Thursday, 15 March 2007

Best Form Of Government?

Oh what the hey. As we are all bashing each other over the head about owning guns and the rights and wrongs of policemen beating up women, let's have a debate about something we can really get our teeth into.
What is the best form of Government?
All have their good and bad points.
Anarchist's believe the best form of Government is no Government at all while Communist's see a means of abolishing Societies inequalities.
The word Democracy is bandied about but there has only ever been one Democracy and that was in Ancient Greece and that was dumped as unworkable. Maybe Monarchy tickles your ideological fancy or you want what we presently have in an elected representative Government.
Personally, Communism's slightly weaker sibling Socialism would be my call but there are plenty of others to mull over including a combination of the best bits from each.


Deadman said...

The one that allows private gun ownership, of course.


Stephen K said...

Though practically I know it won't happen in a thousand lifetimes, I have an intellectual interest in anarchism. The ideal society would be one where people voluntarily cooperate and help each other. The problem with this is that it presumes that people are socially responsible enough to make it work. As of now, we aren't anywhere close to that.

Kos said...

You left an important one off the list -- a republic. That's actually what the U.S. is, not a democracy, even though probably 90% of those who live here think it's a democracy.

Deadman said...

I thought it was a terrorist regime...

Cheezy said...

That's overseas, Mark. At home, Jeff's right: it's a republic :)

Anonymous said...

Koz- She mentioned elected representative government. Close enough for government work, eh?

I like Trollocracy, where the world is run by trolls. Before you panic, though, I have to tell you...... keep us well stocked with goats and bitches and we'll let you do pretty much whatever the hell you want.

The Intolerant One said...

All right since the rhetoric is quite predictable here I will do my duty to honor my moniker and display my intolerance.

The ultimate government would be a theocratic one. The problem is there is no human being alive that could actually make it work! (simply because we are corruptible)

BUT in theory there it is good. Everyone knows the rules! Justice would be rightoeus.

Example, if one carries a gun (since we tend to re-visit this topic alot) and holds up a gas station. The gas station attendant refuses to hand over the cash. The thief shoots and kills.

In a sympathetic democratic society we would plea bargain that down too "manslaughter" and assign the poor soul to rehabilitation where he will serve 1/3 of his actual prison term.

In a theocratic society he would be guilty AS CHARGED. 2nd degree murder. Although he did not target an individual he brought a weapon with the "intent" to use it if neccessary to complete his crime.

An innocent life was taken therefore so shall his. 2nd degree murder, punishable by death.

I wonder how many acts of random violence we would see today if that was how it worked?

Kos said...

"Koz- She mentioned elected representative government. Close enough for government work, eh?"

Good point, Joe.

Falling on a bruise said...

I did start to list as many types ss i could think of Jeff but there was just too many so just put the main ones.
Isn't Iran a theocracy and arguably Israel? Not the best 2 examples TIO.
I still think Socialism/Marxism which redistributes the wealth so everyone is equal and you cannot get any fairer than that.
That said, as with all types of government, if the ones at the top are corrupt it all falls apart.

Falling on a bruise said...

I know a few anarchists stephen, they seem to run with the Communists for some reason and there theory on the rejection of all forms of Government is very persuasive but in practise, not going to happen. Nice idea though.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many acts of random violence we would see today if that was how it worked? "

My guess would be "just as many as we have now."

The death penalty has never been shown to be a deterrant, even in Texas where it's almost a religion.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

Liberal democracy--with a liberal dash of social democracy.

Not a perfect system, of course, given that it has to balance the will of the majority against the need to protect the rights and interests of individuals and minorities.

But of all the options presented it's the least oppressive.

(That's not to say that many of the states labelled liberal democracies necessarily deserve the label!)

Cheezy said...

Different forms of government can be more or less useful, depending on the situation.

Coincidentally, I'm currently reading John Wyndham's 'The Midwich Cuckoos', in which all of the women (of childbearing age) in the town of Midwich give birth simultaneously to a bunch of strange kids who, as they grow up, are proven to have unusual gifts, telepathy; telekinis, which they eventually start to use destructively and becoming a danger to the established order.

Even though the children are obviously 'alien' to their society, the British government (a liberal democracy which places the rights of the individual as paramount) try to educate them and civilise them to behave in 'the normal way'. These efforts continue even after they start killing people. The establishment is too squeamish to do anything to the little bastards.

