## Reforming Democracy

For discussions of culture, politics, economics, sociology, law, business and any other topic that falls under the social science remit.

### Re: Reforming Democracy

lizbethrose wrote:My point is that, our voices aren't heard although we live in a democracy. Once elected, our representatives--the people who's job it is to speak for us--don't do their jobs. It isn't because they don't want to, I suppose, so much as it's because they're either over-whelmed or inured to the whole business of politics as politics.

Of course our voices are heard. Give me some example of something that isn't the way you want it, that you think is an example of 'we the people' not being listened to, and I'll point out that there are millions of people that DON'T want it the way you do. Leaving aside for the moment that we don't even live in a democracy and democracy was considered a bad thing by the founders, and the purpose of a lot of their writing was how to avoid it...even leaving all that aside, a representative Government doesn't just represent you.

The people who are re-elected time after time are said to be there because 'they get the job done!' But have they?

WHAT job? What is the thing that they havent got done, that there is actually consensus in this country that should be done?

That's where the fad factor is played. All that needs to be said is, "The more expensive yogurt is better for you." But sour milk is sour milk, for goodness sake!

So don't buy it, then. You still haven't shown me where this is a problem.

The same is true with politics, to me. Tell someone often enough that Rob the Wrangler got 'more done' in Congress and he'll be re-elected, whether he has or not. Tell people that Pete the Plumber is an ass-hole who's never at his seat in Congress, and he won't be re-elected, no matter what he's done. A lot of politics is sales.

Yes, that's right. Since everybody can vote and everybody is told that they SHOULD vote, while at the same time maybe 5% of voters will bother to learn anything about the issue or people they are voting on, they will just do whatever some trusted voice tells them, be that CNN, Fox, a family member, or the incumbent. That's not an exception to representative government, it's a consequence of it.

I started all my replies to this thread by saying I'm not a Party person, I'm an independent.
[/quote][/quote]

Yeah, tons of liberals do that. So what?

http://deepfreeze.it/ Curious about corrupt practices in video game journalism? Look no further.

Uccisore
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:When it comes to consumer awareness and safety, I think you might be comparing apples to oranges. The FDA would be an example of the government "evil" and the agricorps that Liz spoke of would be the capitalist "evil". But these two aren't substitutes, they're pitted against each other.

Are you sure about that? How many FDA regulations do you think are passed at the encouragement of one agricorp because they know it will give them an edge over the rest?

What I would like to know is whether a conservative like you or Eric believe that in a truly free market, some equivalent to the FDA would emerge, something to protect the average consumer from incurring inadvertent harm from the products or services he consumes due to carelessness or oversight on the part of the producer or service provider.

You do have examples of that in other industries- for example movie ratings, video game ratings, and the infamous "Comics code" are media rating systems that are/were privately organized and maintained to increase consumer awareness of what a product is like. So I think it's entirely possible that something like that with regards to food safety could emerge. Another possible vector would be the free press- if people have an interest in knowing if their food is safe, then presumably somebody could make money doing journalism on the subject and the people could stay informed that way. That being said, those rating systems came into existence partially motivated by the fear that if the companies didn't do it themselves, the State would step in and it would be out of their hands. So it was the fear of Government regulation that led to an absence of it. I'm more of a traditionalist conservative than a libertarian; my problem with organizations like the FDA and the EPA is the degree to which leftists infiltrate them and turn them to an ulterior motive; not their mere existence. The Government probably should be doing things like regulating food quality and environmental impact from industrial manufacture.

Specifically, why would businesses subject their products or services to inspection at all? And what would prevent such agencies from being "bought off" by the corporations they inspect to supply whatever data those corporations want their consumers to see (almost as if you'd need inspectors to investigate the business practices of the inspectors).

Well, if a business wants the "Food Safety Research Society'"s stamp of approval, they would have to let this FSRS do whatever kind of inspections they wanted to do in order to earn that stamp. In turn, if the FSRS wants to sell advertising on their news bulletins or their blog or whatever, people have to trust them enough to watch them. If the FSRS is bought off and isn't giving fair inspections, and that becomes public or suspected, then the Concerned Citizens for Safer Food organization will appear to fill in the gap, and the FSRS and CCSF will be competing to show which of them has more integrity. I imagine that's how a libertarian would see it going. So compare that to a model that takes the free market out of the question- there is one such organization, and it is run by the State. If a business doesn't earn the State's stamp of approval, they can't sell food period.

http://deepfreeze.it/ Curious about corrupt practices in video game journalism? Look no further.

Uccisore
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

lizbethrose wrote:I started thinking about this back when we talked about corruption. Money leads to power; power leads to corruption; money leads to corruption. Actually, I've been thinking about it for much longer, but I started trying to bring all my thoughts together back then. Writing helps me; it's a process thing, for me. Getting feedback such as yours and Eric's helps me immeasurably.

Well, I'll do what I can, as will Eric I'm sure.

Money leads to power because it represents the ultimate "property". We want possessions because we want tools, and we want tools in order to control things. You can do some things with a hammer--drive in nails, smash things--but there's not much more you can do than that. You can do a hell of a lot more with a computer--it gives you more power. Money is the ultimate "power tool" because it represents the pinnacle of power--with it, you can do pretty much anything--if not directly, then by paying others who have the wherewithal to do it. You can even buy votes or manufacture demand, change the world to your liking.

The corruption that comes about with that much power is a consequence of how little there is stopping you from getting whatever you want. Taking the needs and concern of others into account need not enter the picture in your brain.

In both the market and in politics, those with power get their power from the people--from the money they pay into the system. In the market, powerful corporations have the power they do because of their enormous consumer base--people continue to buy their products, pay for their services. In politics, it comes from donations and tax dollars. I would say it comes from votes, but if you're right that "95% of the candidates that outspent their opponents won their elections" then the money they get from the 1% of the population is being used to manufacture those votes.

lizbethrose wrote:The question, then, is can we get our voices back? Peacefully. So far, I can't see how.

So your concern here is how to free up our votes from the control of media influence. Is that right? I mean, the media is where the money goes to manufacture votes, correct? You're asking how to make our votes count for us once again rather than for that 1% that paid to have the rest of us vote for them, right?

Uccisore wrote:Are you sure about that? How many FDA regulations do you think are passed at the encouragement of one agricorp because they know it will give them an edge over the rest?

True, but the FDA and agricorp companies aren't performing the same function. That's why I brought up a free market version of the FDA. Then you'd be comparing apples to apples--the free market version compared to a government puppet like the FDA. I wanted to bring your statement--that agricorps compared to agencies like the FDA are the lesser of two evils--into perspective.

Uccisore wrote:Well, if a business wants the "Food Safety Research Society'"s stamp of approval, they would have to let this FSRS do whatever kind of inspections they wanted to do in order to earn that stamp. In turn, if the FSRS wants to sell advertising on their news bulletins or their blog or whatever, people have to trust them enough to watch them. If the FSRS is bought off and isn't giving fair inspections, and that becomes public or suspected, then the Concerned Citizens for Safer Food organization will appear to fill in the gap, and the FSRS and CCSF will be competing to show which of them has more integrity. I imagine that's how a libertarian would see it going. So compare that to a model that takes the free market out of the question- there is one such organization, and it is run by the State. If a business doesn't earn the State's stamp of approval, they can't sell food period.

Ah, yes, the competition factor. And you're right, if one inspection company fouls up and their consumer base catches wind of it, they will invest their money into another company. Overall, the idea of allowing itself to be bought off would probably be seen as a bad idea by inspection companies. The only exception to this that I can think of is if the companies under inspection pay the inspection company so much money that they can literally retire, but these companies would probably go bankrupt from the sheer cost of paying every inspection company that came along enough to retire.

Now, you mentioned movie rates, video game ratings, and comics codes. How do these organizations make their money? You also mentioned journalism. I presume journalists make their money from television companies or subscribers. I think in order for such companies to avoid becoming corrupt, they would have to be paid by the consumer (directly or indirectly), the ones who want their services the most. Is this how you see it working out in a free market?
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

In fact, the idea that there's more differences between groups than there is between individuals is actually the fundamental racist idea.
- Jordan Peterson

Here's a good rule of thumb for politics--attribute everything to stupidity unless you can prove malice.
- Ben Shapiro

right outta high school i tried to get a job as a proctologist but i couldn't find an opening.
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gib
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:
lizbethrose wrote:I started thinking about this back when we talked about corruption. Money leads to power; power leads to corruption; money leads to corruption. Actually, I've been thinking about it for much longer, but I started trying to bring all my thoughts together back then. Writing helps me; it's a process thing, for me. Getting feedback such as yours and Eric's helps me immeasurably.

Well, I'll do what I can, as will Eric I'm sure.

Money leads to power because it represents the ultimate "property". We want possessions because we want tools, and we want tools in order to control things. You can do some things with a hammer--drive in nails, smash things--but there's not much more you can do than that. You can do a hell of a lot more with a computer--it gives you more power. Money is the ultimate "power tool" because it represents the pinnacle of power--with it, you can do pretty much anything--if not directly, then by paying others who have the wherewithal to do it. You can even buy votes or manufacture demand, change the world to your liking.

The corruption that comes about with that much power is a consequence of how little there is stopping you from getting whatever you want. Taking the needs and concern of others into account need not enter the picture in your brain.

In both the market and in politics, those with power get their power from the people--from the money they pay into the system. In the market, powerful corporations have the power they do because of their enormous consumer base--people continue to buy their products, pay for their services. In politics, it comes from donations and tax dollars. I would say it comes from votes, but if you're right that "95% of the candidates that outspent their opponents won their elections" then the money they get from the 1% of the population is being used to manufacture those votes.

lizbethrose wrote:The question, then, is can we get our voices back? Peacefully. So far, I can't see how.

So your concern here is how to free up our votes from the control of media influence. Is that right? I mean, the media is where the money goes to manufacture votes, correct? You're asking how to make our votes count for us once again rather than for that 1% that paid to have the rest of us vote for them, right?

Yeah, of course. It's very simple, really. The idea is simple; the solution isn't. It starts with our every day language.

