Direct democracy is mob rule. It is so unviable and volatile that no polity has ever had a completely direct democracy. At best, popular referendums are used sparingly and mostly in local government.
The Ancient Athenian democracy was a disaster and it was even limited to an elite class of citizens.
The founders of the United States took note of history and used the Roman Republic as their model instead of Athens.
Separation of powers and the use of representatives was far more stable because it could moderate the whims of the crowd and favor the power of one faction over another.
There are those who argue that having a King or Emperor is the best and most natural government. Monarchy after all has been the most common and stable government for thousands of years.
Monarchists have a good argument that monarchs are effective executives able to make quick decisions when it matters most. Because their entire lives and family are invested in the state they have a built-in incentive to care about long-term problems whereas elected representatives just care to get re-elected.
In practice, of course, history has countless examples of incompetent monarchs. A system that depends so heavily on one person can seesaw between being very well run to a complete nightmare.
When power is more focused, major changes in policy can occur immediately. But those changes might prove to be disastrous and even bring about the collapse of the state.
Republican government makes sudden changes in policy difficult to safeguard against any single person making fatal decisions. It also avoids the ancient problem of being just 1 heartbeat away from wars of succession.
However, problems that need to be boldly addressed tend to fester when there are safety rails everywhere.
So can we find some kind of balance between autocracy and the republic?
The USA in its current form has nearly universal suffrage and slips into the disaster of mob rule. The early US republic had limited franchise. Moderners obsess about suffrage being limited to evil white males but the important part was land ownership requirements. This may not be exactly what we’d want now, but it gives us a useful principle.
The idea behind this restriction was that voters had to have skin in the game and safeguard them against people with nothing to lose simply using the state to plunder everyone else.
There was a clear idea that some people were more invested in society as shareholders than others, an idea that’s totally alien to modern concepts of democracy where every warm body has a “right” to vote.
We also ought to go all the way back to the principles of merit from Plato’s Republic. Like any other job, those best qualified to rule should be the rulers. In a republic that would mean we dismiss handwringing over “rights” and worry only about what results we get from bestowing the ballot.
We’d refine the electorate like consultants brought in to trim down a company. Did we end up fighting wars for no reason? Were there tax breaks for the rich while peasants starved? Who voted for these things? Does someone have the civic knowledge, basic literacy, and intelligence to competently wield the power of the vote? Do they have skin in the game and a reason to care about where society is 100 years from now or does it make no difference to them if they plunder the treasury now?
This is of course an imperfect process. Imagine if we had simply made the top 20% most educated people the only ones with the vote in the US. Out-of-touch SWPL total rule would have been a disaster for everyone. So clearly a formula for who gets ballots has to be worked out very carefully.
-Those with special knowledge on an issue get a more heavily weighted vote. (The challenge is this might end up benefiting parasitic insiders. We’ve all seen where rule by “experts” has gotten us.)
-The whole society gets divided into castes based on capabilities and neurological temperament. The best(with skin in the game) get to vote.
The basic idea is to use a republican or other system for collective decision-making to limit the potential for a single fool to destroy an empire or for one untimely heart attack to plunge the nation into a war of succession.
Yet there are also far fewer voters making decisions. Enough so that nothing depends on just one person but so that major decisions and changes are possible.
The Roman Republic gradually fell apart as power had to be “temporarily” granted in crisis situations where political gridlock was simply not an option. This inevitably led to generals who were more powerful than the state. When a collective decision making system cannot adapt in real time, it is forced to gradually dismantle itself.
So the successful system of government has to walk a tightrope.
The trick is to benefit as much as possible from the acumen of great men while preventing and blunting the depredations of the worst.
And to benefit from the “wisdom of crowds” from the best crowds rather than an indiscriminate mob.
The use of computers and statistics would play a prominent role in figuring out what works best.
Look up strategies for any online game and we see the experiences of thousands of competent people who played countless hours compiled into build orders timed down to the second, or item builds categorized by victory percentage across an entire server. It would take more than one person’s whole lifetime to figure all that out by themselves!
Surely these kinds of tools would help a republican oligarchy figure out who has the best judgment to run a health system and who is full of bullshit.
20 replies on “Searching For the Golden Mean of Government”
Look into Venice’s pre Book of Gold system. With the borderline case of the 4th Crusade, it worked quite well over the years.