Where I'm up to in the book so far, it's just been discovered that there was a similar town in Russia with a generation of kids just like the ones in Midwich. And they were starting to go feral and began killing people too.

So the government landed a big bomb on the village - killing everyone. Man, woman and child. Innocent and guilty. Problem solved!

Sometimes a philosophy which sees the individual existing to serve the state (rather than vice versa) can be useful!

iMuslim said...

Like TIO, i would also say a theocratic one, but of course, the rules would be slightly different! I, too, believe that the calibre of individuals that is required for it to work is not presently available (i.e., the truely God-fearing types who wouldn't screw the people over to line their own pockets).
Unfortunately, the only two well-known examples of 'Islamic' regimes in today's world are Iran (which is Shia) and Saudi Arabia (which is Sunni), neither of which deserve the title of 'Islamic State'. Anyway, i won't argue the point in detail, because you need to have a good knowledge of Islamic (and European) history, to understand the issue.

IMO, i don't think most people care what kind of government they are ruled by. As some have said, the word 'democracy' is bandied about a lot, but if we had a benevolent leader, such as a King or even a dictator, who made sure the people had food, water, education, good health-care & sanitation, a source of income (not even money, just a job!), freedom of belief, and of course, justice, then no-one would care for democracy. Most people just want a system that delivers their rights, and that doesn't have to involve a democracy/republic. In fact, the more people that are involved in the decision making process, the less is achieved: too many cooks, spoil the broth!

I would say that the US, UK and other countries actually do pretty well in these stakes, but where they fail miserably is their foreign policy. Freedom and justice are checked in at the borders, it seems. But because the people are relatively well-off, they don't really care about what happens in far-off lands: out of sight, out of mind. Only those few who have some sense of morality and justice, try to speak out against the hypocritical & atrocious behaviour of their own governments. I just wish their was less talk and more action - but what action would prove fruitful, is the question?

iMuslim said...

Btw, Cheezy, i think i have seen the film adaptation of the book you are reading, starring the late Christopher Reeve. The story line sounds very similar, anyway.

Kos said...

Cheezy, there's a relatively new TV series on here in the States called Heroes -- sounds something like the book you're reading, though they're not all bad and there's lots of long stares and whispering.

I actually believe in the ideals of what the U.S. was created to be. Not perfect, obviously, because 230 years ago you were only a complete person if you where a white male, but the Founding Fathers, as we like to call them, were pretty goddamn brilliant. I believe in the concepts of individualism and freedom. To echo iMuslim, the problem is not with the form of government, it's with the people running it.

Don said...

The USA's founders didn't write a single word handing more power to a white person than to a black. They wrote a great Constitution. The prevailing social system prevented them implementing it. The glaring inconsistency of a country founded on natural rights then denying those rights to so many people was the peculiarity of the "peculiar system", and led ultimately to civil war. Too often, societies are only "fixed" with bloodshed.

The best system is a democratic republic, such as we try to have. It balances the rights of the individual against the needs of the community and is always open to adjustment.

Socialism / Marxism is a huge mistake. They talk about sharing the wealth as if wealth were the fruit of trees grown in the wild. But wealth is created where there is incentive, and socialism ignores the human reality that has people lifting a finger mostly for their own gain. You always wind up with a large population of disincentivized workers ruled over by a gang of thugs. Yes, Nazis built highways and hospitals. But stealing from the people and then handing some of it back to them, repackaged, is not justice.

The end result is economic stagnation except as forced at the end of a gun. Wealth does not grow; and by wealth I mean ever-improving and -expanding healthcare, communication, living conditions, and general quality of life. Without these, socialism's promises ring ever so hollow.

Theocracies are worse. Intolerant's example wasn't theocratic, of course, but simply one where you pay for your crimes. But a theocracy, such as Imuslim might envision, absolutely requires that everyone share the same core beliefs. That isn't possible, so instead, in order to protect themselves, they all just pretend to. Even the most enlightened and civilized of Muslim societies require non-Muslims to live, in several ways, as though they were Muslim. I would not tolerate that nor ask anyone else to, whether it is to live as a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew -- no matter. Every person has the natural right to live according to their own beliefs, so long as they do not deny the natural rights of others.

Ultimately, the best society does require everyone share certain beliefs, but not religious or political beliefs. Just a simple philosophy: that all persons are created equal, with certain inalienable rights, and that these rights include (but are not limited to) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Falling on a bruise said...

