Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org &
Knatz.com / weeeaching / Society / NoHier / Theme Buds / Democracy /
begun @ K. 1998, reassembled @ K. 2005 01 28
Mission: to emphasize the discrepancy between what kleptocracy promises and what it delivers
First, the first scribble:
Democracy and Choice
We’re told from a young age that democracy is the best form of government. Perhaps it is. But even if we accept such a statement, it leaves much unconsidered. What kind of democracy? (And who ever proved that government was or could be good?) We study the Greeks with reverence. Athenian democracy is offered to us as our principle ancestor. How close is the resemblance?
Well, Athens had a democracy of approximately two thousand adult male property owners. There was no democracy for the women, the children, those without property, or the tens of thousands of slaves. Our resemblance to the Athens of Pericles is keener if you consider Athens’ imperial nature. No free marketplace was intended for colonies like Sicily. Consider also how Athenian democracy treated free speech: Socrates, the talker, was condemned to death.
Democracy has proved only that the best way to gain power over people is to assure the people that they are ruling themselves. Once they believe that, they make wonderfully submissive slaves.
We have senators; the Romans had senators: how much of our democracy comes from the Roman Empire? The Roman Empire had no democracy. But again, you’ll find strong parallels with their imperialism.
Americans broke away from King George, taking instead, President George. For some time the English have said they have a democracy. What cross-fertilization is there?
Actually there was a democracy in our history that we closely resemble in form if not in spirit: the Great Iroquois Confederacy.
|The Great Law and Iroquois custom prescribed a system of political and economic democracy unknown to Europeans of the time, whose political ideas for the most part were still feudal. The governing council of the confederacy consisted of fifty civil chiefs. The basic unit of representation was the extended family, from which the women nominated chiefs. The governing council was divided into three groups: the older brothers (Mohawk and Seneca), younger brothers (Cayuga and Oneida), and firekeepers (Onondaga). In a fashion which would later influence the structure of government set up in the U.S. Constitution, the older and younger brothers (similar to the two houses of Congress) debated motions and reported a decision to the firekeepers (akin to the executive branch), who cast the deciding vote if the two brotherhoods could not agree.
Wasi’chu, Bruce Johansen and Roberto Maestas, p 33.
Benjamin Franklin studied the Iroquois system. Obviously he learned from it. He wrote:
|It would be a strange thing if six nations of ignorant savages [sic] would be capable of forming a scheme for such a union and be able to execute it in such a manner as that it has subsisted ages and appears insoluble; and yet that a like union should be impracticable for ten or a dozen English colonies.
Carl Van Doren, ed., Ben Franklin: Writings, p 209
(Was Franklin’s reference to “ignorant savages” ironic? How can it not have been? Whatever Franklin’s irony, how ironic is it that we borrowed freely from the Iroquois while exterminating them? Perhaps those of us who added bacteriological warfare to seduction through alcohol to rape to murder to lynchings and so forth, not to mention land and resource grabbing and so forth, where also doing it with a sense of irony. But as the Greek proverb has it: the boy throws the stone in jest, but the frog dies in earnest.
I’ll bet the Iroquois didn’t mind that we borrowed their government. I’ll bet we were free to. But unacknowledged borrowing is theft.)
2005 01 28 The Five Nations tried to give the white colonists their system of law, their democracy, their bicameral system of decision making, their respect for women … We knocked them down and stole it: just the bicameral system part, and the voting.
Anyway, we have a democracy. Several hundred representatives for a few hundred million persons. (No wonder my representative doesn’t have a clue what I think even after I write it to him as clearly as I can.)
It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume … that every citizen is a criminal.
So: what’s democracy famous for? Choice! But how wide are our choices? I can choose to vote Democratic or Republican. I can even choose to vote for some other candidate who has no chance. In the marketplace I can buy a house or live in an apartment, buy a van or a sedan, choose between Chevy and Ford.
Elected traitors do what they were elected to do: sell the commons to corporations for personal gain. Those who don’t are cancelled by campaign advertising.
