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PostSubject: Meritocracy   Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:48 pm

"Democracy" means mob-rule. Humanism, human rights, ideas about dignity, etcetera, are not implicit in democracy. We see this in every day gang-life, where democracy is rule - the alpha male has to convince the pack to give him his unequal share. In parliamentary democracy it is no much different. The most resourceful, intelligent and attractive (not necessarily physically) ones become the representatives of the tribe/herd/pack/populace, and they (naturally, according to the peoples instincts) get paid disproportionally and are allowed a bit more maneuvering space with respect to the law than those that they represent. Otherwise, there could be no executive power, which is the end to which social hierarchy is the means.

As long as there is the need for executive power in any field of society, and this need is hard to imagine away, let alone to remove, there will be inequality and democracy will be the means to assert this.

What separates our western societies from the more direct (non parliamentary, tribal) democratic leadership consensuses is not that the people have any more influence on important issues (such as defense and science) but that they are part of an overtly excessive society, where it is considered a virtue to express oneself (and as a westerner, I do consider this a virtue) and where all sorts of opinions are possible, though not all sorts of rule. In other words, what makes us different is our freedom within the confines of the rule. It is not that man has ever been able to prevent rule from being established as a minority, or that this would be to anyones benefit. It makes sense only to replace leadership when a better conception of it has been carefully crafted in advance. "All the people must have equal opportunity" is not such a conception. "The people" do not concern leadership, and leaders can not grant people any powers, it can only provide the possibility to exert the given powers of an individual within the framework of society.

The more advanced a society is (in western eyes) the more flexible its framework, the more power it can absorb and use to its advantage, its stability. The more flexible it is, the less changeable in its essence. We are ideally moving towards more permanent rule and less oppression. Western rule ultimately wants to become invisible to its proper subjects. And this is good - just consider what "visible rule" means.

The root of desire for revolution and anarchy is that one want to seize the opportunity that comes with such a situation of temporary absence of authority to establish oneself as a power. A re-boot of what would essentially amount to another "tyranny of the most capable" but with, hopefully, the revolutionary somewhere in the new echelon. I do not believe that such desire is aimed at any kind of improvement, only to a switch of the watch. Therefore I am uninterested in revolution and interested in the direction of technocratic advance, which I want to secure space for expression and art, for a "free society" where no one has to care about politics.

In the end politics has to be abolished, anyway - a global meta-state is necessary at least where it concerns the management of resources and heavy industry. Within the confines of such a security-net, preventing "rogue leaders" from unleashing wars, freedom is possible. In order to penetrate into the ranks of power, one is reliant on the concept of meritocracy, rather than democracy. Which anyway is a much more sensible model.

Any excessive tension between masses and their leaders is the result of a lack of functionality of meritocracy.


 

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PostSubject: Re: Meritocracy   Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:18 pm

Fixed Cross wrote:
"Democracy" means mob-rule. Humanism, human rights, ideas about dignity, etcetera, are not implicit in democracy. We see this in every day gang-life, where democracy is rule - the alpha male has to convince the pack to give him his unequal share. In parliamentary democracy it is no much different. The most resourceful, intelligent and attractive (not necessarily physically) ones become the representatives of the tribe/herd/pack/populace, and they (naturally, according to the peoples instincts) get paid disproportionally and are allowed a bit more maneuvering space with respect to the law than those that they represent. Otherwise, there could be no executive power, which is the end to which social hierarchy is the means.

As long as there is the need for executive power in any field of society, and this need is hard to imagine away, let alone to remove, there will be inequality and democracy will be the means to assert this.

Democracy seems like the "quietest" form of socially-legitimizing executive power. In essence our "right to complain" about current power-execution or management is severely curtailed, since the established powers can always cite, "You may not like what we are doing, but a majority of you still wanted us here." This belief that the average of all opinions, and that all opinions (votes) are equal, drives the image of democratic legitimacy. Of course the power structure itself is not so ignorant, it knows that truth is not the result of an averaging of supposedly equal opinions (it may only know this because it is forced to, because it is forced to deal with reality outside the sphere of political pandering and sloganeering). But this power structure plays the game, in order to give to itself the highest possible semblance of legitimacy. In this sense democracy and popular opinion are means to further establish an intractable social hierarchy of power -- the individual members within this hierarchy come and go, the various expressions of this power into particular modes changes, but the hierarchy itself remains intact. This speaks to that "flexibility" which you mentioned.