Remember when we talked about feminism? A lot of what I said then can be used now, in this thread. You know I don't like labels and that I do like critical thinking, right?

We can't stop the media from advertising. That's how they make their money. But we may be able to listen to the advertising critically and to teach that to our children. The language we use reflects our attitudes; the language our listeners hear reflects their attitudes. More than that, language helps shape those attitudes. I came across this just tonight. It says what I think much better than I've been able to:

http://voiceseducation.org/content/overview-language-prejudice.

I've been told I can be difficult to understand. I think everyone is, really. I don't compartmentalize my thoughts and that may be a problem for some people, unless they know me. Anyway, read the above, please. It's very short and uncomplicated.

Thanks,

Liz
"Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."
— Lewis Carroll
lizbethrose
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

lizbethrose wrote:Yeah, of course. It's very simple, really. The idea is simple; the solution isn't. It starts with our every day language.

Remember when we talked about feminism? A lot of what I said then can be used now, in this thread. You know I don't like labels and that I do like critical thinking, right?

We can't stop the media from advertising. That's how they make their money. But we may be able to listen to the advertising critically and to teach that to our children. The language we use reflects our attitudes; the language our listeners hear reflects their attitudes. More than that, language helps shape those attitudes. I came across this just tonight. It says what I think much better than I've been able to:

http://voiceseducation.org/content/over ... -prejudice.

I've been told I can be difficult to understand. I think everyone is, really. I don't compartmentalize my thoughts and that may be a problem for some people, unless they know me. Anyway, read the above, please. It's very short and uncomplicated.

Thanks,

Liz

Ok, in what way do you think the prejudices of language are the culprit (or one of the culprits) in how the top 1% influence the media in order to get the rest of the population voting how they want the population voting?

Personally, I think we need a way of sifting through all the crap being spewed at us to get at the actual useful information. For me, it's the problem of how to decontaminate the information pool. We need information, we need the media, just to get the facts that we require in order to make informed decisions on who to vote for. We need some way of knowing when the information we're being fed is being used solely to inform us and when it is being used to persuade us towards voting the way someone else wants us to vote.
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

In fact, the idea that there's more differences between groups than there is between individuals is actually the fundamental racist idea.
- Jordan Peterson

Here's a good rule of thumb for politics--attribute everything to stupidity unless you can prove malice.
- Ben Shapiro

right outta high school i tried to get a job as a proctologist but i couldn't find an opening.
- promethean75

Ahh... gib, zombie universes are so last year! I’m doing hyper dimensional mirror realities now.
- Ecmandu

gib
resident exorcist

Posts: 9010
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 10:25 pm

### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:...as will Eric I'm sure.
NEVER!!!!

gib wrote:Money leads to power because it represents the ultimate "property". We want possessions because we want tools, and we want tools in order to control things. You can do some things with a hammer--drive in nails, smash things--but there's not much more you can do than that. You can do a hell of a lot more with a computer--it gives you more power. Money is the ultimate "power tool" because it represents the pinnacle of power--with it, you can do pretty much anything--if not directly, then by paying others who have the wherewithal to do it. You can even buy votes or manufacture demand, change the world to your liking.

That just shows that people can do whatever they want with their money. And it isn't a fair comparison to juxtapose chewing gum with campaign financing; the former is an entire industry whereas the latter is a donation often from a single individual or corporation with a unified agenda (I don't think any individual cares for $2 billion dollars worth of chewing gum, although to imagine what they might do with it to influence to outcomes of elections might make you laugh ). But it isn't just a couple of individuals. The Koch brothers donated Wikipedia wrote:William Koch, the younger brother of Charles and David, gave$1 million to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Romney. During the 2008 presidential race, David Koch donated $2,300 to Romney. Out of 992.5M that is less than 1%... Further, This, if accurate, says more was given by individual donors than the Koch brothers... The comparison is to put the amounts into perspective. We often complain about the amount of money in politics... But it's nothing compared to the rest of the economy... (It's like someone bitching about the size of the local rat population... So I show them a capybara to show, it could be bigger... Perspective is important to keep our minds from worry.) gib wrote: Eric_The_Pipe wrote:The effects are even more doubtable... I call on Freakonomics. From the Link wrote:And take a look at the Iowa caucuses last week. Rick Perry was the top spender, buying$4.3 million worth of ads — which got him only 10 percent of the vote. Santorum, meanwhile, spent only $30,000 on ads (the least of any candidate) and practically tied Romney — who spent$1.5 million this time around on Iowa ads, versus $10 million in 2008. Now, that's more to the point. Again, need to compare sources. LOL. I love me some economics... “Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his ‘basic rights’” – An old saying rewritten by a follower of Thomas Sowell "It's true that the bastards would win. But we shouldn't shut down a system just because the bastards win. A good system should be like a hamster wheel for bastards hooked up an electric generator. A well designed system is not one that prevents bastards from winning, but one that generates a lot of positive externalities from bastards trying to beat each other. And that's exactly what markets do. Markets entice bastards, they reward bastards, and the bastards love them, but as they operate they generate a lot of good that inadvertently benefits everyone else." - Carleas The Newest EconPop: Economics of Demolition Man The man, Thomas Sowell: Wealth, Poverty and Politics Sowell's Writing Eric_The_Pipe Thinker Posts: 736 Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:06 pm Location: Colorado ### Re: Reforming Democracy So it happened again. I finished a post, went to submit it right after Eric submitted his, was told to review Eric's before re-submitting mine. I read Eric's post, went to submit mine and the computer wouldn't let me. I tried multiply times--then my post disappeared. So, I'll try again. Gib, you're the only one who can sort through the crap to arrive at the bits and pieces of knowledge that are hidden in what you read. Eric knows what I'm talking about. Language is neutral. It's how it's used and how it's perceived that carries intent. I had an online friend. He was German. His family moved to Canada. When he was in his late teens, he wandered along the US West Coast, getting work as a musician. He ended up in Arizona where he married and settled down to raise a family. He was there for about 22-23 years. One night, he died in his sleep. Following his death, his family discovered he'd never applied for citizenship and had never even renewed his visa. He was an illegal immigrant. Does the use of that phrase conjure a picture of a rather large, blond, blue-eyed guitarist with slight German accent, strumming a guitar out by his backyard swimming pool, joking with his family? Or do you immediately think of a small, dark, Latino/Latina, who speaks little or no English and wanders from job to job picking fruit and/or mowing lawns--but who has a valid visa? Such is the power of language. In my opinion, it's up to everyone who thinks to become aware of how they use language and how their listener/reader perceives and interprets that language. And to choose their words carefully with that in mind. Don't accept anyone else's words if they don't mean what it is you're saying. Any use of emotive words or phrases is logically fallacious. I've never taken a journalism class, but I imagine that's one of the first things to be taught. An emotive word or phrase is used to illicit an emotional response in the listener/reader and has nothing to do with factual information. This is what bothers me so much about many conservative magazines--the overuse of emotive words to manipulate the readers' thoughts and divert their attention away from an issue. So, read my words--read Eric's words--then decide for yourself how words affect you. Enjoy, Liz "Be what you would seem to be - or, if you'd like it put more simply - never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." — Lewis Carroll lizbethrose Philosopher Posts: 3556 Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:55 am Location: Pacific Northwest ### Re: Reforming Democracy lizbethrose wrote:So it happened again. I finished a post, went to submit it right after Eric submitted his, was told to review Eric's before re-submitting mine. I read Eric's post, went to submit mine and the computer wouldn't let me. I tried multiply times--then my post disappeared. So, I'll try again. Gib, you're the only one who can sort through the crap to arrive at the bits and pieces of knowledge that are hidden in what you read. Eric knows what I'm talking about. Language is neutral. It's how it's used and how it's perceived that carries intent. I had an online friend. He was German. His family moved to Canada. When he was in his late teens, he wandered along the US West Coast, getting work as a musician. He ended up in Arizona where he married and settled down to raise a family. He was there for about 22-23 years. One night, he died in his sleep. Following his death, his family discovered he'd never applied for citizenship and had never even renewed his visa. He was an illegal immigrant. Does the use of that phrase conjure a picture of a rather large, blond, blue-eyed guitarist with slight German accent, strumming a guitar out by his backyard swimming pool, joking with his family? Or do you immediately think of a small, dark, Latino/Latina, who speaks little or no English and wanders from job to job picking fruit and/or mowing lawns--but who has a valid visa? Such is the power of language. In my opinion, it's up to everyone who thinks to become aware of how they use language and how their listener/reader perceives and interprets that language. And to choose their words carefully with that in mind. Don't accept anyone else's words if they don't mean what it is you're saying. Any use of emotive words or phrases is logically fallacious. I've never taken a journalism class, but I imagine that's one of the first things to be taught. An emotive word or phrase is used to illicit an emotional response in the listener/reader and has nothing to do with factual information. This is what bothers me so much about many conservative magazines--the overuse of emotive words to manipulate the readers' thoughts and divert their attention away from an issue. So, read my words--read Eric's words--then decide for yourself how words affect you. Enjoy, Liz (for once I'm going to reply to the whole thing, at the end. ) I agree with 95% of this post. Except that I find the "This is what bothers me so much about many conservative magazines--the overuse of emotive words to manipulate the readers' thoughts and divert their attention away from an issue." to be hilarious, because all liberal arguments come down to emotive words. And counter to "So, read my words--read Eric's words--then decide for yourself how words affect you." Usually, my words are viewed as heartless... It is a flaw in Economics, putting number value to things people don't like putting number values too. But the number values are a way to measure. "Your Heart" is a bunch of useless nonsense... It gets us no where. Do my Conservative words contain a lot of emotive words? Do any of your arguments contain non-emotive words? (I laughed out loud when I noticed we posted, at roughly the same time, because when I started, you had not posted...) “Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his ‘basic rights’” – An old saying rewritten by a follower of Thomas Sowell "It's true that the bastards would win. But we shouldn't shut down a system just because the bastards win. A good system should be like a hamster wheel for bastards hooked up an electric generator. A well designed system is not one that prevents bastards from winning, but one that generates a lot of positive externalities from bastards trying to beat each other. And that's exactly what markets do. Markets entice bastards, they reward bastards, and the bastards love them, but as they operate they generate a lot of good that inadvertently benefits everyone else." - Carleas The Newest EconPop: Economics of Demolition Man The man, Thomas Sowell: Wealth, Poverty and Politics Sowell's Writing Eric_The_Pipe Thinker Posts: 736 Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:06 pm Location: Colorado ### Re: Reforming Democracy lizbethrose wrote:Remember my caveat--I haven't been able to corroborate the figures. Ok, so then the next question is: is it a problem anyway? So big corporations or wealthy individuals don't necessarily have complete control of election outcomes 95% of the time, but do they have some control? And is it enough to be worth worrying over? I remember the link Moreno posted several pages back on the study showing that the financial contributions of big corporations and wealthy individuals count for something like two thirds of the influence of election outcomes (but I think I'm misrepresenting those figures as my memory is fuzzy on what it said). I have no idea how those figures were arrived at, nor whether the study is at all reliable, but I do remember the study also saying that the election outcomes (or was it policy decisions) turn out to be correlated with the will of the people anyway, thus suggesting that these big corporations or wealthy individuals are at least representative of the people. Beside the question of whether or not it's a problem anyway, I want to reiterate my related question: is this one way that a free market can be its own undoing? Does the freedom of certain wealthy individuals allow them to influence politics in such a way that regulations and laws are put in place serving their interests, and thus bringing the state closer to a form of socialism? Eric_The_Pipe wrote::D I don't think so, mostly just what people focus on. I think it's attached to how "you" see "your" fellow man. Well, for the record, it's the way I see man's relation to his environment. And in the circumstances in which one man pays another for some good or services, it's typically a mutually consenting arrangement. Eric_The_Pipe wrote:How much did they out spend their opponent? Was it only by a bit? How were the numbers calculated? If they included all elections, did they account for elections where the difference was huge? Dunno. Eric_The_Pipe wrote:But it isn't just a couple of individuals. The Koch brothers donated Wikipedia wrote:William Koch, the younger brother of Charles and David, gave$1 million to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Romney. During the 2008 presidential race, David Koch donated $2,300 to Romney. Out of 992.5M that is less than 1%... Further, This, if accurate, says more was given by individual donors than the Koch brothers... Yes, but the amount of money given by the Koch brothers is huge. Even$2,300 is huge compared to what people are paying for a pack of chewing gum now-a-days (what, $1 roughly?); furthermore, they put that money towards a certain cause, serving some agenda. Nobody ever bought chewing gum to serve an agenda except maybe to momentarily quell some kind of mouth bordom. Eric_The_Pipe wrote:The comparison is to put the amounts into perspective. We often complain about the amount of money in politics... But it's nothing compared to the rest of the economy... (It's like someone bitching about the size of the local rat population... So I show them a capybara to show, it could be bigger... Perspective is important to keep our minds from worry.) Fair enough. I'll tell you what--I'll argue this: though large donations can weild some influence in politics (and not just over election outcomes), as long as there is relative balance across all donations in terms of what purposes they are put towards, we need not worry too much about one man or one organization gaining too much control over the political process. So one source donates$5M to the Democrat's campaign, but another donates roughly the same amount to the Republican's. It's another case of checks and balances, right?

