Wednesday 4 August 2010

The evils of voting

Where did people get the idea that voting was an acceptable - let alone the best and only, way to make decisions?

One person one vote is supposed to be the gold standard of decision making, and intrinsically the fairest - but why?

Naturally, in stable and human-sized groups decisions are made by leaders, taking into account power. A numerical majority is irrelevant - a powerful minority is more important, the consent of those ruled is more important - indeed just about anything is more important than a numerical majority.

And when sheer numbers is an important factor in the balance of power, a 51 percent majority is neither significant nor crucial - the crucial number would be more like 66 percent versus 33 percent - in which one party outnumbers the other two to one. But numbers are not the essence.


Voting maybe comes from the false ideology of intrinsic equality among humans (i.e. equality of human beings in actuality - asserted equality of wisdom and legitimate authority) - a perversion of the true ideal of intrinsic equality among humans (i.e. equality of human souls in potentiality).

Maybe it comes from the insane perspective of bureaucracy - which requires an abstract system, any system will do, for de facto decision-making - this decision-making being valided by diktat, by propaganda, by coercion.

Maybe voting comes from the jury trial aspect of the legal system - although where the ridiculous idea of determining guilt by a vote of random individuals itself originally came from, I have no idea. But like majority voting in general - trial by jury is sacred: don't ask why.


Dissent is defused by getting agreement on process (voting) rather than outcome (a specific decision) - and such is the feebleness of human's apprehension of abstraction that they will buy this pig in a poke.

We hoodwink human psychology by forcing pre-commitment to the unknown outcome of majority voting as intrinsically correct, and this is assented to because the future result of a present system is sufficiently remote and unreal that humans do not spontaneously organize against it, and imagine they can indirectly control it to give the outcomes they want.


There is no magic about majority voting, no 'wisdom of crowds', no place for the operation of divine or individual inspiration - neither the safety-first gut-feeling veto of requiring unanimous and full community assent to change, nor for the inspirational decisiveness of the gifted individual to lead the consenting (or acquiescing)  group on the basis of superior wisdom, insight, foresight.

An artificial hiatus, a mathematical gap is inserted between the human interaction and the human action: the deadening vote, to which all defer...


The staus of majority voting has even survived its manipulation. At a small scale, majority voting is rigged by small organized groups who manipulate meetings by well known and simple methods; and at a large scale by politicians in democracies who buy votes, take bribes, deliberately create voter dependency, change electoral boundaries, and now import millions of supporters.

People know this, know exactly what is being done to them and how it works - yet somehow this does not invalidate the outcome of majority voting!

Yet people still state, still believe that democracy is the best, the only safe, the only *good* system of government.

Brainwashed, or what?


I believe that majority vote decision making is one of the most damaging aspects of modernity. As a system, it is quite simply insane - knowing what we know, knowing from experience its unpredictability, randomness, unwisdom, distorting effects on human psychology...

Like its specific application in democracy by majority vote, the visceral rationale of majority voting seems to be egalitarian in the sense of trying to prevent individual power, rather than in trying to ensure good decisions.

It is abstract in the sense of being procedural rather than outcome oriented. It is to elevate simple mathematical neatness above direct contact with the world. 

To rely on majority voting is fundamentally unserious; it is to regard life as essentially soft and sustaining, to regard life as unreal and something not requiring of us correct decisions and right behavior.

It is to regard decisions in a detached, playful, abstract fashion; to subordinate our souls to sums.

Voting is a gamble, worse than a gamble - it is to have faith in gambling as the best mode of life.

Indeed it even worse than this - it is is to have faith in a corrupt casino where you know for sure that the fruit machines are rigged - to put money in the slot anyway, to pull the lever and just hope for a win; rather than to try and do the right thing. 


dearieme said...

I've often wondered, though, if a useful system could be constructed by designing a decent constitution and getting widespread assent to it by incorporating the need for a majority vote before it can be amended. Decision-making under the constitution would have to be by something more intelligent than the present system whereby a majority vote themselves largesse at the cost of some minority. Mind you, a system where the decision-makers simply loot the majority might not be very attractive either (though perhaps cheaper).

Jaz said...

With a dictator, you at least have a chance of getting a benevolent one. You could depose a bad one. With mass voting, you get neither. How do you depose a People? We are locked in.

I think the root is pride. There is something about one man one vote that strokes the pride of a man. I really can't put my finger on it, but it's just a suspicion I have. When all explanations fail, look for pride.

And when you get everyone together in pride, look for Babel.

Will S. said...

"How do you depose a People?"

By replacing them through mass immigration of unassimilable people with very different values. Our rulers in the West have been doing this quite successfully, since the post-WWII era. There is still a ways to go, but they'll get their wish.

J Willock said...

I have had similar thoughts about democracy. Partially, I dismiss them with Churchill's line about it being the worst system except for all the others, but the defects you point out are real. What we need is Democracy 2.0. We need to rethink the whole idea of government.

I would prefer that governments be divided up into two main functions: the traditional ones (defense, foreign policy, police etc.) and the newer ones that came with the welfare state.

The latter functions should be farmed out to several competing organizations (perhaps based on political parties). The central government would collect funds for these separate entities but they would be operated autonomously. People would vote for competing welfare systems merely by joining or leaving them. Internal voting would no longer be a see-saw between conservative v. socialist it would instead focus on competence: who can most successfully and efficiently carry out the program that all the members basically agree with.