Categories
economics Societies

Every Purchase Is A Vote

Whenever we walk into a store we can measure how much we’re like everyone else.  Imagine a planet where everyone was you.  What then would the inside of the store look like?  All the things you like would be available in abundance, their prices driven down by economy of scale.  How close then is the existing store to the theoretical ideal that serves you best?  We can’t expect everyone to be the same in real life; without the purchases of many different people, there could be no store.  So we must be willing to sacrifice some of our individual preferences to have a market.
The influence of our own vote though is tiny so we must have some significant overlap with other people for the offerings of the store to yield us benefits.  If most customers don’t want some of the same things we want, the store is useless to us.  A man, for instance, will likely never have any need for women’s clothing stores because he lacks overlap with the targeted electorate.
Imagine for a moment the store we’ve walked into is a grocery store.  The initial overlap in needs is very high.  Everyone gets hungry, so we have a great test case.  When we look at the store shelves, we see a purer sort of democracy than has ever existed in politics.  What’s for sale is what everybody wants.
What if most people want junk food though?  The grocery store will have lots of cheap junk food and the substantial food will be scarcer and higher in price.  Perhaps it just points to the reason why there never has been a true political democracy.  The masses might well make terrible decisions.  A people cannot survive leadership without some semblance of order and quality control.  But they can survive the consequences of eating too much cookie dough ice cream, at least in the short term.

We can draw a similar analogy with book stores.  We want to read, but the store is of no value to us if the only books available are sensational slush.  In this case, the mass of other people out there has proven to be a liability to our interests because of their lack of overlap concerning the details of an item we want.  And our paltry votes don’t even make a dent.

Let us look at the bestseller lists for books too, and the top 25 in music.  Or how about the most popular television shows and movies?  In a decently ok world, most items on these lists should be among the best, right?  But what if to our horror, we consistently see works of low quality, or insipid mediocrity exalted by the collective?
If you don’t like what most people like, you are in a way living in a zombie apocalypse, surrounded by shambling throngs of people whose tastes and interests run contrary to your own in every way imaginable.  Your voice is drowned out while everyone rushes to the theaters to see the next remake of a remake.

If you or I were to conclude our nature and preferences have remarkably little overlap with most other people out there, it does not make sense to make the sacrifices required to participate in their collective pools.  Banding with the masses proves more a liability than a benefit.  It makes far more sense to find those with a higher degree of overlap even if they’re just a few and pooling one’s demand with them instead, while isolating oneself from the slavering zombie hordes.

It is on this basis of collective compatibility that would underlie a modern caste system.  In the case of economics, each cluster of preferences would occupy separate markets from food, to clothing, and entertainment.  Perhaps such distinctions already exist informally, but it takes considerable knowledge, deep affiliations, and especially sheer wealth to sort out what belongs to one’s proper sphere.
In a more formalized order, each strata has no need to waste energy on self discovery, they naturally gravitate towards their proper places and live their whole lives therein, their votes compatible with the other voters of their breed.  With a more stable hierarchy, less struggle takes place and far more gets done.

If we consider grocery stores again.  There already are grocers that cater to different tastes, but they do so mostly through being more expensive.  They decisively segregate their clientele using high prices but in so doing produce a form of value signalling rather than pure optimization.
In a correctly stratified caste system, a store ought not to rely first on higher prices as an isolating mechanism but instead be able to focus on being able to provide the best possible value given the votes of the consumers of the higher castes.
We may consider pure status signalling such as paying extra for ‘organic’ produce a penalty that certain voters agree to pay in order to form a barrier.  But if such a barrier is already formalized by the agreement of voters, then there is no need to pay such penalties and all effort can be put into providing the best value possible for the voting coalition.
We can imagine similar principles applied to real estate.  Those who pay high prices to keep undesirables out of their supermarkets apply the same tactics to property ownership and school districts.  Again, the cadre of voters in an unstable hierarchy is forced to pay penalties to segregate themselves into a mutually beneficial electorate.  In a stable caste hierarchy, their neighborhoods and schools are delineated by force of their votes, leaving them free to build value rather than spend most of their wealth insulating themselves against incompatible demographics.
As it is, many people try to isolate themselves from the gales of popular mediocrity by working long hours for decades.  So hard is their task that they barely manage to reproduce, managing only to replace themselves in the best of times.  The most productive creatures effectively barely scrape by at subsistence.
Because their natural habitat is saturated by hostile tribes unless they build cost-prohibitive barriers, they are forced to spend most of their effort just trying to chisel out their desired place, which in a Correct order should be theirs by natural right.

