Announcement

Collapse

Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

Democracy? Is it Dying? Has it Never Been?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Democracy? Is it Dying? Has it Never Been?

    From others in this board, there seems to be a general malaise about the state of democracy in the world. Some don't have it, some say they have it yet don't, some pay lip service to it, some let it wither on the altar of national security. What can we do? Is it dead? Or was it all a rather re-assuring illusion?

  • #2
    Well,it is pretty obvious that we don't have daemocracy.
    Dymocratia(δημοκρατία in Greek)means the "power/country of the people".Athenians invented it and then all the free citizens(so,women and slaves were left out mostly because the citizens were the men who fought) were the gavernment.They did not elect some people to rule them.They ruled by themselves.
    If,par example,they wanted to send a task force to Sicily and destroy Syracouse they gathered and talked about it.ALL of them!Or at least,most of them.The politicians were mostly employees.I mean,apart from using the name of them to indicate the year the "rulers" were not important.
    Todays system is an oligarchy.And if you consider that there are a few families with many politicians in them...well,this seems like an aristocracy.
    Think for a second.In Sparta they had 2 kings,five eforoi and a senate.Also in serious occasions they gathered and voted by yelling yes or no.By todays standards it's a fine democracy(in my lifetime here in Greece there was never an occasion were we were supposed to vote yes/no..I have only voted twce for the elections-never for a major decision)!The ancient Greeks thought it was a harsh oligarchy.

    Modern technology could surpass the major problem that "prevents" real democracy to be established.I mean the usual excuse "ancient Greek cities had only a few thousand citizens each".
    I see many citizens voting whether the A guy will remain in the reality show and the B guy will go.I don't see anyone voting for a serious reason.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes I have read some of the history, what I really want to discuss is what people feel has happened to democacy in their country, supposing that they had it at all

      Comment


      • #4
        In fact I was talking about my country...It just happens to be Greece!

        Well,here,as in most countries the government often makes decisions that the world does not approve but the politicians think they know better.That's not democracy.

        What I would like would be something like a gathering in each major city where people would vote for almost everything.Of course it could cause problems as it would happen often and disrupt the social life.But it doesn't have to be all of the citizens.Maybe some of them each time.

        Democracy is an illusion.Every country likes to be called "democracy/republic of ...".Hell,check out the two parties in US
        Republicans and Democratics,huh?Well in Greek they mean the same!Who are they kidding?

        Comment


        • #5
          Trouble with democracy, as Jefferson knew, is that people just won't vote the way they should. Look at the Palestinians voting in their last election and look at what many believe is the current result. Similarly, GWB got voted in for a second term with a stronger majority.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Heiron
            Well,it is pretty obvious that we don't have daemocracy.
            No argument there! However, a few friendly comments on the history of Athenian democracy...
            Dymocratia(δημοκρατία in Greek)means the "power/country of the people".Athenians invented it and then all the free citizens(so,women and slaves were left out mostly because the citizens were the men who fought) were the gavernment.They did not elect some people to rule them.They ruled by themselves.
            If,par example,they wanted to send a task force to Sicily and destroy Syracouse they gathered and talked about it.ALL of them!Or at least,most of them.
            To put things in perspective, at the height of Periclean Athens we know that the city had a population of about 40,000 adult male citizens... yet the amphitheatre in which the popular Assembly was conducted held at most 5,000 people, and contemporary sources remarked that if it were ever filled to capacity no orator would have the power to reach those in the back.

            Thus, the actual vote probably involved significantly less than 5,000 people, a fraction of the total population. While there were no "parties" as we know them today, the attendees were rallied by partisan associations linked along lines of family and friendship. Because the meetings sometimes lasted for the better part of a day, the least wealthy among the citizens--small businessmen and laborers--were by far the least likely to attend, unable to relieve themselves from money-making for a day. The wealthiest, of course, had all the free time in the world: slaves tended to their affairs. Thus, despite formal democracy, there was a strong oligarchic element to Periclean Athens--much as their is in many "democratic" countries today.

            This is not to disparage the advances of Athenian politics in any way. We owe to them the idea that the demos should rule, and they were also perhaps the first society to institute true "equality under the laws."

            The same can be said of the famous New England town meetings. Everyone was allowed to attend, but historically almost no one did.

