Ritchie delivers the killing blow to democracy as an idea

No, really:

But the point is clear: if you ask people who have no clue about an issue what they think, and then suggest that this should be the basis for policy you will actually simply base policy on prejudice.

Better not ask the people about anything then, eh? Far better to just have it all sorted out by those wise people who already know what people ought to think, eh?

18 thoughts on “Ritchie delivers the killing blow to democracy as an idea”

  1. I think he said that he’s incapable of explaining an issue in such a way that the reader will learn enough to have an informed opinion.

    Or maybe he didn’t….

  2. The philosopher king speaks, a society run by the experts seems to be in order….wait a minute did they not try that in the Soviet union to such great effect?

    I once visited relatives in Poland in 1979, it worked beautifully, the expert class eat well as you can under socialism, and my relatives had to save up their rations for six months to feed me and my grandfather.

    The Banality of evil does not get more boring than a retired tax accountant.

    No doubt richie will be part of the expert class.

  3. The vacuous phrase “people who have no clue”, is merely a pretence for “whoever I deem to be worthy”.

  4. One of the great things about democracy is that it sometimes permits the ‘clueless mob’ to restrain the more lunatic flights of fancy of the expert class. Let us examine tbe more recent fruits of the wisdom of the Governing class:

    Joining the ERM
    Colossal public debt and uncontrolled spending

  5. Wasn’t there a scene in “remains of the day” where the aristo’s question the Butler on big issues of the day and take his formal response of ” I couldn’t say, Sir” is taken as evidence that the lower orders shouldn’t have the vote? All very animal farm I say.

  6. He does have a point. Democracy holds that all people have votes that are of equal value, regardless of education, relevant knowledge, bias, etc. This is a noble idea, but clearly false in the real world ™.

    Democracy has often been referred to as the tyranny of the majority. If 51% of people vote that the other 49% of people should give up half their money, then they must: It is the will of the people! With current voter turnouts, you can often get away with having only about 20-30% of the people on your side, if they’re willing to get up and vote.

    So I agree that democracy is deeply flawed. The problem is that so is every other system out there. Democracy seems to be the least flawed (other than putting me in charge – I’d be a nice benevolent dictator, honest :p) so that’s what we’re stuck with…

  7. Rational Anarchist said (#10) “Democracy holds that all people have votes that are of equal value, regardless of education, relevant knowledge, bias, etc. ”

    We used to partly deal with that through multiple voting.

    Oxford or Cambridge MAs voted at home and also for their University MPs (2 for each university, and I think the Scottish universities also had one MP between them).

    Plus people with their own businesses got a vote at home plus a vote at their business address, and it was perfectly legal to vote in both.

    So a self-employed Oxford graduate would have 3 votes.

    Abolished in 1950. Their restoration is yet another unfilled Tory promise.

  8. I read a short story not that long ago – I think it was by Heinlein, but could be wrong. In it, the society used a system whereby everyone had one vote. If you completed High School you got another vote. 6th Form netted you another 2, then university another 4. A doctorate would get you another 8.

    In addition, you received votes based on your savings – for every $50,000 you had in the bank, you got one vote.

    Now, this would have been written some time ago (he wrote short stories mostly from the 40s to the 70s), so that figure should probably be revised upwards rather a lot – but it’s an interesting idea…

    Thinking about it, it might have been a Mark Twain story – in which case the cash amount would have to be a lot higher…

  9. Rational Anarchist,

    In Heinlein’s Starship Troopers one only had the vote if one had completed military service.

    It was Twain’s The Curious Republic of Gondour that had rules very similar to your comment @12.

  10. That’s the one – The Curious Republic of Gondour. I knew I’d read it somewhere, although looking at it again, I note that the monetary aspect is not quite as I had remembered. You get one vote if you have at least 3,000 ‘Sacos’ and another for each 50,000 ‘Sacos’ beyond. As we don’t know how much these ‘Sacos’ are worth, we can’t determine how much it would be in today’s money. Not that it matters so much how much Twain thought it should be – more to the point is how much we think it should be, if we were to use the system.

    I do like the system put forth in Starship Troopers, although I prefer the spin that Heinlein later put on it in discussion. Although the book implies military service only, he said that he intended all governmental service to count – and that in times of peace, the majority of those doing their service would be paper pushers, street sweepers and the like (given the most boring and mundane of jobs to (a) save others from having to do it, (b) save the government from having to pay lots to get someone to do it and (c) make sure that they felt they had earned their citizenship).

  11. Personally I’d rather people got the vote only if they didn’t work for the government (and I count all net recipients of public spending in that group.) No representation without taxation!

  12. @David Gillies

    I’d take your statement one step further – if you don’t work and pay tax you don’t get a vote.

    It might stop Labout buying votes by promising dole scroungers more of our money… (which along with immigrants and public sector workers now constitutes the Labout voter base having abandoned working class families a long long time ago…)

  13. Actually, in the Starship Troopers model you don’t get the vote until you’ve done 2 years service (iirc) and subsequently left.

    The main character in the novel decides to go career military, knowing that he won’t get the vote until he retires.

    Regarding no vote unless you pay taxes – might be awkward for those who pay taxes and receive benefits. So if someone works a few hours a week and gets housing allowance and income support (i.e. more benefits than tax paid) do they get the vote? Is it only net taxpayers? And if so, you’re saying that paying gives the vote, so why not go the whole hog and award votes in proportion to net taxes paid? Even better, why not sell votes? (Please note, I’m not saying that these are good or bad ideas – but they’re ones I’m interested in discussing 🙂 )

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