Now the worry that remains is this: donations towards election campaigns is one thing, but money being spent on legislation is another. Again, I repeat the question: is there any danger, in a free market, of wealthy individuals or companies influencing, with their wealth and their freedom, politics such that legislation ends up passing laws or imposing regulations on the market to suit the agenda of those individuals or companies, thereby effectively bringing the state closer to socialism?

lizbethrose wrote:So it happened again.

lizbethrose wrote:Gib, you're the only one who can sort through the crap to arrive at the bits and pieces of knowledge that are hidden in what you read.

Really? Is the world counting on me?... I am the decontaminator!

lizbethrose wrote:I had an online friend. He was German. His family moved to Canada. When he was in his late teens, he wandered along the US West Coast, getting work as a musician. He ended up in Arizona where he married and settled down to raise a family. He was there for about 22-23 years. One night, he died in his sleep. Following his death, his family discovered he'd never applied for citizenship and had never even renewed his visa. He was an illegal immigrant.

Does the use of that phrase conjure a picture of a rather large, blond, blue-eyed guitarist with slight German accent, strumming a guitar out by his backyard swimming pool, joking with his family? Or do you immediately think of a small, dark, Latino/Latina, who speaks little or no English and wanders from job to job picking fruit and/or mowing lawns--but who has a valid visa?

the latter

Such is the power of language. In my opinion, it's up to everyone who thinks to become aware of how they use language and how their listener/reader perceives and interprets that language. And to choose their words carefully with that in mind. Don't accept anyone else's words if they don't mean what it is you're saying.

Any use of emotive words or phrases is logically fallacious. I've never taken a journalism class, but I imagine that's one of the first things to be taught. An emotive word or phrase is used to illicit an emotional response in the listener/reader and has nothing to do with factual information. This is what bothers me so much about many conservative magazines--the overuse of emotive words to manipulate the readers' thoughts and divert their attention away from an issue.

So, read my words--read Eric's words--then decide for yourself how words affect you.

A wise insight indeed, Liz.

So how do you want to tie this into the current discussion? Was this just in response to my comment about it being difficult sometimes to glean the overall point you're making, or are you intending for this to relate to the topic of money influencing politics?
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

In fact, the idea that there's more differences between groups than there is between individuals is actually the fundamental racist idea.
- Jordan Peterson

Here's a good rule of thumb for politics--attribute everything to stupidity unless you can prove malice.
- Ben Shapiro

right outta high school i tried to get a job as a proctologist but i couldn't find an opening.
- promethean75

Ahh... gib, zombie universes are so last year! I’m doing hyper dimensional mirror realities now.
- Ecmandu

gib
resident exorcist

Posts: 9010
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 10:25 pm

### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:
Eric_The_Pipe wrote::D I don't think so, mostly just what people focus on. I think it's attached to how "you" see "your" fellow man.
Well, for the record, it's the way I see man's relation to his environment. And in the circumstances in which one man pays another for some good or services, it's typically a mutually consenting arrangement.
I concur

gib wrote:
Eric_The_Pipe wrote:How much did they out spend their opponent? Was it only by a bit? How were the numbers calculated? If they included all elections, did they account for elections where the difference was huge?
Dunno.

gib wrote:
Eric_The_Pipe wrote:But it isn't just a couple of individuals. The Koch brothers donated
Wikipedia wrote:William Koch, the younger brother of Charles and David, gave $1 million to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC backing Romney. During the 2008 presidential race, David Koch donated$2,300 to Romney.
Out of 992.5M that is less than 1%... Further, This, if accurate, says more was given by individual donors than the Koch brothers...

Yes, but the amount of money given by the Koch brothers is huge. Even $2,300 is huge compared to what people are paying for a pack of chewing gum now-a-days (what,$1 roughly?); furthermore, they put that money towards a certain cause, serving some agenda. Nobody ever bought chewing gum to serve an agenda except maybe to momentarily quell some kind of mouth bordom.
The amount of money the group has is greater than the amount of money the individual has. Add that even with the increase in money, there is no substantial support that extra money means extra votes. Add in that regardless of how much any one individual donates, in the end they only get one vote, and it takes more than that to get elected. What you end up with is a lot of addition to reduce the effect of singular individuals on elections... Either that or actual proof, and numbers, are going to be needed, from liz or you (or anyone willing) to back up the claims

gib wrote:
Eric_The_Pipe wrote:The comparison is to put the amounts into perspective. We often complain about the amount of money in politics... But it's nothing compared to the rest of the economy... (It's like someone bitching about the size of the local rat population... So I show them a capybara to show, it could be bigger... Perspective is important to keep our minds from worry.)
Fair enough.

I'll tell you what--I'll argue this: though large donations can weild some influence in politics (and not just over election outcomes), as long as there is relative balance across all donations in terms of what purposes they are put towards, we need not worry too much about one man or one organization gaining too much control over the political process. So one source donates \$5M to the Democrat's campaign, but another donates roughly the same amount to the Republican's. It's another case of checks and balances, right?
Don't forget to add in all relevant donations like bias schooling (which happened to me this very day in an American Government class... It actually didn't piss me off as much as I thought it would, I've been expecting it for so long that the few minor examples so far made me question the validity of the arguments), the bias of the "media," and all the other things... Though I'll admit, that with Fox's ratings being what they are, Republicans will take a minor hit from it...

The reason money is relevant is to buy the support that multiple sources provide for "free"... It's not like they go out and actually buy votes, they spend it to inform voters, and to persuade them to vote for them... You know what would limit this more than anything else, education and understanding of the issues..

[Personal Rant] I'm sick of the middle of the road idiots, the ones claiming no ideology, to be "un-bias." Ideology is the study of ideas, like biology is the study of life. What these people don't actually have is an idea, a thought or anything resembling reason. They are idots, and the question, "But what well they do for me," shows how fucking stupid and ignorant they are. NOTHING, the government can do NOTHING for you. It can only get in your way of making your stupid fucking decisions, while the rest of us laugh at you. You want to stop "corruption" in democracy, remove the governments ability to control the markets, they have no clue what the hell they are doing. That is where the corruption comes from, from the allowance to infect the free market... Government is rotten to begin with, nothing can be done to make it not so. The only thing we can do is disinfect ourselves, and remove its influence from spreading that rot to our lives!![/Rant] (I think I might be tired.)

gib wrote:Now the worry that remains is this: donations towards election campaigns is one thing, but money being spent on legislation is another. Again, I repeat the question: is there any danger, in a free market, of wealthy individuals or companies influencing, with their wealth and their freedom, politics such that legislation ends up passing laws or imposing regulations on the market to suit the agenda of those individuals or companies, thereby effectively bringing the state closer to socialism?
Not, if the political does not have the ability to control the markets.

You (and liz) keep asking, "what can the government do?" The answer is, nothing, "the government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem..." (I know it's a quote from somewhere...)
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Eric_The_Pipe
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Eric_The_Pipe wrote:The reason money is relevant is to buy the support that multiple sources provide for "free"... It's not like they go out and actually buy votes, they spend it to inform voters, and to persuade them to vote for them... You know what would limit this more than anything else, education and understanding of the issues..

