Archive for November 5th, 2002


Tuesday, November 5th, 2002

Beyond Democracy

Timothy Wilken, MD

In today’s world, it is assumed without question that majority rule democracy is the best way to organize humanity. To even offer a criticism of majority rule democracy is to invite an immediate and often emotionally charged attack on oneself. We are quickly asked to choose between majority rule democracy or the dictatorships of communism/fascism. We are quickly reminded that if we don’t like it here in a majority ruled democracy, we are free to leave.

And, majority rule democracy which is rule by the most, appears to offer a clear advance over dictatorships which is rule by the one, or oliarchy which is rule by the few.

Majority rule democracy in its purest form was found in the ancient Greek city-states and early Roman Republic, these were direct democracies in which all citizens could speak and vote in assemblies. This was possible because of the small size of the city-states almost never more than 10,000 citizens. However, even these ancient democracies did not presuppose equality of all individuals; the majority of the populace, notably slaves and women, had no political rights at all. So even here the majority really did not rule.

In modern representative democracies we find the majority rule mechanism used to select our representatives, to make decisions within committees and to make decisions within the legislative bodies. In the United States, we elect one president, 100 Senators and 435 Congressman. This is one President for ~276 million Americans. There are two Senators for each state. Senatorial representation would vary from one Senator for ~16 million Californians down to one Senator for ~350,000 Delawarians. The members of the first House of Representatives were elected on the basis of 1 representative for every 30,000 inhabitants, but at least 1 for each state. At present the size of the House is fixed at 435 members, elected on the basis of 1 representative for about 500,000 inhabitants.

Our representatives do not even know us. If any Congressman met with 10 of his constituents every day for 365 days a year, it would take over 137 years for him just to meet all of them. And Congressmen are only elected for two year terms. If our Congressman don’t even know us how can they represent us?

So if we carefully examine modern representative democracy scientifically, we discover it is an oliarchy. In other words, we are ruled by the few. When we go to the poles to elect a President, we are simply electing the leader of the few who rule. Majority rule democracy ends for we the people the moment we exit the voting booth. And, our elected leader will have no need of our opinion for four years.

Its even less representative than it appears!

Both houses of Congress facilitate business by the committee system, and each has a fixed number of permanent committees, called standing committees, the chief function of which is considering and preparing legislation.

As the United States grew in population and in influence in world affairs, the volume and complexity of the matters arising in Congress also increased. Due consideration to all matters submitted to the Congress could not be given in open debate on the floor of the Senate and House. As a result, the standing committees of the Congress became the arbiters of the fate of practically all legislation. There are 22 standing committees in the House and 16 standing committees in the Senate. Even though majority rule is used to make decisions in these committees once the decision is made the results are imposed on ~276,000,000 Americans.

In recent years, the American people have attempted to exert their will by making use of ballot initiatives. Almost always if these initiatives are not popular with the few that rule, they are quickly dismantled. In November of 1996, the majority of Californians voted for Proposition 209, which banned affirmative action, Proposition 215, which legalized medical use of marijuana, and Proposition 187, which denied legal benefits to illegal immigrants. By January of 1997, all three were hung up in the courts or in a jurisdictional squabble with the federal government. None was close to being enforced.

By May of 1998, Proposition 215, the Marijuana for Medical Use Initiative which passed by a 56% majority throughout the state and by an 80% majority in San Francisco has all but been dismantled by the Few who Rule. They had succeeded in closing the majority of the medical marijuana clinics which had opened throughout the state, and were pressing criminal charges against many of those involved in the clinics. Obviously, the majority does not rule in California.

This fact is being increasingly realized by citizens across the nation. Voting in our representative democracy does not make a difference.  And we the people appear less and less interested in pretending that our voting has any effect whatever. Voter turnout has been declining steadily since 1960. And as reported  in the Wall Street Journal for November 9, 2000:

“Overall voter turnout for this week’s election barely budged despite nearly $1 billion of campaign television advertisements and the closest presidential contest in decades

“About 50.7% of the nation’s 200 million eligible voters cast ballots this week, marginally greater than the rock-bottom level seen in 1996, but significantly lower than the 1992 level, said Curtis Gans, director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate. Four years ago, only 49% of those qualified to vote actually did so, the lowest turnout since 1924. By contrast, some 55% of the electorate went to the polls in 1992’s close race between Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush.”


Seeking synergic government

However, even if we had direct democracies using majority rule, it would not be a synergic form of government.

Adversary relationships require loss.

Neutral relationships prohibit loss, but do not require winning.

Synergic relationships prohibit loss and require winning.

So in fact, if we use the Neutral criteria of prohibition of loss, majority rule democracy is not even a neutral form of government. In majority rule democracy, the minority often loses. As Andrew J. Galambos wrote:

“The word Democracy comes from the Greek words which mean “rule of the people.” However, the practice of Democracy can be no better than the understanding of the concept of “rule of the people.” Over the past 2,000 years, most people have come to accept without question or reservation the idea that Democracy means the ability of the people to choose their mode of social organization by means of majority vote.

“The political concept of Democracy arose as a consequence of counting yeas and nays on particular issues and than selecting the men who would decide how issues were to be resolved. Whichever man could muster the choice of more persons than his opposition could muster became the dominant person for the society. This was and is nothing more than an application of the old dictum, might makes right.

“This concept of Democracy (which prevails to this day) relies upon the ability of the winning political leaders to count upon the support of more people than their losing opponents. However, this concept does nothing to ensure the protection of the property, hence, the freedom of those who may disagree. Furthermore, those who may be in the majority with respect to a given issue or political candidate will eventually find themselves in the minority with respect to other issues or candidates. In the long run, therefore, everyone loses. This concept of Democracy eventually breaks down and leads to a destruction of freedom.”

Source: Andrew J.Galambos, What is True Democracy,  Free Enterprise Institute, 1963

In today’s “FREE” world all political decisions are made using majority rule democracy. The the group deciding may be small, a committee faced with solving some particular problem, or large, the entire voting electorate of a nation choosing a President. Regardless of the size of the group deciding, decision is made when one faction within the group achieves a simple majority. That faction wins, the minority faction loses. Majority rule consensus requires only a simple majority to force the minority, the losing voters to accept the position of the majority, the winning voters. There is no need to gain the agreement of all of the members. There is no need to prevent the minority from losing.

Majority rule democracy of which the committee is the most common example is filled with political intrigue and back room deals to obtain majority consensus and defeat the minority. This often results in the dark art of politics which makes strange bedfellows. Even when the majority wins they are not assured of the cooperation of the minority. Often the minority may only support the elected plan half-heartedly, or even seek to sabotage the plan they didn’t vote for since they feel they are losing anyway.

Compared to the rule by the one of dictatorship,  the rule by the most of majority rule democracy, appears to be a much fairer way. And fairness is perhaps the greatest value of our American nation.  However, it should now be clear to the reader that while Neutral political-economic systems are better for humanity than Adversary political-economic systems. Majority rule democracy is really an Adversary political-economic system pretending to be a Neutral political-economic system. In reality only lip service is given to rule by the most.

What we really have in America, the “freest nation on Earth”, is rule by the few. And, while rule by the few holds some advantage over rule by the one, its advantage does not imply there is nothing better for Humanity.

If we are to find a synergic form of organization for humanity, we will have to look beyond the representive democracies of today.

To be continued