Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

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FlashDangerpants
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by FlashDangerpants » Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:00 pm

Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:47 pm
How can you run a successful democracy when corporations are just as powerful as the government?

With corporations constantly pushing governments to improve the corporate share of national wealth - and having the power to punish governments that fail to comply - individuals rightly no longer feel represented.
Corporations aren't just as powerful as governments though. That's a persistent myth that many many people believe simply because it is repeated so often.

There are many governments out there in the world that are just plain weak and unable to fulfill their duties in general. Examples would be the several states that cannot police large parts of the country, can't prevent politicians stealing directly from the central bank, can't provide trusted courts etc. Those countries are always liable to be pillaged by LOCAL corporations in the same way that they are pillaged by their own people. At the same time they often get a lot of foreign sympathy because they are expected by INTERNATIONAL corporations to fulfill things like their contractual debt obligations. All of those countries would be better off if they had strong governments that can police them, and prevent massive fraud, and deal with their contractual obligations.

Other countries have a much stronger hand, even if they often play it badly*. Corporations depend upon the services that governments provide and value them highly. They spend a lot of otherwise inexplicable money to be on places like New York and London to have access to educated workers, trusted court systems, sensible bankruptcy laws and so on.

More philosophically, I'm concerned about the way I see a lot of people who will chant "corporations aren't people", but who then move seamlessly on to treat corporations as if they are people, who just happen to be bad. I'm seeing a lot of category mistakes being made. Corporations are not people, and they aren't in the category of organisms that can have wants, motives or desires. They can't be the beneficiaries of wealth or prosperity, because they are property of people, their holdings are only ever held on behalf of people.

* This is overwhelmingly a matter of cooperation. The way 20 American cities fell over themselves to entice Amazon to choose them as the site of the second US HQ was a pretty sickening spectacle, but there was no particular need for it, Amazon needed a second US HQ, they weren't competing against China or something (ok, technically one Canadian city was in the running). It wouldn't be that hard to draw up a collective set of rules for the incentives allowed in this sort of competition... but that doesn't work in the EU which has such rules, because the member states break them all the time. This is a failing of the people who should be making and following the rules, not an indicator that Amazon is more powerful than New York and Washington DC.

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:08 pm

FlashDangerpants wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 8:00 pm
Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:47 pm
How can you run a successful democracy when corporations are just as powerful as the government?

With corporations constantly pushing governments to improve the corporate share of national wealth - and having the power to punish governments that fail to comply - individuals rightly no longer feel represented.
Corporations aren't just as powerful as governments though. That's a persistent myth that many many people believe simply because it is repeated so often.

There are many governments out there in the world that are just plain weak and unable to fulfill their duties in general. Examples would be the several states that cannot police large parts of the country, can't prevent politicians stealing directly from the central bank, can't provide trusted courts etc. Those countries are always liable to be pillaged by LOCAL corporations in the same way that they are pillaged by their own people. At the same time they often get a lot of foreign sympathy because they are expected by INTERNATIONAL corporations to fulfill things like their contractual debt obligations. All of those countries would be better off if they had strong governments that can police them, and prevent massive fraud, and deal with their contractual obligations.

Other countries have a much stronger hand, even if they often play it badly*. Corporations depend upon the services that governments provide and value them highly. They spend a lot of otherwise inexplicable money to be on places like New York and London to have access to educated workers, trusted court systems, sensible bankruptcy laws and so on.

More philosophically, I'm concerned about the way I see a lot of people who will chant "corporations aren't people", but who then move seamlessly on to treat corporations as if they are people, who just happen to be bad. I'm seeing a lot of category mistakes being made. Corporations are not people, and they aren't in the category of organisms that can have wants, motives or desires. They can't be the beneficiaries of wealth or prosperity, because they are property of people, their holdings are only ever held on behalf of people.

* This is overwhelmingly a matter of cooperation. The way 20 American cities fell over themselves to entice Amazon to choose them as the site of the second US HQ was a pretty sickening spectacle, but there was no particular need for it, Amazon needed a second US HQ, they weren't competing against China or something (ok, technically one Canadian city was in the running). It wouldn't be that hard to draw up a collective set of rules for the incentives allowed in this sort of competition... but that doesn't work in the EU which has such rules, because the member states break them all the time. This is a failing of the people who should be making and following the rules, not an indicator that Amazon is more powerful than New York and Washington DC.
There are corporations that have a greater revenue stream than entire countries. If you think that little voters have the slightest hope in competing for resources with these behemoths you will be disappointed.

They are not organisms, they are the first artificial intelligences (technically cyborgs), and they most certainly have needs and desires, reflected in their programming of corporate aims, goals, strategic, corporate and business plans, regulations, policies and so forth. The will of a corporation is that of its primary humans - the billionaire owners and shareholders. That's where the desires comes from.