No one should accept the "rule of the majority", yet most do. We know that majority opinion is not synonymous with truth yet we concede our individual views to this majority when it comes to the political realm; we accept the legitimacy of the ruling class which is voted into power because we believe our single individual opinions and ideas are inconsequential to this political apparatus. And to the extent that we believe this, we are correct. In a way we can then view democracy as a means of de-legitimizing the individual by convincing him to accept "for the sake of the greater good" or the "highest efficiency" the rule of the average, the lowest common denominator. Democracy does not need to actually make people believe in the truth-power and legitimacy of this elected power-class, it only needs to convince them to accept this power-class as the best possible, the most "practical" alternative.

Quote :
What separates our western societies from the more direct (non parliamentary, tribal) democratic leadership consensuses is not that the people have any more influence on important issues (such as defense and science). . .

Yes, and I would say that people in western democracies have a good deal less influence on important issues than do peoples from other forms of democracy.

Quote :
. . .but that they are part of an overtly excessive society, where it is considered a virtue to express oneself (and as a westerner, I do consider this a virtue) and where all sorts of opinions are possible, though not all sorts of rule. In other words, what makes us different is our freedom within the confines of the rule. It is not that man has ever been able to prevent rule from being established as a minority, or that this would be to anyones benefit. It makes sense only to replace leadership when a better conception of it has been carefully crafted in advance. "All the people must have equal opportunity" is not such a conception. "The people" do not concern leadership, and leaders can not grant people any powers, it can only provide the possibility to exert the given powers of an individual within the framework of society.

The more advanced a society is (in western eyes) the more flexible its framework, the more power it can absorb and use to its advantage, its stability. The more flexible it is, the less changeable in its essence.

This right to express oneself, the existence of a multitude of socially-sanctioned means of individual expression, seems to be the very mechanism which robs these individuals of their actual political influence. After all this is basic physics: provide more avenues for the dispersion of force, of "excess" and you get a release of pressure, an overall lower energy state in the end than you would have had were there fewer channels for the outlet of pent-up force/s.

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We are ideally moving towards more permanent rule and less oppression. Western rule ultimately wants to become invisible to its proper subjects. And this is good - just consider what "visible rule" means.

It is good formally, but oppression sublimated to subtler modes is not oppression lessened. I would be tempted here to argue the inverse as you, that visible power/rule is preferrable to invisible power/rule. Although I do see your point, and accept it given certain conditions, such as the actual legitimacy of this ruling power (from the perspective of truth, rather than the perspective of democracy) and its being strictly bound within effective controls and constraints.

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The root of desire for revolution and anarchy is that one want to seize the opportunity that comes with such a situation of temporary absence of authority to establish oneself as a power. A re-boot of what would essentially amount to another "tyranny of the most capable" but with, hopefully, the revolutionary somewhere in the new echelon. I do not believe that such desire is aimed at any kind of improvement, only to a switch of the watch.

I think this is sometimes the case, but not always. Certainly there are revolutionary and anarchistic motives which aim only to replace an undesirable form of social power with a more desirable one regardless whether or not oneself is a part of that new echelon. I do not think that revolution is incapable of, nor even that it "usually" fails to uphold a more noble and impersonal ideal as a goal and motivation, rather than a mere desire for personal selfish gain. I would argue that the root of the desire for revolution and anarchy is a personal feeling of powerlessness; this feeling can express as either a desire to see oneself elevated to a status of (social, political, actual) power, or it can express as a desire to replace the current structure/s which contribute to one's powerlessness with new structures that would ideally provide one with a renewed feeling of power and worth. Of course the latter is the more "pure", noble motive. And I see no reason to assume that this motive is not at work in many, perhaps even most (but certainly not all) revolutionary-anarchstic impulses and activities.

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Therefore I am uninterested in revolution and interested in the direction of technocratic advance, which I want to secure space for expression and art, for a "free society" where no one has to care about politics.

