Talking politics (uh-oh)

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Mav23, Jul 16, 2002.

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  1. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Good question. On the one hand, that's something you can never be 100% certain about. But on the other, that's the beauty of nuclear weapons - if they were ever to be used on a scale large enough to affect the world in a severe way, mutually assured destruction would kick in. Thus, in any war where nuclear weapons could be used to damage the environment beyond use, their usefulness is negated by cold logic.
    This idea, of course, is put into question by both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the recent India-Pakistan tensions. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis was necessary to show that when it came to down to the wire, nuclear weapons did successfully perform as a deterrant. On the other hand, Pakistan's threats were a bluff designed to force the rest of the world to intervene - again, it was a case of using nuclear weapons to avoid a conflict.

    Thus, while it would be downright foolish to say that there's no chance that a nuclear conflict would ever arise, it seems to me that the history of the past fifty years does indeed show that the probability of a nuclear conflict is not high enough for us to consider nuclear weapons a significant danger. When the US and Russia signed another arms reduction treaty earlier this year, I doubt there was all that many people out there who suddenly felt safer.

    Well, a few hundred or just one, it makes little difference on a nation-wide or world-wide scale. If you have such a tiny group in charge and no election mechanism, it's still a totalitarian government. It might be a 'benign' government at first, but that doesn't matter. The point is that you give up your right to exert influence on the government - once you switch to such a system, all you can do is hope that the people in charge don't decide to take advantage of it.

    That's certainly a valid question and a very real possibility. However, in a democratic system, there will almost always be an opposition strong enough to prevent such moves. And indeed, any attempt to do something like that is likely to get the afore-mentioned leader out of power during the next election - at least, in a well-functioning democracy. Of course, most (if not all) democracies of today do not function well, but this doesn't mean that the best solution is to throw away democracy altogether.

    The difference is in the potential of a mild dictatorship turning into a severe one, and in our ability to prevent that from taking place.

    As for nuclear weapons, I think what I said to LOAF is also a response to your points. Just a few things to add here. First, any race willing to ignore a "few" million deaths is not going to learn any moral lessons even if their lives really do depend on it. Secondly, the idea of our ability to kill each other serving as the catalyst to make us love each other is an impossible paradox. The Cold War has already shown us that - nuclear weapons prevented WWIII, but they also ensured constant mistrust between the US and USSR - so much for ethical pressure.
    It's also worth noting that there is no real reason to assume that the average person will ever have the power of a nuclear weapon. Right now, there are incredibly powerful hand-held weapons, but the average person is not likely to ever see them outside of an action movie.
     
  2. Napoleon

    Napoleon Spaceman

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: longer - sorry

    No democracy isnt the best way to prevent malevolent dictatorships (as opposed to benevolent ones, like Rome during it's height from Nerva to M. Aurellius, which btw was by far the best government we have ever had as humans, it was fair, just, and very efficient and was a model for what a good dictator can do, it was only screwed up by M. Aurellius not following the tradition established by his forbares, ie he didn;t adopt the most gifted politician of his time as his successor instead he stuck with his lamebrained son, bad move) . The best way to prevent a malevolent dictatorship (short of anarchy) is to have a benevolent dictatorship with proper rules of succession. THis will prevent tyranny more than democracy which by its VERY NATURE consists of the majority oppressing the minority. Democracy leads to too many bad things, need I remind all of you that most of the dictators of the 20th century came to power democratically, the lenninist regime in russia was supported by the people, hitler was elected as chancelor and the people supported his control thereafter, the current regime in iran was put in place with massive public support, same with the castro government in cuba.

    Furthermore often the democratic governments that we think are really democratic are not. in fact i know not of a single democracy out there. I know of many federal or parlaimentary republics but no democracies. This is a suddle difference but it is huge.

    Finally, I must say that 99% of the people are too d*mned stupid to be even considered able to choose their leaders. Most dont know a thing about economics and foriegn policy (the single two most important things for any political leader to be REALLY good at) and thus know not how to chose a proper leader. Perfect example came up in the US Presidential election of 2000. After the second debate there was a pannel of 16 people, and one of which was asked what she thought was the most important issue, she said that the most importnat issue was for the US to improve social security and save it (an issue of extreme importance for the economy of the nation and the lives of all adults as they get nearer to retiring) she proptly then said that she intended to vote for bush because of this when his policy to social security as definied in all public speaches was extremely flimsy compared to vice president gore's. Now regardless of who won or who you think should have won, the way that this person talked implied that she agreed with the policies of the person she said she would NOT vote for. This is just one of many demonstrations of why republics fail miserably, people are just too stupid. remember that in france they almost elected a facist this last election and they already have in austria (Haider). People just do not know sh*t about choosing leaders properly. A proper system would take this into account.