            By the way, I've also always found it interesting that Athenian politics could be just as low-brow and/or acerbic as political life today. Pericles, beloved leader (most of the time, anyway), was often ridiculed by contemporary comedians for his rather large, bulbous head. So it would appear that "Saturday Night Live" is nothing new.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by AnarchyeL
              No argument there! However, a few friendly comments on the history of Athenian democracy...
              To put things in perspective, at the height of Periclean Athens we know that the city had a population of about 40,000 adult male citizens... yet the amphitheatre in which the popular Assembly was conducted held at most 5,000 people, and contemporary sources remarked that if it were ever filled to capacity no orator would have the power to reach those in the back.

              Thus, the actual vote probably involved significantly less than 5,000 people, a fraction of the total population. While there were no "parties" as we know them today, the attendees were rallied by partisan associations linked along lines of family and friendship. Because the meetings sometimes lasted for the better part of a day, the least wealthy among the citizens--small businessmen and laborers--were by far the least likely to attend, unable to relieve themselves from money-making for a day. The wealthiest, of course, had all the free time in the world: slaves tended to their affairs. Thus, despite formal democracy, there was a strong oligarchic element to Periclean Athens--much as their is in many "democratic" countries today.

              This is not to disparage the advances of Athenian politics in any way. We owe to them the idea that the demos should rule, and they were also perhaps the first society to institute true "equality under the laws."
              At least here,in multiverse Demos rules.I mean he is an administrator or something!

              Well,at that time Athens had even more than the mentioned 40 000 citizens.Afterall before the Pelloponesean war it had 45 000 infantry and another 45 000 navy.Even though in the navy they included many non citizens-immigrants("metoikoi").But it is true that there were only a few thousand-perhaps 3-4000 each time,although there were not always the same of course.Not only because some had to work but also because the guys that lived in a village of Attica would need to loose the whole day to go to the city of Athens and come back.
              But my point is that each citizen could vote and talk public for everything.Not everybody wanted of course.If you look back at ancient Greece you will see that Athens tried to impose the Democracy in many cities,often by means of war.Some people didn't like it.It means you have to participate and have a burden of responsibility.Also the mob was often mislead by clever politicians in unwise decisions.
              Also the Athenians didn't like a guy to gain too much power.If you look at the victorious generals of the 5th century BC,you will see many spending their last years in the duty of the Persian Great king!Would you ever imagine Ike/Patton etc living in a city of the Baltic drinking vodka with Stalin?!?

              Ok,in modern times...Look how many go to vote.Not many,in many countries not even the half,even if they are obliged to.Who would go talk and vote for hours whether they will attack Iran?Most would choose to sit on their sofa and watch the bombing on the tv.Then they would compain about their government but vote for it once more.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Heiron
                Ok,in modern times...Look how many go to vote.Not many,in many countries not even the half,even if they are obliged to.Who would go talk and vote for hours whether they will attack Iran?Most would choose to sit on their sofa and watch the bombing on the tv.Then they would compain about their government but vote for it once more.
                Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                Trouble with democracy, as Jefferson knew, is that people just won't vote the way they should. Look at the Palestinians voting in their last election and look at what many believe is the current result. Similarly, GWB got voted in for a second term with a stronger majority.
                Only too true I fear! Still one may always hope. I feel that if we do not even try, then we will certainly lose what little we have gained.

                IMHO The UK never really had a democracy; they swapped a monarchy for an oligarchy - there was much un-finished business after the civil war, that was never really addressed IMHO a great missed opportunity. That oligarchy has changed over the years and may even now have become a Plutocracy, with the PM now representing corporate business. Perhaps “Corporatocracy” if you will excuse the bastardisation of English. As for the USA I can’t really comment, as I have never been there; I suspect, however, it is much the same there. All over the world I feel that even the pretence of Democracy is under attack, in favour of this corporate-led plutocracy where freedom comes only with the dollar; where one is a customer not a citizen. What do you think?

                Edit
                Plato seemed dismissive of democracy, preferring instead the concept of the philosopher king. This theme itself pops up in fantasy all the time, is it possible that fantasy fans are dismissive of democracy too? I find that some fans, I have met and talked to, do show this tendency and I have found it rather uncomfortable. What are your thoughts?
                Last edited by Dark Lord's Passing; 08-02-2006, 03:01 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Lower-income people in the US nowadays can almost always be counted on to vote against their interest. I don't know why. It could be their insecurity allows them to more easily adopt the right wing mythology.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I noticed on the news feed today that, with Mr Castro Nipping back to the bench for a breather, Bush is calling for the people of Cuba to demand their "Democracy". The report I read claimed that the US would "support" any Cubans who did so... but I'm guessing that Bush wants a certain kind of "democracy"... the kind where Cubans can't vote to have Guantanamo Bay coverted into a luxury health spa, and return all the inmates to their home countries for actual, legal, fair trials?