Nazi's were socialists or did i misread that bit or completely misunderstand the conceopt of Hitler hating all things Marxist and trying his best to wipe them out???
I agree with you that the best society is one that realises all people are created equal. Shame that what the US, UK and the rest of the Western World have is a government run by corportaions where the richest get the perks and the poor get brushed aside and the pursuit of money leads to atrocities on a world-wide scale.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

Nazi's were socialists

and atheists are Christians.

Kos said...

Great comment, Don, and I agree with your clarification on what the Founding Fathers created.

"Shame that what the US, UK and the rest of the Western World have is a government run by corportaions where the richest get the perks and the poor get brushed aside and the pursuit of money leads to atrocities on a world-wide scale."

Again, the problem is not with the form of government, it's with the people running it. There is absolutely no government immune to corruption and abuse, none whatsoever. But at least with a republic, the citizens can make a change. Sometimes the change comes much later than needed, as we're going through right now here, but we the people decide.

Kos said...

"and atheists are Christians."

I'm not following that one.

Deadman said...

"I'm not following that one."

Seemed to me that Arthur is saying that anyone who is willing to believe that Nazis were true socialists would also be gullible enough to believe that atheists are Christians.

In light of the fact that the Nazis were anything BUT socialists, it seemed pretty clear to me.

The only thing I don't understand is who it was that originally said Nazis were socialists in this thread. I don't think Arthur understood Lucy's comment, which led off with those three words, to be a question.


Don said...

It was me, referring to the National Socialists who ran Germany from 1933 to 1945. Fascism and Marxism differ a lot, but they're still just differing forms of socialism if you ask me. I would agree that calling the Nazis socialists is imprecise, given that they made some of their crap up as they went. Maybe I should have used a different example.

Don said...

I'm conflicted over this supposed dominance of big corporations. In a free society, some people are going to amass enough wealth to become very powerful. The trick is to not let their drive to profits circumvent the people's control of government policy. That has happened in the U.S. often enough. Laws are always being rewritten to combat it. Yet it still happens. But another thing that happens is that policies appear to be driven by a coporation's profits, when in fact they are not. Then, a law written in reaction might do more harm than good. So I guess my conflict is over understanding exactly what the problem really is.

Falling on a bruise said...

Calling the Nazi's Socialists is as imprecise as calling a horse a carrot. Facism's raison d'etre was anti-Communism.
The part where i mentioned big business running Government policy is all around us. The prime example is the current climate control with the oil companies contributing most to Bush's pot and standing to lose the most if Bush actually decides it is man made.
In Iraq, arguably the whole reason for it was oil, the Center for Public Integrity study showed more than 70 U.S. companies and individual contractors who had been awarded $8b rebuilding contracts in Iraq turned up more than $500,000 in donations to the president's 2000 campaign.
Here in the UK there is furore over wealthy donors giving money to the Labour Party and being handed seats in the House of Lords. The law banning advertising on F1 cars was suspended after Ecclestone 'donated' £1m to the Labour Party who, after they got found out, handed it back.
A few months back, Blair dropped a corruption probe into Saudi Arabia and BAE Systems after the Saudis said they would pull out of a massive BAE deal unless the probe was dropped.
Lots and lots of other examples.

Anonymous said...

"but we the people decide. "

Man, I wish I could be confident that that's true, but I have this crepy little voice in the back of my head that suggests that Diebold makes those decisions now.

Don said...

Facism's raison d'etre was anti-Communism.

I thought it was to use the workers' fear of exploitation by the corporations in order to grab absolute power. The Marxists were simply competitors for that same market, so to speak. But, whatever. We certainly agree that Fascism is not a good answer!

Falling on a bruise said...

Facism is out, agreed.

Arthur_Vandelay said...


I was about to respond when I saw Don's subsequent remarks. I was responding to an earlier of comment of his, and I assumed that Lucy had made the same interpretation of his comment that I did (i.e. that Nazis=socialists).

Arthur_Vandelay said...

Fascism and Communism are different varieties of totalitarianism, but they are poles apart politically. (One is extreme-right, the other is extreme-left.)

The Political Compass explains this all very well.

Stephen K said...

I just took the Political Compass Test. I fall into the left-libertarian quadrant.

iMuslim said...

I just took the test, and i too, fall into the left-libertarian quadrant!!!

Economic Left/Right: -3.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.97

I have no idea if that is true though. I think the test was flawed because they didn't have a "neutral" option, and/or a "i don't know" option. I didn't understand every single question, and on some points, i neither agreed nor disagreed.