Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"The Will of the People"

Beware. It's a hazy concept used as a tool by politicians. Mario Rizzo writes:
Some people rest the case for representative democracy on the idea that its decisions express the “will of the people.” Those who believe this have never thought deeply about what they are saying. I am inclined, in response to these believers, to use my favorite paraphrase of Ludwig Wittgenstein, “You can mouth the words, but you cannot think the thought.”
What is the will of the people?  Whatever it is, it is certainly not without contradictions, illusions, misinformation, and wishful-thinking – just like a lot of individual thought. But as an aggregation of individual thought it is a construct used to justify all sorts of things. In some people’s minds, this construct has claim to moral authority.[...] 
The will of the people is a construct that is quite malleable to the political purposes of whichever group is better at manipulation.


  1. Rationalization of the use of force is almost always accompanied by anthropomorphizing group behavior as if it were individual human behavior.

  2. From Henrik Ibsen's 1882 play An Enemy of the People:

    "The majority is never right. Never. That's one of those social myths that every free and intelligent man must fight. Who are the majority in a country, anyway, the wise or the foolish? Why, the fools are! They have an overwhelming majority the world over! But I'll be damned if it then follows that they should govern the intelligent people!"

  3. "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."
    H.L. Mencken

    "Was there ever a time when the majority was right?"
    Robert Heinlein

  4. Real democracy isn't "majority rule" or "mob rule."

    Democracy is based on sortition (selection by lottery) - not election. In a democracy. there are no politicians, no political parties, and no elections.

    Before thinking "Selecting public officials by lottery? That's stupid." be sure you understand the principle. The only way to ensure honesty and integrity in government is through sortition - which is why you likely haven't heard of it before.

    Aristotle described elective government as one of the bad forms because it creates oligarchy. That only the wealthy are represented in so-called representative government. Does that describe what we have?

    "Representative democracy" is an oxymoron. No sortition - no democracy. Period.

    So if what we have isn't "democracy" then what is it? Oligarchy but deceptively sold as "democracy"... We as much a democracy as the Federal Reserve is a public institution... So all the wars have been to further the agenda of the oligarchs - not to spread freedom or democracy. Duh.

    If you care to learn about real democracy, read this essay by Roderick Long -

    And YouTube "Sortition as a sustainable protection against oligarchy" to watch Etienne Chouard explain it.

    Understanding real democracy is first step to freeing ourselves from the oligarchs.