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Thread: Is Absolute Democracy Possible?

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    Is Absolute Democracy Possible?

    I'm think it isn't.
    Democratic theory: everyone's opinion counts.
    Democratic reality: only the majority's opinion counts at the end,
    the minority has to accept its will.

    Comment? Do you agree or disagree? Why?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jael
    Democratic theory: everyone's opinion counts.
    Democratic reality: only the majority's opinion counts at the end, the minority has to accept its will.
    The idea of democracy sprang from the idea that the opinion of the majority decides about the direction in which the society develops. The idea was based on Plato's ideal that every member of a society is educated and follows a common based sense. It was meant against the rising despotism, where a despot and his military (minority) decides alone over the direction the society goes.

    In Plato's vision the theory and the reality were not detrimental to each other, because Plato's society was one built by people of more or less the same opinions (shaped by public education), so Plato's minorities accounted for a handful people (and concrete the despot) against the vast majority of the folk. The perfect state - as long as the folk is a more or less homogenous group of more or less homogenous ideas and opinions.

    And the minority opinion (on a humorous sidenote) does indeed count, it gets heard and then ignored, by the majority that decides that this opinion does not matter.

    What today is called democracy really has nothing to do with Plato's ideal state. It starts with that the society is everything else than a homogenous group and ends with that the minorities dictate the direction of the society and force their minority opinion onto the majority. Plato would cry heartbreakingly about this perversion.

    But democracy was never meant as an 'absolute', so no, it was neither intended nor it is possible. An absolute democracy would create a non-society incapable of acting. Absolute democracy would mean absolute stagnation.
    Democracy is the idea that opinions are relative. A relative majority rules over / decides for a relative minority in accordance with the common perception of right and wrong, and thus actually makes sure that this is perceived as right or wrong what the majority of people consider right or wrong.

    But again, the ideal state was based on a homogenous group of people (folk) with a common education (philosophy) and the will to develop in a positive direction.
    The same like in the freedom vs safety thread. Our folk should be based on our philosophy of the virtues, and our folk is a blood bound homogenous group with no hostile strangers within our borders. In such an environment elections or decisions would have an outcome of 95% : 5%, and in Plato's ideal state the electorate would be 100%, the majority was not 51, but 76 per cent. Today's (per)version of democracy really has nothing to do with the idea anymore.
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    ^^ another good post and I agree with most of the thought but I'm not sure where some of the stuff about Plato is coming from. I was under the impression Plato was famously opposed to Democracy, his 'ideal state' being Aristocracy ('a type of dictatorship' as it has been put) lead by 'Philosopher Kings', and his works on the matter being a critique of Athenian Democracy (he described Democracy as the 'second worst' form of government). (Pro-Democrats say he was just bitter over the death of Socraties).

    eg. the influential Walter Lippman used 'the Republic' to support the idea that a political elite should manipulate public opinion to control society. But I agree Plato would 'cry heartbreakingly' about the kind of people are in power and do this today and to what ends (it would probably be the 'Oligarchy' in his classification of government forms).

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    First, you would have to define what you understand under the term "absolute" democracy: "Absolute" (ab-solutus) means detached: Detached from what?

    As I dare to understand you, you mean a form of government where every issue is subject to majoritarian decision. If we take such a definition as basis, "absolute democracy" is impossible, of course. There are some core decisions, I would rather call them basic attitudes, which cannot be subject to negotiation but emanate from natural law. Any society trying to negate this is digging its own grave. Alas, modern "education" (e-ducere : lead-out-of) has taken us to the point where we do not even trust our most basic natural feelings anymore. There are natural inequalities among humans which have to be respected, which means that the more able to govern should govern and have a certain freedom doing this, however controlled by a minimum of democratic control by the common people, who are not so dum as the powerful (politicians etc.) would like them to be. This is a delicate balance to be found and to be reestablished from time to time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Renwein
    But I agree Plato would 'cry heartbreakingly' about the kind of people are in power and do this today and to what ends (it would probably be the 'Oligarchy' in his classification of government forms).
    Ups, can it be that I mixed Plato up with Socrates (or someone else...)?
    Might be, might be (no expert in ancient greek scholars, haha)
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    I think what Jael might be referring to is consensus democracy. The principle behind consensus democracy is to make decisions in the best interest of all citizens rather than just in the interest of the majority. A consensus democracy seeks cooperation rather than competition. A chart explaining consensus decision-making:



    Anyway as to the majority rule, while in a democracy the people are the highest form of political authority, when one says "people" it's a generalization, since it's highly unlikely for everyone to share the same opinion, including in a consensus democracy. Even here, in practice, unanimity is highly unlikely to be reached, and actually they have measures which prevent e.g. just one person to block a decision. So if one regards democracy as a system where each and every citizen's opinion is transformed into reality and applied on the state, then it's nearly impossible unless you have a state where all citizens share the same opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jael View Post
    I'm think it isn't.
    Democratic theory: everyone's opinion counts.
    Democratic reality: only the majority's opinion counts at the end,
    the minority has to accept its will.

    Comment? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    I think democracy is the closest any government can come to trying to include the opinion of the people in its decisions. However, no, absolutely democracy is not possible on especially a national level. The United States is a perfect example of this, although it isn't really a democracy but a republic with a warped two-party system.

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    As an European I'm not sure I get the American voting system right, but didn't George Washington receive 100% electorate votes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matrix View Post
    As an European I'm not sure I get the American voting system right, but didn't George Washington receive 100% electorate votes?
    I believe he did. He also warned against having political parties, meaning to prevent the two-party system we now have today.

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