Would a Meritocratic Republic Outperform Contemporary Democracies?

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In summary: Not really an oligarchy, since people don't have to pay taxes to be a part of the elite.What distinguishes that 80% who have no rights (and they eventually will have no rights) from slaves? If you have education census then your problems will be:-do the tests decide anything else useful in daily life besides voting rights? (If 20% of population get a vote, then individual vote is not very useful for most of them.)-If no, then you have the problems justifying the costs of administering the tests. -If yes, the people have the incentive to cheat. Tests can
  • #1
Czcibor
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Because of some ambiguity of word meritocracy, by meritocracy I mean here a republic but where only better educated part of population (ex.: 20%) has voting rights.

As the way of measuring that merit should be applied standardized tests, including math, logical thinking, understanding written texts and basic knowledge.

Logic behind the idea:
-better educated portion of population should in general make better decisions;
-better educated people should be in general harder to mislead in add campaign, thus financing add campaigns would be less tempting;
-better educated people in general tend to prefer more moderate positions;
-world is simply more complicated than in the past (ex. more information that can be known, moving from simple night watch gov towards all encompassing state, deep economic ties with whole world);
-we don't mind to test someone skills before giving him driving licence, while creating reasonable policy is harder than driving;
-contemporary democracy is anyway evolving in system where importance of view of voter is diminishing (USA - its congress can barely claim double digit support; EU - where people are as long asked in referendums whether they agree for deeper integration until they agree out of apathy; power is granted to supranational organizations in multilateral treaties like WTO - its not a bad idea, however, you know decisions there are not specially democratic; not only judiciary became an independent branch with mild direct influence of the voters but the same route was followed with central banks; southern EU - politicians may promise their citizens whatever they like, but anyway have no choice to adopt austerity that their voters detest)

Concerning potential counter arguments:
-I'm not an American, so quoting US constitution wouldn't be treated as infallible argument.
-If argument revolves around the fact that the idea is against democracy, then I would like to point out that introduction of democracy was clearly against divine right of kings. (ideas change with time, maybe there is a need for a next change)
 
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  • #2
The question is then - how do formal oligarchies function?

Most formal oligarchies have been based on, basically, wealth censuses. Education census has been used as supplement, but rarely for majority of voters.

If you have education census then your problems will be:

do the tests decide anything else useful in daily life besides voting rights? (If 20% of population get a vote, then individual vote is not very useful for most of them.)

If no, then you have the problems justifying the costs of administering the tests.

If yes, the people have the incentive to cheat.

Generally, any test which is important enough to be worth administering is important enough to be worth rying to cheat. You need tests which are easy and practical to administer in face of people trying to cheat.

Not only will the people sitting the tests be trying to cheat, and people administering the test will be trying to earn bribes by letting people cheat, but people designing the tests will be also controversial, in what exactly the tests measure.

Another example of current formal oligarchies are the various single parties. Chinese Communist Party is about 10 % of eligible adults... but the rank and file members do not actually get to bote much.
 
  • #3
Would only the 20% who vote pay taxes? Probably not.
Would the 20% who vote have to obey the same laws as the 80% who can't vote? Probably not.

More likely is that the voting elite would vote left and right to protect and take advantage of their elite status.

What distinguishes that 80% who have no rights (and they eventually will have no rights) from slaves?
 
  • #4
snorkack said:
If you have education census then your problems will be:

do the tests decide anything else useful in daily life besides voting rights? (If 20% of population get a vote, then individual vote is not very useful for most of them.)

If no, then you have the problems justifying the costs of administering the tests.

If yes, the people have the incentive to cheat.
Tests can be used as part of exams after the end of secondary school, while anyone who is willing can take them on different occasion.

Another example of current formal oligarchies are the various single parties. Chinese Communist Party is about 10 % of eligible adults... but the rank and file members do not actually get to bote much.
I don't find it particularly good analogy. The selection process requires not merit but conformity.


D H said:
Would only the 20% who vote pay taxes? Probably not.
You know, nowadays you can vote without paying taxes (as welfare recipient who gets more money than pays in indirect taxes) or as foreigner / foreign investor pay taxes without right to vote. I'm not sure how it's relevant here, unless you prefer neither democracy nor suggested meritocracy, and rather a system where the paid taxes matter.