                    But, as mentioned above by other posters, it's very hard to pin down what "democracy" actually means. I'd like my vote to count, and for "my" leaders not to just bend over for more powerful countries (such as letting America use this country as an aircraft carrier for bombers). At the moment I feel somewhat disenchanted with it all. I protested the "liberation" of Iraq, and got fed the "WMD" line in return, now it's all about the "democracy" we're spreading around the world, like a chain of fast-food restaurants. How can the people be sure that their politicians are acting properly if everyone has faulty intelligence fed to them? Can't we stop and figure out what Democracy means, before we start bombing other countries to bring it about?

                    Gah!
                    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In France, we use to say that facism means "Shut up!" and democracy means "whatever you say". I remember my philosophy teacher saying that paradoxally when a state is using a quote for its own values, it means that they are an ideal to conquer, let's say "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" for example...

                      Democracy is a very recent event in human history, even if our owns takes model on greek and roman ones, our own structures our specific and need to progress on the same way that we do. Concepts as nations or identity are becoming new with medias as internet. What does it mean to be french, arab or english with electronic bridges to gather us? On the other side, theses fast changings appears with strong reactions against them.

                      Sometimes, fascism can be a step to democracy's process. Especially in war time.
                      Free the West Memphis Three

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
                        I noticed on the news feed today that, with Mr Castro Nipping back to the bench for a breather, Bush is calling for the people of Cuba to demand their "Democracy". The report I read claimed that the US would "support" any Cubans who did so... but I'm guessing that Bush wants a certain kind of "democracy"... the kind where Cubans can't vote to have Guantanamo Bay coverted into a luxury health spa, and return all the inmates to their home countries for actual, legal, fair trials?

                        But, as mentioned above by other posters, it's very hard to pin down what "democracy" actually means. I'd like my vote to count, and for "my" leaders not to just bend over for more powerful countries (such as letting America use this country as an aircraft carrier for bombers). At the moment I feel somewhat disenchanted with it all. I protested the "liberation" of Iraq, and got fed the "WMD" line in return, now it's all about the "democracy" we're spreading around the world, like a chain of fast-food restaurants. How can the people be sure that their politicians are acting properly if everyone has faulty intelligence fed to them? Can't we stop and figure out what Democracy means, before we start bombing other countries to bring it about?

                        Gah!

                        Oh great! Bush rushes in to present his warped version of democracy as the alternative!
                        Not only that, his premature utterances only serve to escalate the situation: the Cubans are now handing out the ammunition to their revolutinary guards and prepare to shoot up the first protesters who feel encoraged (= emboldened) by the insinuation that the US would help them. They should perhaps quickly ask the South Iraqi Shiites how much help they really got when Bush the Elder emboldened them to rebel against Saddam Hussein. They'll get scr**ed, just you wait and see.
                        Is there any oil in Cuba? Just to be sure ...
                        Google ergo sum

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Democracy? Is it Dying? Has it Never Been?

                          Originally posted by Dark Lord's Passing
                          From others in this board, there seems to be a general malaise about the state of democracy in the world. Some don't have it, some say they have it yet don't, some pay lip service to it, some let it wither on the altar of national security. What can we do? Is it dead? Or was it all a rather re-assuring illusion?
                          Um, one of the troubles with the question is that it bogs us down defining an abstraction. Perhaps something might be revealed if we moved from the abstract to the material. The question could be re-phrased thus:

                          Is the middle class dying? Or was it all a reasssuring illusion?

                          or,

                          Is the nation-state dying? Or was it all a reassuring illusion?
                          Last edited by nalpak retrac; 08-04-2006, 09:17 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the US to the best of my knowledg is a republic not a democracy, we the people have a relativly small say in what happens, our "representatives" make the final vote, our ability to control that vote is often nulifide buy money and special intrests, sure we have a fair amount of control over very local issues but in the country as a whole the minority has the majority vote, that minority being big buisness and big money. that being said, yes democracy is dead, long live democracy.
                            heratic, sinner, anarcist, and an all around evil kinda guy

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cthulhu
                              the US to the best of my knowledg is a republic not a democracy, we the people have a relativly small say in what happens, our "representatives" make the final vote, our ability to control that vote is often nulifide buy money and special intrests, sure we have a fair amount of control over very local issues but in the country as a whole the minority has the majority vote, that minority being big buisness and big money. that being said, yes democracy is dead, long live democracy.
                              What the political system like down in R'lyeh?
                              Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                              Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X