Tuesday, 7 October 2008

My Idea Of Revolution

We have been talking Revolution over at David's blog and I'm always up for a bit of usurping but who to usurp and what system of Government will be imposed instead? Rather than a large scale revolution with tanks on the streets and guillotines, i propose a bastardised version of what we have now and laughably call Democracy.
The debate over the $700b to the financial markets is as good as an example as there will ever be of what's wrong with the system we have. We elect a person to represent us and they go off to do our business, or at least that's the idea.
What actually happens is they do what they want until approximately six months before they are up for nomination again and then they pay attention, don't want to upset the plebs that put him in that privileged position.
The House of Representatives that initially turned down the billion dollar hand-out
did it apparently because they had been receiving communications from their electorate telling them that they were against the idea. Very thoughtful although they wouldn't have given a second thought to their electorate a year ago.
And there is the nub of my revolution, to keep the people who we elect to do what's best for us in that perpetual state of having to do our bidding in order to stay in power. The simple answer is referendums and plenty of them coupled with a maximum of two years between elections.
We have a situation in the US and in the UK with two leaders with the lowest ratings in our lifetimes, a simple system where ratings below 35% would trigger an election would keep our leaders mind focused.
So there we have my back-of-a-cigarette-packet idea for a system of Government. Two year terms, referendums on the big decisions and a mechanism to remove unpopular leaders to stop them clinging to power at the detriment of the country they are charged with representing.
All i need now is to get elected so i can implement it.


O' Tim said...

I believe the most critical thing is to remove all private funding from the legislative process, particularly (and if nothing else) the election cycle. Two year terms are rather ineffective right now because the representatives are continually running for office and seeking campaign funds.

Good luck with the revolution.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Voting isn't the solution it's the problem. The many just doesn't understand the issues in the first place. They couldn't vote right if they wanted to.
The only ways to solve this problem are suffrage restrictions and/or better economic educations.

Otherwise any popular Revolution or change, violent or "peaceful" (as if a large-enough mob justifies anything other than the force necessary to put the mob down), will simply degrade into demagogary, fear-mongering, and finally the worst forms of monarchy. These sorts of French-style Revolutions are great except for the part about how they make government worse, not better.

The American Revolution worked and the French Revolution didn't precisely because the American Revolution was an aristocratic revolution whereas the French Revolution was a "popular" one.

First, the present circumstances have nothing to do with a small oppressive elite in the first place. The choices that made the Chaos we have now were, as far as the many are concerned, made by the many themselves. And second, it isn't as if the many could do without the few anyways, not that this is the issue. Hasn't anyone else read Livy or any of the histories? This isn't news. Mobs don't make good choices.

This isn't to say that the many should put up with abuses perpetrated by the few. But more often than not, such offenses are imaginary and mere excuses to commit injustices against minorities. The importance of checks and balances to everyone should never be underestimated.

Think about how many peoples on Earth generally think the Jews are exploiting them as a part of a massive conspiracy. If a vote was taken, the manys of many countries would literally vote to kill sizable minorities which aren't necessarily richer than them.

Has anyone advocating more "people power" (as it is euphemistically called) as a solution considered what history has shown them about such solutions?


Cheezy said...

I agree with O'Tim.

The Citizen's Initiated Referenda people pop their heads up from time-to-time, and lobby enthusiastically for their cause, but there are many strong arguments against.

Here's one result that you probably wouldn't like, Lucy. They're intrinsically reactionary. It's much easier to whip people up into a moral panic, and get them voting for the status quo, than it is to get them voting for change. Sad but true.

Someone (can't recall who) called it 'the tyranny of the majority'.

Here's a good example of this. Referendums are popular in Switzerland. And do you know when they finally gave women the right to vote? It was 1971... (New Zealand, governed by a representative assembly along Westminster lines, beat them by 78 years).

Progressive legislation is much more likely to progress through a representative body.

Lucy said...

