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Author Topic: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?  (Read 1765 times)

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Offline TrevinoTopic starter

Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« on: June 22, 2016, 05:45:32 PM »
Discuss!

For the moment, I am currently leaning towards "not a chance in hell", but I'd be curious to hear the rest of your viewpoints. Personally I think the coming crises (political, economic, ecological) will prove too much for democracy as we know it to overcome, but I suppose you never know...

Offline Lilias

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2016, 05:55:12 PM »
Democracy as we know it is only about 100 years old. It's not like some ancient venerable institution is crashing down. Governments are shaped by their people, not the other way around. Flux is their natural condition.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2016, 03:36:45 AM »

While democracy has yet to stand the test of time, it has been very successful in the US and other countries in the last hundred or two years. If US style democracy fails, I would expect a newer hybrid version to emerge. Perhaps a democracy 2.0 that replaces the parts that failed with something else. This of course might not happen right away but I can't see the good parts of democracy being ignored for too long. What on earth is permanent?

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2016, 05:08:16 PM »
Governments are shaped by their people, not the other way around.

At least, that is the hope. It is, however, hard not to feel like the opposite is true in a lot of places at the moment. Supposed bastions of democracy with governments that are going rogue on key issues and not bothering to take the popular opinion into account. In some cases it may be person zeal that drives these developments, in others it seems that corruption is to blame. Either way, the the idea of a truly representative democracy with a government that is elected fairly by the people, for the people, seems to be having a hard time.

I hope it will make it through and that things are going to get better in the coming years, but it's hard to say which way things are going to go. As the western world seems to be leaning more and more to the right on the political spectrum and the cleft between opposite sides grow, it looks like there's some rough patches ahead though.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2016, 03:27:19 AM »
Depends on what you mean by democracy, really. If you mean democracy as it has become, then I certainly hope not, because in most cases, modern day democracies are a farce. If you mean as a concept, I think it will be around for a long time to come, simply because the idea itself, makes perfect sense, even if it might be nearly impossible to implement and sustain in that form. Breaking ties by using a majority vote, using elected officials chosen by the people, you can't get more "fair" than that, in the purest sense.

Online Cassandra LeMay

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2016, 05:05:38 AM »
Depends on what you mean by democracy, really. If you mean democracy as it has become, then I certainly hope not, because in most cases, modern day democracies are a farce. If you mean as a concept, I think it will be around for a long time to come, simply because the idea itself, makes perfect sense, even if it might be nearly impossible to implement and sustain in that form. Breaking ties by using a majority vote, using elected officials chosen by the people, you can't get more "fair" than that, in the purest sense.
As RV said, it all depends on how you define it.

All in all I would say democracy works great if it means a majority decision made by well-informed people who have all the relevant information at hand to make a rational decision.

So yeah, democracy will survive, only that it will (and is) turning into "soundbitecracy". People will call it democracy, and as long as everyone agrees that is what it should be called it will be just that. Greek philosophers will be spinning in their graves, but as long as you can convince 5 million people with a 5 minute YouTube video, who cares?

Then again, democracy is about the best of the bad systems we have come up with yet. Lets just make certain it doesn't turn into a demagogery.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 05:07:05 AM »
As RV said, it all depends on how you define it.

All in all I would say democracy works great if it means a majority decision made by well-informed people who have all the relevant information at hand to make a rational decision.

So yeah, democracy will survive, only that it will (and is) turning into "soundbitecracy". People will call it democracy, and as long as everyone agrees that is what it should be called it will be just that. Greek philosophers will be spinning in their graves, but as long as you can convince 5 million people with a 5 minute YouTube video, who cares?

Then again, democracy is about the best of the bad systems we have come up with yet. Lets just make certain it doesn't turn into a demagogery.

Sometimes I just wish Doctor Doom was real, I'd let him rule everything. Sure, he's a maniac, but he actually -does- know better than just about everyone else so it's better than the maniacs we have right now!

Offline Oniya

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Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 10:19:27 AM »
So yeah, democracy will survive, only that it will (and is) turning into "soundbitecracy". People will call it democracy, and as long as everyone agrees that is what it should be called it will be just that. Greek philosophers will be spinning in their graves, but as long as you can convince 5 million people with a 5 minute YouTube video, who cares?