As a final thought experiment, consider how idiotic most advertisements are on television, youtube, and in print.  This is what most people find persuasive or these ads would not exist.  Every advertisement is a glimpse into the heart of the average person.  Don’t like what you see?  Then you are participating in the wrong commercial electorate.
How would advertising change then if we dominated the commercial electorate?  Would it even exist in the same form?

See Also:  Shelters From Planned Obsolescence,
Friction of Association and Social Selectivity

Categories
Politics

Political Democracy is Just One Type of Democracy

We’ve concluded that the state cannot be changed just by shuffling around governments, since the quality of rulership is decided by the nature of the population.
Russians, for instance have always had autocratic, brutal, corrupt governments no matter if it’s a monarchy, communist dictatorship, or a democracy.  The English on the other hand had strong councils of representatives whether there was a monarch, a theocratic dictator, constitutional monarch, or a democracy.  The French defaulted to an order of centralized semi-autocracy, never quite leaving behind the authoritarian ways of their old monarchy, whether under Robespierre, Napoleon, Napoleon III, or DeGaulle.  How important then is the label?

Since government merely reflects the nature of its people, it becomes clear if we want to change a state, first we have to produce a change in its people.
But it’s impossible to produce any rapid change in the nature of a population.  We should sooner try to cool down the ocean by throwing in ice cubes.  This is the hard truth that every victorious revolutionary, political reformer, or activist soon discovers.

The most obvious way we might control the expression of a population is not to change it, but to distort its expression.  To accomplish this, we decide who to enfranchise the most to bring about the best results a people is capable of supplying.  In the process of politics then, we make sure those most inimical to an effective state have no vote at all, those of middling character get one vote, and the best of the race, a single vote that outweighs many lesser votes.
This after all, is the proposition made by a classical republic.  In the Roman Republic, the groups of people voted in “tribes” not at all equal in representation.  Plebeians despite their greater number were outweighed by the clout of the patrician classes in a vote.
In the early American republic, only those who owned sufficient property, giving them a real stake in the system of governance, were allowed to cast votes concerning the government.
Only by the 1820s was America well along the path to its transformation into a popular democracy.
However, no truly pure democracy has ever existed.
In Ancient Athens only an elite class granted the title of ‘citizen’ had the vote.
In America, several methods of strategic distortion of the popular will persist to this day.  The bicameral system that distorts the clout of representatives numbered according to population by the addition of senators who are equal in number and power, even if they are sent to the capital from sparsely populated mountains, desert, or tundra.  And of course, the electoral college that simplifies the popular vote into a winner-takes-all system.  Not to mention a great many who are only appointed by elected officials, elected by proxy, such as the entire judicial branch.
Even the American popular democracy is imbued with an inherent distrust of the unalloyed popular will built into it by its founders and reinforced by three centuries of their successors.
So the question is not whether to distort the popular will, but how it should best be done.

But…I began this entry commenting that governments alone cannot achieve the greater purpose.

Our first step is to observe that government is just one sort of democracy decided by the people in aggregate.  We can think of several great democracies, of which government is by far the least significant.

Political democracy – Every vote elects a representative.

Economic democracy – Every purchase is a vote that elects a product.

Social democracy – Every value someone holds is a vote that elects a society.

Biological democracy – Every child conceived is a vote that elects a people.

I will hope to discuss each in turn.