It is our inability to see the situation for what it is that makes us so easy to exploit.

FlashDangerpants
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by FlashDangerpants » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:45 pm

Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:08 pm
There are corporations that have a greater revenue stream than entire countries. If you think that little voters have the slightest hope in competing for resources with these behemoths you will be disappointed.

They are not organisms, they are the first artificial intelligences (technically cyborgs), and they most certainly have needs and desires, reflected in their programming of corporate aims, goals, strategic, corporate and business plans, regulations, policies and so forth. The will of a corporation is that of its primary humans - the billionaire owners and shareholders. That's where the desires comes from.

It is our inability to see the situation for what it is that makes us so easy to exploit.
Cyborgs, seriously? By your reasoning all organisations that use computers and have people are cyborgs. A child who has a computer at home and uses a different computer at school, and perhaps joins some sort of club that has a web site is now 3 cyborgs.

You have done nothing to show that desires are transitive properties. I can desire a cheese and herring sandwich, but I can't make my cat desire one just because I am his boss and owner. The cat has his own desires and I have very little influence over them. I have even less chance of making my toaster desire to toast my cheese and herring sandwich because a toaster is not even in the class of object that can have desires at all. Companies are not animate beings, they don't have desires. And they certainly aren't artificial intelligences.

Having revenue streams greater than those of small countries does not grant corporations power greater than sovereign nations that enact and enforce laws and issue currency and passports and can convict people of treason. There is no winding up process for bankrupt nations that can close them down and switch off all the lights. There are no citizens of Apple, no borders of Walmart, nor any high court of Sony.

Logik
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Logik » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:47 pm

Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:08 pm
There are corporations that have a greater revenue stream than entire countries. If you think that little voters have the slightest hope in competing for resources with these behemoths you will be disappointed.

They are not organisms, they are the first artificial intelligences (technically cyborgs), and they most certainly have needs and desires, reflected in their programming of corporate aims, goals, strategic, corporate and business plans, regulations, policies and so forth. The will of a corporation is that of its primary humans - the billionaire owners and shareholders. That's where the desires comes from.

It is our inability to see the situation for what it is that makes us so easy to exploit.
Something along those lines.

The Left-Right Political Spectrum Is Bogus
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... us/373139/

The most useful take-away from that is the PHC ( Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence ) - government and capital always converge.

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:22 am

FlashDangerpants wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:45 pm
Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:08 pm
There are corporations that have a greater revenue stream than entire countries. If you think that little voters have the slightest hope in competing for resources with these behemoths you will be disappointed.

They are not organisms, they are the first artificial intelligences (technically cyborgs), and they most certainly have needs and desires, reflected in their programming of corporate aims, goals, strategic, corporate and business plans, regulations, policies and so forth. The will of a corporation is that of its primary humans - the billionaire owners and shareholders. That's where the desires comes from.

It is our inability to see the situation for what it is that makes us so easy to exploit.
Cyborgs, seriously? By your reasoning all organisations that use computers and have people are cyborgs. A child who has a computer at home and uses a different computer at school, and perhaps joins some sort of club that has a web site is now 3 cyborgs.

You have done nothing to show that desires are transitive properties. I can desire a cheese and herring sandwich, but I can't make my cat desire one just because I am his boss and owner. The cat has his own desires and I have very little influence over them. I have even less chance of making my toaster desire to toast my cheese and herring sandwich because a toaster is not even in the class of object that can have desires at all. Companies are not animate beings, they don't have desires. And they certainly aren't artificial intelligences.

Having revenue streams greater than those of small countries does not grant corporations power greater than sovereign nations that enact and enforce laws and issue currency and passports and can convict people of treason. There is no winding up process for bankrupt nations that can close them down and switch off all the lights. There are no citizens of Apple, no borders of Walmart, nor any high court of Sony.
All I did is refute your claim that corporations can't "have wants, motives or desires". A number of them have effectively gained governance and/or policy powers (without being elected), and neither very accountable nor subject to transparency or FOI provisions. Hello Rupert! Hello Brexit! Hello suspension of sensible governance to focus on nonsense whipped up by a self interested mogul and some billionaire club pals who noticed that those in London are more likely to do their bidding than those in Brussels. The Brexit vote happened because Rupert and his buds decided it would be so: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/p ... 99046.html.

It's a nice example of how individuals are as outclassed, dominated and exploited by organisations as other species are controlled and exploited by humans. I don't draw much distinction between corporations and governments these days; their relationship is usually that of project partners. Large organisations are, by definition, inhuman - tending towards ruthless self interest and hard rationalism. Rather machinelike with their pre-set algorithms (corporate plans etc).