D H said:
Would the 20% who vote have to obey the same laws as the 80% who can't vote? Probably not.

More likely is that the voting elite would vote left and right to protect and take advantage of their elite status.

What distinguishes that 80% who have no rights (and they eventually will have no rights) from slaves?
Let's imagine that you actually pass that test, while quite a few of your relatives or friends don't. Would you vote to turn them into second class citizens or slaves? (Would you expect others to want to turn big part of their friends and relatives into slaves?) If not, wouldn't that contradict that what you have just said?
 
  • #5
D H said:
More likely is that the voting elite would vote left and right to protect and take advantage of their elite status.

The obvious first step would be close down the education system, except for teaching their own kids how to pass the tests.

If you think that's far-fetched, consider that for about 1000 years the main reason people in Europe were taught arithmetic was so they could understand how to calculate the date of Easter - and not many people need to know even that much.
 
  • #6
Czcibor said:
Let's imagine that you actually pass that test, while quite a few of your relatives or friends don't. Would you vote to turn them into second class citizens or slaves? (Would you expect others to want to turn big part of their friends and relatives into slaves?) If not, wouldn't that contradict that what you have just said?

If past human history means anything then yes I would expect the "non-elites" to eventually become 'slaves' that would eventually rise up and destroy the elites. A meritocratic system would quickly concentrate power to a very few "peter principle" rulers that would degenerate into the normal states of chaos, maintaining power by payoffs and harsh punishments. Never underestimate the ability of people to be cruel to others when there is no fear of reprisal.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062092065/?tag=pfamazon01-20
 
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  • #7
AlephZero said:
The obvious first step would be close down the education system, except for teaching their own kids how to pass the tests.

If you think that's far-fetched, consider that for about 1000 years the main reason people in Europe were taught arithmetic was so they could understand how to calculate the date of Easter - and not many people need to know even that much.

That was my exact thought, too! Power corrupts.
 
  • #8
I think that would very quickly lead to social instability. Theoretically if a dictatorship is led by a competent person, it could generate much better results than a democracy, but you're taking away people's rights and social instability will follow.
 
  • #9
Czcibor said:
Because of some ambiguity of word meritocracy, by meritocracy I mean here a republic but where only better educated part of population (ex.: 20%) has voting rights.

I'd say that it has been tried. In the old days only property owners could vote. I bet you would find a strong correlation between wealth and education. Third world countries like Chile still pretty much operate this way, or at least they did last time I checked.

The result was/is that political decisions were made to benefit property owners, and the propertyless didn't like it. In the US they got the vote rather quickly, though I don't know how.
 
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  • #10
nsaspook said:
If past human history means anything then yes I would expect the "non-elites" to eventually become 'slaves' that would eventually rise up and destroy the elites.

Studying history this doesn't happen unless the system breaks down enough that people start to get hungry. People care a lot more about food than about freedom.

Especially if they are starving. Then you might as well rebel, because you're going to die anyway.
 
  • #11
Czcibor, do you think you would be in the 20% or the 80%? Would your viewpoint change if you knew you would be in the 80%?
 
  • #12
ImaLooser said:
Studying history this doesn't happen unless the system breaks down enough that people start to get hungry. People care a lot more about food than about freedom.

Especially if they are starving. Then you might as well rebel, because you're going to die anyway.

It's been my experience that people revolt long before they starve unless it's in a total gulag like in Cambodia where the leaders control by brute murder to simply erase unwanted groups.
Libyan is a classic example of a revolt: http://www.spiegel.de/international...-against-escalation-of-violence-a-746847.html

Helpless not hunger causes revolts. Helpless in a meritocratic system would happen very quirky for the "stupid" as they effectively would have little real control over their lives but would still have to support the system with the labor of their lives.
 
  • #13
I wouldn't trust it .

my favorite writer had this to say:

The nineteenth century was naïve because it did not know the end of the story. It did not know what happens when dedicated idealists come to power; it did not know the intimate linkage between idealists and policemen, between being your brother’s keeper and being his jailkeeper.

It is disconcerting that present-day young who did not know Stalin and Hitler are displaying the old naïveté. After all that has happened they still do not know that you cannot build utopia without terror, and that before long terror is all that’s left.