Indeed, and it's actually doable.

Eric_The_Pipe wrote:[Personal Rant] I'm sick of the middle of the road idiots, the ones claiming no ideology, to be "un-bias." Ideology is the study of ideas, like biology is the study of life. What these people don't actually have is an idea, a thought or anything resembling reason. They are idots, and the question, "But what well they do for me," shows how fucking stupid and ignorant they are. NOTHING, the government can do NOTHING for you. It can only get in your way of making your stupid fucking decisions, while the rest of us laugh at you. You want to stop "corruption" in democracy, remove the governments ability to control the markets, they have no clue what the hell they are doing. That is where the corruption comes from, from the allowance to infect the free market... Government is rotten to begin with, nothing can be done to make it not so. The only thing we can do is disinfect ourselves, and remove its influence from spreading that rot to our lives!![/Rant] (I think I might be tired.)

Um... who exactly is this addressed to? I've been trying to present myself as not-yet-aligned, which is not quite the same as middle of the road (idiot), so I gotta imagine you have me in mind. Oh well, begin counter-rant:

[rant]
What kind of whore do you think I am? You think I'll just open my mental legs and allow anyone to disseminate their right-wing propaganda into my virgin mind just because they're eager to have me as a partner? I have standards you know. I like to assess and explore what one feeds me before accepting it, especially on an issue as important as this. It would be completely irresponsible of me (and unreasonable of you to expect me) to say "really, Eric? Really? Well, if you say it's true, it must be true." It'll take years before I make any such decision to self-label as a "conservative" or "liberal", if I make such a decision at all.

In the course of thinking about this issue, I've come to the conclusion that there's three types of "non-right/left" individuals. There's the middle-of-the-road ones who are more or less, like you said, without opinion. Then there's the "independents" who form a whole ideological sphere of opinion of their own making (which we're supposed to believe is an alternative to both left and right). And then there's people like me who do have opinions (openly, admittedly) but it's a mix of some left views and some right views. For example, here, and also here, I expressed my appreciation for the right-wing view of the free market (I even lauded it calling it an "inspiration" and a "utopian" vision--but that's probably not good enough for you), but then there's other issues, like gun control, which I'm more left leaning (but still undecided as the right does have some good points worth considering on this issue... we'll get into that later though). The difference between this type of individual and the middle-of-the-road type is that this type has a whole smattering of opinions and they fall all across the spectrum, and the only sense in which he can call himself "middle" is that probably, roughly his opinions average out to somewhere close to the middle.

As for the bias thing, I never said I was unbiased, but I do believe (in my not-so-humble and biased opinion) that having opinions all over the spectrum is a sign that one has a bit more awareness of one's biases and therefore can exercise a bit of correction on them.

I made a point earlier that might have been overlooked, but I'll repeat it:

It's interesting even in myself as I started to notice a certain prejudice creeping over me as soon as I recognized myself as mildly left-leaning. I started to see, in my own mind, what are considered traditional "conservative" ideals and values being connected with "bad" and traditional "liberal" ideals and value being connected with "good". It made me realize that sometimes the process works in reverse--that we don't choose our labels based on what we think are good and bad, but we choose what he think are good and bad based on our labels.

Now, I don't know if you or Ucci are representative of the average conservative, but if you are, you're not doing your group any favors. If you are, then there must be immense pressure on conservatives, by conservatives, to toe the conservative line whether right or wrong, to believe absolutely everything that a conservative is supposed to believe simply because, well, you're a conservative and that's what conservatives believe. Shoot me if I ever cross that line (on either side).

I've definitely gotten the impression that conservatives are way more prone to the black/white, us/them, either-with-us-or-against-us mentality... so much so that standing on the dividing line, whether that be from a middle-of-the-road stance or an all-over-the-map stance (<-- that's me), seems virtually impossible and a lie. I could sing the praises of 99% of the conservative philosophy, but the minute I suggest a bit of doubt over, or dare to question, the remaining 1%... I'm really a leftist, communist, terrorist liar! It's really all-or-nothing for you guys, isn't it? It must cause so much cognitive dissonance to hear someone agree with a line of right-wing argumentation and then a few seconds later, switch gears and start arguing for the left. It just does not compute. It frustrates and angers, doesn't it? It also explains why you're so gun-happy and eager to go to war. The world is chock full of doubting Thomases--no one, who has any lingering of freedom to think, can seriously believe in absolutely 100% of any doctrine--and so the whole world must seem to you filled to the brim with enemies--those who have some lingering doubts over the conservative doctrine--the "them".

That's if you and Ucci are representative.[/rant]

Think of it this way, Eric: do you remember my analogy to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict? The one in which I compared myself to a foreigner who wanted to understand the conflict? Imagine that foreigner is a political scientist and he's there to study; not get involved, but study. He's gotta be a professional. He's got to at least try to think scientifically about the matter. While he cannot get rid of his biases, and he will undoubtedly, over the course of his studies, form personal opinions and probably take sides, he has to recognize when that happens and take whatever correctional measures he must in order to continue his scientific investigations. And it isn't that hard--separating fact from personal biased opinions should never be that hard. And in all likelihood, he's going to find some grounds on which to justify the Palestinians and some grounds on which to justify the Israelis. Doesn't mean he's going to go into either camp and argue for why the other camp is justified, which might give off the impression that he has no opinion, but there's a difference between maintaining a scientific approach and having no opinions or biases.

Actually, come to think of it, Ucci did say some things that make it seem he's not so eager to toe the conservative line just because it's conservative.

Eric_The_Pipe wrote:Not, if the political does not have the ability to control the markets.

But the laying down of laws and regulations is how the government gains the ability to control the market... unless you're saying there's been a change in the Constitution since its inception that allows the government to do this.

Eric_The_Pipe wrote:You (and liz) keep asking, "what can the government do?"

When?

From this point on, I'm going to accept that you think I'm the enemy, Eric. I try not to let my position and my values depend too much on what other people think of me, so I'll continue with my approach despite how much that may frustrate you.

We may just have to go to war.

Until then, I want to move on to the liberal influence in legislation. This can parallel the discussion about how much influence the rich can wield over politics and the law, but it is to be contrasted along the lines of wealth: you don't have to have money in order to lobby or to create social pressure for change. What you need is freedom--particularly freedom of expression. Is this always going to be an inevitable possibility in a free society? That that freedom can be used to subvert itself at the political level?

(and if you think this is an argument for the left, just stop for a minute and think about how incoherent that would be).
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gib
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:As for the bias thing, I never said I was unbiased, but I do believe (in my not-so-humble and biased opinion) that having opinions all over the spectrum is a sign that one has a bit more awareness of one's biases and therefore can exercise a bit of correction on them.

That hasn't been my experience. I think that left/right political positions shake out the way they do because of underlying themes they have in common. A person who has a couple extreme left views, a couple extreme right views, and a couple views in the middle is far more likely to be somebody who's just going from the gut and not really thinking things through, than they are to be somebody who has this rock solid ideology that somehow makes views that seem to conflict to everybody else cohere.

I've definitely gotten the impression that conservatives are way more prone to the black/white, us/them, either-with-us-or-against-us mentality... so much so that standing on the dividing line, whether that be from a middle-of-the-road stance or an all-over-the-map stance (<-- that's me), seems virtually impossible and a lie.

Both sides are into that. As with so many things though, the conservatives are the ones that actually call it like it is. Here's the situation- I'm saying conservativism is true and liberalism is bullshit. So yeah, I'm the black/white guy. Lizbeth is saying partisanship is overrated, she tries to see things from a rational side and not an ideological side, and that all parties/views have their merits and flaws. And WHILE she says this, she only cites liberal sources, only defends liberal positions, only criticizes conservative organizations, and makes flagrantly propagandist statements like 'Margaret Sanger wasn't a eugenicist, and people who say otherwise are dangerous'.
I could do that. I could pay lip service to 'crossing the aisles' and 'nonpartisanship' and all those words that make us feel so smart and objective while privately knowing that almost every single position I have would be considered conservative and almost every single politician I respect has been a conservative. I could say "Here's some information you should read", giving you a party-line conservative source, and then say "What do you mean!?" when you criticize it's objectivity. But why is that something to hold in esteem?

And in all likelihood, he's going to find some grounds on which to justify the Palestinians and some grounds on which to justify the Israelis.

Why? We've talked about this before- your bias seems to be that you think the correct answer in any controversy is some position between both halves of the controversy. Now, when it comes to Israel and Palestine, it just so happens that you're right- both sides have points in their favor and points against them. But surely you see that this presumption of consensus can cause problems too. It reminds me of how in WWII Ghandi was insistent on telling both sides to stop fighting without condemning one over the other. It sounds so damned sophisticated as long as you don't know anything about anything.

Actually, come to think of it, Ucci did say some things that make it seem he's not so eager to toe the conservative line just because it's conservative.

That's because there is no conservative line other than a rejection of Marxism. I'm too religious and too skeptical of laissez-faire to be a libertarian, two hawkish to be a paleoconservative and too skeptical of big buisiness to be a neoconservative. And yet all my views are conservative views in a sense- even when I defend environmentalism or criticize the death penalty, those positions aren't based on class struggle or reductive materialism, so they aren't really part of a lefty world view. I disagree with Eric about economic stuff, and he disagrees with me about social issues.

Until then, I want to move on to the liberal influence in legislation. This can parallel the discussion about how much influence the rich can wield over politics and the law, but it is to be contrasted along the lines of wealth: you don't have to have money in order to lobby or to create social pressure for change. What you need is freedom--particularly freedom of expression. Is this always going to be an inevitable possibility in a free society? That that freedom can be used to subvert itself at the political level?

Freedom can certainly be used to subvert itself in a democracy. I suppose it's possible to have a constitutional republic like the U.S. in which any real way the public has of subverting their own freedom is defined as illegal. But even then the protections would only be as strong as the people's willingness to follow the law, and forthwrightness in interpreting it. As far as the liberal influence in legislation, I have no problem with that- the legislature is the very thing in which we are supposed to have influence. The conservatives and liberals should have influence in Congress proportionate to their representation in the populace.