And since those soundbites are provided by the media, that makes it a mediocracy, right?


Offline TrevinoTopic starter

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2016, 08:13:54 PM »
Then again, democracy is about the best of the bad systems we have come up with yet. Lets just make certain it doesn't turn into a demagogery.

Democracies were always vulnerable to demagoguery so I don't think that by itself will do it in, media hysteria aside. There are much bigger problems on the horizon that I think will bring the concept of democracy itself under scrutiny.


Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 03:11:56 AM »
I don't mind the demagoguery and rhetoric. At least I can listen to it and decide if I want to vote for the candidate in question myself. I would prefer that over having someone else decide for me.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 10:38:29 PM »
What's that Churchill quote? "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others?"

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2016, 03:03:44 AM »
There aren't any Democratic governments in the world that I am aware of. I have a degree in Political Science and could be considered an expert on the inner working of government in my country, The United States of America. I am not a "foremost expert", as for that, I would have to have a doctorate. I am not an expert on international politics as my focus was on national politics and the history of political thought at University. That said, I don't think there's a single true Democracy in the world. The United States is what we call a "Representative Democracy." In an ideal world we elect representatives (and Senators for some bizarre reason) and they act in our best interests and create laws, which the President signs or gives a veto.

The problem with this system of government is obvious in that one party (I'm not naming names, but we all know which one I'm talking about) is refusing to do its job of actually... you know... voting on things, or in fact, serving the will of the people. To them, it is in the best interests of the people that terrorists be unimpeded in the purchase of automatic weapons and grenade launchers. To them, it is in the best interests of the people that only the rich get higher education. As a result progressive laws preventing terrorists from owning guns and allowing poor people to go to college are anathema, so not only will they not be passed; they won't even be voted on....

Democracy didn't survive the Peloponnesian war. Don't kid yourself that it survives today.

The thing is that SOMEHOW this clusterfuck we call Democracy could get even worse if we're STUPID enough to elect Donald Trump president. Europeans must be horrified that a man like him could be NOMINATED at all.... They can at least take comfort in that he has alienated Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Women, Native Americans, and Democrats. So he's going to lose in a massive landslide to a not very popular Democratic nominee, because she's the "lesser of two evils" to enough of the populace.

I love my country, but goddamn, it is hard to love some times.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2016, 04:15:59 AM »
Indeed, I don't think anyone here is under the misconception that actual democracy exists. We used to have something resembling it, now we just have nepotism, greed and media manipulation... most of the time.

The thing is that SOMEHOW this clusterfuck we call Democracy could get even worse if we're STUPID enough to elect Donald Trump president. Europeans must be horrified that a man like him could be NOMINATED at all.... They can at least take comfort in that he has alienated Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Women, Native Americans, and Democrats. So he's going to lose in a massive landslide to a not very popular Democratic nominee, because she's the "lesser of two evils" to enough of the populace.

Not so sure about the alienation, I've seen other polls that show he has an oddly high amount of backing with certain minorities, despite the venom he spews on a daily basis. I am almost completely certain that a big part of the population are just sick of everything and want to see the US burn (figure of speech, I honestly think if Trump is elected you'll get four years of nothing. He's all big words, but his stupidest policies'll get blocked every time and he'll just be a figurehead to point at and laugh).

As for Europeans, we have our own idiots running for office, with varying degrees of success. None jump to mind quite as baffling as Trump, but we really don't have much of a high horse in that regard.
I, for one, consider Trump to be the lesser of two evils. At least you know he's honest in his lunacy. But, that's for another thread.

Basically: I agree, democracy died soon after it was conceived; it doesn't lend itself well to those in power staying in power.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2016, 04:35:40 AM »
*Sigh* You're wrong about why Democracy died so soon after its creation, but that's another thread entirely.

And if you think Trump is the lesser of two evils, guess which of the two major candidates have stated they would use nuclear missiles on the middle east? Guess which of the two candidates thinks of women as sex objects? Guess which of the two candidates consider NATO an outdated alliance we shouldn't have been a part of? Guess which of the two candidates think Putin and Kim Jong Un are strong leaders (and good people)?