Before the Sabbath (1974), p. 120

http://erichoffer.blogspot.com/2012/07/nineteenth-century-was-naive-because-it.html
 
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  • #14
ImaLooser said:
I'd say that it has been tried. In the old days only property owners could vote. I bet you would find a strong correlation between wealth and education. Third world countries like Chile still pretty much operate this way,

No, they do not.

I believe United Arab Emirates is the only formal oligarchy I know, and they are mostly absolute monarchy. The rest either claim universal suffrage (and use various means to prevent actual free vote) or (a minority) do not hold elections.

For example of limited suffrage, look at UK between 1832 and 1928.

Before 1832, approrimately 1 man from 7 could vote at all, and most of them were represented only by the constituencies of shires and boroughs with wide franchise. A small fraction of that 1/7 controlled a large number of Commons seats of rotten boroughs.

From 1832 to 1867, about 1/5 of men could vote, and their votes were more equally distributed.

From 1867 to 1884, about 1/3 of men could vote.

From 1884 to 1918, about 2/3 of men could vote.

From 1918 to 1928, almost all men over 21 could vote, and about 2/3 over women. Women had to be over 30 to vote and hold property or be wives of property owners - but women with university education could also vote even if they did not qualify under property census.

From 1928, all men and women over 21 could vote.

The minority who could vote did not vote to make the rest "slaves". In fact, they voted 5 times to give votes to others. But even over the centuries before 1832, the people without votes were not deprived of all rights or reduced to slaves.
 
  • #15
AlephZero said:
The obvious first step would be close down the education system, except for teaching their own kids how to pass the tests.

If you think that's far-fetched, consider that for about 1000 years the main reason people in Europe were taught arithmetic was so they could understand how to calculate the date of Easter - and not many people need to know even that much.

Far fetched? Nope.

Wisconsin is on the leading edge of a national assault on public education. Walker made a big name for himself with his explosive move to bust public employee unions and take away teachers’ bargaining rights. Now comes the next phase.

“We’ve been hearing about this for years now,” says Democratic state representative Sondy Pope-Roberts. “I see Wisconsin as the first domino in a line. As this falls, I see other states hoping to achieve our quote-unquote success . . . by crushing unions and taking public schools private.”

Just google "war on education". There's lots of material.

The War Against Teachers
If the U.S. is to cease its slide into a violent, anti-democratic state, we must rethink the relationship between education and democracy, and the very nature of teaching.

And one doesn't have to go outside of PF to find out that educated people can be, um, ...

I'm sorrry, but I have no adjective to describe that guy that won't get me an infraction.

---------------------------
I suppose I was lucky not to get one when I compared him to the Nazi Propaganda minister.
 
  • #16
Vanadium 50 said:
Czcibor, do you think you would be in the 20% or the 80%? Would your viewpoint change if you knew you would be in the 80%?
I think that I would be within 20%. No, I wouldn't change my mind, the point is to have reasonable gov and not a flattering ego illusion that my vote matters. (In the same way as I'm not outraged that by moving power from my country to the EU) I would also support such system if it would be scaled so that the threshold would be above my skills.

nsaspook said:
If past human history means anything then yes I would expect the "non-elites" to eventually become 'slaves' that would eventually rise up and destroy the elites.
I'm impressed by you so vast knowledge that you apply so general term "past human history". Especially when I think about moving from feudal monarchy towards absolute one, to move further towards actually system where monarch power was somewhat limited by parliament. Judging from that that Austro-Hungarian Empire did not belong to the past human history in which you believe in.

A meritocratic system would quickly concentrate power to a very few "peter principle" rulers that would degenerate into the normal states of chaos, maintaining power by payoffs and harsh punishments. Never underestimate the ability of people to be cruel to others when there is no fear of reprisal.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0062092065/?tag=pfamazon01-20
Is 20% a very few? Just for comparison in my country in voting to Europarliament the turnover wasn't much higher (24,53% in 2009)


lisab said:
That was my exact thought, too! Power corrupts.
What about corruption caused by the power to vote in democratic election?


nsaspook said:
Helpless not hunger causes revolts. Helpless in a meritocratic system would happen very quirky for the "stupid" as they effectively would have little real control over their lives but would still have to support the system with the labor of their lives.
How do you define "control over their lives"? For example until quite recently my country had compulsory enrolment to army. Did I have control over my life in that respect? Did the fact that I could vote for politician saying "no", and be compelled go anyway matter much for the control of my own life?
Same with ex. libertarians - they can whine as much as they want, but anyway they are compelled to do long list of things they detest. Do they rebel?
 