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Uccisore
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Uccisore wrote:That hasn't been my experience. I think that left/right political positions shake out the way they do because of underlying themes they have in common. A person who has a couple extreme left views, a couple extreme right views, and a couple views in the middle is far more likely to be somebody who's just going from the gut and not really thinking things through, than they are to be somebody who has this rock solid ideology that somehow makes views that seem to conflict to everybody else cohere.

...

Why? We've talked about this before- your bias seems to be that you think the correct answer in any controversy is some position between both halves of the controversy. Now, when it comes to Israel and Palestine, it just so happens that you're right- both sides have points in their favor and points against them. But surely you see that this presumption of consensus can cause problems too. It reminds me of how in WWII Ghandi was insistent on telling both sides to stop fighting without condemning one over the other. It sounds so damned sophisticated as long as you don't know anything about anything.

I'm going to answer both of these at the same time because I think they touch on each other.

Thinking about this last night, I came up with something that I hope puts this into perspective. I prioritized my ideological allegiances as follows:

1) reality (science/objectivity)
2) freedom (conservatism)
3) socialism (liberalism)

That's the order of my priorities. I think overall I'm more enamoured by the conservative view than the liberal view (remember back when I declared myself to be mildly left-leaning? Well, there's been a change since then. ). But topping my list is my commitment to reality itself, and for that, I need to learn from reality, not cling to some ideology I pledged an oath to some time in the past, and I know no better way of learning from reality than to withhold judgement until I can gather enough solid scientific evidence of what reality holds in store. This is why I said to Eric (and I think he agreed) that any move towards the conservative social system must strictly follow only after scientific evidence has been amassed proving that it works (say by comparing more socialized states to less socialized states).

What this means, however, is that I hold no expectations that the right is totally correct in all its views nor that the left is totally correct, but that the science will bear out, in all probability, that on some points the right is correct but on other points the left is correct (that's my expectation--though you could be right that, in this particular case, it will so happen to turn out that the right is overwhelmingly correct on 99% of the issues--but that hasn't been confirmed in my mind yet). In other words, I expect to be somewhat dispersed across the spectrum, and the reason why I think (at least in my case) that this is not a matter of gut feeling is that, by sticking with a scientific/objective attitude in regards to these things, I have something with which to check my biases and prejudices--that is to say, if I allow the evidence to guide where I stand, then I have a "correctional tool" with which to adjust my biases.

Compare that with someone who takes a certain position because "well, I'm a conservative/liberal and that's what conservatives/liberals are supposed to believe, so I'm going to believe it." <-- That is a clear example of bias in my opinion.

I should probably also point out the difference between stating where I stand and taking a stance. They're different. When I say that I take various positions all over the spectrum, I am only stating where I currently stand, but that doesn't mean I'm inflexible or that a refuse to be persuaded. Taking a stance, on the other hand, is more than just stating where you stand, but it is to defend where you stand and obstinately resist being persuaded. The latter, to me, is a clear indication of a bias (it means you've got some emotional investment in where you stand, something to lose if you're wrong), whereas the former is simply a statement of fact about your current point of view (it doesn't mean you're emotionally tied to it and therefore it may not cloud your judgement as easily when thinking about alternative views).

Uccisore wrote:Both sides are into that. As with so many things though, the conservatives are the ones that actually call it like it is. Here's the situation- I'm saying conservativism is true and liberalism is bullshit. So yeah, I'm the black/white guy. Lizbeth is saying partisanship is overrated, she tries to see things from a rational side and not an ideological side, and that all parties/views have their merits and flaws. And WHILE she says this, she only cites liberal sources, only defends liberal positions, only criticizes conservative organizations, and makes flagrantly propagandist statements like 'Margaret Sanger wasn't a eugenicist, and people who say otherwise are dangerous'.
I could do that. I could pay lip service to 'crossing the aisles' and 'nonpartisanship' and all those words that make us feel so smart and objective while privately knowing that almost every single position I have would be considered conservative and almost every single politician I respect has been a conservative. I could say "Here's some information you should read", giving you a party-line conservative source, and then say "What do you mean!?" when you criticize it's objectivity. But why is that something to hold in esteem?

I think what we're talking about here is cognitive dissonance. There comes a point at which one finds one's self resisting the temptation to create the us/them boundary between two groups in their mind because of the values and principles of egalitarianism and humanism that they've committed themselves to. However, I think such values and principles also prevent the temptation to arise in the first place. I think liberals, with their tendency to embrace egalitarianism and humanism, are less likely to see an us/them divide most of the time, and are therefore more prone to assume they can be open and cooperative with other groups. But then, when they do notice differences between groups--particularly themselves and others who don't share their opinions and attitudes--that's when they start resisting (sometimes to the point of going into denial) and when your point becomes valid.

In other words, our views make a difference. Viewing everyone as equals (or as humans first) will foster a more "globalized" perspective on people--i.e. that there is only an "us", no "them"--though such views can only go so far before reality hits us with its occasional rude awakenings.

So for the conservative point of view, I speculate that it's not so much the presence of some particular principle or value that makes them more prone to draw the us/them divide, but a lack of (or less emphasis on) egalitarianism and humanism. I also considered that maybe it has to do with the higher focus on freedom as a virtue, and through that the worry over those who would take away one's freedom, thereby creating a mentality of suspicion and distrust for others, but I think that point probably wouldn't pan out in the wash as much.

Now, in case you're going to say that the Marxist point of view more or less hinges on a divide between "us" and "them"--that is, the bourgeois and the proletariate--I'll spare you the trouble and agree with you now. Yes, the core of Marxism certainly would make you more prone to see this divide--and it's a very particular divide, so it wouldn't just be a general tendency to see divisions between people--but I guess when it comes to liberals in general--and now we're talking about religious liberals--it depends on which aspect of the overall doctrine one liberal or another focuses on--if he focuses mainly on egalitarianism/humanism or if he focuses on class struggles. The point is to consider what follows rationally from the logical structure of the person's beliefs and values.

Uccisore wrote:That's because there is no conservative line other than a rejection of Marxism.

If that's the pivotal principle around which the conservative ideology spins, then fine, but the distinction I'm drawing here isn't about the content or structure of the ideology, but of people's psychology. If the position you take on this or that issue or event or policy or whatever hinges on the above principle, then you're thinking rationally and I wouldn't say you've crossed that psychological line, but if it hinges on your identity as a conservative, then you've crossed the line. This happens with a lot of people on a whole range of belief systems. People will defend religious beliefs without even knowing the logical structure of those beliefs. They'll say homosexuality is a sin because, well, I was raised Christian, my family is Christian, my community is Christian, and dammit, that's what Christians believe. The test, for me, is to see how readily they are willing to disagree with at least something in the traditional form of their ideology. There's usually something in an ideology on which even adherents can bring themselves to disagree if their minds are free to think for themselves.

BTW, I'm a little confused by your quote above. As I understand it, conservatism is the view that government should not interfere in the market or in people's lives (though it may still serve a function). Marxism is a form of government intervention but so is fascism and monarchy. Would you consider all of these to be variants of Marxism, or should we say that conservatism is at least the rejection of Marxism but also other forms of government intervention.

Uccisore wrote:As far as the liberal influence in legislation, I have no problem with that- the legislature is the very thing in which we are supposed to have influence.

Ok, now is this counter to the conventional conservative doctrine? Because as I understand it, conservatives want the government out of people's lives, and that includes making laws to control people's lives and the market--unless you're thinking of legislature as a body comprised of the people and not an extension of the government.

Also, I think if Eric were to pop in here, he'd say it depends very much on whether we're talking about federal laws, state laws, municipal laws, etc. The farther removed the law makers from the local communities, the worse they are at making decisions on what's actually good for the people.
My thoughts | My art | My music | My poetry

In fact, the idea that there's more differences between groups than there is between individuals is actually the fundamental racist idea.
- Jordan Peterson

Here's a good rule of thumb for politics--attribute everything to stupidity unless you can prove malice.
- Ben Shapiro

right outta high school i tried to get a job as a proctologist but i couldn't find an opening.
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gib
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote: But topping my list is my commitment to reality itself, and for that, I need to learn from reality, not cling to some ideology I pledged an oath to some time in the past, and I know no better way of learning from reality than to withhold judgement until I can gather enough solid scientific evidence of what reality holds in store. This is why I said to Eric (and I think he agreed) that any move towards the conservative social system must strictly follow only after scientific evidence has been amassed proving that it works (say by comparing more socialized states to less socialized states).

I don't disagree with any of that.

Compare that with someone who takes a certain position because "well, I'm a conservative/liberal and that's what conservatives/liberals are supposed to believe, so I'm going to believe it." <-- That is a clear example of bias in my opinion.

Right, and my only point is that "The truth of the matter is inevitably going to be somewhere between" is also a clear example of bias, depending on how it's arrived at. I also think that the kind of bias you describe above can be logical. Imagine you think that Marxism is super clever and everything about him that you've taken the time to study shows that it is correct. Imagine further that you are presented with some facet of Marxism you haven't previously considered. Taking the stance "Well, I'm going to take the Marxist position because it has been borne out as correct in so many other situations" is certainly a bias, but could be a justified one.

I should probably also point out the difference between stating where I stand and taking a stance. They're different. When I say that I take various positions all over the spectrum, I am only stating where I currently stand, but that doesn't mean I'm inflexible or that a refuse to be persuaded. Taking a stance, on the other hand, is more than just stating where you stand, but it is to defend where you stand and obstinately resist being persuaded.

I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that either. Obviously people should be open to changing their minds in light of evidence and so on, sure... but the idea that we should be open to everything and not resist persuasion presumes we live in a world where everybody trying to convince us of things are being above board in their methods, and have our best interests (or at least the truth) at heart. I think there are situations where, due to life experience, it would be wise for a person to resist what seems to be compelling evidence/argument out of pure obstinance, if they don't trust the overall situation in which it is being presented to them.

Uccisore wrote: However, I think such values and principles also prevent the temptation to arise in the first place. I think liberals, with their tendency to embrace egalitarianism and humanism, are less likely to see an us/them divide most of the time, and are therefore more prone to assume they can be open and cooperative with other groups.