Do I have to provide more examples?

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2016, 04:43:34 AM »
*Sigh* You're wrong about why Democracy died so soon after its creation, but that's another thread entirely.

And if you think Trump is the lesser of two evils, guess which of the two major candidates have stated they would use nuclear missiles on the middle east? Guess which of the two candidates thinks of women as sex objects? Guess which of the two candidates consider NATO an outdated alliance we shouldn't have been a part of? Guess which of the two candidates think Putin and Kim Jong Un are strong leaders (and good people)?

Do I have to provide more examples?

You could not have read his most more backwards. He was referring to Clinton as the lesser of two evils there.
Quote
because she's the "lesser of two evils" to enough of the populace.


Food for thought: if democracy is failed/unworkable..what can we replace it with? Socialism is out, every attempt at genuine socialism has invariably descended into totalitarianism within a generation at most. Dictatorships by their very nature drift into totalitarianism as well. And totalitarianism itself, which technically functional, struggles for long-term effectiveness because humans will only put up with so much before they start to fight back simply on the grounds that they have nothing left to lose. Anarchy isn't a government, and the vague and ill-defined cloud of 'libertarianism' generally hovers somewhere between socialism and anarchy depending on the degree of pseudogovernment desired by that specific individual.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2016, 04:50:33 AM »
For one, you're quoting his quote of my post. He very distinctly says that he thinks Trump is the lesser of two evils.

As for what we replace it with? I think an honest representative Democracy, where we elect our legislators, and they vote in the best interests of the population. People want more transparency. I disagree. I think we need to close every session of congress to the public and the press and just have them come out with the bills when they're done making them. No information on who voted how. Elect the person you think will represent your interests the best to the Congress, and then trust that they did that.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2016, 04:52:32 AM »
And if you think Trump is the lesser of two evils, guess which of the two major candidates have stated they would use nuclear missiles on the middle east? Guess which of the two candidates thinks of women as sex objects? Guess which of the two candidates consider NATO an outdated alliance we shouldn't have been a part of? Guess which of the two candidates think Putin and Kim Jong Un are strong leaders (and good people)?

Do I have to provide more examples?

Guess which of two candidates are massive trolls? Guess which of the two candidates will never be able to do any of that nonsense? Guess which of the two candidates might have a big mouth about nuking things and will actually go through with it? Trump says a lot of things. In fact, saying stupid nonsense is his biggest asset in this race simply because he continues to baffle with what he dares to say, yet still somehow gets votes.

Trump is a waste of space, but at least we know he won't get anything done, good or bad. Hillary on the other hand, is a complete serpent and has turned coat on just about every issue under the sun to suit the voting needs. I have no idea what she might try to do, why and to what end beyond her wallet. Trump is a greedy bastard, so everything he'll do is for his wallet. The lesser of two evils to me is the one where I know what he's going to do, and know he won't get any of it done. He'll be blocked before he even opens his mouth and he'll be an international laughing stock. Maybe then, next time, the US will put forth some decent candidates and not smother them when they get too dangerous to the status quo. I mean, you don't honestly think he will build an actual wall to keep out Mexicans, right? Or let me rephrase that: he will get the funding for that lunacy?



You could not have read his most more backwards. He was referring to Clinton as the lesser of two evils there.

No, I wasn't being sarcastic. One's a joke who won't do anything, good or bad, the other's a snake that I don't know what she will actually do once in office. That's not an endorsement for Trump though, I'd prefer not to choose between them at all...

Food for thought: if democracy is failed/unworkable..what can we replace it with? Socialism is out, every attempt at genuine socialism has invariably descended into totalitarianism within a generation at most. Dictatorships by their very nature drift into totalitarianism as well. And totalitarianism itself, which technically functional, struggles for long-term effectiveness because humans will only put up with so much before they start to fight back simply on the grounds that they have nothing left to lose. Anarchy isn't a government, and the vague and ill-defined cloud of 'libertarianism' generally hovers somewhere between socialism and anarchy depending on the degree of pseudogovernment desired by that specific individual.

