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Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:04 pm

I was reading "An Enemy of the People" in my english class today and aa great point was brought up that Plato touches upon as well, and I think that it makes for an interesting discussion. Which form of governing is better, the rule of Democracy or the rule of Aristocracy, or do you believe that some other form surpasses the two?

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Erodius on Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:24 pm

I am strongly on the side of aristocracy, but only genuine aristocracy, in which honor, nobility of mind and spirit, and merit are the determining factors.

Democracy is a lovely daydream in a world in which people are intelligent, righteous, educated in what is good for themselves and for their neighbors, and selfless. However, this is a daydream, and democracy in practice turns out to be a dreadful thing.

No system can be righteous unless those in power, be it the many or the few, are themselves righteous, and I think the many almost never are, and the few are only rarely, so in practice it becomes a choice between two evils.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:31 pm

I was fealing the same way. I genuinely love the ideas presented in both Plat's Republic and Laws. I had the same conflict as you described, where the masses are ignorant and the aristocracy once polluted is just as bad. So what about the idea of a Nomocracy like in the Laws where even the government was subject and mainly enforcer of the law? Or the philosopher-king idea?

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Erodius on Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:13 am

Oh what I would give to put a true philosopher king on a throne . . .

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-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
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"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:21 am

I hear you. The first time I read the Republic I was 14, and my naive little mind was screaming "what? They had this in BC and we are still F****** around with failed expirements?" Of course, I see why they don't do it and haven't done it yet, but it was such a great idea..... Of course there is always the problem that people hate being told right from wrong...especially when they are wrong...

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:25 am

I also liked the ideas in Plato's laws though. The idea that the law is above everyone made sense. Then you wouldn't have these morons in washingto rerighting everythiing to stay popular.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  J_Agathokles on Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:14 am

I think ideally there should be an aristocracy, based in meritocratic and technocratic principles. That is to say, that there a minister/secretary of the environment for example should actually know something about biology and ecology, that a minister of justice must have studied laws, etc. And meritocracy in that the person actually fullfilling those roles has shown through his deeds and work that he is the most suitable for the job, which would also include for example whether said person is diplomatic, and other such important values for political leaders.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:46 am

Plato mensions that too, in his Republic. He says that everybody ought only be trained in one profession from the time they are children. Of course unless we go communist we can't decide peoples jobs from childhood. But the idea of people actually being specialists and trained in their work cirtainly sounds like a good idea.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  WynnDark on Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:53 am

Personally I've always been a fan of an actual Democratic Republic, emphasis on the Republic part since that seems to have been forgotten in the United States. I'm not terribly familiar with the current political systems in other parts of the world, so I can only really speak from the experience I have from here, but this country stopped being a Republic before I was ever old enough to vote.

Which is a sad state of affairs; because you're right Ερωδιός democracy is a terrible form of government even if it Starts out as 'good' it always rapidly devolves into something hardly recognizable as something different than a fascist state. Also, while true aristocracy is a beautiful thing, it's also incredibly rare to the point that one really can't hope for it to do any better than a democracy.

As an aside should anyone care to know what I'd consider the current government of the United States to be (and it's been this way for a long time, just getting worse as time goes on) I'd say it's an Oligarchy using Democracy as a front to keep the population fat and happy.

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Constitutional Republic.

Post  Aerystotahl on Sat May 04, 2013 12:12 am

"Rule by Law with the consent of the governed." When it actually works, as it did in America before the rise of liberalism.

Which is to say.. you have a body of laws that adhere to Natural Law and esteemed by those accorded wisdom and intelligence to set it into place. With posterity, given to the vote of citizens who pass certain criteria (maturity, informed of the current social climate, dedication to preservation of just Laws, etc.) are able to vote on those who best serve the ends of the Nation's Constitution.

Demos Kratos is just that.. Tyranny of the Majority.

Oligarchy does not work long term as infighting leads to nothing getting done, hence the rise of a dictator.

Monarchy only lasts as long as the man in power has virtue. However true monarchy has not existed for almost a thousand years, as within that time it has been one figurehead with a committee holding the collective power.

Anarchy.. without authority.. has never been put into practice long term because you need a standing army and means to adjudicate in a matter.