I’ve seen the book of Gold blamed for Venice’s decline more than anything else because it made the caste of decision makers rigidly hereditary. If your family’s name wasn’t in the book, there was a hard limit to how high you could go in society.
So you had the dissolute grandchildren of competent people making sure there was no competition from new talent.
Maybe they were on the right track, though by having a class of people in charge rather than relying on either mob rule or a single ruler. Having a Doge elected only by people deeply invested in the state was a pretty good formula.
Venice was an independent state for a very long time, but I don’t really count that at face value because they lingered on long after they ceased to be relevant as a major power.
A good start would be married people who have property and also have children. Those with a job or ongoing business. There would also possibly be cause to demand that they are married and never divorced. It would select for those that were loyal, even tempered, who could make compromises and who make good decisions(who to marry being one the most important life decisions). One of bad things about that stipulation would be that it would select for people more timid. Maybe or maybe not a good thing.
Intelligence would be good but there’s hoards of really smart people with no common sense at all. At least have people who have 100 IQ. Maybe even 90 IQ.
I agree some basic measure of:
-Has a reason to care about the future of the state.
-Has enough brains to meet a baseline standard.
Is a good starting point. Just doing as you suggest here would be low-hanging fruit of improvement.
Then we worry about refining. For instance, preventing our voters from simply making dumb people, single people, and non-property holders pay all the taxes.
People that never marry or have kids should have to contribute to the future of society and not be allowed to live completely selfish lives, but if they have no political representation, we have to consider how to prevent them from being abused.
The Roman Republic had plebeian votes weighted less through the “tribes” system of representation. But as a compromise the plebs got tribunes of the plebs with veto power as an emergency brake if they felt the elites and equestrian landholders were running roughshod over them.
I discussed in the article how the proliferation of guard rails in republican government becomes counter-productive, so I wonder how we’d make the concept work smoothly.
Actually if we just went back to what we had in the US we would be there. A upper class Federal Senate elected by the States representatives. That covers the rich and the lawyers with advice from the local Teachers and various local intellectual talent. Yet the intellectuals are spread out among the States so that they have local knowledge. All local Representatives elected by property holders. Most would be married so that takes care of the married. Maybe the best way would be to have the Federal House of Representatives be broad based voting population with few if any qualifications except they not be criminals. Very close to what we had. I don’t think that there’s really much more you can do. Make the laws much more complicated and they’ll be gamed until they’re silly nonsense and all open ended voting situations eventually become silly. I think this is about the best that Man can do. I don’t see Kings or Tyrants or any other such silly assed Moldbug divinations as being any better and over time a they would all be a whole lot worse.
I’ve definitely had this same thought but then I ask myself: “What happened to that system?” It didn’t even last 30 years. By the 1820s pretty much all the states had voted more people the vote. The civil war established a strong central government in the mold of the nationalism in Europe and Japan around the same time.
Then under Woodrow Wilson the old system was pretty well finished off. Congress even voted to destroy the senate’s role as the upper house by making senators elected by the masses instead.
So that system has been tried, but without enough authority, it was gamed and began to fall apart almost as soon as it was implemented.
The “fuzzy hat” monarchists are actually fond of simply pointing at the fate of the American republic.
Good point. A parallel dissenting view on Kings is that Kings have weak children and after about the same amount of time mismanage the kingdom. With Kings there’s no or very little ability to change the situation. We’ve had several weak and/or stupid and/corrupt Presidents the past few decades and while it’s not over Trump seems to be doing some very common sense things. He may fail or not do enough but he’s generally on the right track. I’m more of a sort of socialist than he is. Mostly because I see robots and computers making it impossible for anyone of average intelligence to get ahead in the near future. The tech titans of today will have children that could very well be the last of their sort as who ever owns the robots would rule.
So we forgot that one. Rule by robot.
I can not abide in a Monarchy. At all. A bunch of Sovereigns that what they damn well please while telling everyone else what to do.
