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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyTue Jun 27, 2017 2:24 am

I corrected the title from "I prefer democracy above dictatorship" into "comparison of democracy and dictatorship" while along the thread I had first to define what "democracy" and "dictatorship" were, before I could think about which I preferred and why. And by that I am generously helped by nordmann, who explained a lot to me to understand both.

Temperance and Priscilla prefer perhaps discussions about religion and all that but I was always focused on political systems as for instance the Social Liberals as alternative for the Conservatives and the Socialists...
I was always from the very beginning on the history fora interested how dictators were able to come to power, even in a so-called social democracy, as for instance a Hitler who came to power in a legal way along with the laws in vigour of that time...

First some links before starting a discussion tomorrow:
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/wjec/history/pdf/democracy_or_dictatorship.pdf
http://thedailyjournalist.com/the-expert/democracy-versus-dictatorships-what-works-better/


And yes specially dedicated to Nordmann, as I am awaiting something from his corner...

Kind regards, Paul.


Last edited by PaulRyckier on Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyTue Jun 27, 2017 6:56 pm

Paul wrote:



Temperance and Priscilla prefer perhaps discussions about religion and all that but I was always focused on political systems...


Forgive me, but I did smile at the "and all that" bit in your sentence, Paul. I wonder to what does the "all that" refer?

I shouldn't really try to speak for our friend, Priscilla, of course, but I do hope we do not come across as obsessed by religion. I do read and talk about other things, you know, and I rather think Priscilla does too!

That said, I must add that I suppose it could be argued that Christianity became a "political system" once the Romans decided it was all a Splendid Idea - not what was originally intended at all (although some commentators today argue that Jesus of Nazareth actually was a serious political agitator and a thorough nuisance - that's why he was got rid of by the original Romans who knew a Bad Thing when they saw it. Dreamers are one thing; charismatic political subversives quite another).

However, let us not wander off-topic. Who came up with the idea of benevolent dictator? I always thought it came from Plato, a benevolent dictator - a philosopher-king - being the Socratic ideal. I have been reliably (or perhaps unreliably - these days I don't trust anyone) informed, however, that it was really John Stuart Mill's suggestion - see On Liberty.

"Benevolent" dictator seems a fine idea - a strong but decent leader, someone who only wants the best for all his (or her) people - but do such rulers really exist or is the concept merely a nice but impossible ideal? And who decides on what constitutes "benevolence" - the benevolent one himself?


benevolence (n.)  "disposition to do good," from Old French benivolence (Modern French bienveillance) and directly from Latin benevolentia "good feeling, good will, kindness," from bene "well" (see bene-) + volantem (nominative volens) present participle of velle "to wish" (see will (v.)). In English history, this was the name given to forced extra-legal loans or contributions to the crown, first so called 1473 by Edward IV, who cynically "asked" it as a token of good will toward his rule.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Jun 28, 2017 1:51 am

Temperance, just entering and already half past ten PM overhere...

"Forgive me, but I did smile at the "and all that" bit in your sentence, Paul. I wonder to what does the "all that" refer?"


"and all that, from near of from far (I don't even find the expression in any dictionary and on internet I find it only in quotes from novels, I think it is an expression in Dutch from sixty years ago, although it does still exist in dialect: "van dichte of van verre") has to do with religion... Wink

"However, let us not wander off-topic. Who came up with the idea of benevolent dictator? I always thought it came from Plato, a benevolent dictator - a philosopher-king - being the Socratic ideal. I have been reliably (or perhaps unreliably - these days I don't trust anyone) informed, however, that it was really John Stuart Mill's suggestion - see On Liberty.

"Benevolent" dictator seems a fine idea - a strong but decent leader, someone who only wants the best for all his (or her) people - but do such rulers really exist or is the concept merely a nice but impossible ideal? And who decides on what constitutes "benevolence" - the benevolent one himself?"

Thank you for this comment. Will study it tomorrow.
First rapid comment: In my opinion a "benevolent " dictator don't exist...look at the Austrian Jozef II and that other Prussian: Friedrich der Grosse...

Kind regards from Paul.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Jun 28, 2017 10:46 am

Wasn't Frederick the Great an "enlightened despot" - the 18th century idea? Is "enlightened despot" exactly the same as the earlier Greek ideal of a "benevolent dictator". The terms sound synonymous, but are they?

I'm still wondering about John Stuart Mill too, like you do,
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Jun 28, 2017 5:25 pm

The notion of a dictator as it originally applied in Roman political law is one that is badly understood these days, especially since the title has now become synonymous with absolute power invested in one individual, be it dispensed benevolently or not.

A dictator, as Julius Caesar officially was and before him Sulla and Marius amongst others, was essentially a consul who acted alone and who had no end to his term beyond that which he chose himself or which the senate imposed on him. The last bit is important - while in practice it was rarely that the senate had the military backing to act on its possible opposition to a dictator (who in every documented case carried the bulk of the army with him), in theory power was still invested in that body, as it was in the knights and the urban civic authorities, and the dictator's job was to dispense their will. Even a dictator therefore made sure to have a good number of these on his side too (Sulla retained power with support of the "optimates", Marius and Caesar with that of the "populares"). Appeal to the less aristocratic "populares" carried with it an extra complication in that they were also the most fractured group in terms of what they considered as important policy, so that kind of dictatorship was often best practiced through a triumvirate or similar, the consulship in those cases having been usurped by three (or more) individuals who each represented one aspect to thsi broad but fragile support.

A dictator therefore really displayed more the illusion of absolute power than in fact he could claim to hold. While his opponents might use that illusion against him, even they were also adept at exploiting those elements of power denied to a dictator to countervail his effect. Marius's reaction to such opposition was to use his army to impose a military state - a very close analogy to modern day dictatorship - but it is worth noting that this imposition barely lasted a year before it dissolved into anarchy, even among his own forces. Sulla countered it with political guile and ruthless treatment of his senior opponents - reminiscent of Hitler's early dictatorship - but again really only ended up eventually destabilising even his own support base so that his latter "reign" was one of economic and political stagnation which ironically transferred real power to the civitates, as close to a House of Commons as could be found in Republican Rome. How Caesar would have fared is open to question as he was stopped rather abruptly and permanently in his tracks, but it is telling that his nephew Octavius, upon assuming the consulate power himself later, made sure to avoid any claim to be a dictator (preferring the archaic "princeps") and made sure also to have every imperial diktat at least rubber-stamped by a senate whose constitution he did not change in even the least respect.

In short the original notion of a dictator therefore was - by definition - a benevolent dictatorship. The dictator's job was to rescue the republic at times when political inability to formulate policy by the consuls meant that it would be better done by one person untrammeled by a set term of office. The dictator did not need to "consult" (as the consuls' own office name indicated they were obliged to do), but neither could he assume automatically that his diktats overrode senate approval. That bit he had to enforce, often with menaces, and inevitably shortened his potential reign in doing so (at least too often).

A Roman would not necessarily have understood this thread's title at all. For him or her, a dictatorship might be the best defence of true democratic principle and procedure. Julius Caesar's proposed dictatorship was definitely seen as such (not just by him), exactly that which prompted the most die-hard optimates (who only liked democracy when power was invested in a very small super-aristocratic senate class) to gang up on him and do him in, thereby leading to those immortal last lines ...

"Infamy! Infamy! They all have it in fa' me!"
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyThu Jun 29, 2017 2:17 am

Temperance and Nordmann,

struggling with Plato, the Roman dictatorship and the Greek Tyrants...and tomorrow absent and already past 11 PM again...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato%27s_five_regimes
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/greeks/greekdemocracy_01.shtml
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_dictator


Kind regards and good evening from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyThu Jun 29, 2017 3:42 pm

I heard bits of this this morning but kept getting interrupted. I must listen again.   In Our Time - Plato's republic.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Jun 30, 2017 8:04 pm

What about Lee Kuan Yew? Changed Singapore from a third world city into a modern economic tiger.
Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. 180px-Lee_Kuan_Yew

The PAP has won every election since 1959, and is a semi authoritarian state. It does, however, seem to work effectively.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Jun 30, 2017 9:10 pm

Hmmm ... the Soviet Union could be said to have worked "effectively" from 1922 'til 1991, especially if you were a party member who loyally towed the party line. The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Jul 01, 2017 2:58 am

@Meles meles wrote:
Hmmm ... the Soviet Union could be said to have worked "effectively" from 1922 'til 1991, especially if you were a party member who loyally towed the party line. The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany.



Meles meles,

a bit late to enter the debate...

"The trouble with a benevolent dictator is that, however benevolent they might be, they are still a dictator and everyone has to follow their personal dictates with neither debate nor opposition allowed. OK in Singapore the trains run on time, there is no litter, and little crime ... but these were also said of Hitler's Germany."
Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan:
https://www.thoughtco.com/did-mussolini-get-the-trains-running-on-time-1221609


Through my parents I had an insightful picture of the Interbellum (in between the wars?) period in Belgium and especially in the Dutch speaking North. I later studied it more in depth among others for the several history fora.
In fact the mood was in my opinion rather on the right spectrum of the politics. Even the Belgian king Leopold III was in that mood. It later was used against him in the Kings Question after WWII...
The general opinion was one of: We need a strong figurehead that makes tabula rasa with all those by scandals (as the scandal of the Bank of the "Boerenbond" (farmers union?)...too many parties, which can't make decisions and end in endless palavers...no we need a strong man, who gives a clear direction...of course many hadn't heard of populism...even so called intellectuals and university-trained people were trapped...and first of all about the Italian Fascism of Mussolini...