Thus, leaving a Constitutional Republic. However, the problem arises when the emotion and desire to help a people in trouble, where they may flourish and have different values than their liberators when the day of their children reach similar maturity. Thus, one finds the difficulty of a melting pot of converse ideals. Which only leads in time to an over turning of the originating principles to a Demos Kratos and finally a dissolution to Anarchy to clean the slate and start over.

Which gives credence to the phrase "the cost of liberty is eternal vigilance."

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aristocracy

Post  Lord Stewart on Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:19 am

I have always been a Aristocrat by nature. I modeled myself on Frederick the Great as becoming an Enlightened Despot. As stated in the leviathan " the rule of the elite and the educated will serve to create a stronger state than that which the mob as overall control." Democracies and republics get bogged down bureaucracy, and are to prone to shifting governmental polices that bounce from the left to the right. The pendulum swinging from the left to the right ends up tearing apart the nation. Worse than that conflict in the legislature can lead to stagnation that renders the government body impotent in its ability to run the state.There is also the stark truth that democracy given time will slowly devolve into Socialism. On top of that we have Social Darwinism. All men are not created equal. Some are superior while others are inferior. All of this is determined by by their genetics. States ruled by the superior will outperform those who are ruled by the inferior. All this taken into account, Autocracy is superior to Democracy.
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:02 am

Lord Stewart wrote:I have always been a Aristocrat by nature. I modeled myself on Frederick the Great as becoming an Enlightened Despot. As stated in the leviathan " the rule of the elite and the educated will serve to create a stronger state than that which the mob as overall control." Democracies and republics get bogged down bureaucracy, and are to prone to shifting governmental polices that bounce from the left to the right. The pendulum swinging from the left to the right ends up tearing apart the nation. Worse than that conflict in the legislature can lead to stagnation that renders the government body impotent in its ability to run the state.There is also the stark truth that democracy given time will slowly devolve into Socialism. On top of that we have Social Darwinism. All men are not created equal. Some are superior while others are inferior. All of this is determined by by their genetics. States ruled by the superior will outperform those who are ruled by the inferior. All this taken into account, Autocracy is superior to Democracy.                

I agree with much of what you say — except that I do not believe that the natural hierarchy is necessarily genetic.

However, be aware — await a firestorm from democratists.

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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:07 pm

All men are equal in their rights, which is what is meant in the Declaration of Independence. People obviously are not equal in terms of status, genetics, wealth, etc. But they are equal in rights, which any person of any modicum intelligence and virtue would see should be protected. And basing a hierarchy on genetics is essentially paving the way to the possibility of eugenics, which is a horrendous practice that we should stay as far as possible from.

I'm in favour of a meritocratic aristocracy. Not what you are born with, but what you prove of yourself should be the determining factor of who leads in any government.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Erodius on Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:16 pm

But they are equal in rights, which any person of any modicum intelligence and virtue would see should be protected.

What are these rights, exactly? Plenty of individuals spout off about 'equal rights for all' but almost never do these individuals consider what exactly inalienable rights actually are.

The only inalienable rights I believe exist are 1. the right to protection from arbitrary loss of life or limb, 2. protection from discrimination based on irrelevant characteristics that have no bearing on a persons character (i.e. skin color, hair color, height, gender, sexuality), and 3. the right to receive an education.

I would say no, absolutely not. Everyone is not equal in rights. Everyone does have a certain set of inalienable rights, but beyond those, rights vary greatly by life situation, role, place, character, and, especially, conduct.

which is a horrendous practice that we should stay as far as possible from.

No, it is not. As with many things, it has potential for either good or bad. There is 'eugenics' for meaningless reasons, like selecting hair color or gender or silly things like that — traits that have really no inherent 'good' — which I would argue is not 'eugenics' at all, but there is also 'eugenics' for discouraging the procreation of couples who have a high probably of having a child with a serious genetic disease (which is something that is already widely done), for choosing the healthiest cells possible in an in-vitro fertilization, and, perhaps, even learning to counter, remedy, or prevent genetically-based debilities.

I'm in favour of a meritocratic aristocracy. Not what you are born with, but what you prove of yourself should be the determining factor of who leads in any government.