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  • #17
I don't think a percental part of the population is a good idea, for reasons that have been mentioned above, and because it makes it very hard to change a downwards spiral in power distribution.

However, I still think a meritocratic system might be worth considering, if it's done using a more absolute goal, for example everyone with a high school or collage degree can vote, regardless of how many percent of the population that becomes. This ensures more fluidity in the power distribution, and anyone to whom voting is important enough, can just focus on getting educated enough to participate.
 
  • #18
hmmm... In retrospect, maybe it's not a bad idea.

I think only PF members should be allowed to vote.

:biggrin:
 
  • #19
Or perhaps a different meritocracy?

In the book, "Starship Troopers", Heinlein proposed a system where only former military members could vote. (Not current members, since they would have too signficant stake in whether or not the population went to war.)

The important part of being a former military member was that the vote was entrusted to a group of people that had proven their tendency to put the group's needs over their individual needs.

While the "former military member" part may be a little overly restrictive, one could see some positive aspects of demonstrating some sort of serious sacrifice and commitment to the group (nation/city/etc) before allowing a person to decide the fate of that group.

As opposed to an educational requirement, which only ensures that voters understand the effect government policies will have on their own lives.
 
  • #20
Czcibor said:
What about corruption caused by the power to vote in democratic election?

I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?
 
  • #21
lisab said:
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?

I was thinking the same thing yesterday.

Thank you for responding more appropriately than I would have.

My thoughts were more on the line; "Non sequitur, nie wiesz nic o tych sprawach!"*

*What I'm trying to say; "It does not follow, you know nothing of these matters!"
 
  • #22
OmCheeto said:
hmmm... In retrospect, maybe it's not a bad idea.

I think only PF members should be allowed to vote.

:biggrin:
Well, we would want to turn into slaves people who are on different forums, right? :biggrin:

Zarqon said:
I don't think a percental part of the population is a good idea, for reasons that have been mentioned above, and because it makes it very hard to change a downwards spiral in power distribution.

However, I still think a meritocratic system might be worth considering, if it's done using a more absolute goal, for example everyone with a high school or collage degree can vote, regardless of how many percent of the population that becomes. This ensures more fluidity in the power distribution, and anyone to whom voting is important enough, can just focus on getting educated enough to participate.

Assuming that formal education was required, then there would be risk:
-that it would be claimed that's a matter of having money (like in US where it is paid directly by student)
-there would be problem with different curricula (there are schools easy to pass, and very hard to pass)
-there would be an intergeneration problem (ex. in my country) that in past only few percentage had higher education, but now we're flooded by people (round 50% of my generation) who at least theoretically hold at least B.A. diploma. It's not that my country smarten up so much, but also reflect some inflation of titles.
BobG said:
Or perhaps a different meritocracy?

In the book, "Starship Troopers", Heinlein proposed a system where only former military members could vote. (Not current members, since they would have too signficant stake in whether or not the population went to war.)

The important part of being a former military member was that the vote was entrusted to a group of people that had proven their tendency to put the group's needs over their individual needs.

While the "former military member" part may be a little overly restrictive, one could see some positive aspects of demonstrating some sort of serious sacrifice and commitment to the group (nation/city/etc) before allowing a person to decide the fate of that group.

As opposed to an educational requirement, which only ensures that voters understand the effect government policies will have on their own lives.
Let's imagine that you have a group of people that are both bright and selfish. They have to reach a compromise that would leave them the best off. Their self interest involves the country be in good shape in long run, right? Doesn't sound bad.

I would not expect from such people generous donations to charity, but actually voting for politicians with reasonable policies would be one thing that such people would provide

(other thing that they should presumably not be trusted with secret data, there would be a risk that they defect in such case)


lisab said:
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Can you explain?
Well, in the precious post it was implied, as general rule that power corrupts. I wanted to ask the person who made such statement to ask whether this rule actually applies to democracy? To those who wield voting card every four years?
 
