Idiots allowed to vote.

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

Post by SteveKing »

Wildeblood wrote:As far as I can understand you at all, you're arguing that "democracies" are better than other societies because the're less warlike in your estimation, and you're dismissing all real world examples of war-mongering democracies as not real democracies in your opinion.
I think that this is the crux of the more 'political' side of this discussion. I'd suggest the modern era that is being discussed here is say near the end of the 'British Empire', somewhere before WW1 - feel free to argue if this is an inappropriate point in history. Other than I agree with WB that we are essentially the same social race of people that react emotionally in the same ways as we have done for (probably) millenia, pre-modern era and modern era cannot (and probably) should not be compared.

This is about the time of USA and thus world-wide capitalist development. There are from this time maybe 2 general types of democratic governmental system - 1) 'Capitalist Democracy', embodied by USA and 2) 'Socialist Democracy', embodied by the Scandanavian states. Please accept that this is a generalisation.

I think that other 'Democracies' have followed one of these two generalisations. The 'socialist' side of the coin are the 'look after their own affairs and stay neutral' and the 'capitalist' side is the 'meddle in others affairs as they might do something to restrict the acquisition of wealth'. They are both based on rule from popular vote, but the mindset is either passive or aggressive towards other government types. It's pretty obvious which of the 'Democracies' the discussion revolves around and to which we all would like to think we belong (or not belong :wink: ).
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

Post by Smivs »

There is a good case to say that the preferred political system is the Benevolent Dictatorship. One single guiding individual, who has the (genuine) best interests of the populace in mind. Of course the problem is the chronic shortage of benevolent Dictators!
Democracy does not guarantee a more peaceful outlook - Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) party came to power on a wave of popular support didn't it? - and what is a Democracy anyway? North Korea (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea) is actually called 'democratic' in it's full title, and the people do get to vote, but it is not what we would call a Democracy. Mind you, neither was the very first Democracy back in Greece over 2000 years ago. That was a first step towards what we generally think of as Democracy today, but was far from a universal franchise.
The truth is all political systems have the ability to facilitate conflict and exercise influence or control by use of force or power. And all have the potential to fall. That is really the crux, and has been mentioned in this debate before. No political system is permanent, but as the World is showing no sign of really uniting there will always be different political systems existing (and sometimes even co-existing) simultaneously around the World. They just change from time to time.
Most free-minded people would agree that Democracy is probably the lesser of all these evils, and we are fortunate enough to live under such a system which is why I feel it is important to be engaged and to engage others, even if they are complete morons!
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Wildeblood wrote:As far as I can understand you at all, you're arguing that "democracies" are better than other societies because the're less warlike in your estimation, and you're dismissing all real world examples of war-mongering democracies as not real democracies in your opinion.
I apologise: I'll try to be clearer.

1. Human beings, and by extension human societies, have the capacity for terrible acts of violence.
2. Democracies - in their varying and imperfect forms - are human societies.
3. Therefore, democracies have the capacity for terrible acts of violence. I do not deny or dismiss this point.
4. But - and this is easily seen by a short perusal of recent human history, say over the last 400 years - democratic states are, demonstrably, less likely to resort to violence than all other forms of states (to be clear, by "state" I mean some entity which could realistically employ someone to sit behind a little flag in the UN). Nor do they - for obvious reasons - oppress and murder their own people in large numbers. Especially when you consider the scale of military power at their disposal: it's easy for a tiny principality, with an army totalling 23 part-time soldiers armed with pointed sticks, not to go around invading, conquering, occupying and enslaving their neighbours, or oppressing and murdering their own people.
5. Non-democractic states - especially militarily powerful ones - DO go around invading, conquering, occupying and enslaving their neighbours, if they think they can get away with it. When they're not doing this, they're oppressing and murdering their own people, in large numbers. Sometimes they do both at the same time.
6. Therefore, democratic societies are less likely to commit terrible acts of violence than other forms of society.
7. There is even a plausible explanation for this democratic exceptionalism: given the choice, most human beings, in the main, would prefer not to spend money, resources, and their own and their families' blood invading, conquering, occupying and enslaving their neighbours. War - especially of the invading, conquering, occupying and enslaving kind - is very expensive, and democracies will only vote for it under exceptional circumstances.
Wildeblood wrote:Let me re-iterate the problem: there are people out there so stupid that they think a tropical cyclone occurring in mid-winter is not an indication of a changing climate. They have such a paranoic delusional belief system that they think the Bureau of Meteorology accidentally-on-purpose loses records of such events happening before. And thanks to the wonder of the thought-stopping cliché "One man, one vote, one value" they are allowed to vote, and their vote has the same value as a rational person's vote. That's a system that's broken by design.
Whereas the alternative would be - what? Government by philosopher-kings? I recommend you read Karl Popper's The Poverty of Historicism.