I read an article that said 80 people have more wealth than 50% of the rest of the population on Earth. That’s absurd. They’re not worth that. It’s very much like your parking lot where they bought cheap and (inherited) the rest. Do I know how to change this? I don’t know. Very tough. I do think people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs earned their money but for them to much for what they did. Maybe we should treat new money different from old money. (inheritance tax). You ever see the James Loring Johnson, a Johnson & Johnson heir, documentary film “Born Rich”. It’s very good. It’s on YouTube. It’s even got Ivanka Trump on it.
Males who are subject to military duty (probably land owners) and who already have children. No children means no skin in the game. Unwilling to fight, means no skin in the game. Also a land owner. But the land laws have to be fixed so aliens and foreigners can never acquire land, only rent it. And strict inheritance laws so a few rich people hoard the land and rent it to foreigners, instead of splitting it equally among their descendants, so that the land stays evenly spread out among the founder stock.
That is, strict inheritance laws so land is NOT hoarded. If a family line dies it, out goes to next of kin.
Being willing(and able) to contribute violence is a good criterion for being a shareholder with a vote. Without the might to prevent conquest, there is no society.
I agree about the child requirement. Though people can still be hedonistic pricks regardless. It’s an important part of the formula.
There’s clearly a lot of wisdom in ancient law like the Old Testament law you are versed in, Hammurabi’s code, or even Sharia particularly because it lasted long enough to deal with problems that stretched across multiple lifetimes in the context of society as a whole. So I wonder how to approach the present with this sort of mindset.
I look at modern post-agricultural society and see that property ownership is no longer central to group loyalty by itself. Many, perhaps even most people are effectively semi-nomads now. Even if someone pays a mortgage, they can still cash out with their equity and shift their loyalty somewhere else. So I wonder what sort of wealth best secures loyalty in present times. Holding x amount of government bonds/shares to be eligible to vote?
I do like the idea of military duty. I do think that some sort of other State based work might be substituted for Military service. It should be frowned upon though.
You look at the problem backward. The problem is not government, it is not top-down, but bottom-up, the problem is people. Ultimately it is the people who choose how to govern themselves, so the state system of government is ephemeral, the state of common society is what is important. Much to be said about that, but at it’s simplest the original form of state was that of blood – the tribe. These grow and become stronger without exception. Almost everything of worth in human society originates from that state. The second progression of state is that of empire – there are two types, and these are dependent on polity, or civil government ; that of thede, or diet, and the cosmopolitan or propositional state/empire, (not anchored to a diet – purely imperial and based on caste). Whether a state lives by rapine and war, or social investment, growth and development, by land or by sea, is not as important as whether it is anchored on people of blood, or people of caste. One lives by predation and piracy tarted up as caste endeavor, or a social good, (bringing civilization to the unwashed) the other by social development and growth, (cultural). An imperial state not anchored by blood, anchored to a universalist, cosmopolitan concept, (a codeword for class based) like England is by its very nature predatory, and against all other people. And the people of that state are interchangeable with any other people and will be displaced by any other people of more utility to the state, at any time.
This latter state must be destroyed, or it will destroy people in general (think skynet – on our current trajectory it is inevitable.)
The recent growth of the Neoreactionary movement within the alt right amuses me. Here once again we have a caste based system rising its ugly head again within the right. Exactly the same as the Neocon movement. Begun by Jewish intellectuals and garnering the support of Anglophile conservatives, they propose a system of faux aristocracy, or caste, based not on a people, but a theory of utility. The right is by its nature conservative of blood. It’s ironic that Anglophiles who wishing to conserve the diet of their own people, always introduce the caste concept of predation, utilitarianism (logical Darwinism) – a system that will destroy their own people. Is it any surprise Nick Land, Moldbug, Nick B Steves and many others within this movement all support cyborg post-humanism?
Yes, the raw material you have to work with matters most.
Politics is an engineering problem where you try to get the best performance possible out of what you have available.
There is only so much we could do to improve Zimbabwe by playing around with different governments. As it turned, out Saddam Hussein already provided the best government a united, heterogenous Iraq could hope for.
But we also see instances where the art of the possible matters such as the differences between North and South Korea or between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Caste arises organically within mass populations, even if everyone is the same ethnic group. People sort out by social status and intermarry. As the USA demonstrates, even if you start out people from scratch on a new continent, within a century or two the old patterns assert themselves.
The problem with American social thought is its immature assumption there’s always another frontier, another safety valve so the serious problems can be put off until later.