  • #23
Czcibor said:
Well, we would want to turn into slav1es people who are on different forums, right? :biggrin:

My Polish is much worse than my Russian.

To paraphrase lisab; "Ja nyet pawn-ee-my-et2" <-- Rooski


1. Is it a coincidence that "Slav", meaning "the glorious ones", is apparently the root for "Slave"?
2. I do not understand

I am of course, not averse to being educated, if anything I've posted is incorrect.
 
  • #24
Without reading much of the thread, here's my opinion:

While it sounds nice and logical to have the smart people making the decisions, a successful democracy needs to be aware of and even utilize human nature in governance. Meritocracy fails to be workable due to at least two problems:

1. Smart people still have the common human failing of selfishness, which is probably a bigger problem than intelligence in making quality decisions.

2. Democracies are stable partly becuase everyone has a voice (even if they don't exercise it, it matters that they can). If people are not represented, they will resent the decisions of the government more, even if they tend to be better decisions.
 
  • #25
Czcibor said:
Well, we would want to turn into slaves people who are on different forums, right? :biggrin:

Honestly, no, we would not want that. There's a saying in the US: "Be careful what you wish for - it might come true!"
Let's imagine that you have a group of people that are both bright and selfish. They have to reach a compromise that would leave them the best off. Their self interest involves the country be in good shape in long run, right? Doesn't sound bad.
No, their self interest is mainly keeping themselves in power. This rarely involves sharing power - which would mean "educating other people so they can vote" in your system. I think your system would result in denying the masses education.

Education should mean you have a *chance* to become successful, it should never be a guarantee of it.
Well, in the precious post it was implied, as general rule that power corrupts. I wanted to ask the person who made such statement to ask whether this rule actually applies to democracy? To those who wield voting card every four years?
Yes, I was the person who made that post :smile:. You're making an assumption that voting leads to corruption. I'm asking you to expand on that idea (i.e., do you have examples or proof that democracy leads to widespread corruption?)
 
  • #26
I'd opt for letting the best Teachers vote instead. They'd be rated on a balance of Quality of teaching and Quantity of students, thereby ensuring that not only knowledge but also the selfless sharing of that knowledge is factored into the decision making.
 
  • #27
russ_watters said:
While it sounds nice and logical to have the smart people making the decisions, a successful democracy needs to be aware of and even utilize human nature in governance.

So you're saying INTJ's shouldn't be allowed to vote? :smile:

Humans do have both a rational part and an irrational part and both are very real and need to be addressed.

Actually, running a government solely on logic would have some other serious downsides. For example, at any given time, several of the Congressmen in the room could have blue dots on their head, which would be pretty disturbing, but interestingly, they would all leave the room at the same time. Or, a terrorist could pose as a missionary and reveal some deep personal secret about the Congressmen's sex lives that would result in all of them killing themselves on the 535th night.
 
  • #28
Czcibor said:
Assuming that formal education was required, then there would be risk:
-that it would be claimed that's a matter of having money (like in US where it is paid directly by student)
-there would be problem with different curricula (there are schools easy to pass, and very hard to pass)
-there would be an intergeneration problem (ex. in my country) that in past only few percentage had higher education, but now we're flooded by people (round 50% of my generation) who at least theoretically hold at least B.A. diploma. It's not that my country smarten up so much, but also reflect some inflation of titles.

russ_watters said:
2. Democracies are stable partly becuase everyone has a voice (even if they don't exercise it, it matters that they can). If people are not represented, they will resent the decisions of the government more, even if they tend to be better decisions.

Well, when I suggested a fixed education level it was only to make the point that a fixed level is better than a percentage of the population, exactly because of what russ_water says: It's important that everyone has the chance to vote if they find it important enough to get educated for. In addition, note that I do not regard the US system as good in this respect, as education there is still too much of a class thing, it would have to be directly practically and easily available to everyone to count.

Also, one does not have to pick a certain overall education level. Another idea is simply to set up a specific course, something like "All you need to know about politics and ecomony". It would be subject to national standards to guarantee quality and equality (and be free obviously), and which after passing would give you the right to vote.
 