Jay Hanson [DieOff.com]
But how well can I choose to live in the wilderness and make my own shelter, find my own food? How well can I choose to have the real government I want: no government at all?
I can choose to be a Methodist or a Congregationalist. (What choice does the infant Catholic or infant Orthodox Jew have?) But can I choose to be a member of the Native American Church? [See Integrity] No. Freedom of Religion in our society has proved to mean that the peyote eaters couldn’t do it. (Besides, it’s not at all clear that the Native American Church would have had me.) Congress, it turns out, can overrule the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion any time it chooses.
Elections took the steam out of protests from below.
So long as a society is kleptocratic, that is to say, governed by coercion as well as stolen from other peoples as well as from Nature, democracy can never mean anything other than whatever set of tricks that particular set of governors control the population with. Under those circumstances, it matters little what words are used to name and disguise the tricks.
A real (that is to say ideal) democracy would have to be legitimate under nature and god rather than under God (meaning under their own kleptocratic-human rules).
Democracy is based upon so childish a complex of fallacies that
they must be protected by a rigid system of taboos,
else even half-wits would argue it to pieces.
2003 07 12 Rule by the lowest common denominator of kleptocrat: swindlers, thieves, deceivers of all including self. But that’s still not good enough: so the alpha kleptocrats cheat on top of that.
Democracy and kleptocracy are incompatible.
It’s not the ballots that win the election, it’s the counting. Keep counting.
Boss Tweed, Gangs of NY
2016 07 16 Old and going blind isn’t the best position from which to edit files never supported and in fact repeatedly sabotaged: some material my be repeated, some restatements not recognized, some material lost …
I can drive my Chevy down Manhattan’s West Side Highway and look at the magnificent Hudson River. But when I live within a few hundred yards of it, can I walk from my door to the bank for a swim or with my fishing rod? Only if I want to climb concrete walls and then risk dismemberment or arrest on one of Robert Moses’ highways that separate the people from their rivers.
Now I live a half mile from Sebring’s Lake Jackson. Can I walk with my cane pole to the lake? I won’t be arrested if I try to cross Highway 27 as a pedestrian; I’ll be committed! I’d commit myself. You can almost see the severed ears and arms strewn along the pavement, right alongside the squashed cooters who have to leave the lake to lay their eggs.
Traffic has displaced mobility.
Democracy hasn’t changed the fact that we are born into species where most of the important decisions have already been made. We have a skeleton or we don’t. It’s inside or it’s outside: we have no choice. Maybe we’re born with wings instead of arms. If we’re born human, still more choices are pre-made: we don’t need laws to have an aversion to cannibalism, to incest, to murder …
OK. Individuals don’t see those things as choices. If we want wings, we buy a plane. Current science fiction has us shopping for designer eyes in the near future, but for now, breast implants are as close as most of us come to becoming cyborgs.
Few of us could contemplate cannibalism or incest … unless we’re really starving or have no other choices of mate. Murder …? Freud admitted that we’re a bit weaker on that one.
(This October a phone canvasser asked me if I was for Life or for Choice? I asked in turn how those “choices” were exclusive: Who isn’t for life? Who isn’t for choice? If it was abortion they were talking about, why didn’t they say so? I think it would be a good idea to abort almost everybody.)
But there are choices I believe that we should have that we don’t, no more in a democracy than in any other tyranny. I believe that we could have them if we only got real and willed it.
Since outright slavery has been discredited, democracy is the only remaining rationale for state compulsion that most people will accept.
Of course we should each have our own toothbrush: but should anyone be allowed to actually “own” land? How did the “owner” get the “right” to sell it? By purchase? From whom? Where did they get the right? By conquest? By genocide? Please. How can a government talk about freedom and equality of opportunity and not see that everyone has “equal” access to land? How dare we allow new citizens to be born into a society where everything is already “owned”? Freedom to have a landlord? Freedom to be an employee?
