Is democracy doomed to fail ?
In this post, I'd like to think whether democracy is about to fail against totalitarism or other government regime.
This is a situation I often wonder about, if our government were different, would we perform better or worst ?
It's not a clear answer, but more a collection of thoughts and conclusions that might revolt you (and in that case, feel free to comment below to disclose your point of view).
Listing and sorting government regimes
Before being able to compare apple to orange, we need to list the fruits in our basket. In the different government regimes, we have:
|Power of decision
|Power of justice
|Power of execution
|Republic comes from
Res Publica (latin) or the public thing. The representative of the power are elected from the People
|Elected by the People
|Not specified, usually done by trained professional
|The elected representative is usually not responsible for his/her acts against the justice, but to the people
|Democracy comes from
Demos Kratia (greek) or power to the People. The representative of the power is the People
|Required by the People
|Representative can be destitued (no period)
|Responsibility is shared by the People
|A government were the most competent people are selected for their domain of expertise
|Given to the most capable person
|Given to the most capable person
|Given to the most capable person
|When the representative decide so
|The power of government lies in the hand of a dictator, king, emperor.
|Some fearful monkeys
|Some powerful monkeys
|At end of dictator's life
|Almost never accountable for his/her acts
|The anarchism is a true form of democracy. The people is acting for its own interests, without representative
|The people (via referendum)
|The people (via public trial)
|The People is responsible for its acts
|This is a regime based on few people selected by their wealth, puppetting other regimes/People into their own will
|Given to the very same people and forced into other regime
|Hard to apply, but feasible
Some initial thought about each regime
While republic and democracy are often mixed and confused about (many democracies are actually republic), we can say that most western countries have tried to force and follow a democratic government, where few people are elected to get full or shared control for one of the three Powers, and for a limited period (usually around 4 to 7 years).
Totalitarian and meritocracy on the other hand gives full control over a very limited group of people (often a single individual) and (s)he will fight hard to keep it.
Anarchism on the other end, doesn't have such limitation either, and the government period will likely last longer than one individual lifetime.
With these 3 regimes, we can easily see that depending on the good will of the government, the effects on directing a people are different:
- A democracy/republic can't have a long term politic, because such a system create opposing forces that will cause alternating government. So such a system is fast to react to a bad decision (within the election period), but can not set up long term goals, since the next government will likely destroy the work of the previous government. I'll qualify this kind of government as non consistent
- A totalitarian regime can only benefit his/her dictator and his/her flies (and in that case, it's a disaster for the People), or the dictator can also act to benefit his/her People. In that case, such system is slow or unable to react to a bad decision, but can set long term goals that'll be beneficial for the People. However, such government is also unstable since the dictator usually evicts his/her potential and efficient rivals and competitors, so when one finally succeed to replace him/her, their is no competent people anymore to govern the country, yet coups d'état are frequent to grab the power to someone else.
Anarchism, while looking great on paper, is unreliable since it's hard to let the People commit to one direction, unless under reaction to an attack (that's the worst governing method). Also, in such system, the media become the most important power, since being able to manipulate opinion gives full power. The interest of the few that are important will likely be diluted in the mass interest and no progress for minorities can happen in such regime, so it's unfair
Liberalism, is the exact opposite of the anarchism. Only a few people gets all the power, usually, they are smart enough not to show it. Their interest is the minority of their class and they'll force other peoples to follow their rules. They have no frontier (although they have enemies with many governments), and their direction is unstable just like a dictator, since they are opportunistic. Their class is not based on racial or citizenship or whatever, but on their common goal of gaining power (indirectly via money). The interest of the mass is only good if it meets their interest, so it's unfair.
Similarly, let's see how such government can be corrupted or manipulated.
- In a republic, non elected people will orbit around the elected one. They expect to get delegation of power from the elected people. Such delegation is then used to gain money or power from individuals wanting to change the rules for their advantages. The English's word is to lobby, but any kind of power delegation is a corruption if given to non public or not wanted interest. Currently, most, if not all, democracies consider lobbying as a perfectly valid (and legal) behavior, although this behavior is reserved to the few wealthy individual that can afford it. There is a difference between legitimate lobbying (like when such lobbying increase the global well being of the People or a part of them without impacting the others) and the immoral lobbying (when the objective of such activity only benefit few people by negatively impacting the others).
- Also, in a republic, manipulating media can be a way to change people mind before the election and get one's will added to list of action for the new government.
- In a dictatorship, lobbying is usually limited to sharing your gains with the dictator, with the risk of loosing your wealth if the dictator decides so. So such government is usually corrupted for the dictator and his/her close relatives, and close "friends". However, because of the immense power of the dictator, fear is also a way to corrupt the government, so using fear of destitution or mockery can be a powerful way to manipulate the dictator.
- As seen above, in anarchism, manipulating the People opinion will directly corrupt their next election/votes. So in such regime, media are the worst enemy of the regime.
