort of corrupt and in result occured tyranny and dictatorship... the real system has a basic structure like the third suggestion of yours.
Many thanks for your clear & inciteful Blog entry.

I'm always amazed at the number of people who have designed their own versions of Participatory Direct Democracy (I call them Patterns as in software development).

I've been asking my chosen political party to consider implementing a Lobbying Tax & spend the income on investigating DD Patterns & creating prototypes to run along side our representative democracy.

Safe, Baby Steps in the right direction ;-)

I hope others can do the same.

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