I still remember strongly, it has to have been in I guess 1960, a school book about Dutch literature from Belgium and The Netherlands: "Zuid en Noord" (South and North). One text from an author, I forgot his name, but it was a reknown Flemisch writer, about Mussolini...a nearly lyric elogy of the Duce, entering a field with wheat to be mowed...and the Duce start the work...
And yes the Communists were very good in all such stuff too...as was Germany with Riefenthal...

But just to say that the call for a strong doctrinair leadership was a bit everywhere during the Interbellum...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Jul 01, 2017 5:39 pm

I remember the term "benevolent despotism" from history lessons at school. I suspect it was more benevolent for the despot than those who had despotism imposed upon them though. (Though I suppose there are some nuances between despot and dictator). As Meles Meles said the "benevolent" person remains a dictator. I can remember when Mrs Thatcher was British Prime Minister some people said they liked her because she had a strong personality - I suppose that was true but it was also her downfall because her strength was combined with inflexibility. I'll have to come out as a democracy girl even if the last couple of (British) elections have ended up with results I didn't want.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Jul 01, 2017 7:08 pm

@PaulRyckier wrote:

@Meles meles wrote:
the trains run on time

Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan

The claim that one of Mussolini’s achievements was that ‘he made the trains run of time’ rather misses the point. The phrase ‘making the trains run on time’ seems to be taken far too literally. The reference surely is to the huge advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s. Punctuality was only one of them. More significant were the building of new railway lines, the excavation of new tunnels and above all the electrification of the network.

Italy’s access to cheap electricity, which was overwhelmingly (i.e 90%) hydro-powered by virtue of the country’s mountainous terrain, was envied across Europe. In terms of upgrading the rail network then let's just consider that an electric motor is more reliable than an oil-powered diesel engine and also lower maintenance than a coal-powered steam engine. An electric motor is also cleaner and quieter than either. In an electricity-rich economy such as Italy’s, therefore, the electrification of the railways was a no-brainer and a win-win option.

Hydro-electricity would continue to dominate the Italian energy sector until the 1960s when it would reach full capacity and when other (i.e. fossil fuel) sources of electricity generation would begin to be used more and more in order for Italy’s industrial growth to continue. In the 50 years since then, the ratio has almost completely reversed with hydro-electricity now accounting for only about 10% of Italy’s energy consumption.

Attributing the rail advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s solely to ‘Mussolini’ seems to ignore the fact that making the best use of Italy’s hydroelectric bounty during those decades would surely have been the instinct of the technocrats of that country almost regardless of the political hue of any government which happened to be in office. This was already in evidence, for example, before Mussolini came to power and continued after his time. Similarly, downplaying the technological and civil engineering achievements etc of Italy during the Mussolini years simply because they might be perceived as being ‘fascist’ achievements is equally perverse. An evaluation of economic history should be able to see the bigger picture beyond contemporary propaganda (whether that be positive or negative) and also beyond current political sensibilities.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Jul 01, 2017 8:50 pm

I find it very interesting that Italy was almost self-sufficient in hydro-electric electricity generation in the 1920s and 30s. One sort of forgets - or at least I do - that Italy has almost as big an Alpine region as does Switzerland, Austria or France ... and rather more then than now when after WW1 Italy controlled the mountainous Gorizia Province of what is now Slovenija.

But the fact that we all remember Mussolini in part because "he made the trains run on time" surely only demostrates the enduring influence of his dictatorship, even so far as to affect how people think and remember him seven decades after his ignominious death ... and in the face of all contrary evidence. For what it is worth I'm pretty sure I have seen a data study that showed how Italian train punctuality reached its peak just prior to WW1 - and so well before the rise of Mussolini - a peak that was not surpassed until today (post 1980s). Although, as you have said, the Italian rail network was then (pre WW1) much smaller and was neither nationalised nor centrally controlled ... and generally it was not very fiscally sound either. But the three situations - before, during and after Mussolini - are not really comparable are they?
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySun Jul 02, 2017 2:14 am

@Vizzer wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:

@Meles meles wrote:
the trains run on time

Yes this was the famous Mussolini slogan

The claim that one of Mussolini’s achievements was that ‘he made the trains run of time’ rather misses the point. The phrase ‘making the trains run on time’ seems to be taken far too literally. The reference surely is to the huge advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s. Punctuality was only one of them. More significant were the building of new railway lines, the excavation of new tunnels and above all the electrification of the network.

Italy’s access to cheap electricity, which was overwhelmingly (i.e 90%) hydro-powered by virtue of the country’s mountainous terrain, was envied across Europe. In terms of upgrading the rail network then let's just consider that an electric motor is more reliable than an oil-powered diesel engine and also lower maintenance than a coal-powered steam engine. An electric motor is also cleaner and quieter than either. In an electricity-rich economy such as Italy’s, therefore, the electrification of the railways was a no-brainer and a win-win option.

Hydro-electricity would continue to dominate the Italian energy sector until the 1960s when it would reach full capacity and when other (i.e. fossil fuel) sources of electricity generation would begin to be used more and more in order for Italy’s industrial growth to continue. In the 50 years since then, the ratio has almost completely reversed with hydro-electricity now accounting for only about 10% of Italy’s energy consumption.

Attributing the rail advances made by Ferrovie Italiane during the 1920s and 1930s solely to ‘Mussolini’ seems to ignore the fact that making the best use of Italy’s hydroelectric bounty during those decades would surely have been the instinct of the technocrats of that country almost regardless of the political hue of any government which happened to be in office. This was already in evidence, for example, before Mussolini came to power and continued after his time. Similarly, downplaying the technological and civil engineering achievements etc of Italy during the Mussolini years simply because they might be perceived as being ‘fascist’ achievements is equally perverse. An evaluation of economic history should be able to see the bigger picture beyond contemporary propaganda (whether that be positive or negative) and also beyond current political sensibilities.


Vizzer,

thank you for this elaborated survey about that question. There was a hint in Wikipedia, but you explain it that much better.
Sadly it is already nearing 11 PM and I am involved in a debate about the after IS in the Middle East on a French forum of geopolitics. A new big battle between the Sunnis backed by Saudi Arabia and the Americans on one side and the Shiits backed by Iran and the Russians on the other side. Turkey yet enough with the Kurds, who seem to have a new territory near Turkey and with the Kurds inside Turkey...No Sykes-Pycot frontier anymore...and battles about borders as in the good old times...
I think Meles meles can follow the French documentary...and there is a lot of English in the documentary too...but I have no translation as it is a full French production...
http://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/066344-000-A/les-guerres-cachees-contre-daech


And I have still to answer a lot to Nordmann, Ferval, Meles meles, Temperance about the subject overhere...sigh...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySun Jul 02, 2017 2:16 am

OOPS and I forgot Lady in retirement Embarassed

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Jul 03, 2017 1:00 am

@Temperance wrote:
Wasn't Frederick the Great an "enlightened despot" - the 18th century idea? Is "enlightened despot" exactly the same as the earlier Greek ideal of a "benevolent dictator". The terms sound synonymous, but are they?

I'm still wondering about John Stuart Mill too, like you do,

Temperance,

you seem to be an erudite...never heard of John Stuart Mills...just set my first steps by a study about Socialism versus Liberalism. And what is a Liberal? I read about social Liberals, also in Belgium. Did even a study about it.
Will study first all the new stuff that you reported to me...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardian_economics

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Jul 03, 2017 1:22 am

Deleted - off-topic.


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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Jul 03, 2017 2:14 am

@nordmann wrote:
The notion of a dictator as it originally applied in Roman political law is one that is badly understood these days, especially since the title has now become synonymous with absolute power invested in one individual, be it dispensed benevolently or not.

A dictator, as Julius Caesar officially was and before him Sulla and Marius amongst others, was essentially a consul who acted alone and who had no end to his term beyond that which he chose himself or which the senate imposed on him. The last bit is important - while in practice it was rarely that the senate had the military backing to act on its possible opposition to a dictator (who in every documented case carried the bulk of the army with him), in theory power was still invested in that body, as it was in the knights and the urban civic authorities, and the dictator's job was to dispense their will. Even a dictator therefore made sure to have a good number of these on his side too (Sulla retained power with support of the "optimates", Marius and Caesar with that of the "populares"). Appeal to the less aristocratic "populares" carried with it an extra complication in that they were also the most fractured group in terms of what they considered as important policy, so that kind of dictatorship was often best practiced through a triumvirate or similar, the consulship in those cases having been usurped by three (or more) individuals who each represented one aspect to thsi broad but fragile support.

A dictator therefore really displayed more the illusion of absolute power than in fact he could claim to hold. While his opponents might use that illusion against him, even they were also adept at exploiting those elements of power denied to a dictator to countervail his effect. Marius's reaction to such opposition was to use his army to impose a military state - a very close analogy to modern day dictatorship - but it is worth noting that this imposition barely lasted a year before it dissolved into anarchy, even among his own forces. Sulla countered it with political guile and ruthless treatment of his senior opponents - reminiscent of Hitler's early dictatorship - but again really only ended up eventually destabilising even his own support base so that his latter "reign" was one of economic and political stagnation which ironically transferred real power to the civitates, as close to a House of Commons as could be found in Republican Rome. How Caesar would have fared is open to question as he was stopped rather abruptly and permanently in his tracks, but it is telling that his nephew Octavius, upon assuming the consulate power himself later, made sure to avoid any claim to be a dictator (preferring the archaic "princeps") and made sure also to have every imperial diktat at least rubber-stamped by a senate whose constitution he did not change in even the least respect.