- In a liberalism regime, the corruption happens with human defects since there is no dilution of human feeling when it's targeting only few people, so enemies are called jealousy, pride, envy, resistance to one's will and so on.
Government chances of success
In this section, we'll disclose the estimated chances of success for each regime for short and long term project.
- In a republic, short term projects are more likely to succeed, but such project are usually reactive (they are induced by some traumatic event for the People, or election promises). Long term project are likely to fail because each election usually implies a shift or a change in the project direction, or its cancelling. This can be a tool from liberalism not to fear a project: make it linger so it'll fail later on. For example, reducing carbon emission is an example of a long term project that can only fail in a republic, since it's unpopular, effects aren't visible in the short term, it's hypothetic and it's not possible to take advantage of a success of someone else's project.
- In a dictatorship, a short term project is more likely to fail, since people in such regime are usually not as interested in their leader's project so their productivity is lower. Long term project however will likely succeed, unless the dictator is dismissed. That's probably one of the few forces of a dictatorship: long term planning. Notice that one of the common long term project for a dictatorship is to enlist his People into thinking they are superior to the other People, either by glorifying the Nation / Country or some regime or heroes. If this long term project succeed (it requires two generations to work), then short term project becomes more likely to succeed too, since the people will believe they are acting for good.
- In an anarchism regime, long term project have equal chances to succeed than short term projects. However, the success rate depends on the number of people involved in the project, not its duration. More people involved in a project means higher divergence in the direction of the project and reduce the likeliness of success. That's probably the reason why no anarchism regime have succeeded in history for a large number of people (like a region or a nation).
Liberalism looks for short terms projects' success and it's likely the best regime for finishing the project early and with the lowest cost. Long term projects however are less likely to succeed due to changing economic condition over time and that greed is a selfish feeling so that only last a generation. However, a long term project that increase the power of the liberalist will likely succeed, because even if each actor only acts for himself, he acts for a least maintaining his status, but more likely to increase his status.
So what's the best government ?
Churchill said Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.. He meant that it works (even if it's not perfect) and its an insurance that it can compete with other forms that aren't acceptable.
I don't think he was right, by omission. A democracy can be the best form of government for a specific period of time, and in a specific competing nation's government. But it doesn't fit anymore with the challenges of our current world.
The major crisis that democracies (or republics) will have to face in the upcoming years are:
- Taking the responsibility from previous errors (climate, over population, unlimited growth ideologies).
- Succeed in half century global planning of resource usage and sharing
- Ensure education and trust of the People (this is a hard problem)
- Fight competing nation over resource capture
The first point above means having to change the constitution of the government to ensure responsibility of decision is beard by who who take the decision. A meritocracy would work better here since making sure any single person in the People should not be allowed to act in domains that they aren't capable in, would limit the failures. However, a meritocracy tends to favor classes (once some group reach a position, it'll act to defend it, by educating its member so they stay at the state of art in this domain), so this prevents a fair chance for each people.
Without a responsibility rule, lobbies will be kings. Lobbying should be banned, unless its directed by a large part of the People without common interest, and in that case, it shouldn't be called lobby but a referendum.
The second point above is impossible to achieve without a global media and common culture and since the competing nation won't accept this, it's doomed to fail. A government could punish exchange with competing nation that don't fit the expected planning, but this could only work for small nation, not for nation with the highest number of peoples, in that case, this punishment is a self punishment.
The fourth point is crucial. Distrust in the government requirement or system is the first reason for failed project and global happiness of the People. It's utterly important that any people in a nation knows his limits, understand a different point of view and culture to be able to evaluate if he's qualified for his actions.
The last point is obvious, but any government will deal with it differently. The issue is not in resource capture but in the usage of such resource and the shift in the power balance due to theses resources.
Democracy will shout a lot, but no real action is expected in a democracy upon an illegal/immoral resource capture. In most case, a change in the regime is done to fight against this capture (typically, the martial law, a military regime in case of war). There are only few examples of peaceful reclaim of an illegal resource capture, (in India, initiated by Gandhi), but that implied civil disobeying, so a form of anarchy.
It's not possible to consider other nation as friendly, but it's possible to expect other People to search for the same happiness regardless of their government.
So a better government form should have:
- A local and shuffling meritocratic cells that are elected by vote delegation I'm not competent in deciding what's best for agriculture in this land, I'm delegating my vote to someone who is for a period of X months
- A responsible education system not based on consumption and liberalism, but on self improvement I think I'll be able to achieve this task and it interest me, let's educate in best solving it
- A cross national decision factor We can allocate our resource commonly to ensure both People benefit better than trying to struggle with half the solution on one's side
- Recognizing that the only wealth of a person is his capability and his time. Resource are borrowed from the Earth, they must be returned to the Earth, so they don't have an intrinsic value.
- A competent defense system.