I agree. I think the proper system of government is meritocratic — however, as far as many defenders of 'absolute equality of rights of all' have been concerned over the centuries, the very concept of 'meritocracy' is completely contrary to full equality of rights. If everyone has equal rights, than there is no such thing as merit. Or if there is, it has no value. Such a system would collapse almost instantly, because, given full equality of rights, meritless 'John' has the same right to authority as virtuous 'Jane'. If one believes in full equality of rights, then, as far as I see, John is unquestionably being unjustly oppressed in that situation.

Now, as I said, I certainly affirm that all people, regardless of situation, have a handful of inherent rights. However, beyond these, as I see it, they are dependent on one's demonstration of meriting them.

Then, of course, it also has to be established what constitutes objective merit, which can vary considerably depending on religion, culture and/or lack thereof. Many of the worst cases of 'culture clash', as we can see today in the whole Far West vs. Middle East/Islamic World division, come from, I see, a mistaken belief from either or both sides that the other side has the same set of values and conception of objective good as the other, when, in reality, they may be radically different, if not even contradictory.

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-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:59 pm

I'd agree with the list of inalienable rights you made, though I am surprised "freedom to profess and practice religion, free speech, and freedom to peacefully assemble," also aren't included <.< those freedoms are precisely why we're able to discuss this in the first place, and it would be a terribly oppressive thing to deny that to anyone, regardless of where they live. If you cannot even speak freely or profess your chosen religion, or or assemble peacefully with others, it's not a case of not having those rights, it's a case of those rights being suppressed.

I wouldn't consider equal rights for all to afford everyone the exact same circumstances, but rather the same opportunities. They have those freedoms which give them the opportunity to better themselves, and whatever happens afterward is up to them. For example, two people can both strive to attain the same politicsm office, they have equal rights to the opportuniry, but they aren't both *entitled to it; they have to earn it. And, in the case of a meritocratic government, it's whoever best demonstrates themselves capable of fulfilling the role of the office(s) they aspire to. That's really the only merit that matters in government (who can best do the job required, that is).

And it seems I was working from a faulty definition of eugenics. My bad. I was referring to it's sanctioning and enforcement in an oligarchy, which would, without question, be a slippery slope. Third Reich, "Arian race," and so on.

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:13 am

Personally, and I have gotten many reproachfull looks for this, I support eugenics. I don't meman going out and putting naziistic restrictions that are the like of what Erodius mentioned, but as an evolutionist picking the best genes seems like common sense to me. I would advocate people having to take a test before having children, and screened for health factors. A lot of people see that as wrong, but I don't see a problem with it.
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:26 am

Seeing two parents both in wheelchairs with 5 children who don't seem to bathe regularly at all and only get by on foodstamps and welfare, which is wasted on junk food (yes, I've witnessed this before, very often Sad ), certainly makes me think the system needs a serious revamp, but you can't force someone to -not have children <.< it's a horrible thing that families like that exist, but it's not like we can control what they do in their own homes or what they do with their own bodies. If we dictate things like that, where do we draw the line? When you can tell someone what they can and cannot do with their own bodies and in their home, does freedom even exist at all, anymore? I can't help but see that as tyrannical.

Making the welfare systems and foster home/adoption systems more efficient is the best we can do without the government overstepping it's bounds. But I have a very strong libertarian streak in me, when it comes to civil liberties, I think the less government involvement in the lives of the citizenry, the better. Government is a necessary evil, as far as I'm concerned, even in a meritocratic aristocracy, and I don't think it should involve itself anymore than what is necessary to keep the system stable and strong.


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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Erodius on Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:35 am

"freedom to profess and practice religion, free speech, and freedom to peacefully assemble."

I would be lying if I said I entirely agree with those as rights, and certainly not inalienable ones.

There are dangerous and destructive 'religious' cults that are actively detrimental to society — anyone can bring to mind several famous ones — 'Heaven's Gate' perhaps. I believe in conditional freedom of religion. One has freedom of religion insofar as it is not destructive in either body or mind to its adherents or to society at large. Of course, discerning such things require a stance of objective right, which, as I mentioned, can cause existential problems for egalitarian-absolutists and universalists, because it forces a decision of right, and does not permit contradiction.

Free speech is all well and good, until it becomes defamation, slurs, hate-speech, and other such things. I think it paradoxically hilarious when, Americans in particular, become so upset at non-PR speech (Paula Deen, enough said), and have conniptions about things people say, all the while passionately claiming a devotion to free speech. I say that is hypocrisy.