In short the original notion of a dictator therefore was - by definition - a benevolent dictatorship. The dictator's job was to rescue the republic at times when political inability to formulate policy by the consuls meant that it would be better done by one person untrammeled by a set term of office. The dictator did not need to "consult" (as the consuls' own office name indicated they were obliged to do), but neither could he assume automatically that his diktats overrode senate approval. That bit he had to enforce, often with menaces, and inevitably shortened his potential reign in doing so (at least too often).

A Roman would not necessarily have understood this thread's title at all. For him or her, a dictatorship might be the best defence of true democratic principle and procedure. Julius Caesar's proposed dictatorship was definitely seen as such (not just by him), exactly that which prompted the most die-hard optimates (who only liked democracy when power was invested in a very small super-aristocratic senate class) to gang up on him and do him in, thereby leading to those immortal last lines ...

"Infamy! Infamy! They all have it in fa' me!"

Nordmann,

thank you for this erudite description of the Roman dictatorship. In fact I had also this in mind, rememberings from my Latin lessons in the time...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_dictator
From this Wiki:
A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were regularly appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla, and then by Caesar. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.[1][2][3]


But first of all...and I seeking on the net for words from Caesar Wink ...I remembered: "Tu Brutus..."
But can it be...?




Wink  I never saw this film...perhaps not intersting enough for the Belgian public...to be nonest I prefered more the "other" Carry on films...as the one on vacation...

But back to the subject...Plato and Roman dictators are 2000-2500 years ago...I agree they could already looking back to another 3000 years of organized city/state life...but that life from Egypt, the Sumerian city states, Babylon as a bit mythical and an ancient period before them with kings as absolute rulers...?
The Greeks had to rethink it all...and as Plato mentioned they had it nearly all, all possibilities of ruling...

But in the last 2500 years, we have had again a large experience of all kinds of societies and methods of ruling, and we can learn from it...if one looks to that period it seems that the "democratic" societies last the longest, far before the dictatorships? The democratic states haven't perhaps not such a fast decision making...but because they are so long discussed many times there comes a better solving agreed upon by a broader part of the population, than a decision imposed upon them with no rights for amendments...perhaps they climb not that quickly as for instance the Stalin industrialisation...but it will be always a question, if there hadn't been a WWI, if Russia with or without Tsar wouldn't have industrialised faster than there Soviet counterpart...?

I studied the French Third Republic for a French forum and I am not sure if this Third Republic with all its flaws and controverses wouldn't have lasted longer if there hadn't been a WWII...and with a better result at the end...after all the Hitler dictatorship of 12? years was a complete catastrophy at the end...

Coincidentally there is a thread on Historum about authoritarian benevolent regimes...but as I suppose Triceratops is reffering to it overhere I will reply directly to his message...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Jul 03, 2017 2:19 pm

Yes, Paul. The Romans struggled to control the principle of "magisterium" as it applied to public office from the moment they first defined it. Its origin was ancient and dated back to the days when the Roman "Republic" in its infancy was still, in real terms, a conglomeration of associated tribes - much like modern day Afghanistan, in which the tribal leaders could not be seen to have been usurped totally in terms of decision making even though in essence that was the only deal on offer. The compromise was to appoint these people as magistrates who could, up to a certain point, dispense rules and justice within their own "magisterium", originally geographical areas but which over time became more and more geopolitical and ultimately morphed completely into what might be called "fields of expertise". This was when they got dangerous as tradition demanded that any ordinance proclaimed by a magistrate therefore could not be readily gainsaid by his ostensible superiors. When it worked well they represented something of an independent judiciary and served the Republic well in that respect (the original corn dole for example was a magisterial decree which ultimately defined the Roman economy for the next 500 years). When it didn't work well, which was more often, it provided a very handy stepping stone for would-be dictators and power-hoggers who could use the extraordinary authority that came with the office to ignore, oppose or even attempt to usurp political decrees proclaimed at a higher level. It was this "extraordinary authority" aspect that allowed the office to be adapted to create dictators - of which there were several over the years - but even this apparently handy use of the office proved problematic (getting them to stand down was always problematic), such that the senate abolished the whole set-up once the Carthaginians were finally totally vanquished.

Sulla, who was something of an avid historian and a great fan of early republican history, resurrected the office for his own ends and at least publicly presented this as a "return to old values", in much the same way as populist politicians today, while steering their countries into hell on a hay-cart, still pretend to be "making us great again" and words to that effect. The truth of the matter is that the world does not stand still and political language and terminology is a reflection of this dynamism, not a preserver of ancient definitions of "greatness", "authority" etc. Even if Sulla had been less egregious and had really wanted to recreate the notion of "magisterium" as it had applied on the few occasions it had worked to the public's benefit he could not have done so. He was managing a new situation and therefore creating a new office which he planned to exploit. His version of "dictator" therefore bore little or no resemblance to that which had pertained before, and unavoidably echoed his ex-boss Marius's previous style of rule which had been an outright dictatorship in absolutely every aspect except the official title Marius had devised to describe himself.

Caesar's was if anything actually closer to the ancient version. He went to great pains to let the senate believe they retained a unilateral ability to dissolve the office if they so wished, and the fact that he had just spectacularly managed to get this policy approved by them was the trigger that set his assassins in motion. They had been out-voted quite democratically (and quite popularly) and didn't like it. One could almost say that it was they who therefore behaved most unconstitutionally in that whole incident, most like a modern dictator in fact in that they privately engineered a coup, and in fact set most precedent for the further political instability which then resulted in many deaths and ultimately a new "first among equals" to get the whole thing working again in some constitutional shape or form.

Note I have avoided comparing any of these approaches to wielding power in terms of "benevolence", which really serves no useful purpose in describing political reality. If one equates the term with actions perceived as being in the public good then many of Rome's dictators were in fact defined purely by their "benevolence", while "malevolence" was often most evident when power was wielded using more standard political processes. The opposite applied too, especially as particular dictatorships descended into anarchy - in Rome the political result of a despot being constrained eventually by the actual reality of the situation he had engendered, and which it must be remembered was nearly always redressed using constitutional processes (which sometimes included his necessary assassination). Benevolence wasn't really a factor in this at all, be it as the basis of policies which might have kept him in power longer, or as motive for those who might constitutionally have opposed him and brought about his removal.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Jul 03, 2017 5:40 pm

Very good post, sir. Not a grovel; I mean it.

PS Paul, sorry I did not reply sensibly to you last night - I had had too much to drink. I hope I have not offended you too.

Temp.



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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyTue Jul 04, 2017 2:10 am

Nordmann,

thank you very much for this elaborated message from which I learned a lot. I will include it in my further comments in this thread.
And grateful that you described the term "benevolent" as I want to expand on the term "benevolent dictator".

Temperance,

"offended" not at all...as it is again a glimpse of your warm personality...


Kind regards to both from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 11, 2017 2:55 am


Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Politics
This a circular model with the typical Left/Right for ideology and up/down with regard to power.












Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. New-left-right-spectrum-people-2




This is a square model with relations between governmental power being up and down (the further up the more power you seek and the further down the less power you seek) and then economic freedom in the left to right spectrum (less economic freedom to the left and more economic freedom to the right)... And while it measures more power and economics rather than power and ideology, it does demonstrate the ability measure issues in the political spectrum that a simple linear model cannot cover alone...


These are two graphics that I am allowed by Sam-Nary to publish from the thread from Historum: Comparison between Communists under Stalin and  and Nazis under Hitler to use them in my comments of this thread.

Unfortunately it is all a bit disorderly, but it was the best, with my limited knowledge of computers, I could do.
Tomorrow more comments.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySun Sep 17, 2017 10:09 pm

Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Politics


Studying this graphic I tend also to agree with Sam-Nary that the four quarters diagram gives a wider nuancing than the linear one underneath it.

The difficulty two compare the other four quarters model with this one is that one has to turn it upside down to compare


Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. New-left-right-spectrum-people-2


The difficulty I have in the second diagram is that the economic factor is not well defined, and in fact even in the first diagram...I have also some doubts about how the word "libertanian" is defined in this diagram.
On the old BBC board I had already a discussion with Alexander Crawford about that seemingly American word, while I always referred to "liberalism" in Europe.
I give here the two links to further discuss them afterwards about the differences and similarities.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism


In the second diagram I find the word "progressive" a word without content. One can be progressive in anything? The square with the question marks I would mark as "socialist" and the "Stalinist square" I would mark as Communism...
As for the names, as Sam-Nary said it is the author's view...
BTW: Helen Clark seems to be in the center of the centers...
Is that the New Zealand one?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Clark


As I find the second diagram not that well, I will restrict me to the first one.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySun Sep 17, 2017 10:41 pm

Addendum to the previous message.


Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Politics


Again I have some objections about the diagram.
In my opinion is "capitalism" not a "political orientation" but an "economic" one. Thus I would rather change the name to "liberalism"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitalism


Also "command economy" can happen on the extreme left dictatorship as on the extreme right one (for instance Nazi Germany)
Instead of "market economy" I would say "capitalism" and the degree of the market economy is given by the degree it tends to extreme capitalism or to the center with the more social balanced capitalism (I would say more interference of the state as in the socialistic democracy).
Instead of "command economy on the left side I would prefer: equal distribution of the common wealth against total free distribution of the common wealth...
And one has to pay attention that one speaks here about individual countries. But countries are connected as in the real world and both liberalism and socialism even in a democracy of one country has to reckon with the impact from outside. I will expand later on this item.
But in my opinion the impact of global capitalism is bigger as socialists till now are acting more in the frame of one country? Or they are internationally not strong enough to weigh on the global market?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 18, 2017 1:58 am

I want first to discuss the family of liberalism, as there seems to be quite an evolution in time.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_liberalism

I read the wiki about Libertarianism. And now I understand why Alexander Crawford couldn't explain it to me (in that time more ignorant than now). I prefer to not discuss it here because as I see it you can put any possible movement in  it Wink ....

The classical liberalism we know from the 19th century, was the ideology of the industrialization and capitalism, hence the reaction of the workers against the exploitation.
Then there seems to have come also an adaptation of Liberalism to the "social or modern liberalism", which is more comform with the socio- democratic state.
http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-modern-liberalism-and-vs-classical-liberalism/

• Definition of Modern Liberalism and Classical Liberalism:

• Classical liberalism is a combination of civil liberty, political freedom, and economic freedom.
• Modern liberalism is a combination of social justice and mixed economy.

• Government Power:

• Classical liberalism viewed government power as a necessary evil.
• Modern liberalism recommends a far greater role of the government.

• Economic Preferences:

• Classical liberalism liked taxation with low taxes, low or no tariff, etc.
• Modern liberalism liked high tax systems, many laws on businesses, high minimum wage laws, etc.


I looked to the Belgian parties and here they seem it to call "progressive liberalism"(also in the Netherlands). I started with the Liberal parties in Belgium "And there I see (if one can believe what they all write about themselves) the Flemish liberal part more social liberal than the French speaking counterpart. That part more ressemblance with the New Flemish Alliance, which are more classical liberal...

What with the Liberal-Democrats in the UK, which are described as "social liberalism" in my list?
What did they under the right wing liberal Margaret Thatcher for instance?

For me the party with the most credentials for a democracy and has to be in the centre, because extremism has shown time and time again that it always ends in disaster (sooner or later), is this social liberal party (as long as the party naming it as its core value, isn't a façade for other politics) (I remember still the "people's republics" of the former East-Bloc Wink )

Hence for me are Christian Democrat parties as in Belgium and Germany more social liberal than many Liberal parties...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyTue Sep 19, 2017 1:39 am

Returning to the dictator-democracy discussion...

One mentioned Singapore...ok the city state is doing it well...but at what cost?...not a climate of freedom of press, freedom of speech, to do what one want to do, to discuss improvements in social change and so on...not a happy society in my opinion? All changes from top to bottom instead of the reverse?

China, an oligarchical state nowedays? Something similar as the Venetian republic (that Nordmann described so well, or was it on another board?). Again the same as Singapore? All guiding comes from the top to the public. If they make mistakes it is not discussed as in an open society to correct it eventually or improve it?

And then one man dictatorships are a clear disaster, as the one man many times don't listen to his advisers and act from his one man thinking, which is most times not as balanced as the combined thinking of a whole theme of experts with an added evaluation of the whole population...?



But up to now I was always talking about individual countries, and here I return to my former messages.
All good and well to establish for instance a flourishing social liberal country, but there are more than 100 sovereign countries in the world.
If one can't align all the social systems of these countries in some way, by the capitalistic system the money will flee to the best opportunities to gain money and that will be a country with a low social system where labour is cheap? And the currency of the countries with high labour cost or product cost will be depreciated? I have a vague rememberance that even a country as the UK was no match for the stock-exchange? The pound on its lowest value? Under Major? If even the UK can't resist, what then with Belgium?

And even the international plague of the tax-evasion can't be muzzled as long as the big ones, the US, the EU, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brazil don't act? Merkel wanted to do it in Germany, but as long as it is not a worldwide closure of the tax evasion paradises it will be wishful thinking?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyTue Sep 17, 2019 3:21 am

Sparked by what LiR said on the tumbleweed café about the Liberal-Democrats of Britain and Margeret Thatcher not a liberal, I wanted to expand a bit more about nowadays liberalism and the many branches as the Social Liberalism and the Neoliberalism.

Social Liberalism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_liberalism
And the French one is much more "étoffé" (enriched?) than the English one:
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social-libéralisme

And about the neoliberalism from Hayek, Friedmann, the Thatcher liberalism
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
Yes I know the Guardian a bit left leaning?
And what an author, nor an historian nor a philosopher but what a life
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Monbiot
And further from the Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world
And from the New Republic
https://newrepublic.com/article/110196/hayek-friedman-and-the-illusions-conservative-economics

And Thatcher, Hayek and Friedman
https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/politics-of-economics/0/steps/30817

For me and my head hurts from reading all these texts, which are more stuff for nordmann than for me, but my common sense says that a system where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer and where a lot of people don't feel themselves confortable in their own skin, can not be good system at the end...as the conclusion of
https://newrepublic.com/article/110196/hayek-friedman-and-the-illusions-conservative-economics

For a serious modern reader, the rhetoric is irrelevant or, worse, misleading, or, even worse, intentionally misleading. Everyone has known for a long time that a complicated industrial economy is either a market economy or a mess. The real issues are pragmatic. Which of the defects of a “free,” unregulated economy should be repaired by regulation, subsidization, or taxation? Which of them may have to be tolerated (and perhaps compensated), at least in part, because the best available fix would have even more costly side-effects? To the extent that the MPS circle made that kind of policy discussion more difficult to have, it did the market economy a disservice.
Robert M. Solow is Institute Professor of Economics emeritus at MIT. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1987. This article appeared in the December 6, 2012 issue of the magazine under the headline “The Serfdom Scare.”

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Sep 20, 2019 3:06 am

As I see it we discussed dictatorships in this thread but not really the word democracy from the title.
I wanted in the first place to ask Temperance and nordmann about my questions, as in my opinion they are the most interested in such questions and I think the most knowledgeables ones too. 
And I wanted to add: but where are the two?
And see coincidentely Temperance is there again, alive and kicking (as always)...
Perhaps this theoretical approach about democracy will distract her from her daily troubles...

I read nearly two hours about democracy...what it was and not was...

To start with: Was the Athen city state a democracy?
If I recall it well nordmann was rather negative about it, although as I see it, it was a direct democracy, where I agree a relative small part of the male population decided what would be good for the community. I agree again how more people of the total can decide in the process, how more representative for the whole the decision making will be.

And the elitary philosphers of that time as a Plato seems not to be favourites of this kind of democracy...
But I still think as I learned from history by reading and on the several history boards I attended, that neither a dictator, nor an oligarchy of elitary people, who think they have better ideas than the rest of the population, can be at end the solving of the problems of a society, while a broader part of the population, first for all will seek to solve the problems of each part of their society and secondly the extremes and extremist voices will meet in the broader center and as such will tend to seek for solutions based on common sense?
I found this an interesting site, although no author? And from a US department...
https://web-archive-2017.ait.org.tw/infousa/zhtw/DOCS/whatsdem/whatdm2.htm
This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs.
       Links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Already nearing midnight overhere, fellow members, see you tomorrow.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Sep 20, 2019 1:37 pm

At the risk of repeating myself I wonder if some of the people (I'm not meaning contributors to this site) were too idle to vote at the 2016 leave or remain in the EU referendum, thinking it was a sure thing that "Remain" would win.  In my dim and distant school days we had a once a week lesson called "Civics" (when we were in the lower part of the [secondary] school anyway).  Although it was terribly boring we did get an inkling of how government was supposed to work.  I'm "out of the loop" with modern education so I don't know what part of the current school curriculum a knowledge of the system of government plays.  I know there is a "junior government" (not a real one, but a model one where young people contribute and have relevant discussions) - not sure if "junior government" is the right nomenclature.

I agree with Temperance that things are somewhat depressing nowadays.  People on TV chanting "Tommy, Tommy, Tommy" (about the former Mr Yaxley-Lennon - not the former pop singer).  I agree that the mainstream media have on occasion tried to "stitch up" TR (not that I'm particularly a fan of his) which takes away from their credibility.  