What would a political order, supplemented perhaps with advanced technology, in which no one has to care about politics look like? I am not sure this would even be possible, let alone ideal. Politics as a socially organizing force seems essential, it would only be if man were to become entirely non-social and submissive to a total technological ordering of all goods and services, where no large-scale decisions needed to be made at all, that it would seem like something which you envision would be possible. But what sort of society, people, culture would be possible under such an absence of large-scale, mass-social ideas, movements, decisions, and ambitions? Does not culture itself require such universal means of individual thinking and collective participating? Or perhaps you are envisioning a state which has evolved beyond culture?

Quote :
In the end politics has to be abolished, anyway - a global meta-state is necessary at least where it concerns the management of resources and heavy industry. Within the confines of such a security-net, preventing "rogue leaders" from unleashing wars, freedom is possible. In order to penetrate into the ranks of power, one is reliant on the concept of meritocracy, rather than democracy. Which anyway is a much more sensible model.

Any excessive tension between masses and their leaders is the result of a lack of functionality of meritocracy.


Meritocracy is the ideal, to link skill with the capacity to exercise it, to place people where the "deserve" to be placed. And yet I think the notion of meritocracy ignores some fundamental aspects of human nature; or rather it makes an overt, measurable form of efficiency the highest and indeed, in the end, only standard of value of the individual with respect to society. Less or non-measurable criteria, like artistic creativity or implicit and unactualized genius are rendered non-valuable to the society which is only able to value people based on their actual measurable contributions to the economic-industrial-technological apparatus. This is what Herbert Marcuse called technological reason, the idea that the value of human beings is to be determined based on the extent to which they are able to be useful to a scientific-economic apparatus. This approach tends to one-dimensionalize man in that it is able to value only what can be quantified in some way. Less quantifiable values like freedom, openness, patience, compassion, creativity, artistic ingenuity, "lack of ambition" (with respect to the presently available mechanisms of the social apparatus) become implicitly de-valued. I believe that humans do need a lot of "undefined", non-quantifiable space in which to exercise degrees of movement and freedom from being productively valuable to the extant social apparatus. I do not think we need to view the un-measurable as the un-valuable, in fact it is very much the other way around. Art, creativity, writing, philosophy have always emerged from this "exterior space" outside of the conventional social body, counter to it and at first unable to be valued by this social body itself.

I am not sure to what extent you are really meaning to imply any of the above sort of "technological reasoning", but this idea of "the result of a lack of functionality of meritocracy" seems to imply this. The "excess" which is created by such a lack of functionality is not a sign that the system is broken, but rather that it is alive and healthy (again, I am not sure to what extent you would agree with that, or not. I may be very much misunderstanding you here).

 

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PostSubject: Re: Meritocracy   Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:40 pm

Capable wrote:

Democracy seems like the "quietest" form of socially-legitimizing executive power. In essence our "right to complain" about current power-execution or management is severely curtailed, since the established powers can always cite, "You may not like what we are doing, but a majority of you still wanted us here." This belief that the average of all opinions, and that all opinions (votes) are equal, drives the image of democratic legitimacy. Of course the power structure itself is not so ignorant, it knows that truth is not the result of an averaging of supposedly equal opinions (it may only know this because it is forced to, because it is forced to deal with reality outside the sphere of political pandering and sloganeering). But this power structure plays the game, in order to give to itself the highest possible semblance of legitimacy. In this sense democracy and popular opinion are means to further establish an intractable social hierarchy of power -- the individual members within this hierarchy come and go, the various expressions of this power into particular modes changes, but the hierarchy itself remains intact. This speaks to that "flexibility" which you mentioned.