The root problem, with international violence and with climate change too, is capitalism - or, to cut down on the -isms, human greed. The reason we are screwed, climate-change-wise, is not because we allow people supplied with bad information (supplied by whom?) or a poor understanding of science to vote in a series of occasional popularity contests between shills and snake-oil merchants: it's because the rich - the super-rich, the megacorporations, and the bulk of the populations of the rich countries with highly technologically developed and technologically dependent lifestyles, e.g. us - will not act against our own best short-term interests even though it's in our own best long-term interests.

If you want to be really blunt, it's because we are all, collectively, trying to live in a massively interconnected global society with brains designed for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle on the savannah. Survival is uncertain. Despite all this, the wisdom of the crowd - is probably our best shot. Fingers crossed, eh?

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

Post by Day »

Smivs wrote:
Day wrote: Israël? <snip>. I really have no clue about their ability to influence the legislation of others, except maybe in the antisemitism realm. Would you have some hints?
Not a hint, exactly, but take a look at the influence of the Jewish lobby on American foreign policy for an example. OK, it's not exactly the State of Israel, but the distinction is trivial.
Yes, I recognize that I never understood why Israël would have such influence on the USA. During the cold war, it would have been a useful proxy to fight against communism/USSR in the neighbouring arab countries.
Now, from where I stand, I guess that Israël is very useful to the USA as a polarizing issue: no union of arab countries, no regional leader may truly emerge while they exist. Arab union and regional leader being dangerous to the usa, as the region is the main global oil producer and could if they unite take a leading role on the global stage. Or be able to decide who would win between the main blocks.
Yet, that Israël is useful to the USA doesn't explain why they would influence them so much.

Wildeblood wrote:An act of pure spite since there was never any prospect of getting their (probably imaginary) oil after bombing all the development that would have been needed for any "western" oil company to operate there.
The goal is not to get oil, but to avoid the rise of a government promoting the idea of oil availability not depending on USA friendliness.
And to have some oil later with no local government, is better than to have oil sooner with a difficult local government. No taxes, no control, a basis to lead the local armed groups.

cim wrote:Sure, but if the invader is willing to perform genocide then in the modern world they can nuke you - or use an equivalent amount of conventional explosives - without needing to put a single boot on the ground and no governmental form will protect you. Generally invaders wish to control the territory and government to exploit the natural resources and civilian population - there's no profit in scorched earth.
I disagree. Genocide is performed to appropriate terrains, not to destroy an enemy (the only exception being jews/nazis, and then it was to ensure continued appropriation of resources).
cim wrote:It's not about whether they threaten the stability of the state - it's about the mess it makes of the ex-soldiers' lives. (Which governments are generally very wary about offering commensurate help for except in the case of obvious physical injury or they would effectively admit systematic liability for creating that mess.)
I disagree there too. The mess in ex-soldiers' lives, while real, has not an impact similar to a state stability threat. It's a question of magnitude, and there are several degrees of magnitude of difference here.

Disembodied wrote:The assumption I make is that a democracy - a type of state which has only existed in the modern era, as I discount the slave-owning, woman-oppressing Athenian interlude - is less likely to commit to warfare on a mass scale than a dictatorship/empire without some form of significant provocation. The reason it is less likely to do so is primarily because a democratic citizenry has the power to object to the cost (in money, materiel, and their own lives) of total war, and usually will not commit to such an action unless their own survival is actively threatened. But once war - full-scale, total war - begins, then the leash is slipped and horror will inevitably ensue.
I disagree. Democracy is not a protection for foreigners (ie, not-citizens). It's a protection for citizens.
The military-industrial complex system ensures that citizens have a stake in supporting the war (they get jobs). For them, the cost is positive, I mean they earn money rather than losing some.
Disembodied wrote:That's capitalism, not democracy, which is to blame there (you can criticise democracy for failing to hold back capitalism's worst urges, if you like, but it still does so better than other forms of government). If the USA was a dictatorship, with an equivalent military power and global reach, do you think Clinton's actions in Somalia, at the oil corporations' behest, would have been a) less bloody, or b) more bloody?
The same. I totally agree with you.
This in fact reconciles Wildeblood's and your positions: democracy isn't enough to reign in capitalism, which is pushing for wars.
Disembodied wrote:But there's a fundamental difference between e.g. the Americans in Vietnam in the 20th century (working with a local, albeit puppet, regime; trying to disengage; pouring resources into Vietnam; etc.), and the British in India in the 18th and 19th centuries (invading; conquering; constructing a racist colonial state; dismantling and outlawing competing local industries; stealing everything they could lay their hands on; etc.)
Yup. Conquest is more costly and less efficient.
Like slavery is more costly and less efficient than salary.

