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...HUM
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pending
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Why there are oligarchs







Rules in a Knife Fight?

OK - No rules

The point was, in a knife fight you do whatever you can to win. Butch kicked the guy in the balls after catching him by surprise with the comment. Lao Tsu would have smiled. Sports has that element; it has this 'may the best man win' sort of ethic.

In sports though, the idea is of who is best while also playing by the rules.
Butch had a political problem to solve and his method seemed to work in the context of a gang hiding out in the desert.

One form of democracy that is much like a knife fight; direct democracy - taking a vote by everyone to decide everything. Plato hated the idea; he didn't trust 'the people' much. In practice it doesn't work with groups of people much bigger than 4 or 5.
The danger of direct democracy is that it can enable the 'tyranny of the majority' where a minority has no rights. That is, there are no rules inhibiting the will of the majority.
But, as mentioned - direct democracy is very cumbersome for large groups.
Imagine 5 people approaching a fork in the road. Shall we take the high road or the low road. The vote is quick and easy.
Imagine a group of 100. It might take an hour to get the vote done. It's pretty obvious that a point will be reached where the group is large enough the time it takes to vote effectively paralyzes the group. So direct democracy doesn't scale well.

Democracy is an idea that evolved contra the idea of kings and queens and their ilk. Kings and queens had councils of advisers. As the kings and queens were overthrown the councils evolved into bodies of elected representatives. So everyone votes for the representatives and then the representatives vote among themselves to decide social issues. This still left minorities vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority. The solution to this that evolved over time was to create a kind of fundamental law for the society called a constitution. A constitution is intentionally designed to be very hard to change once adopted. The constitution sets out things like rights, and the structure of government.

So we come to a form of government that is common around the world - a constitutional representative democracy.

A republic has an elected head of state. By that token the USA is a republic. Canada's nominal head of state is the Queen of England via her representative Mary Simon. It's her signature that legitimizes laws and she's appointed - not elected. So I'm cool with the idea that Canada is not a republic.
What surprised me was the meme that "the USA is a republic, not a democracy". What could that mean in a country that has more elections than any other?
I see a link between "the USA is a republic, not a democracy" and originalist interpretations of the USA Constitution.
That is that the Constitution has to be interpreted in terms of the perspective of the Founding Fathers.
The people of the society of the founders were 'real' Americans. Lots of people living in America at that time were not real Americans like first nations people or black people.
The American republic was set up to be a democracy for real Americans.

For a long time the real Americans were ascendant. They always were a majority of voting Americans and their way was the norm. But hundreds of years of demographic and social change eventually change meant that those real Americans were no longer in the majority. But they still felt themselves to be the people whose perspective should rule America. They speak of themselves as being replaced by some sort of nefarious conspiracy but the demographic trends have been obvious for decades.

The real Americans think of themselves as fighting for their lives - as if they were in a knife fight. They don't seem to like being constrained by rules but they feel entitled to push their rules on others. It does go against the idea of democracy that a minority should rule a majority but that's what the real Americans feel entitled to do - hence the denial that America is a democracy.

What do you think?
I open the floor

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.