Monday, August 07, 2006

Public Opinon and Democracy

Since we've been hearing so much about democracy here lately, I thought I'd post some quotes on public opinion and democracy. Most of the ones I have below came from Robe's Quote Page. I got the idea of using that topic for a post when I noticed he'd added a Polls and Public Opinion section to his page. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

"Fifty one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic". - Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding on what to have for lunch".- Unknown

"All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not what is established." (Aristotle)

"One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny." (Bertrand Russell)

"The tyranny of the multitude is a multiplied tyranny." (Edmund Burke)

"It is the besetting vice of democracies to substitute public opinion for law. This is the usual form in which the masses of men exhibit their tyranny." (James Fenimore Cooper)

"When the people have no tyrant, their own public opinion becomes one." (Lord Lytton)

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage." (Alexander Tyler)

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." (Albert Einstein)

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except perhaps for all the others..."- Winston Churchill


At 10:51 AM, Blogger saf said...

So whats your alternative Fred?

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Steve Lewis said...

Social evolution is on the side of democracy 'cause it's the only form of government that allows the creativity of mass populations to solve social problems. All other forms of government narrow down the decision-makers and eventually that loses out to the ability of larger numbers to come up with more effective solutions.

Elite decision-making groups will oppose democracies of course with the standard giraffe built by committee consensus was supposed to be an elephant, i.e., the masses will make stupid decisions and that too is right..

whatcha gonna do?

At 11:02 AM, Blogger saf said...

Do you think we should have a two thirds majority rule?

Many activists I know have criticisms of democracy similiar to some of those above and in the previous comment thread. Many say that it leads to oppression of the minority by the majority.

It's kind of wierd to see libertarians and right wingers start to make the same criticisms.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Steve Lewis said...

The problems of democracy is a subject that will become crucial to freedom as our national populations increase. The basic problem is that with high population densities, such as in America, with majority rule huge numbers of people are virtually permanently disenfranchised.

Say 10% of the nation uses marijuana and wants to be free to do so but 90% don't want that to happen. What's 10% of our population? 30 million people? There were only 3 million people I recall or thereabout in the 13 original states when they wrote the Constitution. To disenfranchise 30 million people year after year, decade after decade, what's democracy to these people left out of the U.S. government loop? And that's most of our minorities.

I have a solution which I call the Minority Rights Amendment if anyone is interested..

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what's a "libertarian" ? Is that a librarian that's on a diet ? Or maybe a vegaterian?

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Fred said...

saf asks, "So whats your alternative Fred?".

I don't know. I suppose I'd go with Winston Churchill's quote. Biggest problem, as I see it, is too many things are subject to government "attention now", whether it be from politicians, bureaucrats or a majority vote.

We need to learn to live and let live.

Steve Lewis wrote, "I have a solution which I call the Minority Rights Amendment if anyone is interested..".

I'm interested, Steve.

11:18 asks, "what's a "libertarian" ?".

If you don't know by now, 11:18, I don't think I can explain it to you.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

gotta go with aristotle on this one.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Steve Lewis said...

I posted my MRA essay on my blog site.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Steve Lewis said...

The MRA typeface came out too dark for unknown reasons and I don't know how to lighten it up to read easier..

At 2:31 PM, Blogger Eric V. Kirk said...

Well, that's the cynical end of the equation. Captain Future's glass is half full.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger the PLAZOID said...

hi fred.

i don't think that "democracy" is the problem. let's look at concrete problems and come up with concrete solutions - and dispose with all ideologies and dogmas.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Plazoid wrote, "i don't think that "democracy" is the problem.".

Well, it is a problem, when people keep jerking other people around.

That said, I'll go with Churchill, who supposedly said, to paraphrase: "Democracy is the best form of government...except perhaps the others...".

At 1:50 PM, Blogger the PLAZOID said...

Fred -

what i meant was that "people jerking other people around" is the problem - not the idea of people determining their own destiny, which is what many people understand democracy to be.

I don't know the specific exact definition of "democracy" (something like "the rule of the people"), but in general i think that the right of people to determine their own destiny should be affirmed. Government, on the other hand, should be opposed when they start jerking people around, which ALL governments inevitably do.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Fred said...

"but in general i think that the right of people to determine their own destiny should be affirmed.".

Agreed, but all people's destiny should be determined by themselevs. Not a majority. No easy answer there, I'll admit.


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