    Rather than having a republic to protect the rights that it always tries to abuse instead (the US bill of rights is an example of this, the most vocal people who claim to be supporting it, invariably try to press something into effect that is the exact opposite of the intention thereof and trying to oppress the minority, like all the prayer in school activists, who simply do not understand the harm done to all non-christians by having a forced prayer, and also simply do not understand that the first ammendment exists for the very purpose of preventing people from forcing their views on others and allowing dissent. How many of their prayer activists would be happy if a child started to pray to satan when they were praying to their god?)

    The only way to insure the rights of the people is to have a benevolent dictatorship that has checks and balances worked in to create a constitutional monarchy style of system, much like Rome under augustus, where the people did have some power to counter the imperator/princeps (Augustus) in the form of the senate, and the magistracy, but yet the princeps had enourmous powers that allowed him to work for the best interest of the people and rome (which he most certainly did). The only fault in that system was the poor succession. Had a proper order of succession existed, the principate would never have degenerated into the empire.


    Ohh and Quarto: You are missing up terms SO badly I cannot begin to comprehend it. a totalitarian government is a government in which every aspect of a person's life is controled, this happens just as easily in a republic as in any other system and happens just as infrequently in a dictatorship/monarchy as in a democracy. Rule by a man or a small group of men (dictatorship or monarchy/oligarchy) is not necessarily a totalitarian government, in fact historically they have not been so, though most 20th century examples have been, in the past they were not, and your missuse of the terms demonstrates your predjudice against a system of government that has ruled nations that have been far more stable and long lasting than any democracy ever has(Rome lasted over 1400 years as an empire, ancient china far longer, the monarchies in europe lasted longer than their current replacements, hell in the last 200 years the french have gone through 11 government). I believe that is as much a proof of the truth as anything the fact that many of the systems that had checks and balances worked into the monarchy/dictatorship/oligarchy have thus far outlasted ANY republican/democratic govenrment in all of human history.
     
  3. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Heh, I should have known I'd get such a response sooner or later :rolleyes:. Well, Napoleon, here's my answer.

    1. I dare say that without living in the Principate, you have no right to claim that people were happy in it. I rather doubt that the Romans' numerous works about how good the republic was are a reflection of how the Principate made them happy. Doesn't matter, either way, because your argument is a classic "if we ignore that event #2 happened, then event # 1 was actually pretty good". The fact, as much as you might not like it, is that the Principate did become increasingly more totalitarian, and finally transformed into the Empire. This isn't something that occured by pure luck, and it isn't something that you can ignore. Find me a *single* example of a "benevolent" dictatorship which never transformed into a malevolent dictatorship (or back into a democracy, since that also happens), and we can talk.

    2. You are right, democracy by definition is the tyranny of the majority over the minority. But, hmmm... somehow I think most people would prefer that, rather than the tyranny of the minority over the majority. And yes, Hitler demonstrates that a democracy can transform into a dictatorship, but I never disputed that. There is no system that would allow people to completely relax their guard - dictatorships always find ways to sneak in, as your little speech so amply demonstrates. However, democracies offer the best way to stop this, because democracy is the only system which has any sort of reasonable safeguards against totalitarianism. Once a system like the Roman Principate is established, things generally go only in one direction - towards full government control. Yes, it is possible to go back the other way, but this involves a lot of blood.

    3. For some reason, I don't trust people who tell me that 99% of the population are idiots. Could it be because this is the fundamental belief of all totalitarian regimes? That we as a race need to be herded around like cattle, or we'll hurt ourselves? Your mistaken belief in the stupidity of the majority also demonstrates why benevolent dictatorships never last - because they are always based on that principle that people need to be controlled for their own good. In such a situation, the inevitable answer to any problems is that we're just not controlling them enough. Your own example, the Roman Empire, demonstrated this brilliantly.
    Incidentally, how exactly do you stop a benevolent dictator from seizing power, if you truly believe that 99% of the people are idiots? When you try to stop him, he'll tell you that you don't understand what's good for everyone, because you're clearly a part of that 99%. How do you respond to him then? When you are ruled by a person who is convinced that everybody else are idiots, how do you persaude him to actually listen to the wishes of those "idiots"?

    4. Yes, there are always people in a democracy who try to abuse other people's rights. The difference is that in a democracy, we have all the rights that we manage to keep people from abusing. In a dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise, we only have the rights that the leader doesn't decide to abuse. And since we're all idiots, what do we need rights for anyway?

