View Full Version : Political Rant # 2: The real purpose of government. (much much shorter)

24th Nov 2001, 10:21 PM
Political Rant # 2: The real purpose of government.

I want to share a realization with you. It was Henry David Thoreau’s contention that democracy is a dictatorship of the majority, who are not necessarily more likely to be right, but simply stronger than the minority. Having read that previous article in the New Yorker, this had me doing some soul searching. When I was young, and my friends and I went out, we’d take votes on where to go, and end up saying something along the lines of, “6-2, majority rules, let’s head off over yonder…” Perhaps not the exact words “yonder” but the gist is there. And I never felt to question this proposition. However, I recently reconsidered this, and discovered that we had been very wrong, in my opinion, about the interpretation of majority rule and democracy…

First of all, the founding fathers created not a democracy but a representative republic. The fundamental difference being that we don’t have nationwide town hall meetings every Thursday night, but rather have elected officials in Washington, who represent the interests of the people, and vote accordingly. It never occurred to me to think about it this way, but here’s the thing, the fact that we have a representative government is precisely due to the fact that the majority is not necessarily always the most likely to be right, in fact they are likely to be ignorant, short sighted and gullible. Which is why we need representatives choosing policy, and not the majority.

Consider the Senate, 2 representatives from each state regardless of size. 2 from Texas, and 2 from Rhode Island, never mind the fact that you can fit 300 Rhode Islands inside Texas. Ever wonder why? I realized that it was because the founding fathers understood the principle that the object of government is not to execute the will of the majority, no for the majority can exercise its own will by virtue of the fact that it IS the strongest, the object of government is actually to protect the minority, the weak, the disenfranchised. The majority needs no help, its opinions by definition are the loudest, most visible ones, the minority needs help however, to remind people that dissent still exists.

The fundamental basis for a good government is a diversity of ideas, it allows society and civilization to grow. Government therefore, as an agent of progress, must ensure that differences in ideas exist. The burden falls on its shoulders to ensure that an idea, no matter how unpopular, is not marginalized, that it exists as either inspiration or in ridicule, or perhaps in simultaneity. It needs to keep farfetched ideas from being squeezed off the board, from become silent, from becoming tears in the rain. The importance of Government and what distinguishes it from simply mob rule is that it must protect the minority, allow the minority to be heard above the shouts of the majority, since the majority in unison has no problem propagating itself. Otherwise government is moot. Any angry mob can impose its will on one person, just as any majority can impose its will on the minority.

So many times before in history has a city had one ruling party come in, kill its opposition and minority in a bloody war, impose its will, then have another stronger group come in and do the same. We call those massacres, and we call those barbaric civilizations, but really in democracy the same is being done only silently, and without bloodshed…

Therefore, the idea of a democracy is really counter-intuitive, and paradoxal to the ideal role of the government. In a democracy, precisely the tyranny and oppression by the majority exists. Only in a representative republican government is such tyranny averted. I believe that this is if not the reason the constitutional convention decided to make the government a republic, then a satisfactory side-effect.

Whether or not this is still true in practice, especially the soft-money issue, is another story entirely, but in principle, and governmental idealism, that is what I think the government should do.

25th Nov 2001, 02:57 AM
The purpose of government is to ensure the greatest good for the people it governs. Nothing more, nothing less. Democracy and the free flow of ideas is simply an expedient which allows this to happen ( in theory ), although actually a truly democratic system in which everyone could vote on every decision would be unworkable as well as very unstable.

"Democracys" tend to be the most peaceful and stable governments as the fact that a ruler must try and please the majorty of the people means that nothing that bad can occour so long as the democracy remains in place. But a democracy is by the same token not the ideal method of government, as the ruler must also adhere to the views of the moral majority if they want to stay in power. History has shown that more totalitarian regimes can be far more effective in terms of military and industrial progress : e.g Russian and Germany before WW2. In both these cases millions of innocents were slaughtered as well, but I believe that a benevolent dictatorship is the ultimatly the best form of government.

25th Nov 2001, 03:13 AM
shorter my arse

25th Nov 2001, 01:58 PM
bangout: =P

but see, i don't think that government exists to expidite the will of the many! that makes it no better than mob rule. in china, an undeniable majority supported the government through the cultural revolution? why because there were low education standards, people were stupid and easily fanned into stupid actions against their neighbors. and what was that? it was a tyrannical oppression of the majority against the minority. the revolution against hte land owning class, hte revolution against the intellectuals, all backed by popular demand, and all of which exhibit the same damn thing, tyranny. if we consider that tyrannical, then we have to think that perhaps majority rule is not always the right thing.

the tyranny of hte majority is merely democracy, imposing will of the many. but think about this, the majority elected hitler into office, the majority tacitly condoned the concentration camps (they didn't know how the jews were killed, but the concept of a concentration camp where the unwanted were thrown into, didn't offend much people.) and look what happened there? the majority, just because they are many, does not mean they are always right. in fact, the true reformers, in any political system, are almost always at first, not favored by the majority. and the truly noble politician's job is not to lean towards making people happy, but to doing the right thing, that people are often too short-sighted to see.

if we simply went along with public opinion for the moment, then nobody would pay any taxes, because taxes are bad and hated, but then there are no roads, the cities go broke, and bad things happen. so instead of going through this cycle of putting cities into slums, sometimes politicians have to do the unpopular, but right things.

just because something makes many people happy doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. burning carthage to the ground was favorable to most in Rome, was it right? The crusades, the jihad (not the present jihad, but that of saladin.) or even slavery, were all examples of costly errors by the majority.

the minority's ideas are either right or wrong, if they are allowed an equal voice as the majority, then everyone can see the ideas and decide for themselves. if they are right, they are adopted, if htey are wrong, they are laughed at, but they must be brought before the people. however, the shouts of the majority are so loud taht it often marginalizes and silences dissent, and opposition, that it prevents those ideas, good ideas, and bad ideas, from even reaching the forum.

that is why i believe in representitive republican government. because it removes the mob rule element, it is not merely a dictatorship of the majority, it allows room for more structured, safer idea flow. otherwise, it is no different from any other tyrannical government, and defeats its own purpose of representation.

25th Nov 2001, 02:49 PM
"but see, i don't think that government exists to expidite the will of the many! that makes it no better than mob rule"

Exactly! Thats just my point. The more freedom you give people, the more they eventually oppress each other. People as a rule are selfish and if people were given the abilty to vote on every decision, things would be much worse than if the decisions were made as they are today. The point of government is to give people what's actually good for them, not that they think is good for them. The greatest good for the greatest number...sounds cold hearted but actually the greater good is just that.

25th Nov 2001, 11:52 PM
Those are way to many words to read!

25th Nov 2001, 11:54 PM
if you just read every third word, there's a secret message.

26th Nov 2001, 12:00 AM

26th Nov 2001, 12:02 AM
It's the password to free pr0n sites