Technocracy? Those in power won't fight for votes anymore, but research grants!
Libertarianism gets some support from me, but most take it too far and you end up in what you describe, this haze where in the end, nothing will work and nothing will get done.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 04:55:47 AM by Renegade Vile »

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2016, 05:34:11 AM »
As for what we replace it with? I think an honest representative Democracy, where we elect our legislators, and they vote in the best interests of the population.

That sounds nice, but so too does our political system. I think the problem has more to do with human nature than with the system itself. People are biased, misinformed, dishonest, fearful and greedy to some extent and these characteristics (and others) influence the decisions they make. We don't always act rationally or the way we should. I don't think a system that depends on human purity is going to last very long. Eventually it will get corrupted.

I think the other problem - which was made quite clear by the Brexit mess is that people need to be able to trust their elected officials to some extent. Pehaps Cameron's warnings about financial and political damage would have been taken seriously my more voters if he was trusted more. Here in the US there seems to be quite a bit of distrust in politicians in general. I see now how dangerous that could be.

Online Cassandra LeMay

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2016, 06:05:27 AM »
In an ideal world we elect representatives (and Senators for some bizarre reason) and they act in our best interests ...
(My emphasis)

That's a nice theory, but I do wonder if many people would actually realize if politicians did act in their best interest. National governments have to deal with big problems, while many people's worries are much smaller, more local than that. Someone from village A may have different ideas what is a "best interest" from someone from town B, who has different priorities than someone from city C, and so on. So what the government of a nation, taking everyone's interest into account (in an ideal world, and perhaps even sometimes in the real world), defines a "best" can be quite different from the multitude of individual interests among the voters.

I think democracy might not be as bad as its reputation. But, what it might need is more trust. And for the voters to trust the decisions politicians make, it would take more honesty on the part of the politicians. If politicians stoped saying "I will" and instead went for "I will try my best" that would be a huge step in the right direction. We are live in a complicated world and not everyone can get everything they want. Politicians should be honest enough to say so - and then do their best to explain what makes some things complicated and how that influences their decisions. The media also needs to follow suit and explain things, instead of going for soundbites.

I doubt either will happen within my lifetime, but I also see another problem and that is a sense of entitlement with many people. "I voted for party X, so they better do exactly what I want". That is a failure to see that a single voter is just a very small part of millions of people who may have voted for the same party (or candidate).  Yes, an elected politician is supposed to represent "you", but he is also supposed to represent a whole lot of other people, so don't expect to get every single thing you want. An "anti-establishment" vote will not get you better representation - and in many cases it might get you a worse representative.

So, in short, I don't think democracy needs replacing, or a radical makeover. What it needs is a healthy dose of realism on the part of everyone involved.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 07:43:15 AM by Cassandra LeMay »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #19 on: June 29, 2016, 06:47:30 AM »
As for what we replace it with? I think an honest representative Democracy, where we elect our legislators, and they vote in the best interests of the population. People want more transparency. I disagree. I think we need to close every session of congress to the public and the press and just have them come out with the bills when they're done making them. No information on who voted how. Elect the person you think will represent your interests the best to the Congress, and then trust that they did that.

You are a very trusting man. I'm not one to be skeptical about everything every politician says, but this isn't any different from what we have now, only we get rid of the fact that our candidates are chosen for us by a party system. This helps with some of the issues, but the majority of successful politicians are still going to be the best liars and the best manipulators. Neither of those traits lend themselves to trustworthy legislation.
I agree that everyone needs to elect the person they think will represent them best, but given the corruption and deceit in politics, Id like the doors to Congress to be open even more than they are now so we can keep an eye on them as they do us. Just electing them and then having blind faith in them is not going to end well.

Offline TrevinoTopic starter

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #20 on: June 29, 2016, 08:19:11 AM »
Maybe then, next time, the US will put forth some decent candidates and not smother them when they get too dangerous to the status quo. I mean, you don't honestly think he will build an actual wall to keep out Mexicans, right? Or let me rephrase that: he will get the funding for that lunacy?

The fact that Trump is saying these things at all should be raising some red flags, and that we should keep him away from the White House. Whether or not he carries out anything that he says he will do is besides the point; the real point is that he has the potential to set back social progress by several decades, and cause a serious political and economic crisis in the not too distant future (basically, a Brexit on steroids!)

« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 08:21:06 AM by Trevino »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #21 on: June 29, 2016, 08:22:43 AM »
The fact that Trump is saying these things at all should be raising some red flags, and that we should keep him away from the White House. Whether or not he carries out anything that he says he will do is besides the point; the real point is that he has the potential to set back social progress by several decades, and cause a serious political and economic crisis in the not too distant future.

Hm, maybe, but I guess it depends on how many people - including his voters - take him seriously. This is just a very, very, veeeeeeeeeeeery weird election... I honestly look forward to Kanye West actually running as he said (or threatened) he would. And if he gets a ton of votes by the end of it, I'll be simultaneously laughing my rear off and sobbing in the corner.

Offline TrevinoTopic starter

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2016, 08:44:25 AM »
Hm, maybe, but I guess it depends on how many people - including his voters - take him seriously. This is just a very, very, veeeeeeeeeeeery weird election... I honestly look forward to Kanye West actually running as he said (or threatened) he would. And if he gets a ton of votes by the end of it, I'll be simultaneously laughing my rear off and sobbing in the corner.

I wonder if that's how the Germans of 1933 felt before deciding on their new heads of government...

(My emphasis)

That's a nice theory, but I do wonder if many people would actually realize if politicians did act in their best interest. National governments have to deal with big problems, while many people's worries are much smaller, more local than that. Someone from village A may have different ideas what is a "best interest" from someone from town B, who has different priorities than someone from city C, and so on. So what the government of a nation, taking everyone's interest into account (in an ideal world, and perhaps even sometimes in the real world), defines a "best" can be quite different from the multitude of individual interests among the voters.

This is a very good point. Especially when it comes to national or international politics.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 08:50:43 AM by Trevino »

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #23 on: June 29, 2016, 08:56:30 AM »
I wonder if that's how the Germans of 1933 felt before deciding on their new heads of government...

Oh, come on now, you're not actually comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, now are you? The guy's a douchebag, a moron and a wealthy bastard, but Hitler he ain't. I'm all for hyperbole for comedic effect, but let's not go too far with it.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Will Democracy survive the 21st Century?
« Reply #24 on: June 29, 2016, 01:54:09 PM »
For one, you're quoting his quote of my post. He very distinctly says that he thinks Trump is the lesser of two evils.


Aaaand that's why I shouldn't be quoting posts at 5AM. :-[

Quote
Oh, come on now, you're not actually comparing Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, now are you? The guy's a douchebag, a moron and a wealthy bastard, but Hitler he ain't. I'm all for hyperbole for comedic effect, but let's not go too far with it.

Well, he did actually suggest at one point that all Muslims living in the U.S. should be required to be logged in a national security registry, which is sorta Hitlerian. It's not quite as bad as the claims that he wanted Muslims to wear an identifying mark sewn into their clothing (which is literally Hitlerian), but is still pretty bad.

Is Hitlerian a legitimate adjective? ???


As far as democracy - if it works at all, it has to be in a representative format, as has been noted. Direct democracy only worked for the Greeks because a tiny percentage of their actual population had voting rights. The only prominent example of a relatively modern direct democracy, the Polish-Lithuanian Sejim of the 15th to 18th centuries, is also famous for being a near-powerless body that was perpetually paralyzed by every member holding a veto. And there were only a few hundred of them, rather than millions upon millions of enfranchised voters.

Personally, I think the US representative system, at least, could go a long way simply by instituting term limits. If a senator or representative can't make a lifelong career in Washington, but gets at most 2-4, or 2-8 years in 2-year increments, they might not be so dedicated to feathering their long-term retirement nests. Aside from that, it's a matter that needs to be attacked from both ends; convince the general population to actually get out and vote as much as convince the politicians to vote in the interests of their electorate. Bernie Sanders didn't succeed in his electoral bid, but one thing he absolutely accomplished was getting a previously passive and apathetic demographic out in significant numbers. Something like BREXIT had, what, 48 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot on the referendum? That's a whole lot of apathy there as well, and I imagine other democratic nations aren't terribly different.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2016, 02:01:26 PM by TheGlyphstone »