[FoRK] 911 - The war on understanding

Luis Villa < luis at tieguy.org > on > Wed Sep 13 08:17:32 PDT 2006

On 9/13/06, Zee Roe <zero at rawbw.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 12 Sep 2006, Luis Villa wrote:
> [snip]
> > with.  I am not OK with a *dictatorship* that would put the same
> > system of law in place; I think denying people the right to regularly
> > elect their government is unambigously wrong.]
> I have to ask here -- why? Assuming (and this is one hell of an
> assumption, admittedly) that you have a benevolent dictator who plays by
> the rules, enacts laws you and a rational majority consider "right", and
> would be willing to step down if faced with overwhelming opposition to
> his/her rule... what's the problem? Or is my last clause a suitable
> replacement for regular elections?

Hypothesis: Because it is a hell of an assumption. Democracy is fairly
robust; not perfect, but (in engineering terms) *robust*- it has
checks; balances; mechanisms to recover from error. Various
dictatorships may at various points in time do a decent job of
protecting rights, running the economy, etc., but they fail, and their
failure modes are very poor. You can basically guarantee that they
will fail, and fail in ways vastly detrimental to basic human/civil
rights. (Your 'overwhelming opposition' is a mediocre substitute for
regular fine tuning, though better than nothing.)

More grandly, I'm beginning to think, and this is just thinking out
loud, that a key measure of the morality of a system is its ability to
reach moral ends reliably/consistently/in the long term; I worry about
our current system because some of our checks seem to have broken

[I could also launch into a discourse on Kant, Rousseau, Rawls, Locke,
etc., but that's not what I came to fork for. I'm getting enough of
that kind of crap in contracts and torts. Really, none of this is,
sadly... I miss the tech fork ;)


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