QUANTIFICATION OF DEMOCRACY, Making Meaning from Mania - Let's Prehend
Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design


The quantification of democracy is no easy task. The term is heavily burdened with RIDs cliches. In this discussion, democracy means high Ai politics. Let's describe democracy objectively as a move to the right on the scale of abstract vs. organic political process, Fig 5-5, D CHART OF POLITICAL PROCESS.

Democracy derives from the Greek: rule by the people, or perhaps `for' the people. Too often the term is used as a vague and undefined expression of loyalty.[ See AMERICA, p. 347, and PROGRESS AND PROBABILITY p. 269.] Democracy is sometimes a catchword, used like "patriotism" to justify unseemly political behavior, sometimes the last refuge of scoundrels. Democracy is also used as a rallying cry for military actions, a smoke screen for quite different motives. Democracy is sometimes used to describe governments that have a vote, no matter how undemocratic they might be by objective measure. To use the term objectively, democracy must refer to real political processes that are quantifiable, even though they are difficult to measure.

As an exercise in human ecology, consider democracy to refer to organic political life, OPL. This includes `grass roots' participation, the amount of interaction up and down the i scale of political process. Then measure and compare the actual political component in people's lives.

Democracy also includes dispersion of power down the i scale toward the community, family and individual. British political scientist Robert *Leach uses a more specific term, "subsidiarity", a Liberal Democratic idea that calls for devolving government decisions to the lowest authority - regional, municipal, and community - at which they can efficiently be made. Subsiding problems and power to the lowest level is a crucial process in the reconstruction organic political life. Call it SUbsidiarity of Politics, SUP, or `subsiding' problems.

Make a D chart with arrows representing various samples of behavior in changing structures of politics, law, justice, welfare, education, medicine, public health and any other cultural subsystem. Test the reactions of your friends and relations as they contemplate this shift.

Voting is a minor and often trivial component of organic political life, in spite of its inflated image. Most commonly people are urged to vote as a gesture of loyalty, like saluting the flag. At best, voting is a confirmation of the essential political work that precedes it. Voting can be a raising to public consciousness, i, of subconscious political process. More often it is an adversarial gesture, voting for the lesser evil. Voting is often a visceral response to the machinations of spin doctors who tap political neuroses and psychoses (such as the Willie Horton Syndrome, WIHS). Encouraging people to vote when "they know not what they do" seems deviously malicious, or at least unkind. Dissociation of voting from the operating political processes of the smokeless-filled room is a D scale pathology.[ For a broad and deep view, read William *Greider's *BETRAYAL OF DEMOCRACY.]

The portion of citizens registered and voting is a common statistic. For example, of the 37% of registered voters in the 1994 congressional campaign, only 20% recognized the Republican's main theme, the `Contract for America'. Yet the winning Republican party touted this 20% informed, times 37% voted, times some other percent registered as a `mandate' for their Contract, a `mandate' inferred from only about 5%!

Political analysts constantly comment on how people feel about government. Mark *Green reports, "76% of Americans in 1963 said the believe government would do the right thing most of the time, 21% said that in 1993. Two thirds have collapsed faith in government." The quantity of democracy by this simple measure is very small. "What good is voting if it doesn't mean anything. You might just as well spit!", said one student at the University of Moscow on one of Phil Donahue's TV shows.[ Mark *Green, New York City Public Advocate, Progressive Democrat. From Charley Rose TV interview, May 19, 1995.] Few modern politicians, except for Ross Perot with his "United We Stand America", and Jerry Brown with his "We The People" attempt to reform and update organic political process with the new technologies.

Mass media increasingly displaces face to face human communication in political discourse.

Call-in radio talk shows most often radiate vituperation. The increase of right-wing ranting cannot be explained as stupidity or even pervasive malice. People are naturally intelligent. Homo sapiens loves to spin the mind. But these isolated unfortunates have such limited community of discourse, and so suffer the strains of a dying culture that they must resort to talk shows for what would be normal interpersonal process in a politically healthier society.

To intellectualize without information is very difficult, yet media has little content and much interruption, as described in JELLY AND JAM, p.261. In addition to lack of community and lack of information, citizens are burdened with feelings of inadequacy. Most children pick up the implicit message from their school that they are inadequate. Perhaps citizens are reluctant to seek better media because it so often reminds them of their humiliation and failure in their school experience. The library, the book store, PBS, and other possible sources are somehow unseemly and even threatening. Their ratings are low. So natural intelligence must operated in a desert. Ranting and raving is the best they can do under the circumstances.

How does it happen that so many elections are so close? One explanation is that both parties cultivate the middle to attract the maximum number of voters. But another mechanism might be analogous to psychological problem of compulsive indecision. Personal decisions are made in neural communications of the subconscious. Political decisions are made through the interactions of countless groups and communications, the political subconscious. In a contacted system the minor system dissociates from its own support system. Both the ego and the polity is unable to make up its mind, so it oscillates around the middle. When a decision is made slightly off the fence, feedback moves to compensate.

Opinion polls FOG the media on election day. Do people vote with the opinion polls to join the crowd, or do they vote against them, fearful that someone might win? Term limitation expresses a similar irrationality, implicitly acknowledging that people don't know what they're doing and should be protected from their own vote. Studies indicate that most people feel that terms should be limited for other peoples officials, but not their own.

The solution to this problem is the development of lower i level systems, a move from Fig 5-4 toward 5-5. An example of such culture design is LETS PARTY, p.258. Similarly, knowledge of issues and broader ideology requires the same development.[ For a penetrating and personal view of spin doctoring, read *ALLS FAIR, Love, War, and Running for President by James *Carville & Mary *Matalin.]