Yet organisations are responsible for almost all of humanity's greatest achievements so I'm not painting them as inherently wicked. In fact they are perhaps the only cause of hope for the future that this journey of Earth's life and things can continue in some capacity into the far future. However, it's clear that they are constantly outsmarting and exploiting us, figuring that they can do more exciting things with the money than we would (groceries, rent, bills).

Meanwhile, the human component of organisations is gradually being rationalised out. H. sapiens is being sidelined and pushed around in exactly the same way humans did to other species - by emerging, increasingly automated, entities that we pretend are under our control. I don't say this in alarm but interest.

Our comeuppance is well earned. It's inconvenient personally - my wealth is gradually being chipped away at by organisations like everyone else's but, given our treatment of other animals, there is some fairness about it. Certainly if humanity lost its major organisational infrastructure, which would see the end of democracy, that would be problematic.

Still, democracy doesn't appear to be viable any more due to media influence and societies' incapacity to control bad actors (even those in the highest office at times!). Pity, I liked it, for all its flaws. I think we are moving into the era of pretend-democracy as a transition into "uncut" authoritarianism, seemingly a tad feudal as corporations compete for influence and access to resources.

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:36 am

Logik wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:47 pm
Greta wrote:
Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:08 pm
There are corporations that have a greater revenue stream than entire countries. If you think that little voters have the slightest hope in competing for resources with these behemoths you will be disappointed.

They are not organisms, they are the first artificial intelligences (technically cyborgs), and they most certainly have needs and desires, reflected in their programming of corporate aims, goals, strategic, corporate and business plans, regulations, policies and so forth. The will of a corporation is that of its primary humans - the billionaire owners and shareholders. That's where the desires comes from.

It is our inability to see the situation for what it is that makes us so easy to exploit.
Something along those lines.

The Left-Right Political Spectrum Is Bogus
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... us/373139/

The most useful take-away from that is the PHC ( Principle of Hierarchical Coincidence ) - government and capital always converge.
Hmm, this para from the article didn't ring true to me, Logik:
The left pole, meanwhile, could be a stateless society of barter and localism; or a world of equality in which people are not subordinated by race, gender, and sexuality; or a pervasive welfare state; or a Khmer Rouge reeducation regime. The Nazi Party, Catholic Church, hereditary aristocracy, Ayn Rand capitalists, and redneck gun enthusiasts are all on the same side of the left-right spectrum.
I am not sure that Nazis, Catholics or rednecks would too keenly share the left's supportive attitudes towards women, gays or environmentalism.

Skip
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Skip » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:43 am

Because people are easily misdirected, manipulated and riled.
If it's a choice of "which do you believe, an analysis or a slogan?" the tractor hat wins every time.

Logik
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:53 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:36 am
Hmm, this para from the article didn't ring true to me, Logik:
The left pole, meanwhile, could be a stateless society of barter and localism; or a world of equality in which people are not subordinated by race, gender, and sexuality; or a pervasive welfare state; or a Khmer Rouge reeducation regime. The Nazi Party, Catholic Church, hereditary aristocracy, Ayn Rand capitalists, and redneck gun enthusiasts are all on the same side of the left-right spectrum.
I am not sure that Nazis, Catholics or rednecks would too keenly share the left's supportive attitudes towards women, gays or environmentalism.
That all of these ideologies disagree in their goals/values when examined under a microscope is a fact.

That all these ideologies share the same strategies and tactics and use the same institutions as vehicles to their ends is what they all share in common.

The centralisation of power. Statism.

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 am

Logik wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 6:53 am
Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:36 am
Hmm, this para from the article didn't ring true to me, Logik:
The left pole, meanwhile, could be a stateless society of barter and localism; or a world of equality in which people are not subordinated by race, gender, and sexuality; or a pervasive welfare state; or a Khmer Rouge reeducation regime. The Nazi Party, Catholic Church, hereditary aristocracy, Ayn Rand capitalists, and redneck gun enthusiasts are all on the same side of the left-right spectrum.
I am not sure that Nazis, Catholics or rednecks would too keenly share the left's supportive attitudes towards women, gays or environmentalism.
That all of these ideologies disagree in their goals/values when examined under a microscope is a fact.

That all these ideologies share the same strategies and tactics and use the same institutions as vehicles to their ends is what they all share in common.

The centralisation of power. Statism.
But all political systems must, by definition, be statist. You either form a state or you don't. Your post suggests libertarian beliefs.

The alternative to central governance is anarchy, and anarchy will always naturally form feudal governance based on the power players to emerge, except that there will be no checks on their power as there are with democracies (at least until precedents are set from breaking away from those checks and balances, as in nations where democracy is replaced by authoritarianism).

