Progressive Trends in Self-Governance

Yesterday, on Twitter, I posed the following question: “Let’s say that the majority of voters support “austerity.” Does the “need” for stimulus trump democracy?”  As is usual with my “provocative” statements, nobody really took the bait.

My intention was to fish Twitter and see if anybody seriously considered Democracy to be deficient.  I do not mean sentiments that democracy is imperfect; that is, the idea that democracy is — my own term — “relatively optimal” (i.e. the “there is nothing better out there” strand).  Rather, I wonder how many people believe that there is a better political system which can be attained, or that will be created, in the future.  This includes, but is not limited to, anarchists.

The question is meant to incite the controversial concept that if democracy is not a stable political system then there must be something that we can “evolve” towards that is more stable.  Two notes:

  1. Instability here refers to the idea that democratic government does not allow for outcomes that are “socially optimal” (I use this term only because I cannot think of a better one).  Let us say that we are in depression, and what society requires is heavy fiscal policy.  Yet, “the majority” is voting in favor of austerity measures by voting in representatives who favor this economic strategy.  Voters do this because they genuinely believe that austerity will lead to a recovery (whereas “truth” holds the opposite).  We have here an outcome that nobody wanted, yet democratic “self-governance” took us to;
  2. Again, I do not want to imply that anarchism is what we must “naturally” evolve towards (as if implying some kind of pre-determined outcome of the conflict between free men and the State).

I am implicitly, and now explicitly, assuming that we will progress towards a more “liberal” system of governance; i.e. greater self-governance.  So, I reject — perhaps out  of ignorance — communism and other alternatives that exist, but generally do not fit the description.

So, here is the question more plainly laid out: where to from here?  Is there something better than democracy?

9 thoughts on “Progressive Trends in Self-Governance

  1. Daniel Kuehn

    Constitutional, federal republicanism is much better than democracy. And of course it preserves most of the elements of democracy we like (indeed – this is why we can still talk about “democracy” even though we don’t live in a “democracy” per se).

    1. Jonathan Finegold Catalán Post author

      Okay, mistake on my part — better than what exists now, including federal republicanism.

    2. Jonathan Finegold Catalán Post author

      Although, I suppose when I wrote the post I also made the mistake of only assuming that progress can be made in “radical” steps, where there is also the option of changing parts of what already exists.

  2. Chris

    “Is there something better than democracy?”

    This post was a bit of a head scratcher. I’m sure you know how many libertarians would answer that question, but you ask as though this topic hasn’t been extensively debated and as if there is little literature on the subject.

  3. Pete Walker

    Switzerland has some interesting practices such as a completely armed citizenry and “direct democracy.” Still, it seems they keep getting a bigger and more intrusive government.

    Contrary to a reputation for “neutrality,” they also get involved in the U.N. and international military stuff. Probably from other countries twisting arms the same way the WWII Nazis did (Switzerland had some sweetheart deals with them).

    I’m distrustful of all government forms because of the inherent morality double standards that grow them all towards totalitarianism.

    1. Jonathan Finegold Catalán Post author

      I don’t know the history of Switzerland very well, but I wonder if a possible “step further” is a politically stable confederacy (which seem to have, to date, been usurped by democracies; similar to how early republics/democracies tended to turn into authoritarian governments). Switzerland reminded me about the merits of a confederation.

      1. Pete Walker

        My bad for not clicking the “reply by email” box, and for being a little verbose, so to restate more concisely:

        “Representative government” is outdated. How can one “representative” represent over a million people? We have the technology to institute a direct form of constitutional republicism similar to direct democracy. (Personally I’m an AnCap, but a better form of DD could downsize the state and make people wake up a lot.)

        I mentioned the Swiss as a case study, but of course their system is a primitive form of what I’m talking about, which is a way of downsizing the U.S. government and getting most of it outside of the beltway.

  4. Pete Walker

    Also a constitutional confederacy form of DD could unemployee a lot of parasitic lobbyists, the people most “representatives” represent. Then there’s all those beltway perks, double standards, etc., etc., all extrememly parasitic on the real economy and maintaining of the status qou (stiflers of innovation).


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