Sunday, April 01, 2012

When is Democracy No Longer Viable?

Democratic forms of government are far from ideal even under the best of circumstances, but for most populations of the world ordinary democracy may not be viable any more.

The authors of the book "Beyond Democracy" maintain that democracy can't be fixed. They look at "13 myths of democracy" and explain why the things we think we know about democracy just ain't so.

Of course, Americans and other westerners have learned about the difficulties of encouraging democratic reforms in nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, and other nations whose traditions seem to be directly at odds with western democratic ideals.

But now we are learning that even the strongest of the social democracies of Europe may be unable to maintain their democratic traditions for much longer, for reasons of changing demographics.

Most honest and well read people understand the relationship between open commerce and prosperity and freedom. And a substantial proportion of these individuals also understand -- at least intuitively -- the association between a population's average IQ and educational levels and its ability to maintain prosperity along with rule of law and freedom.

But it is also fairly clear that democracy prospers best in societies where individuals can relate to one another, and where most individuals can and will pull their own weight. Democracy does not work well in a society of freeloaders, unless everyone is a freeloader and is willing to accept widespread national poverty and weakness in relationship to the outside world.

Diversity can also be a problem -- particularly certain kinds of diversity. Societies that are rich in low IQ diversity also tend to be poor in trust, high in crime, and in possession of democracies that are living on borrowed time. When "diversity" is used as a code word to promote affirmative action for low IQ populations, trouble is usually on the way.

All of that is made worse when government is made to be the central distributor of privileges, income, and success -- in exchange for votes and political support. Such a government will grow to the benefit of special interests and populist policies to the point of non-viability.

You may think of Greece, Italy, Spain .... But almost all of the nations of Western Europe, North America, and Oceania are slipping down that greased slope. All of them rapidly learning the limits to democracy in situations where demographic change will not allow the status quo approach to democratic government to continue on its current path.

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