O'Tim makes a a great point, one of many things that bug me about how we do things is the private funding and what that leads to. Another thing that bugs me, and i have tried to eradicate here, is the way a Government can spend 4 and half years ignoring the electorate and only pay attention when an election looms. Brown, who we didn't even elect, is out on his feet but is going to unhealthly drag things out till 2010 and there is nothing we can do about it.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

You need money to get elected. And not everyone who wants election money can get it. Who gets to decide then? The guys already in office? Plans to "even out elections" will never work.

If someone really wants a "fair" way to choose public officials, the closest thing to it is to elect by lot (which is the most "democratic" way of filling them).


Don said...

I much prefer the four-year cadence over a popularity trigger. I'm afraid in the latter case if a leader is sailing through tough times and his agenda, though intended for the good of the country, differs from that of the Hearst of the day, then the dominant media enterprises will manipulate the public conversation such that his poll numbers will dip and out he goes. To me that would be a bad system. Better to grit our teeth and always know when the next election is going to be.

Funding's tougher. If you don't allow it, only rich people will run. If you use public money, then taxpayer oversight will lead to government-sponsored fitness tests which will basically be a fox guarding the henhouse sort of situation. The current system of limiting individual contributions seems fairest, for all the circuses it generates.

David G said...

The French Revolution didn't work, eh, Nog? On what basis do you make that astounding statement?

Perhaps you meant The American Revolution hasn't worked as currently evidenced by its rapid downward spiral.


Noah "Nog" M. said...

Executing everyone in sight isn't exactly successful. Napoleonic Imperialism, while fun for Caesarists, isn't success either. And as nothing temporal is forever, I'd say a 220 year run (counting from around 1789) is a success by any standard.

And I think we need to look at things in context. This seems "big" now. But is this the once in a century thing that politicians (which none of us trust or like) make it out to be? From a historically informed standpoint, there's nothing any more revolutionary about our era than any other.
And besides, aren't all of the "great eras" periods of war and strife? And aren't all of the unimportant times those of unbounded success? How come only wartime leaders are remembered? Do we really even want to live in a revolutionary time?


David G said...

"...nothing temporal is forever..." says Nog. I wonder why.

"I'd say a 220 year run...is a success..." But didn't the 220 years include killing all the Red Indians, fighting the British and the French, fighting among yourselves (the Civil War), the edifying, rootin', tootin' period of the Wild West (High Noon), the Great Depression, the deliberately delayed entry into WW2, the dropping of atom bombs, the failures in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc, the immorality of Guantanamo, etc,? All this was a success?

"aren't all of the "great eras" periods of war and strife?" What is so great about war and strife, pray tell?


Don said...

david g, you are falling into nog's "'great eras' periods of war and strife" as if it tells the whole story. Indeed your simplification of US history does not tell the story, unless you mean that success is only attained by sitting on one's hands, afraid to do any harm. I think nog's point is not that the US didn't hurt anyone, but that it survived, and will continue to survive, whereas the French Revolution quickly proved unsustainable because it was run by those who appeal to the mentality of the mob.

Lucy said...

if you want to hold up a really bad example of a Revolution, don't come much worse than the English one. Elvis Costello got a half-way decent song from it though.

Annie said...

love that declan! :)

David G said...

Don, out of the French Revolution came a democracy, one superior to America's!

It came about because the people of France (who you and Nog both denigrate by calling a mob) rose up and got rid of the cancerous elite.

What a shame that most Americans haven't got the courage or the conviction of the French 'mob'! If they did they might be able to solve their country's serious political, social and economic problems.


O' Tim said...

Don wrote, "If you use public money, then taxpayer oversight will lead to government-sponsored fitness tests which will basically be a fox guarding the henhouse sort of situation."

I'd risk training a fox to be a trustworthy watchman (with others watching him of course) as opposed to the rather unguarded free-for-all we have now. Silly idealist, me.

I refrained from further comment on revolution before, but now I must ask any sans-culottes wannabes just how dedicated they are to slitting throats (for to say it shan't come to all that seems naive).