Democracy in Action

I saw Tom Stoppard's play "Jumpers" recently.  The line that got the biggest audience response:

"It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting."

True, that.

I've written a bunch more code for my "Google On The Cheap" series but I've been incredibly heads-down between work, planning a wedding, and my latest book project.  Expect it "real soon now".

Comments (9)

  1. Joe says:

    Can you tell us what your book will be about??

  2. Eric Lippert says:

    Visual Studio Tools For Office specifically, and more generally, developing .NET managed solutions for Office.

  3. Norman Diamond says:

    Maybe coin flips WOULD be better.

    (Not comparing to the book. Comparing to voting and counting, though of course nominating is worse than all of them since nominating is where capable persons really get excluded.)

  4. Dan Shappir says:

    For me, the essence of democracy is not government by majority, majorities usually get their way regardless (at least eventually). The essence of democracy is respecting the rights of minorities, any minority.

    One of my favorite quotes is: "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried" – Winston Churchill

  5. Dan Shappir says:

    And another relevant quote:

    "The major problem-one of the major problems, for there are several-one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

    "To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of a summary: people are a problem."

    –Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

  6. Dave says:

    Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. –Plato

    The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces. –Maureen Murphy

  7. Eric Lippert says:

    I take your point, Dan, and I agree. But I have a slightly different take on it. Rather than saying that the essence of democracy is protection of minority rights, I see democracy as the tyranny of the majority. Protection of minority rights is the END, limited democracy is the MEANS. It just so happens that, as Churchill pointed out, that the best system to protect minority rights is to implement a system designed to implement the will of the majority, and then break it.

    There are all kinds of antidemocratic forces at work in any modern democracy. Representative government. The electoral college. An appointed supreme court, cabinet and federal reserve board. A bicameral congress. Etc, etc, etc. These are all systems designed to weaken democracy’s tendancy towards mob rule.

  8. Beelzebub says:

    What about the tyranny of the super aggressive minority? Fundamentalist groups have this advantage on their side.

  9. foxyshadis says:

    Fundamentalists only have that kind of power as long as a confluence of popular charismatic people and a general revival takes place. Much like the 60’s and 70’s saw an explosion of women’s lib and greenie types, who were then as much in the vocal minority camp as fundies were in the 90’s. Politics is mostly about the give and take of extremist positions filtering down into more moderate but lasting action as they lay off or fall out of power.

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