Then, while I don't want to malign everyone who ever went to a "public" school, I'm more convinced than ever that some of the "upper class" members of society in the UK really don't know how the other half live.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Sep 21, 2019 2:44 am

From the American article that I mentioned this morning:

The pillars of democracy:

[*]Sovereignty of the people.
[*]Government based upon consent of the governed.
[*]Majority rule.
[*]Minority rights.
[*]Guarantee of basic human rights.
[*]Free and fair elections.
[*]Equality before the law.
[*]Due process of law.
[*]Constitutional limits on government.
[*]Social, economic, and political pluralism.
[*]Values of tolerance, pragmatism, cooperation, and compromise

I retain especially: Majority rule and minority rights...
I remember that I on the BBC forum in the time gave the exemple of Algeria about the murderous time of the Islamic revolt with Bouteflika...if the Islamists had won 51% of the votes, would Algeria had become an Islamic State? Probably not while the army would have interfered?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdelaziz_Bouteflika

But just to say that the majority rule is not the whole solution. Or in the 2016 vote, if it would have been 51% leave and 49% remain?
And in the article they mention the question of the majority rule too:
"All democracies are systems in which citizens freely make political decisions by majority rule. But rule by the majority is not necessarily democratic: No one, for example, would call a system fair or just that permitted 51 percent of the population to oppress the remaining 49 percent in the name of the majority. In a democratic society, majority rule must be coupled with guarantees of individual human rights that, in turn, serve to protect the rights of minorities--whether ethnic, religious, or political, or simply the losers in the debate over a piece of controversial legislation. The rights of minorities do not depend upon the goodwill of the majority and cannot be eliminated by majority vote. The rights of minorities are protected because democratic laws and institutions protect the rights of all citizens."

And about direct democracy of the ancient Athens:
[*]Democracies fall into two basic categories, direct and representative. In a direct democracy, all citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions. Such a system is clearly only practical with relatively small numbers of people--in a community organization or tribal council, for example, or the local unit of a labor union, where members can meet in a single room to discuss issues and arrive at decisions by consensus or majority vote. Ancient Athens, the world's first democracy, managed to practice direct democracy with an assembly that may have numbered as many as 5,000 to 6,000 persons--perhaps the maximum number that can physically gather in one place and practice direct democracy.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySat Sep 21, 2019 4:28 am

Sometimes people seem to choose a dictatorship even if it is not theoretically a dictatorship.  Before we had the internet Ayatollah Khomeni spoke to the people of Iran by means of smuggled cassettes (it's mentioned but only in the second paragraph of the linked page.  From what I remember the rule of the Ayatollah was strict.  https://madsciblog.tradoc.army.mil/tag/ayatollah-khomeini/
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptySun Sep 22, 2019 1:17 am

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
Sometimes people seem to choose a dictatorship even if it is not theoretically a dictatorship.  Before we had the internet Ayatollah Khomeni spoke to the people of Iran by means of smuggled cassettes (it's mentioned but only in the second paragraph of the linked page.  From what I remember the rule of the Ayatollah was strict.  https://madsciblog.tradoc.army.mil/tag/ayatollah-khomeini/
 
Lady,

thank you very much for this interesting article. I learned a lot from it. But it is a more general article about the impact of modern technologies on democracy and on the politcal future of the world. Although I have discussed it yet and have to agree with what the author said, I have nevertheless some critiques too. It is in my opinion in the hands of a repressive government to counteract. I have even the opinion that democratic governments have to react to the abuses of influencing people. Remember the influencing of the American polls (and perhaps making Trump president of the US) by Cambridge Analytica and the hole in the protection of people's private messages, that I described in a thread overhere.  And yes even influencing the 2016 B polls. It is in my opinion one of a most serious scandals of the latest years, but nobody seems to let his sleep for that illegal influencing by a political party or by a group "behind" that party. Is it a signal of the time, if even a honest party as our Belgian christian-democratic, buys "likes" at a "likes" distributor and perhaps even detract it from his propaganda budget. Their excuse, the others do it too and even more than we, and if we don't do it, we will be in an inferior position against the others. Or are the firms or the "pressure groups" too big or too influential to tackle? As in the time of the 2008 crisis, the banks too big to fall?
LiR, I will expand further on the theme in reply to your comment in thread about someone, who said that religious thinking is in our DNA.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 23, 2019 2:35 am

Again about democracy.
I wanted to reply in the Historum thread that is exploded about a socialist economy in the Third Reich:
https://historum.com/threads/economy-of-third-reich-was-a-socialist-economy.180701/page-13
It took me the whole evening to read the 70 pages of the thesis comparing Corporatism in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and to comment it all in the thread.
But sparked by all this reading:
When in a democracy an elite, who thinks that they are better of the common man, can convince the mass of the common man with all kinds of propaganda even going to misinformation to reach the goal,  that they are the guys to select to bring the country again to national pride and prosperity. And when that common man, disillusioned by the slow progress of decision making and the poor results of the present government, votes to chose that elite to do what they promised, is that democracy?
In my opinion yes. But a big "but":
As long as they don't take the democratic government apparatus as hostage and prevent to organize new polls to defy their eventual mistakes. Just my opinion.

And so I come to some second point about democracy.
I mentioned already that Athens had "direct democracy"
And see, this morning I saw coincidentally a debate on a Dutch language Belgian TV, among others comments, by an in my opinion erudite reporter from a Socialist leaning paper, about "direct democracy"
https://www.politico.eu/article/belgium-democratic-experiment-citizens-assembly/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politico

And the journalist said, if I understood it well, all good and well, direct democracy as long as after five years the culprits that made a mess of it all, have to come before the voters again to receive their verdict. And he found the international press comments a bit overdone... 
I fully subscribe to what the journalist said.
I am open to consulting the people about questions relevant to their sorrows and it is done on a regular base for instance by the firm Ipsos to see the voting trends and the concerns of the Belgian people and publiced in the papers by statistics.
But I find that such a council of people searched by the lottery have to have no powers in intervening in the decisions of the deputies of the people voted in the official ballot.
Perhaps that can work on this small scale of the Belgian Ost-Kantons, having perhaps a 40,000 grown ups...
But then to compare this with a region as North Rhein Westphalen and Scotland, as the journalist of Politico does is in my opinion a bridge too far, perhaps even ridiculous.
And btw: The German-speaking community of Belgium is not the same as a "Land" as in Germany, it is even part of the Walloon "region".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-speaking_Community_of_Belgium

And to come back on this small lottery elected citizens, I remember from my time in the factory, when presiding some "overlegcirkels", (concertation circles?) to bring the working man closer to the decision making of the factory. It came from Japan I believe.  And mostly it were the ones, who could say it best or the ones who could make the most of fuss, who were best heard. But to be honest, sometimes there were good proposals, mostly from modest workers, who were btw closest to the workfloor. And it was then to gather this mentioning to bring it on the foreground and to seek for a more or less unanimity to propose that specific matter. But again in that German speaking community: what if someone, perhaps moderate, says he don't want to become member of the commitee.
Will that be at the end an "hard core" commitee?

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 23, 2019 11:16 am

You raise some questions which give food for thought.

Thank you for that Paul.

Btw. I think that it's in France they have a rule, that it's not to permitted to collect and publish public polls some weeks - two? - before an election, imho that ought be universal law, and punishable by large fines not only to companies ordering this but to the ones collecting the statistics as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 23, 2019 1:32 pm

Citizens' Assemblies work and are certainly expressions of democracy in practice. However they require two rather crucial items of a constitutional framework within which to operate in order to avoid being either pointless or (even worse) threats to the very polity to which they were designed to contribute.

Firstly, no matter how they have been assembled they require a constitutional role very strictly defined in which it is stipulated whether their deliberations and possible instructions relate to the Legislature, the Executive or the Judiciary as defined already within that constitution. In other words the extent to which their contribution takes legal effect and the machinery whereby this happens is understood by everyone at the outset of any deliberation. This role would also contain within its constitutional definition how they are tasked to deliberate at all, as well as the other items related to how they are selected (whether by lottery, election, or appointment). These would be separated within the constitution as articles in their own rights, the changing of which would therefore require a constitutional referendum to effect, either as individual aspects to the defined process or collectively if their use as constituted itself within a democracy requires to be addressed at a later stage.

Secondly, the same constitution would need to define the machinery of restraint used to curb potential threat to the Separation of Powers within the state, in which Citizens Assembies, once put in place, form a crucial element. Depending on whether an assembly has been granted a primarily Legislative, Executive or Judicial role then the exceeding of power related to each (or combinations) of these functions has to be defined, along with the measures available to the rest of the Legislative, Executive or Judicial structure that can then be employed to curb it.

The article you linked to Paul has been written by someone who obviously hasn't given either Citizens' Assemblies or Constitutions much thought at all. While the term may well be applied to any body of citizens operating as an assembly outside the conventional framework of power in a democracy, it is a meaningless collective term given the permutations and combinations as described above, even within intelligent and effective constitutions. Where such intelligence and effect isn't obvious within any state, however democratic it feels itself to be (such as in the UK as presently constituted) then the meaninglessness of the term is even more pronounced. And that's even before one looks at the comparative merits or otherwise of how such assemblies themselves are constituted and selected.

For what it's worth the use of "lottery" appointment seems to work quite well in relation to jury service in most countries. It would follow that a Citizens' Assembly constituted by that means with a specific judicial function related to a specific policy might well work at least as well as any alternative. I would have misgivings about extending its scope further than this - abandonment of expertise (as the UK is also blithely demonstrating at the moment) when formulating policy and enacting it as law is almost automatically an abuse of Separation of Powers. In the UK's case it's even worse - all the existing checks and balances used to curb such excesses that are now being attempted (revealingly instituted by private citizens as much as by any automatically defined function of the state), without the benefit of an actual constitutional framework designed to implement these checks without requirement to first define them for quite specific and unanticipated circumstances, have either failed, are visibly failing, or at least are being stretched to their very limit in terms of effectiveness. Even when and if they work they will have the rather anti-constitutional effect of having changed "constitutional law and procedure" without the public ever having had a role in that change, in other words just as much a proof of the non-existence of citizens' rights with regard to ensuring constitutional prudence, compliance and faithfulness as the issue caused by this non-existence has itself revealed.