Wildeblood wrote:Let me re-iterate the problem: there are people out there so stupid that they think a tropical cyclone occurring in mid-winter is not an indication of a changing climate. They have such a paranoic delusional belief system that they think the Bureau of Meteorology accidentally-on-purpose loses records of such events happening before. And thanks to the wonder of the thought-stopping cliché "One man, one vote, one value" they are allowed to vote, and their vote has the same value as a rational person's vote. That's a system that's broken by design.
It's broken, along one axis of measure. Along the axis "no war on our soil", it's working.
Now, we could propose a system with a better measure axis, but I guess the opposition against it would be generalized.

SteveKing wrote:I think that other 'Democracies' have followed one of these two generalisations. The 'socialist' side of the coin are the 'look after their own affairs and stay neutral' and the 'capitalist' side is the 'meddle in others affairs as they might do something to restrict the acquisition of wealth'. They are both based on rule from popular vote, but the mindset is either passive or aggressive towards other government types. It's pretty obvious which of the 'Democracies' the discussion revolves around and to which we all would like to think we belong (or not belong :wink: ).
I think this is a consequence of a) resources availability, b) history around them since their creation.
I mean, I don't think it's a cultural difference. With different neighbours and resources availability, these generalisation wouldn't have been made along this axis.

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Smivs wrote:as the World is showing no sign of really uniting
On that very narrow point, it could be argued that the current status of citizens and corporations' security broken by governments, and then used for economic espionage, may only lead to global unity.
Security cannot be technically restored, as long as loss incurred by citizens/corporations won't be paid by responsible governments (HA!).
So, the path we take is a society where there is no real big secret between states, corporations, and so on.
It's similar to the workings of regions inside a union.

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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SteveKing wrote:Are these the kind of anarchical societies that basically revolve around survival (and of the fittest) - a lions pride, a zebra herd, a baboon troupe or nomadic tribe of hunter gatherers?
Tribal hunter-gatherers, is what I was referring to.
SteveKing wrote:The difficulties with this sort of society is that they are inherently inefficient in some ways - not maximising the potential of the local resources and having to leave the (renewable) resources idle for a period of time to allow them to recover. With these inefficiencies, there is a size/sustainability limit to the group with respect to the local environment and unit type of the group. The size for division is probably determined these days by some sort of fancy sociologist algorithm and (I would think) measurably stable (if not entirely accurate).
I would submit that long-term stability, allowing groups to exist as a part of the ecosystem, rather than as an exploiter of the ecosystem ("maximising the potential of the local resources") is, in fact, more efficient, not less. Excessive resource use, or "maximising the potential of the local resources" as you put it, is practically a defining feature of hierarchical societies, and has typically been at the heart of every collapse of civilisation in recorded history. Civilisations last only a few hundred to a couple of thousand years at best. Tribal societies, on the other hand, changed very little and were relatively stable over hundreds of thousands of years.. so which is the more "efficient" way to live?
SteveKing wrote:there are (ultimately) finite resources and at each split means the groups have to travel further to find resources for sustainability. Ultimately the farther flung groups have to adapt to changing geographic and/or environmental conditions. They either else die out or be faced with returning to a favourable environment and have to compete for the finite resources. Struggles ensue and the cycle of survival of the fittest continues.
Indeed.. in fact, our present global civilisation has stripped most resources to the point that production levels are falling, or are about to do so. As you're aware, most mineral and metal deposits worldwide have been extracted to the point that all the quality ore is gone, and we're now mining ore that 50 years ago was considered crap. After this present civilisation collapses (and it will), it will be a long time before there are enough raw materials available to allow another technological society to arise.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Disembodied wrote:Say what you like about the USA, they're lousy imperialists
On the contrary.. they totally reinvented imperialism, remaking it for the 20th century (especially through their manipulation of the global economy into a cleverly disguised tribute system), and have built the biggest damn Empire in all history. If you don't think they're an Empire, how do you explain the 700+ military outposts they have scattered all over the planet?
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

Post by Disembodied »

Diziet Sma wrote:
Disembodied wrote:Say what you like about the USA, they're lousy imperialists
On the contrary.. they totally reinvented imperialism, remaking it for the 20th century (especially through their manipulation of the global economy into a cleverly disguised tribute system), and have built the biggest damn Empire in all history. If you don't think they're an Empire, how do you explain the 700+ military outposts they have scattered all over the planet?
Hmm ... I know what you mean, but of course this is where things start to get complicated. Who do you mean by "they"? And who do I mean by "the USA"?