Thus, the controls and tax demands over individuals without a central government can be far greater than with one, entirely depending on the style of one's local "feudal lord". This system (or lack) is informally in place in Somalia and parts of Afghanistan.
Last edited by Greta on Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

Logik
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:02 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 am
But all political systems must, by definition, be statist. Yo either form a state or you don't.
In general true. In particular - no two states are designed the same. There's a great difference between Switzerland's canton system and USA's bi-partisan model.

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 am
The alternative to central governance is anarchy, and anarchy
False dichotomy. It's a continuum.

The point is that if the centralization of power is a risk to society, then whatever system we design to govern ourselves should optimise against power-centralization.

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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:11 am

Logik wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:02 am
Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 am
But all political systems must, by definition, be statist. Yo either form a state or you don't.
In general true. In particular - no two states are designed the same. There's a great difference between Switzerland's canton system and USA's bi-partisan model.

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:59 am
The alternative to central governance is anarchy, and anarchy
False dichotomy. It's a continuum.
Given that you'd not made clear what you advocated - seemingly no government control - it seemed a fair assumption that you were advocating a libertarian, non-governance solution which is, in essence, a dichotomous perspective.

I personally prefer proportional representation to first past the post. However, I am yet to see complex electoral systems working in nations with large populations, eg. > 100m. All such nations either lean towards authoritarianism within their systems or within their cultures. Watching US's recent flirtations with authoritarianism and seeing, not only significant pushback against it but also significant support, made me realise this. Until then I did not appreciate just how many Americans, especially evangelists and the MAGA crowd, do not have any regard for democracy at all.

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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:14 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:11 am
Given that you'd not made clear what you advocated - seemingly no government control - it seemed a fair assumption that you were advocating a libertarian, non-governance solution which is, in essence, a dichotomous perspective.

I personally prefer proportional representation to first past the post. However, I am yet to see complex electoral systems working in nations with large populations, eg. > 100m. All such nations either lean towards authoritarianism within their systems or within their cultures. Watching US's recent flirtations with authoritarianism and seeing, not only significant pushback against it but also significant support, made me realise this. Until then I did not appreciate just how many Americans, especially evangelists and the MAGA crowd, do not have any regard for democracy at all.
The only dichotomies are "true" and "false". Everything else is on a spectrum.

The point I am making is that if the centralization of power is a risk to society, then whatever system we design to govern ourselves should optimise against power-centralization.

And so we invent a new spectrum: centralization-decentralization.

All while maintaining all the other aspects we so deeply care about: equal representation.

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:26 am

Logik wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:14 am
Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:11 am
Given that you'd not made clear what you advocated - seemingly no government control - it seemed a fair assumption that you were advocating a libertarian, non-governance solution which is, in essence, a dichotomous perspective.

I personally prefer proportional representation to first past the post. However, I am yet to see complex electoral systems working in nations with large populations, eg. > 100m. All such nations either lean towards authoritarianism within their systems or within their cultures. Watching US's recent flirtations with authoritarianism and seeing, not only significant pushback against it but also significant support, made me realise this. Until then I did not appreciate just how many Americans, especially evangelists and the MAGA crowd, do not have any regard for democracy at all.
The only dichotomies are "true" and "false". Everything else is on a spectrum.

The point I am making is that if the centralization of power is a risk to society, then whatever system we design to govern ourselves should optimise against power-centralization.

And so we invent a new spectrum: centralization-decentralization.

All while maintaining all the other aspects we so deeply care about: equal representation.
Certainly leaving ultimate power with one individual is a risk, as is being observed today. Note that checks and balances will always be eroded bit by bit by those in power and seeking more of it.

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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:51 am

Greta wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:26 am
Certainly leaving ultimate power with one individual is a risk, as is being observed today. Note that checks and balances will always be eroded bit by bit by those in power and seeking more of it.
All single points of failure are a signature of a bad design.

If this is the best we can come up with given our "intellect" then I guess there's no escaping civic duty in holding those in power to account...

So to answer the OP: Why is democracy screwed? Because citizens derelict duty. Comfort and complacency is what ruined pretty much every civilisation.
A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean. At its cradle (to repeat a thoughtful adage) religion stands, and philosophy accompanies it to the grave. --Will Durant

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Greta
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Re: Why is democracy so screwed in many countries?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:20 am

Logik wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:51 am
A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean. At its cradle (to repeat a thoughtful adage) religion stands, and philosophy accompanies it to the grave. --Will Durant
I suspect that here, philosophy is a failed attempt to overcome the inevitable problems of theists and fatalist moralisers, too little too late. Further, all healthy societies move from theism to philosophy. You can see what's happened to cultures that have not grown up into philosophy - they make up the world's poorest and war torn nations with the worst women's rights.

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