This seems very counter-intuitive to me. You equated liberalism to socialism earlier in your post, so running with that theme, the entire point of socalism is to break down history and justice into a comparison of in groups and out groups, classes, and so on. That is precisely why they care concerned with egalitarianism- is because they have a list of groups in mind that they are comparing to see if they are equal or not. It makes no sense to me that such a ideology would lead a person to being less likely to notice an us/them divide.
What I think, instead, is that because liberals value egalitarianism and diversity, they feel a moral obligation to act as though they are free from ideological constraints and viewing everything with an unbiased perspective. "I'm a Catholic, and that's what Catholicism teaches, so therefore that's what I think" is an odious attitude to a liberal. Conservatives tend not to condemn each other for following a tradition with a lack of introspection.

So for the conservative point of view, I speculate that it's not so much the presence of some particular principle or value that makes them more prone to draw the us/them divide, but a lack of (or less emphasis on) egalitarianism and humanism.

Yeah, I agree with that much.

--it depends on which aspect of the overall doctrine one liberal or another focuses on--if he focuses mainly on egalitarianism/humanism or if he focuses on class struggles.

I'm not seeing how those are different. Egalitarianism is the desired outcome of class struggle. The classes are struggling because there is a lack of equality.

. The test, for me, is to see how readily they are willing to disagree with at least something in the traditional form of their ideology. There's usually something in an ideology on which even adherents can bring themselves to disagree if their minds are free to think for themselves.

That resonates with me, but I see an irrationality in it. I see myself making a laundry list of conservative viewpoints and finding a 'token' one to disgaree with so I can say "See? See!? I've thought this all through!" My token view is the death penalty. If I'm not feeling open-minded enough, I'll remind myself that I'm against the death penalty and parade that around some to assure myself that I'm my own man and so on.
Not a rational process.

Marxism is a form of government intervention but so is fascism and monarchy. Would you consider all of these to be variants of Marxism, or should we say that conservatism is at least the rejection of Marxism but also other forms of government intervention.

It's say that resisting all forms of Government intervention in the markets is libertarianism, not conservatism, and resisting that intervention these days is something they have in common because these days that intervention is coming from Marxist. Edmund Burke is basically the father of conservatism, and he wasn't against monarchy as such.

Uccisore wrote:Ok, now is this counter to the conventional conservative doctrine? Because as I understand it, conservatives want the government out of people's lives, and that includes making laws to control people's lives and the market--unless you're thinking of legislature as a body comprised of the people and not an extension of the government.

I want the government out of people's lives, and voicing that desire through a representative Government is the only way it's going to happen. I'm talking about the people's (including liberal peoples) influence over Congress, not the other way around. Political ideologues should have tons of influence over Congress, because they are us.

Also, I think if Eric were to pop in here, he'd say it depends very much on whether we're talking about federal laws, state laws, municipal laws, etc. The farther removed the law makers from the local communities, the worse they are at making decisions on what's actually good for the people.

Yeah, I would agree with that. It's straight from de Tocqueville.

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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Uccisore wrote:Right, and my only point is that "The truth of the matter is inevitably going to be somewhere between" is also a clear example of bias...

Sure. If it can be said that I come close to this, it would be, at best, a "preliminary best guess"--that is to say, given my lack of familiarity and epistemic limits on the subject, I think the most rational position to take would be to assume, as a first guess, that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but only when coupled with the expectation that that assumption is likely to change as one gets more familiar with the subject matter. How much it changes, and in what direction, is less predictable as far as I'm concerned.

Uccisore wrote:I also think that the kind of bias you describe above can be logical. Imagine you think that Marxism is super clever and everything about him that you've taken the time to study shows that it is correct. Imagine further that you are presented with some facet of Marxism you haven't previously considered. Taking the stance "Well, I'm going to take the Marxist position because it has been borne out as correct in so many other situations" is certainly a bias, but could be a justified one.

I can see that. It would be like taking a stance on the next affirmative action proposal knowing full well that all such moves on the part of the government in past have been disasters. I wouldn't expect one to be open minded and try it out before drawing any conclusions on whether or not it's a good idea, as if the probability of it working was 50/50. I'd agree that it's rational to stand against it.

My only precautionary note is to always understand your reasons for taking the stances that you take--to "know thyself"--and particularly to watch out for becoming defense because you feel your personal identity is being attacked when confronted with criticisms to your ideology.

Uccisore wrote:I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that either. Obviously people should be open to changing their minds in light of evidence and so on, sure... but the idea that we should be open to everything and not resist persuasion presumes we live in a world where everybody trying to convince us of things are being above board in their methods, and have our best interests (or at least the truth) at heart. I think there are situations where, due to life experience, it would be wise for a person to resist what seems to be compelling evidence/argument out of pure obstinance, if they don't trust the overall situation in which it is being presented to them.

I can see that too. I was just clarifying where I was coming from. I personally am trying to be flexible with my views while at the same time being honest and forthcoming with where I'm starting from, but to each his own.

Uccisore wrote:This seems very counter-intuitive to me. You equated liberalism to socialism earlier in your post, so running with that theme, the entire point of socalism is to break down history and justice into a comparison of in groups and out groups, classes, and so on. That is precisely why they care concerned with egalitarianism- is because they have a list of groups in mind that they are comparing to see if they are equal or not. It makes no sense to me that such a ideology would lead a person to being less likely to notice an us/them divide.
What I think, instead, is that because liberals value egalitarianism and diversity, they feel a moral obligation to act as though they are free from ideological constraints and viewing everything with an unbiased perspective. "I'm a Catholic, and that's what Catholicism teaches, so therefore that's what I think" is an odious attitude to a liberal. Conservatives tend not to condemn each other for following a tradition with a lack of introspection.

...

I'm not seeing how those are different. Egalitarianism is the desired outcome of class struggle. The classes are struggling because there is a lack of equality.

I might be misusing the term "egalitarianism"--the way you're using it sounds like it's a prescription or a moral "ought"--everyone ought to be made equal--but I understand it to mean that everyone is equal, and usually with respect to a certain aspect or quality (I personally am egalitarian in that I think everyone is equally human). But if you mean something like: everyone ought to have equal wealth, or equal status, or equal treatment, or something along those lines, I can see that being tied more closely to Marxism (mind you, I can also see this usage of the term being connected with my usage: if everyone is equally human, one might take a step further and say everyone is equally deserving, and I think most liberals do take this extra step but not without certain qualification--for example, everyone is equally deserving of consideration of a job opening... so long as they have sufficient experience, education, good fit, etc.).

This coupled with the fact that I'm thinking mainly of lay liberals--people like UPF or Liz--as opposed to the "religious" liberals we talked about earlier--the ones who have a thorough understanding of the links between liberalism and Marxism.

Uccisore wrote:That resonates with me, but I see an irrationality in it. I see myself making a laundry list of conservative viewpoints and finding a 'token' one to disgaree with so I can say "See? See!? I've thought this all through!" My token view is the death penalty. If I'm not feeling open-minded enough, I'll remind myself that I'm against the death penalty and parade that around some to assure myself that I'm my own man and so on.
Not a rational process.

No, not a rational process, but I'm not pushing this test as an obligation that others are required to meet, just a personal expectation of what one who is thinking for himself is likely to argue. Not saying that anyone who fails this test is indubitably a drone in the "borg collective", but the person does become suspect in my mind.

Uccisore wrote:It's say that resisting all forms of Government intervention in the markets is libertarianism, not conservatism, and resisting that intervention these days is something they have in common because these days that intervention is coming from Marxist. Edmund Burke is basically the father of conservatism, and he wasn't against monarchy as such.

Would it be fair to say that conservatism is the view that the government should not interfere in order to fix social injustices--because that's roughly what I think Marxism aims to do.

Uccisore wrote:I want the government out of people's lives, and voicing that desire through a representative Government is the only way it's going to happen. I'm talking about the people's (including liberal peoples) influence over Congress, not the other way around. Political ideologues should have tons of influence over Congress, because they are us.

Would you say, then, that while the legislature is an important part of government, you don't like how it is misused by many liberals insofar as they use it to propose bills that only increase the extent to which the government has a hand in the market and people's lives?

In a sense then, the legislature is like tool--neither good nor bad--and it depends on how people use it that determines whether it is harmful or helpful to the people. I see this as a real dilemma--I'm inclined to agree with you and Eric that getting the government out of people's lives and the economy is the solution to the problem of political corruption, but there doesn't seem to be a methodological way of making that happen--to enforce a law that says legislation must only be used to limit the government's power, to serve the conservative agenda, would not only be a self-negating law as it would effectively give the government power to intrude into people's lives, but it would limit the freedoms of liberals or anyone wishing to use legislation for any other purpose. In order to preserve the integrity, or the "purity", of the conservative philosophy, you must allow people to exercise their freedom as they see fit, but that means allowing liberals to use legislation to push for their affirmative action plans and socialist agendas. The only real viable battle front on which conservatives can fight liberals would seem to be good ol' fashion debate and argumentation, to attempt to persuade society towards the conservative point of view through things like media, science, education, philosophy, etc. The uncertainty of this is "discomforting" to say the least.
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:Sure. If it can be said that I come close to this, it would be, at best, a "preliminary best guess"--that is to say, given my lack of familiarity and epistemic limits on the subject, I think the most rational position to take would be to assume, as a first guess, that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but only when coupled with the expectation that that assumption is likely to change as one gets more familiar with the subject matter. How much it changes, and in what direction, is less predictable as far as I'm concerned.

Regardless, you have to come to some new investagtion with some preconceptions. It's good to know what they are, and that that's what they are.

My only precautionary note is to always understand your reasons for taking the stances that you take--to "know thyself"--and particularly to watch out for becoming defense because you feel your personal identity is being attacked when confronted with criticisms to your ideology.

Yeah, I can go along with that.

I might be misusing the term "egalitarianism"--the way you're using it sounds like it's a prescription or a moral "ought"--everyone ought to be made equal--but I understand it to mean that everyone is equal, and usually with respect to a certain aspect or quality (I personally am egalitarian in that I think everyone is equally human).