Certainly, anyone ought to be permitted to peacefully assemble. But then, what is peacefully? Is an angry mob chanting inflammatory slogans and carrying signs scrawled with what-have-you peaceful assembly? If they aren't physically hurting anyone? Is hurting only physical? When is it not peaceful?

And, in the case of a meritocratic government, it's whoever best demonstrates themselves capable of fulfilling the role of the office(s) they aspire to. That's really the only merit that matters in government (who can best do the job required, that is).

But how would that be implemented in reality? To evaluate something, there must be criteria on which to base evaluation. As such, to evaluate merit, merit must be codified, at least in term of the instance and role. There is then the issue of who decides the codification of merit. The 'who' must be an authority, obviously, which requires then a decision of what constitutes authority.

I ask these questions, because they force an examination of the realistics and necessary elements that get so often overlooked when we have our idealism-glasses on, and bring up the 'Oh, I didn't think about that' realizations.

When you can tell someone what they can and cannot do with their own bodies and in their home, does freedom even exist at all, anymore? I can't help but see that as tyrannical.

No, but it never has. There is no freedom on earth. What most call 'freedom', is no more than a slavery to the self, it's a mirage. It is servitude in a pretty package that doesn't list its contents. True freedom is liberation from both slavery, and from freedom.  

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-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
-Iamblichus, Vita Pythagorica

"Truth would you teach, or save a sinking land,
All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
-Alexander Pope


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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:03 am

I have much to say on the other part of the topic, but not time to post it right now. My awnser on eugenics is short. We can dictate how people use drugs in their home, treat others in their home (to a point), care for themselves and their family (cpa, various laws governing corporal punishment, treatment of their own bodies etc.), we ought to be able to govern who is and is not alowd to create life. I'm willing to give up some personal freedom to prevent senarios like you described and other horrendus ones. It would be better for society, and for the individuals that could be potentially born into drug houses, gang violence, and other such degenerating conditions. If our government can tell me I have to wear a helmet on a bike and wear a seatbelt in the car and not puth lethal drugs in my system they should be able to tell me if it is ethically and morrally right and legal for me to create a new life. The only people it would affect (in the way that I view it) are those that are unfit in health or morals (intelligence is a different matter id not touch upon) to raise children. Our earth is over populated by us as it is and we really ought to at least ensure that the population is worth it.

Futher more, our domestic animals and plants are products of eugenics. Nobody sais "aw, those two healthy cows got to breed but the sickly one got left out." We have a lack of natural selection (it is present though lessened) so what is so bad about applying concious human selection? It would simply make the right of having a child (I'm not sure its even technically a right) and make it a privilage one works for. Fits nicely with meritocracy.
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Equal rights

Post  Lord Stewart on Sat Jul 13, 2013 3:13 am

Gentlemen, I can see why you have voiced your opinions in the way that you have. However it is important to note that the merit you speak of must stem from the Concept of the "Renaissance Man". That person who is to be selected for office must be proficient and knowledgeable in History, Science, Art , Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Military theory. These key areas are the cornerstones of culture. On top of that that person must be Machiavellian in their polices to insure that they will be successful. The Aristocrats will come form the landed nobility. They will run the state and promote a overall sense of nationalism that by the actions of said government will be deserved. The true test as to if anyone truly believes in this form of government is if they would be willing to accept living in this state and not be selected as a member of the ruling class. If you can't, than all you want is to have the wealth and power and therefore not worthy of being called a aristocrat. I have been an aristocrat my whole life. One would like to think it's the wealth and power that make one an aristocrat. That is not true. It is ones willingness to obey and practice that social code and values that was set in stone hundreds of years prior to his or hers birth. The clothes and title will come later. As I have come in my young life thus far to embrace these virtues whole heartily, I would accept a lower status in the knowledge that one day my family name will one day be elevated to that status even if it would be long after my final breath. I dare all of you to live by that same creed.
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Achrelus on Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:23 am

What do you mean you dare us to live by that creed? I hate to break it to you, but there is an aristocracy. I have yet to ee one average person enter our government. They are all wealthy and well educated (a good thing) and come from that type of family. I would dare say most here are of low social status, and not well known at all. That spells aristocracy to me.
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Lord Stewart on Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:01 am

You have to remember what I said. It is the values that make an aristocrat. I should have been more specific but when it comes to aristocratic values, there are thousands. I could point you in the right direction by having a look at prussian virtues which is a set of traditional values combined with many of the Enlightenment's principles. As the name suggests, this list of virtues became popular the Junker(noble) class of Prussia and pre WWI Germany. Also I would include the Arthurian principles of Chivalry. There is also the Patrician Values set forth by Plutarch in his book Lives of the Noble Romans. That list along with ideals set forth by Machiavelli would be were I would start if I wanted to practice Aristocratic virtues.
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Thrasyvoulos on Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:11 am

Sorry for the delay in answering. I've been having slight technical issues.