  • #29
OmCheeto said:
My Polish is much worse than my Russian.

To paraphrase lisab; "Ja nyet pawn-ee-my-et2" <-- Rooski


1. Is it a coincidence that "Slav", meaning "the glorious ones", is apparently the root for "Slave"?
2. I do not understand

I am of course, not averse to being educated, if anything I've posted is incorrect.
Yes, I've heard also about this root of this word.

Чего ты не понимаешь?
(I hope that I spelled that correctly, I lack Russian spellcheck; EDIT: I corrected spelling)

russ_watters said:
1. Smart people still have the common human failing of selfishness, which is probably a bigger problem than intelligence in making quality decisions.

May I show a few cases:

USA: Poor people supporting Tea Party and expecting regularly playing with default and asking for draconian entitlement reduction;
Germany: Public opinion that demanded closing down nuclear plants; (the most expensive to increase carbon dioxide production...)
Poland: Big part of more nationalistic electorate don't believe that our president crashed in mist, but consider that as assassination by Putin and expects from our gov official confirmation of their believes and starting adequate retaliation on Russians

In all above mentioned cases there are clearly good guys who do not fight for themselves but for common good... See the problem?
lisab said:
Yes, I was the person who made that post :smile:. You're making an assumption that voting leads to corruption. I'm asking you to expand on that idea (i.e., do you have examples or proof that democracy leads to widespread corruption?)
That's mosltly conclusion of your post.

Premisses:
1) The people who wield power in democracy are those who vote
2) Power corrupts (you stated so, so I would treat is as true)

So assuming that power corrupts, the voters should become corrupted.

Or maybe premise 1 is false? (but then the advantage of democracy is more a convenient illusion, that provides social peace)

Zarqon said:
Well, when I suggested a fixed education level it was only to make the point that a fixed level is better than a percentage of the population, exactly because of what russ_water says: It's important that everyone has the chance to vote if they find it important enough to get educated for. In addition, note that I do not regard the US system as good in this respect, as education there is still too much of a class thing, it would have to be directly practically and easily available to everyone to count.

Also, one does not have to pick a certain overall education level. Another idea is simply to set up a specific course, something like "All you need to know about politics and ecomony". It would be subject to national standards to guarantee quality and equality (and be free obviously), and which after passing would give you the right to vote.
That as general idea that also could work, though I'm afraid that in such case there would be risk:
-that knowledge would become obsolete (if it is impossible to change question every 5 years)
-that the test would be subject to some kind of gerrymandering (if it's possible to change that)

Some arbitrary, fixed in constitution number would be harder to tamper, but maybe there is a solution that I don't see.
 
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  • #30
Ever read animal farm? The arguments of the pigs would be relevant here.

Aside from the fact that democracies are arguably more moral and grant greater social stability how would a meritocratic system even work? What possible test could be created that would, without significant failure, highlight who is and isn't a benevelont philosopher king? Bear in mind that there is no guarantee that people who are intelligent aren't stupid. How many academics have you heard of that are distnquished in their field yet are also superstitious or buy into crackpot/conspiracy theories or are just downright racist/sexist/ageist etc.

To cap off I'm of the opinion that meritocratic government arguments confuse capability in a field with ability to correctly choose which fields to pursue and when. A meritocratic voter might be an expert in urban development and have a solid plan on what measures to enact to build up and modernise a town but that doesn't mean they have the right to do it. Perhaps the people of that town want to live in a small, traditional settlement (that's one example and I'm sure I can think of better but at the moment I'm running a fever so it will have to do).

Edit: forgot to mention something regarding the title of this thread: republics are not synonymous with democracies. You can have a democracy without it being a republic (the UK) and you can have a republic without it being a democracy (the brief Commonwealth of England).
 
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  • #31
First, I am pretty sure Heinlein's world required participation in "federal service" which could but did not have to be military.

Second, going from universal suffrage to a 20% franchise means that the 20% thinks the 80% is "voting wrong", and furthermore, they cannot be convinced, so they must have their right to vote revoked. Seems like a tough sell to me.
 
  • #32
Ryan_m_b said:
Ever read animal farm? The arguments of the pigs would be relevant here.
Yes, I've read it, however, the copy that I read was in unofficial translation that was illegally printed during last days of communism in my country. So maybe there was a part that I missed. (?)