If you don’t think about caste, caste takes care of itself and may not take a form that helps the social order survive.
Human populations have complex ecosystems of predator/prey/parasite/symbiote and so on regardless of blood. We need only watch siblings competing for their parents’ attention or for portions of food at the dinner table.
So the question of politics is how we channel eternal conflicts of interest in a productive way.
Humanity, human reason is massively overrated. Most of our intelligence is just algorithms to try to outmaneuver others to grab more wealth and more desirable mates. People are just animals. Even the briefest glance at thousands of years of human history reveals endless tragic folly, disaster, self-destructive selfishness, silliness that kills millions.
Why wouldn’t post-humanism be a good thing? Until then, we try to make the best of it playing at politics.
I agree with your disapproval of utilitarianism because of how it leads to the literal-minded materialist modernism, but I believe we can deal with these problems in a way that take priceless goods like the tribe’s cohesion and infinitely bad bads like destruction of the tribe into account.
Caste is not merit, nor meritocracy. Caste is rent seeking, think about it, it is nothing more. That people have different abilities is good, and to those with higher ability and energy, higher rewards should follow. Caste does not proscribe those with lower ability, it perpetuates them. Caste is a set of rules to protect wealth and power. Caste is a barrier against higher ability, higher energy.
Nrx proposes caste because they are people of medium to low iq who can use the internet to mask their unwholesome aspect. They feel they can get in on the gaming of the system, and allow post-humanism to perpetually protect their worthlessness with caste. Is it any surprise one is a jew, the other a rabid leftist degenerate who has lived off the government system, producing nothing but leftist pranks his entire career? (yarvin and land) the husbands of this twaddle?
The ineffectual nature of the right, it’s sheer stupidity and cowed, docile nature is underlined by Nrx. Feed the inchoate right small chunks of reactionary outrage at regular intervals, and the jew and the anglo-poser can lead them straight into a meatgrinder, or where ever – depending on who’s clients they hired themselves out to be.
Do you understand post-humanism is a hoax? We develop a high functioning robot – it can walk, talk, spit, chew, fuck, suck, shit, orgasm with the best of them – it is still a simulation. The first fully functioning Turing robots will be hoaxes, spoofs – what will be era changing will be not their level of intelligence – but that they can be used to ‘convince’ people they are outmoded. The versions after will simply automate the process. IBM’s Watson never beat a single pro chess player – you had to go into the details of Watson to realize that behind the curtain was a small army of programmers, chess experts and administrators running Watson against Kasporov simultaneously – it was a prank, This is the prank Nrx wants in on.
This is the reason a society must be based on blood. Ask any jew why they haven’t, on their own accord eradicated their repellent religion, they actually cut the end of a child’s cock off and then suck it, suck on it for the blood, think about it, these people actually live among us – it is because their religion vouchsafes that blood, their tribe, exclusive of all others – this is their power. It is our power also. wonder why we are losing it? Should be obvious.
A tribe does not need utilitarianism in anything other than things of utility, and even then, only in the lowest conception. Look at the ancient Greeks, what did they use? – imagery, lyricism, beauty. mystery, ritual, philosophy, science – all of them aspects of the same thing. A ‘oneness’ with the world. Christianity was like this, at it’s conception it was not Jewish in any way, it was Hellenic, it tried to save the jews.
I wouldn’t abandon hope and concede the future to the cock slicing/sucking blood suckers. A post humanist future is a completely stupid form of abject surrender. There will be no post humanist future. Humans use machines, not the other way around. Anything other will just be the prank of dispossession, much like Jacob and Essau.
If you make no rules regards to caste, a certain breed of person tends to fight their way to the top under x conditions and make rules to protect their power anyway even if x condition that favored them changes.
Just as if you refuse to make a government, conquerors will come and make one anyway.
This is still about finding a golden mean, because some security in social position is a good thing.
The USA is a whole society that worships endless competition and the result is the petty backstabbing culture of a royal court where there’s no trust or cohesion. Such a people are ripe pickings for conquering tribes.
You too name personality traits like “high-energy” that you deem as worthy traits of a high caste person.
What abilities do you think should rise to the top? Under the present system, you can be a genius at a solid skill but if you don’t have charm and charisma you’ll never get anywhere in the culture of the royal court.