Ah. If that's what you mean, it's not a quality that seperates conservatives from liberals, as far as I can tell.

No, not a rational process, but I'm not pushing this test as an obligation that others are required to meet, just a personal expectation of what one who is thinking for himself is likely to argue. Not saying that anyone who fails this test is indubitably a drone in the "borg collective", but the person does become suspect in my mind.

I guess I'm the other way around- if I meet somebody who's beliefs are too eclectic; some Marxist stuff, some libertarian stuff, some Catholic stuff, some Muslim stuff; my gut reaction is that they are believing according to personal taste and favorite sound-bytes without regard for a coherent system.

Would it be fair to say that conservatism is the view that the government should not interfere in order to fix social injustices--because that's roughly what I think Marxism aims to do.

Well, libertarians deny that there is any such thing as social justice; they maintain that all justice is individual. A conservative could believe in the government being used to maintain social justice; maybe they see restrictions on abortion as a sort of social justice, for example. I think conservatives and libertarians would agree that the State should not be trying to fix 'economic injustice', and both would probably agree there is no such thing.
Conservatism is as root the view that as much as possible should he handled by the community instead of the State, and that the information required to solve major problems is revealed through tradition instead of through revolution.

Would you say, then, that while the legislature is an important part of government, you don't like how it is misused by many liberals insofar as they use it to propose bills that only increase the extent to which the government has a hand in the market and people's lives?

I don't like may of the bills that liberals propose for just the reason you say, but I wouldn't constitute that as misuse. If a liberal wants to propose a bill that I think is a hideously bad idea in order for Congress to debate and vote on it, that is precisely the correct use of the legislature. There may be bills a leftist proposes to the federal legislature that I think should be a state matter, but even then that's just a reason to vote the bill down, not an indication that the legislature has been 'misused'.
This phenomonen you are discribing- where if a person with a contrary political opinion tries to use the political system, it must be characterized as 'misuse' or 'abuse' somehow- this is what liberals do, not conservatives. I have no problem with liberals participating in the political system, I simply think they are incorrect about most things.

I'm inclined to agree with you and Eric that getting the government out of people's lives and the economy is the solution to the problem of political corruption, but there doesn't seem to be a methodological way of making that happen-

Well of course their isn't, not should their be, because we live in a free society where people can vote to ruin their own lives if they are sufficiently ignorant and determined. All you can do is educate people, expose the shifty manipulators to the light of day so as many folks as possible know what's really going on, and pray. Again, it is the left that will pass any law, restrict any behavior, reform any Constitution to bring about their utopia. It is a part of being an adult conservative to accept that being right doesn't mean being entitled to have your way.

There is a concept in conservatism called "The tragic view of human nature". You can compare it to the Fall in Genesis. Briefly, it is this: There is no utopia, there is nothing that a man can do that another man can't fuck up, we are not all basically good at heart, the good guys will not always win, nor should they even always win. So not only is it a given that some people will will fuck their lives up or ruin other people's lives, but in any kind of good society, this has to be permitted.

In order to preserve the integrity, or the "purity", of the conservative philosophy, you must allow people to exercise their freedom as they see fit, but that means allowing liberals to use legislation to push for their affirmative action plans and socialist agendas.

Yes, and you can extent this beyond legislature to how the left and the right view each other. So for example, John Stewart of The Daily Show is viewed by conservatives as that foolish man who's ideas should be disagreed with. Rush Limbaugh is viewed by liberals as a problem that needs fixing; they are always trying to find away not just to push their answers to his questions, but to ensure that he isn't allowed to present his ideas at all. The idea that broadcast laws should be adjusted such that liberals don't get to have a say in the media is completely alien to a conservative way of thinking. See sexism, racism, see homophobia, see this new transphobia word; attempts by the left to present ideas they disagree with as not just incorrect, but as social ills that measures need to be taken to stamp out. That's why your rant a few days ago about how conservatives get all fearful when they hear another opinion and demand absolute adherence to their doctrines made me chuckle. A conversation with a liberal is like walking through a minefield- it's only a matter of time before you say something that they have decided is a form of microaggression or is coming from a perspective of privilege, and then the conversation is over because you're Skeletor to them.

The only real viable battle front on which conservatives can fight liberals would seem to be good ol' fashion debate and argumentation,

That would be the libertarian view. Conservatives would add the mechanisms of civil society to that list.

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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Uccisore wrote:Regardless, you have to come to some new investagtion with some preconceptions. It's good to know what they are, and that that's what they are.

Any preconceptions I may have take the status "up for questioning" in my mind--which is what allows me to be flexible. There's very little I consider to be firm knowledge.

Uccisore wrote:I guess I'm the other way around- if I meet somebody who's beliefs are too eclectic; some Marxist stuff, some libertarian stuff, some Catholic stuff, some Muslim stuff; my gut reaction is that they are believing according to personal taste and favorite sound-bytes without regard for a coherent system.

Well, that's something worth thinking about.

Uccisore wrote:Well, libertarians deny that there is any such thing as social justice; they maintain that all justice is individual. A conservative could believe in the government being used to maintain social justice; maybe they see restrictions on abortion as a sort of social justice, for example. I think conservatives and libertarians would agree that the State should not be trying to fix 'economic injustice', and both would probably agree there is no such thing.

Short of theft, I agree.

Uccisore wrote:Conservatism is as root the view that as much as possible should he handled by the community instead of the State, and that the information required to solve major problems is revealed through tradition instead of through revolution.

gib wrote:Would you say, then, that while the legislature is an important part of government, you don't like how it is misused by many liberals insofar as they use it to propose bills that only increase the extent to which the government has a hand in the market and people's lives?

I don't like may of the bills that liberals propose for just the reason you say, but I wouldn't constitute that as misuse. If a liberal wants to propose a bill that I think is a hideously bad idea in order for Congress to debate and vote on it, that is precisely the correct use of the legislature. There may be bills a leftist proposes to the federal legislature that I think should be a state matter, but even then that's just a reason to vote the bill down, not an indication that the legislature has been 'misused'.
This phenomonen you are discribing- where if a person with a contrary political opinion tries to use the political system, it must be characterized as 'misuse' or 'abuse' somehow- this is what liberals do, not conservatives. I have no problem with liberals participating in the political system, I simply think they are incorrect about most things.

gib wrote:I'm inclined to agree with you and Eric that getting the government out of people's lives and the economy is the solution to the problem of political corruption, but there doesn't seem to be a methodological way of making that happen-

Well of course their isn't, not should their be, because we live in a free society where people can vote to ruin their own lives if they are sufficiently ignorant and determined. All you can do is educate people, expose the shifty manipulators to the light of day so as many folks as possible know what's really going on, and pray. Again, it is the left that will pass any law, restrict any behavior, reform any Constitution to bring about their utopia. It is a part of being an adult conservative to accept that being right doesn't mean being entitled to have your way.

There is a concept in conservatism called "The tragic view of human nature". You can compare it to the Fall in Genesis. Briefly, it is this: There is no utopia, there is nothing that a man can do that another man can't fuck up, we are not all basically good at heart, the good guys will not always win, nor should they even always win. So not only is it a given that some people will will fuck their lives up or ruin other people's lives, but in any kind of good society, this has to be permitted.

gib wrote:In order to preserve the integrity, or the "purity", of the conservative philosophy, you must allow people to exercise their freedom as they see fit, but that means allowing liberals to use legislation to push for their affirmative action plans and socialist agendas.

Yes, and you can extent this beyond legislature to how the left and the right view each other. So for example, John Stewart of The Daily Show is viewed by conservatives as that foolish man who's ideas should be disagreed with. Rush Limbaugh is viewed by liberals as a problem that needs fixing; they are always trying to find away not just to push their answers to his questions, but to ensure that he isn't allowed to present his ideas at all. The idea that broadcast laws should be adjusted such that liberals don't get to have a say in the media is completely alien to a conservative way of thinking. See sexism, racism, see homophobia, see this new transphobia word; attempts by the left to present ideas they disagree with as not just incorrect, but as social ills that measures need to be taken to stamp out. That's why your rant a few days ago about how conservatives get all fearful when they hear another opinion and demand absolute adherence to their doctrines made me chuckle. A conversation with a liberal is like walking through a minefield- it's only a matter of time before you say something that they have decided is a form of microaggression or is coming from a perspective of privilege, and then the conversation is over because you're Skeletor to them.

Ok, I think I'm started to see your point. I'm not really resistant to it, it's just... unexpected. It kind of undermines the whole point of this thread. I started this thread thinking that the problem of political corruption could be "fixed"--that if enough clever people put their heads together, we could come up with something systematic that would be an improvement on the current political system most Western countries have. I was very impressed by the social system envisioned by Eric and I took it (still do) that it represents more or less what most conservatives want to establish. That being said, I called it the "solution" to the problem of political corruption. But what that meant, for me and my aspiration to come up with an improved political system, was that we need to find a way to prevent the government from having more of a reach in the economy and people's lives than the original Constitution allows, a way to ensure that it sticks to what the original Constitution outlines as its proper function in society. So I started to question whether the right of liberals to use the legislature to do just the opposite--to give the government more power in the economy and people's lives--was a problem needing to be fixed. I was serious when I said this was a dilemma--meaning that I don't think the solution would simply be to bar them from the legislature or to prevent anyone from using the legislature to get bills passed to have the effect of giving the government more power in the economy and people's lives.

But you think that conservatives trying their best to persuade the people (including liberals) of their views, or to use the legislature to lessen the government's power over the economy and people's lives (or strengthen it insofar as that serves the purpose of the original Constitution?), is the best approach? That we don't need a systematic change in how the political process works?

But what happens if liberals manage to turn the state into an all out socialist country, or a communist one? Is this simply a possibility we have to live with?

Uccisore wrote:That would be the libertarian view. Conservatives would add the mechanisms of civil society to that list.

What's meant by "civil society"?
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

gib wrote:Any preconceptions I may have take the status "up for questioning" in my mind--which is what allows me to be flexible. There's very little I consider to be firm knowledge.

Well, prejudices are preconceptions too- types of people or sources you are more likely to trust than others, a preference for statistics over anecdotes, or arguments over statistics, etc.