No one should accept the "rule of the majority", yet most do. We know that majority opinion is not synonymous with truth yet we concede our individual views to this majority when it comes to the political realm; we accept the legitimacy of the ruling class which is voted into power because we believe our single individual opinions and ideas are inconsequential to this political apparatus. And to the extent that we believe this, we are correct. In a way we can then view democracy as a means of de-legitimizing the individual by convincing him to accept "for the sake of the greater good" or the "highest efficiency" the rule of the average, the lowest common denominator. Democracy does not need to actually make people believe in the truth-power and legitimacy of this elected power-class, it only needs to convince them to accept this power-class as the best possible, the most "practical" alternative.
I think that there is another layer at work - the sphere of civic political activity, the civilian involvement in the democratic process. This has a crucial effect on the populace, in allowing it to value itself in terms of politics, and politics in terms of themselves. This dynamic is perhaps largely based around what we may call illusions, but it des provide a reality in the "soul" of the human being, it gives him a sense of dignity, and a respect for the nation he is part of. The latter is extremely important, adds to the vitality of the nation and the ability to call on its people as resources. And in order to make this dynamic as vital as possible, powers are willing to concede some things to the public, to get the public involved.

Of coure what should not be underestimated is that the power of a given nation is, in large part, in fact a distillate of its people, shares in part the same values, and is as such actually representative. This is (one of the reasons) why democracy becomes increasingly impotent as it is supposed to govern greater masses of people.


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What separates our western societies from the more direct (non parliamentary, tribal) democratic leadership consensuses is not that the people have any more influence on important issues (such as defense and science). . .

Yes, and I would say that people in western democracies have a good deal less influence on important issues than do peoples from other forms of democracy.
Could you give an example of another type of democracy, where people have more influence?

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This right to express oneself, the existence of a multitude of socially-sanctioned means of individual expression, seems to be the very mechanism which robs these individuals of their actual political influence. After all this is basic physics: provide more avenues for the dispersion of force, of "excess" and you get a release of pressure, an overall lower energy state in the end than you would have had were there fewer channels for the outlet of pent-up force/s.
I wonder to what extent this is true. I think that it can turn out both ways, depending on the ability of the individual expressing himself. If he is "scientific" in the sense of calculating consequences and understanding the terrain that receives his message/seed, he may have an actual impact. Of course the political apparatus will in such cases quickly seek to absorb the message, and perhaps the messenger. But even this is not always possible. Freedom of speech does pose a problem to the powers, but they can not do a great deal about it as the populace advances parallel to its powers - at least in the west. This is why I like the west, there actually is a dynamic between people and representation here, although of course it is not a symmetry.

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We are ideally moving towards more permanent rule and less oppression. Western rule ultimately wants to become invisible to its proper subjects. And this is good - just consider what "visible rule" means.

It is good formally, but oppression sublimated to subtler modes is not oppression lessened. I would be tempted here to argue the inverse as you, that visible power/rule is preferrable to invisible power/rule. Although I do see your point, and accept it given certain conditions, such as the actual legitimacy of this ruling power (from the perspective of truth, rather than the perspective of democracy) and its being strictly bound within effective controls and constraints.
This is a great issue toward the stance to take is not self-evident. I understand your position, I think it is also the position of Badiou, who considers, if I paraphrase him right, the absence of idealogical war (which is of course equal to the invisibility of rule) the absence of a present. But I am tempted to disagree. I believe that there is plenty of war-far to be done, in terms of values within society, changing it also from the inside, eroding here and there, building there and here, that constitutes a present. But of course, it is not as radical a present as a political revolution. I am simply careful, because I do value the western model over any other Earthly model - but for me the west does include my own nation, the Netherlands, and a nation such as France, which is of course very different from the American model.

In the Netherlands, socialist measures, such as free healthcare, were implemented not by force, but by democratic process, because of many people threatening to vote communists, and because of communists actually being in parliament. These were real communists. The CPN (Communist Party Netherlands) was split between radicals and communists favoring the democratic process to advance socialist aims. They were effective in as far as they adapted to the democratic process, but of course their force was in part due to the threat of communism becoming revolution. So, the democratic process, at least in Europe, does allow for true influence.

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The root of desire for revolution and anarchy is that one want to seize the opportunity that comes with such a situation of temporary absence of authority to establish oneself as a power. A re-boot of what would essentially amount to another "tyranny of the most capable" but with, hopefully, the revolutionary somewhere in the new echelon. I do not believe that such desire is aimed at any kind of improvement, only to a switch of the watch.