Perhaps we already are cyborg post-humans just by carrying around smartphones.
Then with natural selective pressures and possibly eugenics, will humanity be recognizable to us in just a few generations?
What is this empathy you write of? Humans are adapted to feel for others when it suits their biological imperatives almost as if they were Machiavellian ticker-tape machines.
For example how do humans react to?:
-A crying bum on a street corner.
-A crying hot woman on a street corner.
I would not be surprised if ended up being a post-human of some sort that could really feel the suffering of other beings.
Why do people hate Jews so much? Because they are a successful tribe with good teamwork that effortlessly conquered a huge nation of bickering backstabbers. The wise would learn from them.
I find circumcision a nasty ritual myself, but in the USA gentiles get it done just as much.
“…Ultimately it is the people who choose how to govern themselves…”
Although I do ultimately agree with this…slightly, I think it’s far to harsh and incorrect unless measured over very long time periods. The illustrations already given, North and South Korea show that you can’t ultimately blame the people if they are oppressed. I would use Russia as another example where 60 million of them were killed off. I don’t think they can be blamed for this any more than Africans can be blamed for being slaves.
“…Why wouldn’t post-humanism be a good thing?…”
Because machines don’t have empathy and will many, many times smarter than us. They will hold our lives in their hands and if they decide to do away with us we will have no defense. None. Supposedly you could program empathy in but just getting intelligence is hard enough how would you go about programming empathy? Even if you could any re-programmable machine,(anything that learns), could always change it’s mind.
I’ve had thoughts lately that maybe we’re the chicken. You know the old chicken and egg first puzzle. We’re actually building and hatching the egg that will do away with us. Our only function in the Universe is to hatch computers to take over.
I esteem conscious awareness a worthwhile thing in itself and it is perhaps a matter of time until humans give birth to something more conscious and better and more worthy than us in every way.
Think about the predicament of being human. You live in a sack of flesh that constantly excretes smelly waste and you’re stuck there until you die or something kills you. Not too hard to imagine that we might create far superior modes of existence.
n/u2,”…Caste is not merit, nor meritocracy. Caste is rent seeking…Caste is a set of rules to protect wealth and power. Caste is a barrier against higher ability, higher energy.
Nrx proposes caste because they are people of medium to low iq who can use the internet to mask their unwholesome aspect…”
Don’t get me started about the Jews. I’m 100% with you on this. I’ve asked several times on the “Let us have Kings” sites how getting some guards with fuzzy hats and a Dictator is going to straighten out everything. I also asked why they didn’t support exactly the type reforms that I wrote about above. Going to a system we had that worked fairly well already and…crickets, nothing, they’re not interested.
The same damn people that pushed for mass voting, mass immigration and (I say) mass confusion are now whooping it up about Kings. This advice, I believe, has about the same utility as if a Man told you hitting your head with a hammer was exercising and toughening up your brain.
I have a name for them. -ismmites. Liberalism, Communism, etc., etc., it never ends with these people.
Machines exist to serve us! AI Research is important to understand ALL possible forms of intelligence.
The end game of this long decades-long endeavor is to understand the nature of Intelligence not to create some lame made-in-Taiwan Machine God.
GD, in Plato’s Republic, (which I’ve never liked) caste is suggested vocationally – the Republic suggests birthright caste – but the candidate selected undergoes training concordant with that caste (ie.) rulers, philosophers, doctors, etc. Everything is a two-sided coin, and there are no guarantees.
Sam, although you can’t blame the individual Korean or Russian, and the individual ultimately suffers most, the people did ultimately choose in those cases. Historical circumstance and conditions effected the idea of freedom of choice, and perhaps a minority imposed their own solutions, but the solutions were a result of all parties fighting it out. The result was sub-optimal, but over time it corrects itself.
I think post-humanism is terrible. It is a tragedy that people even think of it as a solution. It is suicide. The same technology that allows us to build AI also allows us to augment and accelerate human evolution. This is a result of the Imperialist caste system, which has allowed the lowest forms, masquerading as the highest to rule our society. I still believe firmly that in the end the situation will be reversed and humanity will find answers to its problems.
Sam, I will check out this ‘Let us have Kings’ site, thanks.