Erodius wrote: I would be lying if I said I entirely agree with those as rights, and certainly not inalienable ones.

There are dangerous and destructive 'religious' cults that are actively detrimental to society — anyone can bring to mind several famous ones — 'Heaven's Gate' perhaps. I believe in conditional freedom of religion. One has freedom of religion insofar as it is not destructive in either body or mind to its adherents or to society at large. Of course, discerning such things require a stance of objective right, which, as I mentioned, can cause existential problems for egalitarian-absolutists and universalists, because it forces a decision of right, and does not permit contradiction.

Free speech is all well and good, until it becomes defamation, slurs, hate-speech, and other such things. I think it paradoxically hilarious when, Americans in particular, become so upset at non-PR speech (Paula Deen, enough said), and have conniptions about things people say, all the while passionately claiming a devotion to free speech. I say that is hypocrisy.

Certainly, anyone ought to be permitted to peacefully assemble. But then, what is peacefully? Is an angry mob chanting inflammatory slogans and carrying signs scrawled with what-have-you peaceful assembly? If they aren't physically hurting anyone? Is hurting only physical? When is it not peaceful?

Fair enough Smile as for what is peaceful in regards to assembly, I'd say that would be orderly and at least somewhat polite gathering. For example, the fiasco in the Texas legislature building recently, upon the passage on the abortion bill, was NOT peaceful, and I honestly feel those people should have been charged with disruption of the peace. Now, quiet sit-ins, that's a much more agreeable method, but only so long as they do not disrupt the the goings-on around them. Making your presence and opinions known, not being a nuisance to people around you, who aren't even necessarily against you.

Erodius wrote: But how would that be implemented in reality? To evaluate something, there must be criteria on which to base evaluation. As such, to evaluate merit, merit must be codified, at least in term of the instance and role. There is then the issue of who decides the codification of merit. The 'who' must be an authority, obviously, which requires then a decision of what constitutes authority.

I ask these questions, because they force an examination of the realistics and necessary elements that get so often overlooked when we have our idealism-glasses on, and bring up the 'Oh, I didn't think about that' realizations.

I might come across as "fascist" by saying this (though I hardly am; I fully support civil liberties, though some of my interpretations of them differ from popular opinion, but I do not see a structured government as contrary to this), but I've said several times in discussions with others that I wouldn't mind a government that is structured like a military, though I'm biased. I am a sailor, after all Laughing merit would be determined in a similar manner as the military does; higher ups on the chain set the chain of command, as well as the rules, etc. The "officers" and "commanders" choose their replacements as they are promoted or leave, and these replacements are approved by the previous officer's peers. And so on, and at the top tier, they select a commander-in-chief, who appoints their successor, who must be approved by the others in the top tier of the chain of command.

I'd also say that mandatory military service from every eligible citizen for at least two years each really wouldn't bother me. If they wish to live in a country, it's citizens should be expected to contribute to it, and also if a majority of the population is either active military or retired, an entire population of military-trained people would make the government reconsider if it begins to abuse it's powers, in detriment to the welfare of it's citizens.

Does that satisfy the question well enough?

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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:04 am

I agree with some of what has been said here, but I think the idea of aristocracy versus democracy can also be a misleading one.  I think one needs to define some of the missing dramatis personae in this dichotomy.  Such as what kind of society we are talking about in which this choice is being made.  The sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies made a distinction between gemeinschaft and gesellschaft; viz. between societies based on a shared heritage and common values and societies in which atomistic individuals really have no more ties except markets.  In the former-- what Tönnies calls gemeinschaft (community, roughly), I can see direct democracy on a local level (and not parliamentary or representative democracy across an entire nation) as a positive value.  Democratic structures such as neighborhood assemblies and town councils are perfectly healthy in my view, and generally only develop in societies where a comfortable, face-to-face civil society thrives.  If decision-making regarding local matters in such a structure, I see no reason to deny its political legitimacy.

