Against Democracy

Against Democracy

Book - 2016
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"Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us - it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But, Jason Brennan says, they are all wrong. In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results - and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse - more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government - epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable, may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out." -- book jacket flap
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2016]
ISBN: 9780691162607
0691162603
Branch Call Number: 321.8 BRENNAN
Characteristics: ix, 288 pages ; 24 cm

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g
GIBBY_0
May 09, 2017

To paraphrase Winston Churchill " the best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter"
Voila!-- We have Donald Trump.
Gibby

d
donkeyhote
Feb 22, 2017

What is democracy? Groups of people voting against each other. Bickering. My everyday experience is that out of 10 there is always 1-2 persons who are nice, and other 1-2 persons who will oppose to anything, comment opposing views and insist that there should be what THEY want. They don't want Democracy, they want to have what they want and they don't care for others' views. Therefore, I might say that this author is right - a wise Dictatorship is preferable to Democracy. What about the view of some prominent persons about Democracy? Jean Chretien said on TV once (and I guess He was right) that Democracy is the rule of a minority over the majority. Because with 40 percent of the public vote a Party can win, and they will force their views on that 60 percent who did not vote for them. And the opposition and the MPs shout at each other in Parliament, each claiming something. The last Communist chief of Russia, now Lord Michail Gorbachov, said that he had enough of people criticizing him whatever (or the opposite of it) he was doing. Looks like Dictatorship of the nice and knowledgeable can be better and more peaceful than Democracy (I don't mean here the kind of system North Korea has). The UN is that wise forum that plans our future - they laid down a Plan named "Agenda 21", which is in fact a plan to create a united world and a peaceful Dictatorship. By the 22nd Century they will end national states and city life, and even family life, which is a unit of individual selfish separation. No more "I want this" or "I like this", no more selfish fights. This is a sensible plan, and I see in my everyday life new justifications for it. Read Arthur Koestler's book "The Ghost In The Machine" (1967) which he wrote on behalf of the UN's "Department of Behavioral Control." He said that the present (genetically "old type humans") individuals are lone hunters, who are "unwilling to give and reluctant to cooperate." The new world system will eliminate all conflict, erase individual rights - it will be a Dictatorship, a new type of modern slavery. This is what people deserved, for they had fought each other for millennia.

e
electrologos
Feb 22, 2017

Jason Brennan is a professor at Georgetown University, and in this book he attacks what he calls democratic triumphalism, and defends some type of epistocracy. He defines democratic triumphalism as the view that "democracy and widespread political participation are valuable, justified, and required by justice." Epistocracy is rule by the knowledgeable.

In chapters 2 to 5 he considers arguments against democracy, drawing on empirical research of actual democracies, rather than arguing against an ideal democracy. The book describes how people are mostly ignorant, irrational, and misinformed when it comes to voting. Here he classifies people as hobbits, hooligans, or vulcans. Most people are either hobbits or hooligans. Next he argues that political participation polarizes and makes people worse. Then he argues that a vote doesn't empower an individual, since it counts for so little, though it does empower collectives. Finally he argues that any political system should be treated as a means to an end and not an end in itself. So, if another system can produce better quality government, we should adopt that, even if that system doesn't guarantee one person one vote.

In the final chapters, he argues we have a right to competent government, which leads him to advocate for some form of epistocracy as opposed to democracy. Finally, he describes how one might bring about some form of epistocracy.

Dr. Brennan is in the minority when he advocates for epistocracy. However he provides arguments for his case, and since his arguments draw on empirical research, it makes them more compelling. This book is written in the analytic tradition of philosophy but much of it is accessible for any interested adult reader.

c
capitalcity
Feb 02, 2017

Democracy is suffocating to death from voter pollution. Hobbits, hooligans, vulcans ... Basically, the voter population is mired in cluelessness and credulity, unaware that its members have lost the ability to apply common sense in order to make decisions and solve problems, resulting in the proliferation of politicians and apparatchiks of the same incompetent ilk. Brennan is keen on epistocracy as an alternative. Not everyone is deserving of the right to vote, and some ought to have more than one vote. Verify competence to engage in decision making (tests, quizzes, ...) Unfortunately, he doesn't recognize that it's palliative care, whistling past the proverbial graveyard; a stopgap measure at best. People are, by and large, profligate deadbeats. Debt will inexorably give rise to a financial apocalypse, crushing all political systems.
Note: Against Democracy is rather ponderous due to its academic argument format.

s
StarGladiator
Jun 27, 2016

I look forward to reading this book, although from the description it appears the author is starting off with a faulty premise: this government is controlled, and has been for quite some time, by those who control the creation of money. To call America a democracy is somewhat specious.

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