Sunday, May 16, 2010

The mythology of democratic-based freedom

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Please debate me! In my last post I raised the prospect of rising fascism in Australia, and in fact all Western countries. Its not a new phenomena, its just that the prospects are becoming increasingly intellectual, and not simply economic. Society will tolerate certain inappropriate actions by government. But things get to a point where people's minds are being subverted, and fascism is allowed to escalate out of control without repudiation. The reason that there is no opposition is because the minority which might oppose it have no recourse to prevent it. This is the case today with IMF Australia being prevented by a government agency from obtaining certain information from the banks. This of course is not the end of the story. IMF can take the matter to the High Court to overrule ASIC, however this does not preclude the government from legislating to prevent any recourse.
The reason why I am calling for debaters is because I think just simply dismiss my assertions with little regard for my counter-arguments. So I open the opportunity for readers to debate me if they disagree.
I raised this issue in my local philosophy club. I think I left them worried. Certainly I left them thinking. I am the only one in the group under 55yo. Most of them are retired. One of the objected to my suggestion that democratic outcomes were arbitrary. Her argument was that when all stakeholders come together you get this lovely 'compromise'. The problem with a compromise is that its a departure from logic, and other people's capacity to comprehend or accept your argument. This is a problem because its justification for not seeking a consensus. Its justification for not reasoning with people, but simply imposing decisions upon them. i.e. How do you compromise with a thief. He comes to your house and demands at the point of a gun his right to your property. You say: 'I can't afford to lose these things'. He says 'OK, I'll compromise. You can retain half'. Maybe you accept his offer because he has a gun. But might you also think, that is not good enough because it is in-principle my property. You might get lucky, but so long as reason is not the standard of value is the extent to which you have no rights. But you know that because government does not wait for you to donate money to finance its activities, it instead imposes taxes upon you.
If someone is making an assertion, and you have the right to participate in the discussion, the process only has utility if your opinions have standing. It is not enough that they read your comprehension, they need to recognise its objective validity, or debate its invalidity with you. If they don't, then there is no prospect of reconciling ideas, and life becomes one of imposition, coercion, victimisation. This is therefore not a regime for freedom from oppression, democracy becomes a forum for legitimatising it.
An example was the call for submissions for human rights. My submission was not accepted because it did not meet the arbitrary standards of the Committee. Nevermind, I never thought it was going to serve any purpose anyway. It was always going to be a facade. The reason why a clergy was appointed was to give the process the 'appearance' of legitimacy, i.e. The church has the traditional high moral ground right? Well, less so I guess since the child molestation issues surfaced, but still the church has residual credibility which they do not deserve.
Another example was the uranium call for submissions. In this case, the government choses to acknowledge your contribution on some trivial or incidental way, like my assertion that 'there are 3 uranium mines' in Australia. This is expected to warm my stomach, to make me feel like a proud Australia. i.e. Like having your photo in the press. On the contrary, it made me feel like these people have utter control, and this process of parliamentary inquiries is really a rhetorical side-show.
So why is the parliamentary process and such processes which involve stakeholders inherently flawed? The reason is that participation is nothing but part of the story. Unless there is a requirement for opponents to challenge your assertions, then truth is not going to be established, one way or another. You cannot trust people to have empathy for your interests because they will argue that some other group will suffer greater loss, so they have more standing. It ought not to be a political vote. It ought to be a principled and rational outcome, which leaves all parties responsible to the extent that they had responsibility, and rewarded to the extent that they earned their concessions. These outcomes are best achieved by markets.
Take for instance the issue of tax? Its hard to say whether miners will pay more tax or less. They have a lot of power, but that is only advertising power. They need a moral argument to roll the government, and given everyone thinks 'rights' are entitlements, they will need to pay more taxes to pay your superannuation. There is of course competing principles here:
1. Your right to a public rent for the use of natural resources
2. Their right to know the outcomes before they invest. i.e. It would be unfair for them to be taxed at the proposed rate in those cases where they have spent money in support of those projects.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?