2002 10 29 I’m embarrassed to be sixty-four years old and have just discovered that there actually is a “school” of political philosophy that has refined good positions on such issues. bkMarcus’s researches into pk’s philosophical background has discovered antecedents of which pk was wholly unaware: namely individualist anarchism and (lower-case L) libertarianism (NOT the Libertarian Party!). Such types have come up with a distinction between personal property — your toothbrush, your bed — and private property-stock you have in a warehouse somewhere, land you own but don’t live on or need for subsistence.
If I piss in the stream, all those down stream of me get polluted water. If I want fresh water for myself, I’ll have to find the head of the spring and kill anyone who tries to get between me and it. Unless we cooperate. And don’t piss in the stream. Of course a beaver can always die upstream of us. That’s why there have to be lots of streams and why we have to be able to move around. No: we shouldn’t just kill all the beaver and drag the corpses out of the stream. (Of course the beaver pisses in the stream. Where else should he?) Corporations that piss in the stream should be treated harsher than individuals: their “personhood” should be jeopardized. Don’t invest without taking responsibility for their actions. [See K.’s Heaven & Hell section.]
Americans can jump from being Presbyterians. The Baptists don’t Christen a child till he’s old enough to accept it. Why can’t we choose our citizenship when we’re eighteen? or twenty-one? or thirty-five? No thanks, I’ll go to France. Country jumping should be universally funded. Countries should compete for their citizens, not just inherit them. But even that would leave us with only countries to choose. At least half the planet should be left wild for those who choose wilderness. And if you find someone who’s shoved his wreck into the river there, make him eat it.
So many of our ideas don’t wash when thought through. (Why doesn’t anyone seem to understand The Model? [First Week]) Theology too has a history littered with examples. Milton tried to save the idea of free will: you have choice … until you make the wrong one. Laws or no, you’re free to try heroin: but how free will you be once you’re hooked?
bkMarcus’s above-mentioned researches have come upon a marvelous political essayist: Brian Micklethwait. Some of his writing is published by the Libertarian Alliance in the UK. See what he says about democracy in What is wrong with a Libertarian Political Party?
No one really believes in democracy.
Bureaucrats vote with taxpayer’s involuntary donations; that’s a “democratic process.”
pk adds, not for the first time, that any claim to “democracy” in any society with more members than can easily and reliably be counted as noses, Ayes, or hands-raised is preposterous.
And even where there’s no possibility of miscounting, it’s still moot whether a mere majority should rule.
When I come back I’ll endeavor to say something about Ivan Illich’s concept of “radical monopoly.” Meantime, just see it as choice of competing cars at the cost of freedom to choose your legs. Or meantime, read his Tools for Conviviality. (I believe parts of the text are online: I’ll find the link and add it.)
If there is to be any real, significant, and lasting change, it will either happen after democracy or it will happen despite democracy.
The Knatz.com Society section claimed the module Democracy & Choice among its earliest entries. Circumstance mixes with priority. Not all my pieces from that period are of “equal” importance, but I certainly regarded anything I did on democracy as important: and it’s precisely due to that centrality that the file got expanded, the growth not always organically gorgeous. Sammie and Junie honeymoon in a darling little cottage. By the time they have a dozen kids the house is neither a cottage nor darling.
So: every once in a while, whether or not you have the budget, you’ve got to demolish and rebuild. The result is sometimes a mansion better than any cottage; sometimes the planned community is uglier than the sprawl. Most important to me is, Can the visitor find the basic ideas here? It’s nice when maps are as “pretty as a painting,” but in the midst of a battle it’s more important that the map guide the generals to real terrain than that the margins be neat or the decorative dragon iconically correct.
It routinely happens with me that a second or third stage of renovation will commence before the first stage is completed. If it bothers you, you should have ben helping all along.
The violence of faction
James Madison, Federalist X
2003 11 20 I only just learned that Aristotle equated democracy with mob rule.
Democracy is so Americans can elect a president to decide which gooks to bomb this year.
Keywords democracy, choice, kleptocracy