Uccisore wrote:Short of theft, I agree.

Yeah, you could call theft economic injustice as long as you're understanding it as a subject of personal justice and not social justice- in other words, all questions of justice come down to particular people's interactions with other particular people's, not the status of one 'class' with respect to another. Or at least, this is the conservative/liberterian line vs. what a liberal would say.

Ok, I think I'm started to see your point. I'm not really resistant to it, it's just... unexpected.
It kind of undermines the whole point of this thread. I started this thread thinking that the problem of political corruption could be "fixed"--that if enough clever people put their heads together, we could come up with something systematic that would be an improvement on the current political system most Western countries have.

Yeah, I guess I am undermining it because of a few central things: I'm not sure you and I have the same definition of corruption. Under my understanding of corruption, the U.S. and Canada just don't suffer from nearly as much of it as many other countries do, and, while I do think corruption is something that can and should be fixed when it is encountered, the examples of 'corruption' I saw when I came to this thread seemed to be "special interest groups I don't like getting their way some of the time", which is not corruption to me. That's what started the whole left vs. right thing, is when I saw things like "Sometimes people agree with the NRA" being cited as corruption.

I was very impressed by the social system envisioned by Eric and I took it (still do) that it represents more or less what most conservatives want to establish.

I haven't read much of what Eric has said in the thread, or indeed, much of anything that directed to me. I have this irritating habit of skimming/ignoring things I suspect I will agree with. Adversarial of me, I suppose.

But what that meant, for me and my aspiration to come up with an improved political system, was that we need to find a way to prevent the government from having more of a reach in the economy and people's lives than the original Constitution allows, a way to ensure that it sticks to what the original Constitution outlines as its proper function in society.

I agree with the spirit of that, but any solution has to take into account that the founders didn't envision a world in which a person in Maine could buy stuff from a person in California, and have it in their posession the next day. Or a world in which a man could speak, and have people all over the planet hear his words in the moment he is saying them. There are a lot of things that bind us together, and create opportunities for us to affect each other economically, that the Government might have to have something to say about. But I am speaking out of my element there.

So I started to question whether the right of liberals to use the legislature to do just the opposite--to give the government more power in the economy and people's lives--was a problem needing to be fixed.

It is a problem to be fixed in the sense that people need to be educated enough that their attempts are shot down through the vote most of the time. But it is not a problem to be fixed in that the legal system has to be adjusted in some way to keep their ideas from being able to participate, in my assessment.

But you think that conservatives trying their best to persuade the people (including liberals) of their views, or to use the legislature to lessen the government's power over the economy and people's lives (or strengthen it insofar as that serves the purpose of the original Constitution?), is the best approach? That we don't need a systematic change in how the political process works?

It is the best approach because it is the only just approach as far as I am aware. It may or may not work. Tragic view of human nature. Certainly there are any number of systematic reforms that would be more effective in keeping progressive/marxist changes out of politics than mere education- but I can't think of any that wouldn't also be unjust. In super hero parlance, it would make us no different from them.

But what happens if liberals manage to turn the state into an all out socialist country, or a communist one? Is this simply a possibility we have to live with?

I do. I'm old enough to have already seen the liberals turn the state into a place that hates God, thinks perversion is normal, and that a man is a woman simply if he decides he is. This, right now, is already the once-hard-to-imagine dystopia in which the bad guys won and ruined everything. And still I say, education and shining light on the people being sneaky is the only just way to procede.

What's meant by "civil society"?

The natural forces in society that people form without need for the State to enforce them with violence. So for example, people are pressured to do/not do things because of how their families will react. Or how their Church will react. Or how their neighbors will react. We shun people that misbehave- whether that's the drunk, the philanderer, the pervert, or the greedy buisinessman. We pass our beliefs onto future generations, and teach newcomers to our society what is expected of them in any number of ways. Francis Bacon gives an excellent example of this in The New Atlantis. It's been some time, but to paraphrase, a bunch of people shipwreck on a previously unknown island populated by a strange, advanced society. They are kept waiting in a hotel of sorts for a while, and their captain decides that they ought to behave like perfectly good Christians on the assumption that they are being monitored, and that how they behave will influence what the natives ultimately decide to do with them. So they behave themselves better than they did while on the ship, just to impress upon the natives what kind of people they were, based on a presumption of shared ethics. If you forget for a moment that the natives were a in a position to do violence to the crew, this mirrors how civil society keeps each of us in check all the time; and progressives have a thousand slogans and movements to undermine its effects.

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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Uccisore wrote:Well, prejudices are preconceptions too- types of people or sources you are more likely to trust than others, a preference for statistics over anecdotes, or arguments over statistics, etc.

Sure. Do you bring this up just as a point in fact, or are you implying something about my prejudices?

Uccisore wrote:Yeah, I guess I am undermining it because of a few central things: I'm not sure you and I have the same definition of corruption. Under my understanding of corruption, the U.S. and Canada just don't suffer from nearly as much of it as many other countries do, and, while I do think corruption is something that can and should be fixed when it is encountered, the examples of 'corruption' I saw when I came to this thread seemed to be "special interest groups I don't like getting their way some of the time", which is not corruption to me. That's what started the whole left vs. right thing, is when I saw things like "Sometimes people agree with the NRA" being cited as corruption.

Ah, perfect juncture to bring this thread full circle. Let's talk about "political corruption" using the NSA's spy tactics on Americans as an example. The first question then is: is this an example of political corruption?

Earlier in this thread I defined political corruption as "the unwarranted violation of basic human rights on a mass scale and/or the phenomenon of politicians, or entire governments, failing to preform the job they were hired or elected to do by the people." (I can see us quibbling over what a "human right" is but I want to somehow cover the case of unwarranted cruelty and butchery at the hands of the government). The cases you brought up--"special interest groups I don't like getting their way some of the time" and "Sometimes people agree with the NRA"--aren't even up for considerations under that definition.

But what about what the NSA is doing--spying on Americans without their consent? This wouldn't be possible without the Patriot Act (am I correct?), and that got voted in favor of, so it went through the system as a usual order of business--so I don't think we can call the PA an example of corruption (as an aside, however, I wonder what conservatives think of an act which permits what seems to be a blatant invasion of privacy, and therefore the government intruding into people's private lives--an act proposed by the Republican party no less). What about the spying itself--or the extent to which it is done, or the misuse of it (in the sense that the NSA *might* be spying on Americans for purposes other than to weed out terrorists, though I have no basis to back that up)? The only sense I got from the video I posted in the OP that this was political corruption was William Benny calling it "unconstitutional". Is it unconstitutional? And what about the martial law bill that Obama signed, the subject of one of the other videos. I assume this was put to a vote. Do the people have any say in a vote like this, or was it a matter exclusively for Congress to decide? (for some reason, I'm assuming the Patriot Act was voted on by the people--I think I heard this on TV when it was happening--but I should be asking the same question on this).

Uccisore wrote:I haven't read much of what Eric has said in the thread, or indeed, much of anything that directed to me. I have this irritating habit of skimming/ignoring things I suspect I will agree with. Adversarial of me, I suppose.

I tried to summarize Eric's vision here:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=185699&hilit=utopia&start=475#p2487664

This also marks the turning point when I stopped being left-leaning and started being right-leaning.

Uccisore wrote:I agree with the spirit of that, but any solution has to take into account that the founders didn't envision a world in which a person in Maine could buy stuff from a person in California, and have it in their posession the next day. Or a world in which a man could speak, and have people all over the planet hear his words in the moment he is saying them. There are a lot of things that bind us together, and create opportunities for us to affect each other economically, that the Government might have to have something to say about. But I am speaking out of my element there.

This almost sounds as if you have doubts that the Constitution ought to be revert back to its original form, which is signaling to me that you and Eric have very different visions of what it means to be conservative (though I think your statement of its central tenets--that "as much as possible should he handled by the community instead of the State, and that the information required to solve major problems is revealed through tradition instead of through revolution"--keeps you and him bound together, only the amount that the community ought to handle by itself distinguishing you two (I believe I remember Eric saying he borders almost on being libertarian, but he'll have to jump in here and correct me if I'm wrong)).

Uccisore wrote:It is a problem to be fixed in the sense that people need to be educated enough that their attempts are shot down through the vote most of the time. But it is not a problem to be fixed in that the legal system has to be adjusted in some way to keep their ideas from being able to participate, in my assessment.

Understood.

Uccisore wrote:It is the best approach because it is the only just approach as far as I am aware. It may or may not work. Tragic view of human nature. Certainly there are any number of systematic reforms that would be more effective in keeping progressive/marxist changes out of politics than mere education- but I can't think of any that wouldn't also be unjust. In super hero parlance, it would make us no different from them.

Understood and agreed.

Uccisore wrote:I do. I'm old enough to have already seen the liberals turn the state into a place that hates God, thinks perversion is normal, and that a man is a woman simply if he decides he is. This, right now, is already the once-hard-to-imagine dystopia in which the bad guys won and ruined everything. And still I say, education and shining light on the people being sneaky is the only just way to procede.

Ok, but I think the point at which we'd have to say "they've won", is when they've made it impossible (legally, through terrorism, by dissolving the legislature, etc.) for those who disagree with them to attempt to change the system. I don't think it's there yet, but do you think it will ever get to that point? The reason I ask is if they've been making strides towards this point despite the best (and honest) efforts of conservatives to fight it, it would not appear that the democratic system works, and it stands to question whether we ought to try to come up with a better system, one that's no less fair and just, or do we just accept the tragic view of human nature? Or do you think it's too early to tell?
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

This thread should be renamed reforming oligarchy.
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

Democracy is just another form of oligarchy. Quit kidding yourselves.

The world is a giant oligarchic police state.

Your idiotic politics and voting matters not.
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LaughingMan
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### Re: Reforming Democracy

LaughingMan wrote:Democracy is just another form of oligarchy. Quit kidding yourselves.

The world is a giant oligarchic police state.

Your idiotic politics and voting matters not.

Who's kidding themselves? We were talking about how democracy is a barely-concealed oligarchy in the "Irony of Corruption" thread days ago.

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