Ryan_m_b said:
Aside from the fact that democracies are arguably more moral and grant greater social stability how would a meritocratic system even work?
I would be very careful with moral argument.

First we would have to discuss a bit tricky subject of morality and try to take some more culturally neutral viewpoint that would try to take into account ex. divine rights of kings or mandate of heaven. And we would be dangerously far from positivism.

Secondly, I would start from challenging the the morality of democracy by analysing how true were promises given in elections and whether selling products while being so economical with truth wouldn't be considered not only immoral but as fraud under quite a few legal systems.

What possible test could be created that would, without significant failure, highlight who is and isn't a benevelont philosopher king?
But I don't look for a philosopher king. I look for republic where voting rights are granted only to a more intelligent part of population.

Bear in mind that there is no guarantee that people who are intelligent aren't stupid. How many academics have you heard of that are distnquished in their field yet are also superstitious or buy into crackpot/conspiracy theories or are just downright racist/sexist/ageist etc.
Actually, assuming that your point is fighting with crackpot/conspiracy theories or racism/sexism/ageism, then actually moving to such meritocratic system would be according to your goal. Using just education as proxy I've seen stats for my country that the better the education the lower amount of support for conspiracy theories (ex. Russians blowing up plane of our president) and higher tolerance for different races. (ex. accepting relative marrying person of different race)

For sure, there would be some freakish ideas left. But there would be lower percentage of freaks that in general population.
Vanadium 50 said:
Second, going from universal suffrage to a 20% franchise means that the 20% thinks the 80% is "voting wrong", and furthermore, they cannot be convinced, so they must have their right to vote revoked. Seems like a tough sell to me.
Yes, I agree it's tough to sell. However, in times of monarchies, democracy also wasn't easy to sell.
 
  • #33
Czcibor said:
Yes, I've read it, however, the copy that I read was in unofficial translation that was illegally printed during last days of communism in my country. So maybe there was a part that I missed. (?)
Initially all animals are allowed to propose actions and vote on actions at council meetings. However the pigs are more intelligent and tend to be the ones that propose actions. Eventually the pigs argue it would be more efficient if only pigs were allowed to propose actions but all animals can vote. The they change it to just pigs voting. Then they remove the right to view council discussions. Essentially they slide from productive members of a democracy to a ruling oligarch that takes care of itself. A valuable warning over how non democratic systems have fewer checks and balances.
Czcibor said:
I would be very careful with moral argument.

First we would have to discuss a bit tricky subject of morality and try to take some more culturally neutral viewpoint that would try to take into account ex. divine rights of kings or mandate of heaven. And we would be dangerously far from positivism.
You're making it more difficult than this needs to be. By my moral standards democracies are more moral.
Czcibor said:
Secondly, I would start from challenging the the morality of democracy by analysing how true were promises given in elections and whether selling products while being so economical with truth wouldn't be considered not only immoral but as fraud under quite a few legal systems.
You're conflating the issues of individual democratic systems with democracy as a category of government.
Czcibor said:
But I don't look for a philosopher king. I look for republic where voting rights are granted only to a more intelligent part of population.
I was using hyperbole to make the point that there is no good test to choose who deserves to vote.
Czcibor said:
Actually, assuming that your point is fighting with crackpot/conspiracy theories or racism/sexism/ageism, then actually moving to such meritocratic system would be according to your goal. Using just education as proxy I've seen stats for my country that the better the education the lower amount of support for conspiracy theories (ex. Russians blowing up plane of our president) and higher tolerance for different races. (ex. accepting relative marrying person of different race)

For sure, there would be some freakish ideas left. But there would be lower percentage of freaks that in general population.
To me this is an argument for increasing education across the board. Not just allowing the educated to vote because there's no check against the meritocrats becoming oligarchs and gaming the system for their continued advantage, there's no good way of evaluating who should get the vote, people have different moral systems and there's no reason to choose one over the other just because of education (e.g imagine a country where private religious schools have more resources per student and so have a disproportionate amount of power in politics that could be used to impose said religion's moral teachings over the rest of society) and lastly I don't see a way in which any society today can transition to a meritocratic one given that education is not fairly distributed now. Change now and you're likely to get a system wherein wealthy white demographics are more likely to be represented without any check.
 