Nielsen - the logic behind avoiding polls and such prior to an important elective event rests on a judicial acknowledgement and admission that some of these events' susceptibility to aberrational public opinion, especially opinion that is open to manipulation or undue influence of agents outside the judicial control of the state (and possibly even malicious influence designed to undermine the state's own safeguards against such influence), may in fact end up producing a potential threat to the polity itself. Whether or not one enforces such a rule it is an important point to remember also that - just as with Citizens' Assemblies - a well worded and previously publicly sanctioned constitution is still the best (in fact the only) safeguard as yet devised within any democracy to prevent just such an event from occurring. I have made the point here many times that a well constructed constitution is ultimately the only real protection against a state self-harming through its own population's stupidity (manipulated or not). Even apart from the total basket case that is the current UK, one only has to look around Europe at the moment to see just where such constitutional safeguards are being tested (mainly through populist pollution of the democratic process for less than democratic aims), where they are working better than others, where they are failing, and ultimately where if one doesn't have them at all then one is screwed.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyMon Sep 23, 2019 11:08 pm

nordmann,

thank you very much for this elaborated explanation of the  confines and the needs for a "workable"  Citizens' Assembly.
I enjoy everytime your replies because of your meticulous mentioning of all aspects of a matter and explaining it logical. It is perhaps not an easy reading, but when you read it sentence for sentence and connect them with what you read before it makes a great read. And such descriptions are never something that you can read in a hurry.
And I thank you for and was interested in your answer to Nielsen too.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 2:42 pm

I'm not sure I mentioned all aspects of the matter in question - I reckon that would take a book rather than a discussion forum post Smile

But getting back to the thread title, one doesn't have to delve into the minutiae of constitutional law to see the problem with the assumptions it contains which, in my view, simply don't bear up to historical scrutiny. And in fact the same assumptions, which propose a dichotomy between democracy and dictatorship without examining the historical evolution of both, lie at the heart of much that is potentially dangerous to the democratic process in modern society.

Here's a perfect example of how this manifests itself in the world today - courtesy of this morning's Daily Mail front page in Britain and yesterday's UK Supreme Court ruling regarding the prime minister's proroguing of parliament:

Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EFQnDypXsAEHW_t?format=jpg&name=small

The question that is posed by what is essentially a fascist organ (for once the true definition of the word actually fits the accusation) "Who runs the country?" contains exactly the same false assumptions as this thread's title in its use of shorthand expression for something that is much more nuanced and complex than such terminology allows to be conveyed. The fact of the matter is that Separation of Powers in any functional democracy means that a country is "run" through a balancing act between an executive that declares agenda for legislation, a legislature that debates and enacts (or refuses) compliance with that agenda, and a judiciary whose primary job is to ensure that both of the other two branches of government operate within their respective remits. Britain, thanks to its historic dependency on not ever fully committing to rules regarding the relationship between these three elements (for reasons I could go into at much length but that can wait for another occasion), has therefore in recent times become a very public and open spectacle of what transpires when each of these elements forgets or ignores the fact that it is part of such a triumvirate.

Which brings us back to the historical evolution of the two nouns used in the thread's title. It comes as a surprise to most new students of Roman history in particular to discover that dictatorial powers were invested in individuals as a democratic safeguard, something that appears to be a contradiction in terms but which made perfect sense to Romans of that time who, it should be remembered, defined democracy within much more constrictive constitutional parameters than we do today. During the Roman Republic the "executive" function was fulfilled by two consuls, and often not in accord when it came to policy. This disparity, when it existed, was normally resolved through the presence of the legislature - the senate - which when working well would in theory simply debate the issue and make a final decision regarding what became law. In practice however the procedure was never that straightforward and, in a very non-transparent system with limited actual representation, public accountability, and ideological fundament to the policy makers' political agenda, the machinery whereby any agenda translated into legal edict was in fact a convoluted, essentially corrupt, and above all a publicly invisible process conducted by a small elite amongst themselves (consuls and senators being essentially the same social class, even if the methods of appointing them through democratic process was ostensibly split into separate procedures that extended to the equestrian and plebeian classes). When it came to checks and balances the system, though democratic in everyone's eyes, lacked a judiciary - that role also assumed by a mini-elite within the senatorial elite with absolutely no transparency whatsoever (or even the military on occasion, just as in some modern "republics"). On more than one occasion this ramshackle democratic system broke down - mainly due to one branch of government being derelict in its duty as defined by convention, and the resulting impasse not being resolvable through any conventional means either.

The "solution" to this impasse was to allow a short-circuiting of the legislative procedure, or at least to tolerate one, while the state worked its way through whatever crisis had led to this impasse - were it one that had been caused initially by external forces or internally through discord between members of this elite, or possibly overt military intrusion into the elite, or in fact any other self-generated civil strife, especially in a state which regularly re-defined its concepts of citizenship as its geography expanded and its military acquired power and prestige in enabling this expansion. The only way to achieve this was therefore to restrict the consulship to one individual who also could circumvent a requirement of senate approval for a limited period. The proof of concept of this "dictatorship" was that his edicts and actions either solved the impasse, or even if he made it worse at least now could be held solely accountable for the failure so that any resumption of the status quo could be taken up by people officially inculpable (a very important consideration in a state run on innuendo and personal reputation as much as rule of law). Normally he solved it - though employed hugely draconian methods to do so (including even liquidating senators on occasion) - but even then he knew that at some point he had to return the institutions back to their original status and, just as with consuls when their term of office was up, had to face potential backlash had he overstepped the mark and culpability counted for something legally again. Marius and Sulla were the famous examples of dictators who did everything in their (considerable) power to avoid this fate. One succeeded, one didn't, but in both cases the status quo more or less re-established itself afterwards. Therefore Romans, even after the trauma of surviving these two individuals' excesses, could still maintain that even the most brutal dictatorship was just a measure that ultimately ensured continuation of the democracy by which the state was governed and was therefore a "good thing".

Whether its editor knows it or not, the Daily Mail therefore has today evoked a bygone age of Sulla, Caesar, Marius etc, and seems to have forgotten that it exists in a rather more modern (if still rather dysfunctional) democracy which, as proven yesterday, at least has one arm of government apparently aware of its function and unafraid to perform it. When it - or Johnson - asks "who runs the country?" it is betraying its misapprehension that this is what the "executive" alone can do. Mussolini also agreed that this narrow definition of executive power should apply, though unlike the Daily Mail he wasn't afraid to go back through his own country's long history and find two expressions of Roman rule that matched his sentiments exactly - becoming therefore a "dictator" with the magisterial (legislative) authority of the Roman lictor, and the adoption of the "fasces" term to justify the extraordinary short-circuitry of democracy he claimed as his right without ever once having to redefine the description of his nation from the "constitutional monarchy" he had usurped. When he forced through the Acerbo Law which effectively copper-fastened this usurpation of executive power and eliminated the legislative arm completely he claimed - using terminology uncomfortably close to Rees-Mogg's yesterday - that he was in fact rescuing Italy from a "constitutional coup" in which the monarch was being held hostage by a socialist parliament.  Like Marius, Sulla, and others before him, he claimed he was "rescuing" democracy from this coup by imposing direct rule that by necessity dismantled the democratic mechanism in order to work.

If the ghost of Mussolini is reading the Daily Mail today, I reckon it has just been engulfed in an involuntary wave of pure nostalgia.
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PostSubject: Edit: "haven't fully processed" not "having processed" - darn predictive test (or is it autocorrect?)   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 3:42 pm

My parents took "The Daily Mail" for a time after "The News Chronicle" went bump.  Then my Dad changed it to "The Manchester Guardian" (I THINK it still had 'Manchester' in the title then but correct me if I'm wrong - probably thinking mid-1960s to early 1970s) - then Mum changed it to "The Telegraph" (she paid the paper bill!).  I didn't realise as a teenager how VERY right wing the DM was though to be fair I can remember it running a series of articles about how unfair the system in South Africa was.  I used to like the cartoons "Flook" (a bit political) and "Fred Bassett" (just generally funny).

Things didn't end up all that well for Caesar or for Mussolini.  

I wonder if we will end up with a written constitution in the UK after all these shenanigans concerning the government of our country (and I mean government with a small g - the process of how the UK is governed).  I've only skimmed nordmann's very thorough post thus far - will need to read it again, and indeed possibly to have more than one repeat read, to process it entirely). We humans are flawed beings so I guess* any written constitution that may be considered for the UK will have its faults and will have to be duly amended periodically.

* nordmann may well have addressed this point - as I say haven't fully processed his comment (I'm nursing ANOTHER autumn cold today so a bit slow on the uptake - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).


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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm

It's rather depressing the number of English people (I haven't found it among Scottish people and haven't actually spoken to any Welsh) who, in recent conversation about matters constitutional, have responded to my advocacy of a written constitution with "yes, but who will write it for us?".

One does not "end up" with a written constitution, even in dire and urgent circumstances like those which the UK is currently experiencing, in which its reliance on convention and precedence is being exposed as fundamentally flawed in so many crucial respects that any semblance of demonstrable constitutional adherence is coming about due as much to personal interventions on the part of individuals as any reliance on a framework already in place and designed to support the state and rescue it from impasse (or worse). In fact I would suggest that if that's how it ever happens in the UK in future, then I would frankly despair of any such written constitution's efficacy or even of the remotest of public comprehension of its potential value.

