The Problem with #Democracy

Came across this interesting article written by Sam Bowman on the Adam Smith Institute blog:

“The public is ignorant about politics and lacks even the basic facts that it would need to make sound judgments about political issues. A new poll by Ipsos-MORI shows just how deep this ignorance is. Among other things, the poll found that:
  • 29% of people think we spend more on JSA than pensions, when in fact we spend 15 times more on pensions (£4.9bn vs £74.2bn)
  • 26% of people think foreign aid is one of the top 2-3 items government spends most money on, when it actually made up 1.1% of expenditure (£7.9bn) in the 2011/12 financial year.  More people select this as a top item of expenditure than pensions (which cost nearly ten times as much, £74bn) and education in the UK (£51.5bn)
  • the public think that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%. we greatly overestimate the proportion of the population who are Muslims: on average we say 24%, compared with 5% in England and Wales.
  • people are most likely to think that capping benefits at £26,000 per household will save most money from a list provided (33% pick this option), over twice the level that select raising the pension age to 66 for both men and women or stopping child benefit when someone in the household earns £50k+.  In fact, capping household benefits is estimated to save £290m, compared with £5bn for raising the pension age and £1.7bn for stopping child benefit for wealthier households.
These are not just little mistakes, they’re absolute howlers.
This ignorance is perfectly rational and understandable. The problem is that these are the people who decide who runs the country. How can you choose the best set of welfare policies – ‘the best’ being what you would choose if you had all the information available – when you know absolutely nothing about welfare? How can you choose which of the two main parties is offering the best immigration policy if you haven’t got a clue about immigration?
Obviously, you can’t. And giving more power to well-informed elites seems even more foolish. Political psychology suggests that that the more information you have about something, the more resistant to new, contradictory information you are – or, in other words, the more dogmatically ideological you are.
That ideology is often dressed up in terminology that sounds neutral but makes significant assumptions about the role of the state and its ability to effectively solve society’s problems. Anyone for some ‘evidence-based policy’?
This is a problem not just for elections, but for any kind of administration of the state that gives experts decision-making power. If they are inherently dogmatic then giving them power may be even worse than putting every policy issue up to a referendum may be the lesser of two evils (while still being very unappealing).
The choice we have in a democracy appears to be between open-minded ignoramuses or well-informed ideologues. There is no reason to think that either will choose anything like the ‘right’ policy for any given problem. And, as Jeffrey Friedman has argued, unlike when you buy the ‘wrong’ flavour of ice-cream and can immediately buy a different kind next time, the feedback mechanism in politics is weak and difficult to discern.
The answer may be to recognise these crippling limitations of democracy and, wherever possible, prefer decentralized market mechanisms. We cannot solve the problem of ignorant voters or dogmatic elites in democracy, but we can at least try to take as much power out of their hands as possible.”

Western "Democracy" = Corporate Dictatorship

There are many people who I encounter online who consider themselves to be liberal, progressive types. They say they want to see an end to poverty and they want more people in the World to have a share in the wealth of the World. These people think that the prevailing economic and political system in the World – Capitalism – is essentially fine, and that it just needs some tweaking here and there to make it more humanitarian and compassionate. 

Here is where I and they part company. Capitalism is an anti-human system. It depends on the exploitation of the many in order to create profits for the few. Everything is about making more profits. The motive of Capitalism is the lust for bigger profits, not the wellbeing of the people. It is precisely because of Capitalism that there is so much poverty, disease and death in the World. As long as Capitalism reigns supreme, the World will never be a just place.

Now, usually, the well-meaning (and not so well meaning) liberals I mentioned earlier don’t really talk about Capitalism. It’s almost as though they are unwilling to admit that Capitalism exists. But when people like me mention the alternative to Capitalism, i.e. Socialism, these people are super-quick to attack. They will rail against the supposed evils of Socialism, they will pontificate about how Socialism doesn’t work and how Capitalism may not be perfect, but it’s the only viable system.

A favourite accusation I hear against Socialist countries is that they are dictatorships. This gets to one of the fundamental hang ups of many do-goody liberals. They are obsessed with the concept of democracy – by which they mean western forms of liberal democracy. Most of the time, these people have not spent even 10 minutes researching into the political system in places like Cuba, North Korea, China or pre-NATO/ NTC Libya. They just swallow the corporate story that these places are/were dictatorships.

But the bigger problem with these folks is that they totally ignore that the so-called democracy in places like Britain and the US is a sham. There are 2 or 3 parties in those countries that have any hope of winning an election. But all of these parties represent the same tiny group of people, the 1%, the super-super rich. These ‘democracies’ are in the business of transferring the wealth from the poor to the super-rich. This is a dictatorship of the 1% with a veneer of actual democracy. These same people also control the media, which means they control what information the public gets to hear. They relentlessly push the agenda of the 1% – ensuring that any views outside of their status-quo are portrayed as dangerous and even crazy.

What’s worse is that not only are these so-called liberals ignorant about the lack of democracy in the West, they are often the biggest cheerleaders for western militarism overseas. They seem utterly oblivious or perhaps unconcerned at the fact that the ‘democractic’ West continuously attacks genuine democracy around the World in order to defend the 1%’s global hegemony.


So they cheered loudly when the North Atlantic treaty Organisation bombed Libya into ashes. For them, this was a necessary bit of violence to remove a ‘brutal dictator’. Never mind all the massive increases in the quality of life for Libyans that had happened under Jamahiriya – what Libya really needed was multi-party democracy! They are now salivating at the prospect of ‘our boys’ going over to Syria to ‘liberate’ the country from the ‘evil’ ‘satanic’ President Assad in Syria. And they will probably jump into action when the US tries to engineer a situation in Venezuela this coming October during the elections there.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that for all of their lovely-sounding talk of ‘development’ – many do-goody liberals are actually enemies of human progress. They are (probably unwitting) cheerleaders for Capitalism and Imperialism, exploitation, inequality and injustice.