  • #34
Czcibor said:
I think that I would be within 20%...

Me too! That's why I find it peculiar that I do not understand you at all.

Also, I pretty much despise politics, as I consider following it a waste of time. Though I know people who I consider to be in the 20%, and I sense some of them have the same values that I do. I would very much like to yield my vote to those people, as someone who follows the issues would do a much better voting job than I.

But this strikes me as how our system works anyways. I vote for who I think is the best representative of my values, and they go to Washington. When I sense that someone is a satanic devil worshiper, hell bent on destroying America, then I will donate money to their opposition. I did this for someone in Virginia last year. Virginia is 2700 miles from where I live. I will also bad mouth people I don't like, to death, both here and on Facebook. Hell hath now fury like a woman scorned, nor OmCheeto pissed off.

ps. I'd rather spend 90% of my time studying science, than political science.

pps. And since I'm not following any of your arguments, I don't feel I'm learning anything, nor do I find this entertaining. So I will unsubscribe from this thread, effective, now.
 
  • #35
Ryan_m_b said:
Initially all animals are allowed to propose actions and vote on actions at council meetings. However the pigs are more intelligent and tend to be the ones that propose actions. Eventually the pigs argue it would be more efficient if only pigs were allowed to propose actions but all animals can vote. The they change it to just pigs voting. Then they remove the right to view council discussions. Essentially they slide from productive members of a democracy to a ruling oligarch that takes care of itself. A valuable warning over how non democratic systems have fewer checks and balances.
I admit, you have very original interpretation. The more usual is warning about communism, that starts from nice egalitarian ideas. Taking into account Orwell engagement in Spanish civil war and his experience with being attacked by units backed by the SU, I'm afraid that the second interpretation is closer to his goal.

You're making it more difficult than this needs to be. By my moral standards democracies are more moral.
Why should morality be measured by your standards? And not by mine? Or not by some standards of some other third party? (including third parties that are not necessary alive today)

You're conflating the issues of individual democratic systems with democracy as a category of government.
So your point is that in idealized democracy, which exist as kind of immortal Platonic idea we don't have this issue? So the problem and lack of morality exists only in real life democracies? Well, we might actually be approaching a common ground here.

(My bold)
I was using hyperbole to make the point that there is no good test to choose who deserves to vote.

To me this is an argument for increasing education across the board. Not just allowing the educated to vote because there's no check against the meritocrats becoming oligarchs and gaming the system for their continued advantage, there's no good way of evaluating who should get the vote, people have different moral systems and there's no reason to choose one over the other just because of education (e.g imagine a country where private religious schools have more resources per student and so have a disproportionate amount of power in politics that could be used to impose said religion's moral teachings over the rest of society) and lastly I don't see a way in which any society today can transition to a meritocratic one given that education is not fairly distributed now. Change now and you're likely to get a system wherein wealthy white demographics are more likely to be represented without any check.
You neither have a good test for quite many features including who should get citizenship. I think for example of US using "wet feet, dry feet policy". Also we might wonder why the threshold should be 18 years. (Not mentioning that in a few years ago in Poland Civic Platform suggested lowering the threshold to 16, while in Germany FDP suggested granting the law also to children regardless of their age, however the law would be exercised by their parents) That's purely arbitrary distinction, just you are used to one of possible combination and treat it as granted.

Concerning winning election - actually religious people tend to have more children which also might have impact on election. in Israel Chasids by higher fertility rate are increasing their share in next election, what presumably in long run would be more harmful for Israel than a few Palestinians launching rockets.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if we use US politics as example and people with higher education as kind of approximation you would actually as result get a landslide election for Obama, and congress with Democrats majority which wouldn't be gridlocked. Doesn't look perfect, but I have to admit, that much better what you have now.

I think that you make one mistake here, you use word: "deserve". The point is not who deserve. The point is who will make the decision that would be most beneficial for common good.

Hypothetically a some random process can be used, as was in ancient Athens. Does the randomly selected people deserve more than those who have lost? No, but anyway could be used if that makes the system more effective. (ancient Athenians were afraid of political parties, thus selecting people by lots from citizens, they hoped to avoid that problem)
 

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