Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

June 16, 2007

Democracy and Egalitarianism

Filed under: culture, politics — codesmithy @ 7:35 am

Democracy is a form of government, not a moral principle. It is believed that liberal democracies are egalitarian by nature, but an honest look at history displays that position precarious at best. I don’t know if liberal democracies are necessarily stable, and the idea of slavery, racism, the war on drugs, the interference with foreign governments are mere aberrations instead of a continuing pattern is fundamentally dishonest. The great problem with democracy is the rule of the mob. The majority oppressing the minority. In a representative democracy, there are further dangers that choices are limited and the elected officials do not listen to the will of the people. In short, democracy can fail.
I always found the ideas expressed by Rousseau to be a bit odd, although I have come to see the truth of it. Rousseau argued that when one participates in government you have freedom, but ironically you can only chose to do one thing: your duty as a citizen.

The rule of law and rights for minorities is based on egalitarianism. However, you’d be hard pressed to find any mention of it in our public education (K-12). Egalitarianism is a moral principle, some would argue that it is covered by religion. I disagree. For example, Christianity is fundamentally hierarchical. Jesus was born the son of God, he didn’t choose to be the son of God. A similar justification was used by rulers of Monarchies; the God chose me to be King defense. Given that Christianity has been used to justify slavery, the crusades and other atrocities, I think there is some need to be more explicit in the exact moral principles we wish to portray.

Individually, it is our duty for the health of our state to act morally according to egalitarian principles. As a state, it is important that it conducts itself in the same way towards other states. I feel democracy is the best way of achieving this end currently, however it is only a means to an end. I couldn’t argue against being ruled by a set of egalitarian robots as was presented by Isaac Asimov in “I, Robot” (I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t think it followed the book). In fact, according to Rousseau’s view, citizenship is almost a robotic exercise.

Our declaration independence states in principle, that the people are the stewards of the government, not the other way around. A government with such low approval ratings is proof that our stewardship has been lacking. Greatness is not something that once achieved goes on forever. We can lose.

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