Monday, December 19, 2005

Democracy in seven words for Xmas 2005

If you were asked to give a definition of democracy in seven words, could you do it? I've always believed the best way to do something is to keep it simple. It applies even more so in engineering if you want reliability. You might ask why I draw the analogy with engineering. Well engineering is the science for the control and use of power to achieve certain outcomes like building roads and machines. Democracy is a mechanism for delivering outcomes. These outcomes are assumptions that society should be a certain way. For me society should be fair and just. So democracy is a machine for delivering those outcomes.

Let's return to my question of a seven word definition of democracy. Have you got it? My definition of democracy goes like this... Majority rule, minority protection, shared economic benefits. It's so simple but it's the foundation for further discussion. Each part is absolutely necessary for this simple definition to work. In this formula everything is a balancing act between different groups that make up a society. On the one hand there is the powerful and on the other the powerless, and often the powerless need to be protected from the powerful.

How are majorities made up and what governs their sense of right and wrong? Can it all be achieved by balancing power and sharing economic benefits, and who is the arbiter of such things? It was Plato who said that without absolutes we cannot move and so it is with democracy. Let's leave that there for now, perhaps you have some thoughts on this.

Seasons Greetings


Blogger hirophant said...

The understanding of democracy is at best missunderstood. How can the majority ever understand the needs of the minority. Democracy weilded in this mannor simply crushes the rights of the minority, who are always the most vunerable or those without a voice. In order to deliver a Democracy that works for society at large the Majority must always take into consideration the needs of the minority otherwise all we have is a dictatorship weilded by the biggest and best connected in society.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Snody said...

You ask for "absolutes"!! To me that is a pipe dream. Well, I don't know just why I have ended up here. But I am so here goes. Bryan Pepperall talks about democracy as an absolute and I ask; Is there any absolutes in this world? I think not. Last night I listened to HardTalk on the BBC, viz. Roger Penrose, interviewed by Stephen Sackur, on his changing views regarding the “Big Bang” theory on the origin of the universe, and his ideas on “consciousness”. In the concluding stages he was asked about the quality and quantity of the up and coming thinkers, that might fill his shoes. But alas, they are few and far between. People, according to Penrose, do not take the discipline (physics) seriously. The focus now is on the $$$, you know... user pays. We don't encouraged to learning for the sake of learning. Computers, money, wealth, profit, expediency, are the in thing. It is not the quality of your action that is seen as important only how much you will earn by taking that stance.
However as Penrose stated, there are still mathematical problems that computers can not solve, even if philosophical debates are seen by some, as an intellectual parlor game.

5:18 AM  
Blogger pepptalk said...

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5:45 PM  

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