Democracy - always ?

Should democracy be able to abolish itself ?

  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
    85.7%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    14.3%
  1. drag

    drag 1,341
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    Do you think that a democracy should have an absolute
    law that prevents (even the majority) from abolishing it ?

    In other words, do you think that even if for some
    reason the majority is convinced that it must change
    to a different ruling system, the best solution for general
    long term rule will still always be a democracy and thus
    even if such a descision were made it should not (whether that's
    actualy practical or not doesn't matter here) be followed ?

    Thanks ! :smile:

    Live long and prosper.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,539
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hey Drag,
    Note that your title is opposite to the question.

    Also, I voted yes but with reservations. When I was in college, I was assigned to write a paper that demonstrates that the U.S. constitution is a counter-revolutionary document. Unfortunately, this was not hard to do. Our democracy is really quite tentative, and can be dismissed at any moment, for any reason, indefinitely, by a joint action of the legislative and executive branches. This safeguard is, for one, to protect the "system" of government from a mob mentality. Also, I feel that there are times when the average person cannot know what's best. Too much sensitive information is often not available to the average person, and this can leave the masses ignorant in times of a national emergencies. This was what I assumed was the case in Iraq - that we knew exactly where the WMDs were, but that we couldn't afford to compromise our intelligence capabilities. However, back to the point, I don't think that anything in the constitution inherently protects the fundamental principle of democracy...an interesting point! Still, to undo this element of US law would be to rewrite the constitution; and to get such an agreement may be quite impossible. I don't think, actually, maybe I should say that I hope that another constitutional convention is a practical impossibility.
     
  4. drag

    drag 1,341
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !
    Oops... sorry ! Hopefully people will read the question.

    btw, I wasn't talking about specific kinds of democracies
    and so there's no problem as far as I see it with a central
    government or a house of representatives as part of a
    democracy. All of that is a type of democracy as far as
    this poll is concerned.

    I personally answered no. My perspective on it is this:
    Though nothing is certain, it doesn't appear to be the
    case that any better or more generally beneficial
    rulling system has ever been concieved. It appears that
    as a general system in the general long term it is
    the best one that's possible. Thus, if its the best one then
    it should not allow itself to be abolished even if the
    majority was somehow convinced that it should be done.
    Again, I'm refering to the general long term case and
    not to specific extraordinary situations.

    So, though this may come a bit late , the question is really -
    Do you think that there is any reasonable possibility
    of a better rulling system in general and if not (any doubts ? :wink:), is it not the right conclusion to always keep this
    system no matter what (again, ignoring the most
    extraordinary stuff) ? (The above answers are opposite to
    this question too. :wink:)

    Live long and prosper.
     
  5. My thoughts are that democracies as governments are the will of the people in principle. This means that if you deny the people the ability to change the government to a non-democracy, the country is already no longer democratic. Further, democracies rely on the cooperation and responsibility of the people. A nation of people who don't want a democracy is not an adequate background for the democratic process to take place - you can keep it artifically in place, but the system would be basically dead. For such a nation, a democracy is really not suitable.
     
  6. drag

    drag 1,341
    Science Advisor

    But, does it make sense that this would ever happen in
    the more general and normal case ? Further more, even if
    the majority do want someone else to decide for them -
    isn't it still a democracy, for they make the choice and if
    it goes badly and they no longer agree - it's not a democracy
    any longer and the result is negative - which is what a
    society tries to avoid so the enitial point of keeping
    the democracy appears to stay ?
     
  7. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Heh. Oops. I read the post, not the question or replies and answered "yes." To clarify, I believe that people should NOT be allowed to vote to disband a democracy. After I figure out which way is up, I'll come back and elaborate.
     
  8. Whenever the constitution is amended, for example to prohibit booze, that's on the level of a fundamental change to democracy potentially against the will of the majority. The House and Senate only exist because they're written into the Constitution, so a change in that eliminating them would do just that. So I think our form of democracy can and is in fact changed by votes high in the government.

    ____________________
    "He is a fool! You will be master!" --Rummy to Cheney.
     
  9. So long as they give me a month to move to a different country...

    Americans seem likely to vote themselves a dictatorship, under some nutjob charismatic Christian child molestor.
     
  10. But you don't really anticipate every eventuality. Each democracy in history has an article in which parlimentary power can be suspended in times of emergency. Each has the allowance for change if it is ever required. It isn't very logical to say that "I don't think people will ever vote to remove a democracy", and "Even if they do, we must remove that capability". Instead, we have to say that as a democratic nation, we have faith in how the electorate feels and that they should be free to have their chosen change in government without recourse to violence.
    The principle here is that it is not democratic force a democracy on an unwilling population. You must trust that eventually they would realise what is best for them and return to democracy, or if they don't they simply don't deserve a democracy.
    I don't quite get the next part. You're saying that it is impossible to remove a democracy? The point is that a democracy contains people voting for someone to represent them. If the people decide that this is no longer so - that the people in power should choose their own successors, then by the legal term it isn't a democracy.
     
  11. drag

    drag 1,341
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    Russ, I accidently (some bug in the system ?) voted
    twice so don't worry about it. Nice quote...

    Well, and I ask whether that's a worthy principle ?
    Is it worth the potential costs of such a desciosion.

    As for what I said, if the majority wants someone to
    control them and make dioscisions for them then that's
    still a democracy isn't it ?
    It stops being one when those that are in control are
    not subject to the same basic laws as everyone else,
    even if the majority wants that, and/or when they refuse
    to listen to the majority of people.

    Live long and prosper.
     
  12. I think it is, for if you suspend one right, it becomes easier for others to degrade the whole idea of democracy. And this sort of policy simply allows the politicians to ignore the growth of anti-democratic feeling - better to confront the supporters of dictators openly, than wait for a bloody coup.

    Well... arguably that is already the case in most democracies... Let us look to the case of Sergio Belusconi, the Italian premier....
     
  13. I voted yes a democracy should be able to abolish its current system for another. I voted this way because, we cannot assume that democracy is the best system or that a totally new system couldn't do much better.

    As it is, we do not really have a true democracy in the USA or any other country that I know of. We have republics for most countries we consider democratic. So until a true democracy exist it would be difficult to say whether a republic gov't would be better than a democratic one.

    But in short, the question seems to suggest that a democracy is the best system, yet I do not believe all possibilities have been considered nor do I believe the current system is perfect. So, if something better comes along then sure why not abolish it for something better.
     
  14. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    The usual quote is "Democracy is the worst possible system except for all the others." I can't remember who said it. Certainly no one believes democracy to be perfect.

    I tend to think of political science as being similar to the other sciences. Though we certainly have not considered all the possibilities, the possibilities that we haven't considered are likely to be very similar to what we have already considered. Just like in physics, the theories are converging - new discoveries are happening, but the differences between old (Newton, for example) and new (Einstein) get smaller and smaller as time goes on (compared with say Newton vs Aristotle). Similarly, the principles that the various political systems are based on are so basic as to be very unlikely to be radically changed.

    Democracy is based simply on the idea that power to govern is derived from the people consenting to be governed.
     
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