I think this is sometimes the case, but not always. Certainly there are revolutionary and anarchistic motives which aim only to replace an undesirable form of social power with a more desirable one regardless whether or not oneself is a part of that new echelon. I do not think that revolution is incapable of, nor even that it "usually" fails to uphold a more noble and impersonal ideal as a goal and motivation, rather than a mere desire for personal selfish gain. I would argue that the root of the desire for revolution and anarchy is a personal feeling of powerlessness; this feeling can express as either a desire to see oneself elevated to a status of (social, political, actual) power, or it can express as a desire to replace the current structure/s which contribute to one's powerlessness with new structures that would ideally provide one with a renewed feeling of power and worth. Of course the latter is the more "pure", noble motive. And I see no reason to assume that this motive is not at work in many, perhaps even most (but certainly not all) revolutionary-anarchstic impulses and activities.
I don't think that the one is inherently nobler than the other. It depends on which system replaces which - the American revolution was, in my eyes, noble, but the nazi revolution wasn't. Both are of the latter category. And within the former there are also possibilities both for nobility and for wretchedness.

True however, given the evolutionary nature of - nature, revolutions usually lead, in the end, to an improvement of some kind. But the character of a revolution is usually very crude, it wipes all preexistent order off the map, and this is also a great waste. In terms of where we are now, I want to revolutionize some aspects of our society, but not overthrow it. I have no confidence that it would be replaced with something even remotely as interesting.

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Therefore I am uninterested in revolution and interested in the direction of technocratic advance, which I want to secure space for expression and art, for a "free society" where no one has to care about politics.

What would a political order, supplemented perhaps with advanced technology, in which no one has to care about politics look like? I am not sure this would even be possible, let alone ideal. Politics as a socially organizing force seems essential, it would only be if man were to become entirely non-social and submissive to a total technological ordering of all goods and services, where no large-scale decisions needed to be made at all, that it would seem like something which you envision would be possible. But what sort of society, people, culture would be possible under such an absence of large-scale, mass-social ideas, movements, decisions, and ambitions? Does not culture itself require such universal means of individual thinking and collective participating? Or perhaps you are envisioning a state which has evolved beyond culture?
No, I am saying that large scale issues are not actually the interesting aspects of life, value or power. I am not interested in crude oil. Yet this dominates much of our politics. The original European Union was a merger of the mineral resources of France and Germany. This was a good idea, as these resources had been the cause of the great wars. In this sense, politics, on this level, was abolished. And the result is the impossibility of war within Europe. This is what making politics invisible means - to make large scale violence less accessible.

The main question I would ask is: which large scale decisions are to be kept "public problems"? Which freedoms/uncertainties will always present the risk armed conflict?

I mean to say that the centers of relevant conflicts do not have to be state vs not-state, bit can mean ad-hoc network A vs. ad-hoc network B, where the state is indifferent to the resolution of this conflict.


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In the end politics has to be abolished, anyway - a global meta-state is necessary at least where it concerns the management of resources and heavy industry. Within the confines of such a security-net, preventing "rogue leaders" from unleashing wars, freedom is possible. In order to penetrate into the ranks of power, one is reliant on the concept of meritocracy, rather than democracy. Which anyway is a much more sensible model.

Any excessive tension between masses and their leaders is the result of a lack of functionality of meritocracy.


Meritocracy is the ideal, to link skill with the capacity to exercise it, to place people where the "deserve" to be placed. And yet I think the notion of meritocracy ignores some fundamental aspects of human nature; or rather it makes an overt, measurable form of efficiency the highest and indeed, in the end, only standard of value of the individual with respect to society. Less or non-measurable criteria, like artistic creativity or implicit and unactualized genius are rendered non-valuable to the society which is only able to value people based on their actual measurable contributions to the economic-industrial-technological apparatus.
Yes, a crucial point - This depends on what is defined as merit. I would certainly not be in favor of a meritocracy that dismisses qualities as without merit if they do not fit into some part of a preexisting machine.
Such a society would be purely corporate-fascist.

An value-ontological psychological model would have to be at the root of "my" meritocracy's constitution.

I am afraid as I elaborate, the possibility of my meritocracy becomes more and more remote.

