Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Radical Democracy

Plato hated democracy. He hated the way crowds could be influenced by artful and crafty speakers, but speakers that may not actually have a good argument, or may not have the crowd's best interests at heart. He hated the process of democratic discussion, and rule by the many (ignorant) in favor of the few (enlightened). He favored a Philosophe King, a man who ruled with absolute authority but with absolute objective reason and regard for the good of the nation. An enlightened despot, it has been called. A King, but a King you can believe in, and trust.

We have just come through an exercise of Radical Democracy in the form of our national Budget Deficit Crisis, and we have all seen the messy nature of American democracy in practice. It is partisan, political, self-centered, and riddled with what appears to be corrupt practices. We see our legislators and cringes at their antics, their alliances, and their obstinate refusal to abandon some pet project or local issue of importance in favor of compromise for the greater good. We all believe in a sort of Utilitarian Altruism, don't we? We want our national representatives to work for the good of all Americans, don't we?

What is the best form of government? Is the model we share with the world the best one? How might democracy, and representative democracy in particular, be improved?

Next meeting: August 19, 6:30 pm. You know where...

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