This, to me, has always been the single most depressing aspect to Britain as a constitutional state of any description, and one that has been manifest from long before the Brexit debacle exposed it even further to scrutiny - namely the fact that citizenship itself lacks definition in a state evolved from one in which its populations are subjects, not citizens, and who - it must be said - still largely think and act like subjects too.

It is ultimately the citizens who "write" the constitution and, as it is of course rather optimistic to expect 66 million people to wield a pen, the procedure best suited to a nation devising such a thing is itself unique to that nation and must at some point involve delegation and representation, just as the day to day execution of power does in a democracy too - so at least some of the machinery is already in place and the rest can be decided using the same machinery too. Some elements will simply enshrine the best of what currently exists unwritten and will require judicial approval to ensure accord with those rights as established by convention. Others will be new, in that they form a predictive framework for future configuration, conduct and requirements of governmental institutions. Some may even be radically new in the UK in that for the first time the repository of power shall be deemed to ultimately reside with the people, not the agencies exercising power on the people's behalf.

Once written, of course, it then has to be approved by the same people - itself an even more tortuous process than composing it, or at least one would expect it to be so in such a dis-united kingdom as the UK has become. It is not beyond the bounds of conjecture to suppose that in fact the present UK could well end up with four or even five such constitutions - one unique to each state within the state, and one governing the collective legislature and judiciary, if such is what is agreed. Once approved then all existing laws require to be tested against it, and thereafter all future laws, all future challenges to parliamentary procedure, all proposed changes in fact for whatever reason - be they sponsored by public opinion or concerted lobbies - must ultimately require an amendment to the constitution itself sanctioned by a majority of the people, the size of the required majority itself a constitutional restriction that the people themselves have sanctioned.

So if one suddenly wakes up one day and finds one has "ended up" with a written constitution then some very important democratic principles have been ignored, either by the state or by yourself, or both.

Having said all that, I am not actually sure the British public on the whole are educated enough any longer to constructively engage in the process anyway. Though we can live in hope that such "sunny uplands" exist in some utopian future in which British citizens exercise their constitutionally defined rights without fear of these being hijacked by self-interested elites, and of course Gina Miller graces at least one note in the currency - though which currency of course would be subject to referendum ...
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 5:08 pm

I'm not awfully fond of the word "elites" because it has been hi-jacked by the conspiracy theory crowd - those who blame things on "them" and think there is a crowd of privileged people manipulating things behind the scenes.  Now I don't for one minute think nordmann is in with the conspiracy theory crowd - in fact he must be one of the least invested in "woo" people on the planet and nordmann is of course using "elite" in its proper sense and not in a hi-jacked sense.  Of course there IS manipulation going on. Going back in time I remember the second Gulf War being justified by people saying that Saddam Hussein had "weapons of mass destruction" trained on the west - and then it turned on that it was more like weapons of mass distraction.  There is even a suggestion of manipulation in the Daily Mail headline shown by nordmann - I'm thinking of the wording "Judges sensationally say"..... when "Judges say"... would have sufficed.  I didn't attend a "public" school (in the sense of a school for very wealthy peoples' children) but my understanding is that Philosophy is taught at such schools.  I know there are a lot of people who support the teaching of "the three Rs" (reading, writing and 'rithmetic) and while it's true those basics are the building blocks for other subjects I don't want children and young peoples' education to be limited to those matters.  My old senior school (closed down long since) was a convent school which was a mixture of grammar students and paid-for students - it was called an 'independent' school.  I may have mentioned before it was a VERY old-fashioned school.  Mustn't* cheek the teachers (even if it was asking a valid question) and if you did well in a subject it wasn't through any virtue of your own, it was because God had given you the gifts to do well.  But even there we had (in the early part of secondary school at least) a subject called Civics weekly.  

There may have always been problems with the British system of education but the "cuts" imposed by Margaret Thatcher's first government from 1979 for some years didn't help.  (My speculation there is pertinent to the subject because I am thinking of nordmann's reflection that the British public at large may not have the sophistication/education to handle the thrashing out of a written constitution).

* We did have SOME teachers who were approachable and with whom one could have a valid discussion.


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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 5:28 pm

Yes, we are all an uneducated mob of morons here. I blame the teachers.

LiR, you may be interested to read this Guardian article. It addresses your valid point about the living nature of a "constitution".

I like the reference to the Icelandic discussion groups - members of knitting circles took part. Were all this not so deadly serious, one would be tempted to ask Priscilla to submit her pattern for a knitted Constitution.

Why UK Needs a Written Constitution


However a written constitution won’t be a panacea. It will need to be a living document with the flexibility to be interpreted as the world changes. Recent debates on gun control in the US and the right to self-determination in Catalonia demonstrate that constitutions can also be barriers to change if they do not allow for contemporary amendments.

There is much to learn from the ways in which other countries have gone about the process. In Iceland, following economic collapse in 2008, the crowdsourcing of a written constitution began with people sitting down to talk about the basic values they shared with their neighbours. By and large, the Icelandic drafting was not done by constitutional law experts – members of the public were selected by ballot and included a farmer, a truck driver, a pastor, a film-maker, a student and the director of an art museum. Conversations took place in town halls, on social media and even in knitting circles.


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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 5:47 pm

The level and nature of the education required to fully participate constructively in a democracy cannot be provided by schools alone (though even in that respect there is not much to cheer by way of modern trends in the UK's standard curriculum). Given the dynamic nature of civic activity and the political effects of this activity then one's education is also ideally catered for by objective reporting of these events as they occur. And of course none of the above will work, even if they are in place (which would be a brave assertion to make in contemporary UK society), without an investment of engagement by the people who require this education. Such engagement does not naturally occur under normal circumstances, the human proclivity being generally to let others get on with these things while the individual addresses more immediate matters, though if the same people can be persuaded to at least occasionally engage in their own interests then this is normally sufficient to at least keep the machinery of constitutional politics ticking over without veering towards collapse.

As regards "elite". Elites exist in every society, and are not in themselves necessarily anti-social or anti-democratic. In a world of disparate levels of wealth, ability, intelligence and any other factor by which people can be comparatively judged against each other then it is inevitable that elites will be identified, and even elites with inordinate power at that.

However the problem is not with a society accommodating elites, but with a society in which some elites operate without transparency, or worse, elites which have the power not only to exploit a lack of transparency but to actively perpetuate their relative invisibility to the rest of society. That's when they get dangerous, and that's in fact one thing that constitutions which explicitly invest ultimate power in the population as a whole are particularly adept at countering.

And finally - a good constitution is not actually a sophisticated thing at all, and does not therefore require any huge level of sophistication on the part of its authors. It contains no law as such, merely the framework in which laws are drafted, enacted and enforced. It represents the ethos of the state, or at least of the majority within the state at the time of its composition, but sets very strict limits within which all aspects of civic administration afterwards must conform to this ethos. Should the zeitgeist change, as it inevitably does, then the framework requires adjustment, and in a written constitution this cannot simply be done on a whim of one arm of government or indeed by any party which itself has no constitutional recognition as a valid agent of change anyway. These are not sophisticated concepts, and any constitution that strays into levels of sophistication that obfuscate these core principles is doomed to failure anyway.

So it comes back to engagement again - this, in my view, is the crucial (and possibly impassable) hurdle facing the UK even if people demanded such a change. So ignorant have so many people become regarding how to even begin to think as citizens, let alone as citizens who can be trusted with the responsibility of being the ultimate repository of power within their state, that I cannot see how the process, however unsophisticated it may be, can even begin.

EDIT / Crossed posts: Temp's reference to an "uneducated mob of morons" seems to vindicate my fears somewhat. As long as this is believed by people about themselves then the process of engaging in constitutional reform is dead in the water. And while the issue of education at least in the long term can possibly be addressed, getting people to understand why they're being taught such things at all, if in the end of the day they will still be simple subjects to a nominal crown, is probably one challenge too far for the UK.

For what it's worth, I find Scottish people remarkably well informed and motivated regarding constitutional reform. And Northern Irish people (who actually have a written constitution, though I reckon there are very few people in England even know this fact) are even more motivated than the Scots these days to make sense of their true constitutional status. Recent news reports from Wales suggest at least some people there too are slowly coming round to thinking about their own polity as something requiring clearer constitutional definition. It seems to be in England that the malaise exists at its strongest, so at least one knows where to start geographically - if not pedagogically - with fixing the problem.
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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 6:49 pm

@nordmann wrote:
And finally - a good constitution is not actually a sophisticated thing at all, and does not therefore require any huge level of sophistication on the part of its authors. It contains no law as such, merely the framework in which laws are drafted, enacted and enforced. It represents the ethos of the state, or at least of the majority within the state at the time of its composition, but sets very strict limits within which all aspects of civic administration afterwards must conform to this ethos. 