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This is what Herbert Marcuse called technological reason, the idea that the value of human beings is to be determined based on the extent to which they are able to be useful to a scientific-economic apparatus. This approach tends to one-dimensionalize man in that it is able to value only what can be quantified in some way. Less quantifiable values like freedom, openness, patience, compassion, creativity, artistic ingenuity, "lack of ambition" (with respect to the presently available mechanisms of the social apparatus) become implicitly de-valued. I believe that humans do need a lot of "undefined", non-quantifiable space in which to exercise degrees of movement and freedom from being productively valuable to the extant social apparatus. I do not think we need to view the un-measurable as the un-valuable, in fact it is very much the other way around. Art, creativity, writing, philosophy have always emerged from this "exterior space" outside of the conventional social body, counter to it and at first unable to be valued by this social body itself.
Yes, absolutely, all true.
Merit(ocracy) needs to be defined in terms of self-valuing, if it is to be made into a politics that does not instantly reduce the human to the secondary ontological status of a tool.

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I am not sure to what extent you are really meaning to imply any of the above sort of "technological reasoning", but this idea of "the result of a lack of functionality of meritocracy" seems to imply this. The "excess" which is created by such a lack of functionality is not a sign that the system is broken, but rather that it is alive and healthy (again, I am not sure to what extent you would agree with that, or not. I may be very much misunderstanding you here).
I am reconsidering this whole thing already. I think that life itself is always meritocracy, evolution is the product of meritocracy. Part of the will to power is to convince other entities that what one is able to produce has merit, thereby adapting others to ones own value system. So it is hard to envision a government stably and centrally determining merit.


 

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PostSubject: Re: Meritocracy   Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:21 pm

Democracy is a levelling tool. It's original premise is to empower every individual with 1 vote. This makes him equal in say to any other individual participating in the democracy. Theoretically.

It ignores inherent differences of quality between individuals such as intelligence. An idiot has equal say to a genius.

In practice, the path to power in a democracy is consequently the manipulation of as many idiots as possible to form a voting bloc which you control.

This necessitates a general dumbing down and lowering of the communities intelligence such that the great mass of individuals, the mob, is more psychologically malleable.

This is most effectively done through mass media, which serves as the gatekeeper of the average democratic individuals knowledge of reality. He believes that reality is as it is presented to him and votes accordingly.

It goes without saying that outside democratic systems such manipulation is unnecessary and government control is more direct and honest. Consequently, easier for the average moron to see and understand - and to set himself against.

Democracy therefore is an evolution of totalitarianism which has moved control into the realms of human psychology.
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PostSubject: Re: Meritocracy   Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:56 am

That is a default and obvious position to take. One might wish to take a more careful look, though.

If not to defend democracy, then… what? To defend certain products of democracy, certain possibilities to uplift, knowledge, technology and individual power which are consequent of it? To perhaps wish to examine that about "democracy" which opens up futures rather than closes them off? Athens worked out quite well, until it didn't. In worked too well to survive, which is a common curse in this world (self-developmental necessity producing ignorance of the reality of the conditions to which one is subject, to "the world"; in other words, naiveté is often a necessary condition of novelty).

We learned a bit more from that, we know more than they did. Our democratic systems use voting as a base marker to test potential controls and powers of the state (of individuals who manifest and are manifested by the state/law power), to delimit the state by man as well as man by the state. A degree of long-term reciprocity is an improvement over its lack, rather you consider the best interests of a society or of the individuals within it (and both interests must be considered). This includes all those attempts to control and manipulate the voting process itself, such as media. If democracy took a more active role in selecting and weighing which individuals have more voting influence than others, how do you think that will turn out? Who is going to decide which people get more vote, but… those with more vote? (Same problem as before in "less evolved" totalitarianisms).

But then again, at least you would get individuals arguing for their own singular increase in voting power, an "arms race" toward self-demonstration of intellectual merit and political right. I would like to see such a thing. But I can also see the basis on which such claims would be evaluated. Can you?

There is no morality in nature, even in human nature, except for what humans want, as humans and for humans. We produce our own values, or not. If you wish to continue to choose not to produce your own values, that is "up to you" of course… but don't kid yourself about the consequences of that.

There is only what is done, what is not done, and all of your desire and lack of desire in-between. There never was any more than this anyway, ever.

I think you are much more "democratic" than you think you are.

 

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