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A procedural point about this democracy debate,
and then a substantive (hah! didn't think I knew that
word, did you?) one.
It's in line with the idea of this list to keep up with possibilities
and developments like electronic direct democracy ideas, and to
serve as a way for people who are into things like that to get in
touch with each other. But at some point the purely political
aspect of the disagreement isn't especially a cypherpunk issue.
I hope everybody cools off or takes it elsewhere (I don't know
where) before that point. Robin Hanson's Alternative Institutions
list seems like a good place for that.
That said, I want to throw in my bic lighter...
Democracy is bad; smarter democracy would be worse.
The system we have is ravenous and stupid, but we're adapted to
it. There's nothing "good" about representative democracy
except that it's relatively slow-changing and we know some ways
of dealing with it. If we made democracy able to respond to events
more quickly, it might be smarter and better at what it does best--
prey on us. It might break past our defenses. I feel the same way
about calls for efficient government. No-o-o-o-o thanks!
This has nothing to do with respect for the common man. I think
people are basically decent and reasonably smart. But no one has a
right to take part in the crime called government, including the
parts people are playing right now, much less more active parts.
I think democracy evolved from standoffs in multi-way wars. Wars
used to be won by body count, and at some point someone said,
"Okay, we'll compromise and make peace for now, but I'm still
keeping track of who's on my side, just so you don't get out of
line." Voting is a way of predicting who would win a war.
Which is nicer than real war, and all respect and rights are
ultimately based on what other people can do, but there's nothing
inherently right about democracy, and it keeps people
in a sort of tense standoff, unable to trust each other.
Nothing in democracy itself lets the sides make agreements and
structurally keeps them from changing their minds the next day.
Cumbersome, procedure-bound setups like we have actually allow
those sorts of things somewhat, but not in an up-front and
reliable way. Democracy doesn't hold individual voters responsible
for the effects and costs of their votes. Even in our
"unresponsive" democracy there's little reason for the statistical
will of the people not to be flighty and untrustworthy.
Technology can help somewhat in replacing the systems we have
with better systems. Better would be anarchic. To me, anarchy
means shifting from overarching systems for regulating and taking
care of people, to ways for people to take care of their own
interests. Democracy sounds like the latter, but instead of
taking care of your own life, you have a sort of metaphorical
surrogate--a minute influence on what happens to everybody.
As usual, I would have stopped, but I thought some things I hadn't
I'll post the body of this to AltInst and then shut up about it
on this list.