Tout a fait! I'm not going to claim that France has perfected it by any means, but their constitution has weathered quite a few 'crises' and has still shown itself to be fairly resiliant. As a legal document (with an evolutionary history) there's quite a bit of preamble to it, but in essence the current French Constitution is based entirely on just four simply stated principles:

Social welfare - which means that everybody must be able to access free public services and be helped when needed.
Laïcité - which means that the churches are separated from the State and the freedom of religion is protected.
Democracy - which means that the Parliament and the Government are elected by the people - that's all the French people (of age) and so there's no arbitrary disenfranchisement just, say, because you've been working overseas for some years - although obviously there are some exclusions such as for the mentally incapable, etc. Furthermore it is clearly stated that the sovereignty of the French Republique rests with the French People, as exercised through their elected representatives, ie not with any Parliament or Senate (the British way), and certainly not with a single person (whether elected ot not). 
Indivisibility - which means that the French people are united in a single sovereign country with one language, the French language, and all people are equal (again see the stated principal of Democracy).

... and from that everything just fits in and builds on those core principals: whether that's defining who is eligible for a French ID card (and so a vote); taxation; the operation of the criminal courts; the operational control of the armed forces and police; access to medical treatment; or the various checks and balances between the branches of government. It might not be perfect - and hence it is open to review and amendment at all time (the method for self-change is clearly defined within the constitution) - but it really isn't that complicated to write down the premise for the basis of national sovereignty etc. Most other countries have managed it. Perhaps the UK could ask Lord Kerr (Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland) to suggest something ... didn't he largely write a lot of the current EU Constitution?


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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyWed Sep 25, 2019 6:55 pm

Now, Temperance, I never intimated that the British populace are en masse a bunch of dozy crows.  If my post seemed to infer that then I can only say that somehow I have fallen down in expressing what I wanted to say.  Of course some folk are going to be more intelligent than others and that will occur whatever form of government is in force.  I do think the Thatcher regime didn't do much to help the education of youngsters in run of the mill (or even run down) schools and I DO think Baroness T took a sledgehammer to the British education system (as well as the health system and the police system etc).  Those whose parents could afford private education or who could pass an entrance exam to one of the few surviving schools that were run along the lines of "grammar" would be able to access a possibly more-encompassing education than those who couldn't.  I know there are a number of ex-teachers who contribute to the board and I'm sure they all did their jobs splendidly but there do seem to exist schools where teachers have to expend so much time on ensuring that children behave in an orderly fashion that educating the youngsters has become a secondary factor.

I was listening to a podcast recently (won't go into detail because I doubt it would be of interest to persons here) where someone mentioned that people were being taught WHAT to think but not HOW to think (though that was in the USA).
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Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Empty
PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyThu Sep 26, 2019 2:26 am

MM,

"Social welfare - which means that everybody must be able to access free public services and be helped when needed.
Laïcité - which means that the churches are separated from the State and the freedom of religion is protected.
Democracy - which means that the Parliament and the Government are elected by the people - that's all the French people (of age) and so there's no arbitrary disenfranchisement just, say, because you've been working overseas for some years - although obviously there are some exclusions such as for the mentally incapable, etc. Furthermore it is clearly stated that the sovereignty of the French Republique rests with the French People, as exercised through their elected representatives, ie not with any Parliament or Senate (the British way), and certainly not with a single person (whether elected ot not). 
Indivisibility - which means that the French people are united in a single sovereign country with one language, the French language, and all people are equal (again see the stated principal of Democracy)."

While I this morning saw a documentary on Arte:
One can still view it I think for some time...in French for you
https://www.arte.tv/fr/videos/080544-000-A/qatar-guerre-d-influence-sur-l-islam-d-europe/
and in German for Nielsen:
https://www.arte.tv/de/videos/080544-000-A/katar-millionen-fuer-europas-islam/

And it is just about your second item: "laïcité" that I wanted to speak in this context.
As for laïcité in Belgium it is perhaps a de facto status, but I doubt if the separation of state and church is written in law as in France (I will search for it).
But apart of the far right, which want to usurpate  the democracy, although they say they are the champions of democracy and the far left, which want to dictate also their concept against the democratic will of the people (all according to my opinion), you have also the third way of the religious bodies, which in the past as the Christian churches tried to usurpate the power of the state as the representant of the people in a democracy.
And nowadays it is a bit the same but now with the extremist Islam as here described in the documentary: from Qatar out, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood with now closed headquarters in London, because of the dispute with Saudi Arabia, which countered the influence of Qatar in the last two years. Perhaps not question of religion, but also of power in the world Islam. And as that Muslim Brotherhood wanted a more rigid control of the religion and perhaps a Sharia state, the separation of Church and State in France would certainly put in question. But perhaps is it a good thing that even within the Muslim community of the world there comes already a reaction as you can see in the documentary from the more moderate Islam, which is not served with all this extremism.

Kind regards from Paul.
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Temperance
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Temperance

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Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Empty
PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyThu Sep 26, 2019 7:49 pm

@nordmann wrote:


The question that is posed by what is essentially a fascist organ (for once the true definition of the word actually fits the accusation) "Who runs the country?" contains exactly the same false assumptions as this thread's title in its use of shorthand expression for something that is much more nuanced and complex than such terminology allows to be conveyed.


When I read the above, I realised that, to my shame, I had no idea of the "true definition". I found this interesting snippet:

The word fascist, perhaps one of the most abused forms of political abuse, should properly apply to those connected with the Italian party of that name, founded by Benito Mussolini and others in 1919.

A fascis was a birch rod carried in ancient Rome by the lictors, a kind of proto-police force.

The individual fascis was used to impose discipline on behalf of the state, but when bound together in a bundle of fasces, the one rod became, both symbolically and physically, stronger.

The bundled rods, which also incorporated an axe symbolising the lictors' right to carry out judicial executions, became a symbol of power for the Romans, but it survived into later history.

I did not think you consider us all to be "dozy crows" LiR; to be honest, I was stung more by nordmann's words than yours. Interesting that you mention the teaching of philosophy at the great Englsih public schools. Two thirds of Johnson's cabinet went to public school, and many of them then went to Oxford. Johnson himself studied Classics there, and his chief adviser, the architect of Brexit, Dominic Cummings, gained a first at that prestigious place, having studied Modern and Ancient History. The pair of them seem to have absorbed all the seductively bad bits and forgotten, or ignored, the instructive bits of their disciplines. I have said elsewhere this makes one almost tempted to see some truth in Henry Miller's celebrated remark: "Every man with a bellyful of the classics is an enemy to the human race." Perhaps the average pleb, with his bellyful of beer, is a safer bet.

"He is not a moral man," declared Marcus Aurelius - not sure if that quotation is from the Meditations or from the Gladiator script - but the idea of "the moral man" as leader is something I have been pondering since yesterday's appalling display in the House of Commons. Does a fine education necessarily make "a moral man"?  I think not. What indeed is "a moral man"? Certainly the Common Man - or Woman - often shows more decency than these intelligent, sophisticated, "educated" people - "the choice and master spirits of this age".
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Meles meles
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Meles meles

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Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. Empty
PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyThu Sep 26, 2019 11:30 pm

Deleted

I thought I was quoting Robert Bolt's 'A Man For All Seasons' ... Thomas Moore and 'The Common Man' and all that .... but I got it completely wrong. Ooops.
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PaulRyckier
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PaulRyckier

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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Sep 27, 2019 3:17 am

Temperance I wanted to reply to your message, especially about the common man and the intelligent, sophisticated, "educated" people and also trying to understand what you mean with the "moral" man.
But already stuck with the "dozy crows"...I found only eight entries in the mighty google and one was from "Bojo". Are you paraphrasing Boris now?


And yes "Fascism" seems to be such a broad term, but at the same time it seems possible to differentiate it from the other authoritarian regimes...
https://www.amazon.com/History-Fascism-1914-1945-Stanley-Payne/dp/0299148742
https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-abstract/102/5/1471/85715?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Temperance, but already a quarter past midnight again overhere...see you tomorrow...

Kind regards from Paul.
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Temperance
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Temperance

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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Sep 27, 2019 12:28 pm

To put it briefly; it is now the custom to say that most modern blunders have been due to the Common Man.  And I should like to point out what appalling blunders have in fact been due to the Uncommon Man.  It is easy enough to argue that the mob makes mistakes; but as a fact it never has a chance even to make mistakes until its superiors have used their superiority to make much worse mistakes.  It is easy to weary of democracy and cry out for an intellectual aristocracy.  But the trouble is that every intellectual aristocracy seems to have been utterly unintellectual.  Anybody might guess beforehand that there would be blunders of the ignorant.  What nobody could have guessed, what nobody could have dreamed of in a nightmare, what no morbid mortal imagination could ever have dared to imagine, was the mistakes of the well-informed.  It is true, in a sense, to say that the mob has always been led by more educated men.  It is much more true, in every sense, to say that it has always been misled by educated men.  It is easy enough to say the cultured man should be the crowd’s guide, philosopher and friend.  Unfortunately, he has nearly always been a misguiding guide, a false friend and a very shallow philosopher.  And the actual catastrophes we have suffered, including those we are now suffering, have not in historical fact been due to the prosaic practical people who are supposed to know nothing, but almost invariably to the highly theoretical people who knew that they knew everything.  The world may learn by its mistakes; but they are mostly the mistakes of the learned.



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Temperance
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Temperance

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PostSubject: Re: Comparison of democracy and dictatorship.   Comparison of democracy and dictatorship. EmptyFri Sep 27, 2019 12:29 pm

"We must educate our masters": we must indeed - all of them, common or uncommon.
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