In spite of what they teach in social studies classes, voters are not the legislator's `constituency'. To support her election the legislator must look to financial groups to finance elections, rather than to citizens, who are so easily swayed. David Corn of The Nation magazine, on Washington Week in Review, 4/7/95, reported that lobbyists from the big corporations sitting down at the table with the Republican Legislators and actually writing the legislation. Lobbying is nothing new, but level of control is increasing. To alleviate this problem, politicos such as Fred *Werthheimer of Common Cause and Mark *Green suggest public funds should provide "... guaranteed free time for a bonafide candidate based on signatures."

The electorate is disaffected. As Stanley *Greenberg puts it the electorate is stressed by "income decline, inequality, family breakdown." They want to `throw the rascals out' and elect politicians, who win by using focus groups to trash the incumbents.

The electoral system in France corrects many minor problems. Candidates declare only a few months before the election. TV gives equal time for first round candidates, followed by finalist's lengthy debate of the issues. No opinion poles are published a week before the election. Personal and family matters are de-emphasized. Voting is on Sunday and the ballot includes only the presidency. One way the French government represents the citizens is described in Psychiatrist Franz *Fanon's book THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH. Even today, the French government democratically expresses the will of the people as it finances the military government of Algeria in its war against elected officials and their party. A deeper broader view is needed for a healthier polity.

Honest politicians may make positive promises, but they are obliged to follow the lobbyists who represent their more `operational' real constituents - the interests who pay for their campaigns. They may meet some populist demands, but more often they sacrifice the electorate for the money. If they become too populist, they may lack money to finance their fight. Given the power of media they have little chance without lots of money, with notable `exceptions that prove the rule'. If they succumb to business lobbies, they reinforce the publics's disillusionment. If the con is blown, they may run for another election. If they're personable and don't make too many mistakes, they can afford an expensive trashy campaign and eventually win.

Gradually the electorate becomes increasingly alienated, strives to throw the bums out, succeeds, elects new bums. These are not personal bums, they are system bums. But many unfortunate politicians become more like actors in a line-up, willing to take a beating and sell themselves just to get on stage.

The pain of politics is caused by a bad system more than by bad people[ See the essay INTERNALIZATION OF THE CORPORATE ETHIC, ICE, p. 236, 241.]. History is full of heroes who acted independently and saved the day, or ruined it. Tremendous personal virtue and courage are consumed in this strange system. Most people in politics are just doing their job, like anyone else. Politicos are particularly skilled at communication and they use these skills to butter-up the powerful and con the commoners. Politics has the reputation of corrupting all who participate, so politicians commonly claim resistance to such corruption.

Those people who cynically degrade public discourse are not evil doers. Exemplary Peggy Noonan composed Ronald Reagan's brilliant and famous lines, "...a kinder gentler nation... a thousand points of light." Professionals are obliged to continue and to advance their personal careers. If they fail, countless eager others are ready and willing to take their place. Top decision makers, leaders of the society, make decisions according to the demands of their role. Robert *McNamara, famous for his dominant role in the Vietnam War, offended a wide spectrum of citizens by disclosing a rather small part of his `normative conflict' when he published his IN RETROSPECT, THE TRAGEDY AND LESSONS OF VIETNAM.

This classic conflict between personal conscience and social role can be called Depersonalization of Decision, DOD. Each person accommodates personal values with the values of his role. As the split becomes worse, each person adjusts somehow to the conflict. In worst cases, the DOD who decides to transgress, or even express an opposition, is quickly and easily replaced by someone without an attitude problem. Even those who decide whether or not to replace him can be quickly replaced, if they hesitate. The system has a life of its own, a LOO.

Understandably DODs talk themselves into it. People rationally accept their position according to the demand for the integrity of their model, DIM. As social systems dissociate in modern abstract culture, "selling out" is called "social adjustment".[ In his classic book THE *LONELY CROWD, Paul *Goodman uses the terms "inner directed" for the conscience driven and "other directed" for the social approval driven. But people are built differently nowadays.] Under such tension people often become rigid and belligerent, according to the fragility of contraction, FOC. Selling out is more than rationalized submission. It satisfies the deeper human need to belong and be loyal to the tribe.

Power distribution is another measure of democracy. One measure of political power is the income distribution, since wealth roughly measures both economic and political power. Democracy is often linked with freedom and private ownership, regardless of the resulting concentration of wealth and power, as we shall see in Chapter 7, ECONOMICS.

Property rights have always been a crucial issue in political life, since long before we were human. Even the mathematicians study the issue of cooperation vs competition: "In a sense, cooperation could be older than life itself."[ This is the final statement of THE *ARITHMETIC OF MUTUAL HELP. Computer experiments show how cooperation rather than exploitation can dominate in the Darwinian struggle for survival. By two Brits and an Austrian working on systems models of ]

Private vs. public ownership usually correlates with a steep vs. a flat income distribution curve, as detailed in the chapter, ECONOMICS. To the owners go the profits. In private ownership, the rich get richer. In public ownership, profits are more widely distributed, maybe. This issue is not so easy to measure objectively. Watch out for exceptions. A capitalist with noblesse oblige who manages his private capital resources as steward to the human and natural ecosystem (like George Soros), compares with the arrogant socialist manager who despoils nature and society and rips off perks.

Political process, from the global political scene to the local communities, can be analyzed on the E and D charts. The analysis and reconstruction of political life is a task for human ecology and culture design.

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