I suppose I believe in aristocracy in a spiritual sense, as a set of values to strive for.  But I think the possibility of aristocracy in the latter form of society-- say, in which we encounter myriads of races and ethnicities without shared values, heritage (or even a shared narrative) is dismal.  

The main difficulty with aristocracies or say castes is that they work alright in ancient societies, but these were pre-capitalist societies.  In a global capitalist culture where nations are slowly being eroded into one planet with one interlinked market, the only logical future possibility is one planet culture.  According to the logic of multiculturalism, which relies on an abstract egalitarianism, every person is interchangeable with every other, thus there is no reason any person or group of people cannot be in any other country, or any reason why one group of people should speak one language, etc.  Thus one must distinguish between ancient, traditional social formations and contemporary multicultural societies.  Here I highly recommend Karl Polanyi's essay "Aristotle on the Economy," who describes how Aristotle was witnessing the economic shift from traditional economies to more complex proto-capitalist arrangements:

"Money was now being earned by respectable citizens through the simple device of buying and selling.  Such a thing had been unknown, or rather,, was restricted to low-class persons, known as hucksters, as a rule metics [resident aliens], who eked out a living by retailing food in the market place.  Such individuals did make a profit by buying at one price and selling at another.  Now this practice had apparently spread to the citizenry of good standing, and big sums of money were made by this method, formerly stamped as disreputable" (101).

"Aristotle's analysis struck to the root.  By calling commercial trade kapēlikē-- no name had yet been given to it-- he intimated that it was nothing new, except for the proportions it assumed.  It was hucksterism written large.  The money was made 'off' each other (ap'allēlon), by the surcharging methods so often met with in the market place" (101).

It should be recalled that Odysseus, though noble and aristocratic himself, is accused of being a mere huckster or profiteer by Broadsea, and all that entails for an aristocrat if an aristocrat is to be one who puts more demands on himself for the common good (and not an example of our upper classes, who export jobs that one's own countrymen could work to third world countries where wages are cheap, etc-- more or less betrayal in my opinion and deserving of swift justice).  

There's a good book that covers some of this stuff by Moses Finley called The Ancient Economy.  I haven't read it yet, but here's an interesting quote from the Wiki page on it:

" Another relationship Finley discusses is the way the Ancients viewed the land. Land for the Ancient Greeks and Romans was not seen as a capital investment where profits could be obtained from the growing and selling of crops, but used as showpieces to enhance one's status as well as something that was inherently desirable from a traditional stand-point where economics played no part. To illustrate this, Finley turns to one of Pliny's letters where he writes that he will have to borrow money to buy more land. In the letter, Pliny does not discuss if this new purchase is an economically wise one in terms of the profits that can be derived from it. The last part of the book, Finley discusses the discrepancies between life in the city and country as well as how the State did not play a role in managing the national economy and treasury in the same ways modern governments are expected to do in most Western economies."
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Re: Democracy and Aristocracy

Post  Out of Phlegethon on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:28 am

Icarus wrote:All men are equal in their rights, which is what is meant in the Declaration of Independence. People obviously are not equal in terms of status, genetics, wealth, etc. But they are equal in rights, which any person of any modicum intelligence and virtue would see should be protected. And basing a hierarchy on genetics is essentially paving the way to the possibility of eugenics, which is a horrendous practice that we should stay as far as possible from.

I'm in favour of a meritocratic aristocracy. Not what you are born with, but what you prove of yourself should be the determining factor of who leads in any government.

I agree; equal before the law, but not equal themselves. Egalitarianism has done massive damage in this sense. I would differentiate equality as a positive value for a society-- say, in terms of ensuring classes are not separated by obscene economic inequality-- but I think we must accept that some people are superior. This does not necessitate domination or exploitation, but a simple valuation of positive contributions to society.

I find biological arguments about society tiresome and outdated-- and even if I were convinced to their veracity, would question whether adopting them in arguments was politically prudent-- but I see nothing wrong with a concern for the genetic traits of one's offspring. But I'm afraid that if any society were to begin social engineering in a biological sense and codify and enforce it, I would seek to bring it down.
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