But I agree, in large part - although I still think the USA lacks the sheer brass neck of e.g. the British, who were prepared to indiscriminately shell Chinese towns and murder Chinese civilians, just because the Chinese government wanted to stop the British flooding their country with opium. Now THAT's imperialism.

Although there's the testimony of Major General Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940), of the US Marines, and winner of not one but two Congressional Medals of Honor:
Smedley D. Butler wrote:I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Diziet Sma wrote:have built the biggest damn Empire in all history
I hadn't realized it was the biggest in history. You're right, of course.
Yet, it has been cut in half since the emergence of the European Union (500 millions citizens against 320 millions, and a bigger GDP).

It seems similar to the separation of roman empire into the eastern and western ones.

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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Day wrote:Yet, it has been cut in half since the emergence of the European Union (500 millions citizens against 320 millions, and a bigger GDP).
I'd disagree.. the EU has demonstrated time and again, particularly with the entire Ukraine debacle, that for the most part, it (and most especially Germany, which is, for all intents and purposes, the EU) continues to fellate the USA whenever instructed, even if it goes against EU interests. And NATO is still the US's bitch. Accordingly, I still regard the EU as part of the US Empire.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Disembodied wrote:I still think the USA lacks the sheer brass neck of e.g. the British, who were prepared to indiscriminately shell Chinese towns and murder Chinese civilians, just because the Chinese government wanted to stop the British flooding their country with opium. Now THAT's imperialism.
Really? Ever wondered what the real reason was for the US invading Afghanistan in "retaliation" for the 9/11 attacks on the WTC?

Actually, there were two reasons..

1) The country had to be secured for a proposed gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean.. it later turned out that the gas reserves were far less than predicted, so the pipeline never went ahead.. but the fact that the US military bases set up in Afghanistan are all located along the proposed pipeline route is very telling.

2) The Taliban shut down virtually the entire Afghan opium poppy/heroin trade overnight. That hurt on two fronts. Firstly, (and this has been well documented) the CIA is presently the biggest illegal drug trafficking organisation in the world, and the bulk of their Black Project funding comes from this source of revenue (thereby bypassing Congressional control and oversight), and secondly, drug money is the only large bloc of liquid capital in the global banking system. Shutting down the opium trade dealt a crippling blow to International Banking interests, particularly the US-based banks, who do most of the money laundering. The flow of opium had to be restored ASAP. Unsurprisingly, once growing was under way again, the bulk of the opium (and later, heroin, once US military tanker trucks could be used to supply chemicals for in-house processing) was flown on US military aircraft to US airbases in Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, from whence it was distributed all over Europe and Russia. Again, all this has been well documented, if one knows where to look.


So.. I reckon Afghanistan alone tops anything the British did in China.
Last edited by Diziet Sma on Fri Jul 17, 2015 2:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Diziet Sma wrote:The Taliban shut down virtually the entire Afghan opium poppy/heroin trade overnight.
I ain't too sure about that - it's a very complicated region.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

Post by Diziet Sma »

Cody wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:The Taliban shut down virtually the entire Afghan opium poppy/heroin trade overnight.
I ain't too sure about that - it's a very complicated region.
Check the figures for yourself..

Image


Also:

Image
Last edited by Diziet Sma on Fri Jul 17, 2015 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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Nah, those figures a deeply suspect, I suspect. <grins> It didn't stop, it went underground - as it does when it needs to.
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Re: Idiots allowed to vote.

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This study presents what we believe to be the first formal evaluation of the Taliban crackdown against opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the main source of the world’s illicit heroin supply for most of the 1990s. From late 2000 and the year that followed, the Taliban enforced a ban on poppy farming via threats, forced eradication, and public punishment of transgressors. The result was a 99% reduction in the area of opium poppy farming in Taliban-controlled areas.
Source: http://reformdrugpolicy.com/wp-content/ ... nOpium.pdf
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