    5. I do not confuse the terms. I know very well what a totalitarian government is. I lived under one, so it would be impossible for me not to know it. My use of the term 'totalitarianism' simply reflects my belief that there is no such thing as a dictatorship which doesn't turn into a totalitarian regime sooner or later.
    And yeah, I have a certain prejudice against the sort of governments you propse... it's just that I'd rather not see another one over here, thank you very much. I'd rather not see propaganda telling me that I have more freedom then the people on the other side of the way - I'd rather be able to verify such "facts" for myself.
     
  4. Raptor

    Raptor Spaceman

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    Hey, Peters is inspiring. The only trouble is, he's inspiring the idiots and the rednecks. :D

    Best, Raptor
     
  5. cff

    cff Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi

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    So humanity learned this fact. This prooves the assumption. Other crisis will again force us to learn more.

    Huch? How many people reign your country right now? I doubt it would be more then a couple of hundred...
    And there is nothing you could do if a repuplic turns totalitarian either.

    LOL regarding opposition. And even if there is one so what (besides that most opposition parties are very willing to do the same stuff they criticised only weeks ago once the come to power)? What can the opposition do besides talk. A malicious elected government can easily censor enough of their opinions to get them silent.

    A democracy can just as easily take away all rights. Just declare the country under war for one example and suspend elections until it is over...

    That is the beauty of my argument. Either we will learn or we will eradicate ourselfes. It is just that simple. So you better hope we will learn...

    Not at all. See it as a test of evolution. The human race is tested if it is nice enough. If it fails it is gone.

    Well I certainly don't fear that the USSR will bomb us. There are other dangers I worry about. In any case your argument still doesn't hold. You cannot demand that you learned every lesson after the first class. As such mistrust is better then war, isn't it? I think the chance for a conventional war between USA and UDSSR wasn't that low if nuclear weapons would not have been invented.

    IMHO there is all the reason to assume this. Lets take a step back in history when each human only mastered his own life. That is pretty much crisis 0 if you want so.
    Now for that person being able to control fire was something that only the most clever could do and was almost a miracle.
    For us burning down a whole forest is easy for a single person. You got enough fuel in every house to lay fire.
    You assume the next crisis is soon. I don't. For the next crisis to happen we have to be in (almost) complete control of our solar system.
    This implies FTL communication for everybody. It also implies that a private person can fly to Pluto in less then a day. Terraforming will be possible.
    Now imagine what power you'd need for all this. The danger of today (nuclear) will be a small part of all that probably as fuel.
    Your comparision with powerful hand-held weapons lack in the way that you don't need one for living. Nuclear power however will most likely accompany us for a long time (be that as Fission or Anti-Matter or something even SiFi-Author did not think of so far). My fire example is much better in that way.
    Besides I might not be able to get that latest top secret military gun. Well I'd say I am happy with a sniper rifle or a Kalashnikov (sp?) to get rid of my neighbour ;) And I could probably get each one in less then a month on the black market (and no I of course have no idea who to ask)
    The thing is if I knew how the next crisis would look in detail it wouldn't be one. The second crisis will hit us out of nowhere just like the first A-Bomb.

    @Napoleon - What a nice nick for that discussion ;)
    Unfortunately what you said about stupid people and democracy (or rather repulics) seems all to true to me.

    Interesting point with that satanists. Never looked at it that way.
    But I have to say that I also don't understand why harm would come to non cristians for listening to a prayer. I would not care the least bit if I'd have to hear some islamic (just to pick one arbitrary example) prayer each day before work. (Besides that I don't get it why Christians, Moslems and Jews got that many troubles with each others believes. We _SHARE_ some of our holy books!!!)
    You might want to know my religion now, don't you? Well I'd consider myself as believing on a higher entity. I don't like to call it God or Allah or Jahwe or ... as that immediately implies canonical believe. As such I cannot identify with any religion I did meet so far. They are all covered so far into radical fundamentalic believes that they betray their God IMHO.
    I'd not laugh about any believe however and respect what people believe. I'd not descriminate anyone for his believe, nor would I be annoyed if he does his rites in front of me (as long as there is no direct conflict with my ethics - sacrifices of animals for example).

    Will continue in second post - the board tells me my message is too long ...
     
  6. cff

    cff Kilk'dymga'qith laq Ik'vikvi

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    Similar tell me a single instance of a Democracy that did not fail and/or did not turn into something totalitarian...

    I'd dare to say that masses are indeed not a good safeguard. And I can prove this with mathematics.
    Lets say the population of the state is 1010000
    Take one million people that don't care about an election and just vote randomly for one of two options. Now also take 10000 people who want something bad for the masses...
    That is 1% of people! They will all vote for the bad thing. Now the chance of this bad thing actually getting the majority are somewhere around 99.9% or so. That is just probability calculation. No influence was taken on the 'stupid masses' in this example.
    That example is also a very important one for the people who say: I don't go voting - my vote won't make a difference. As you can see an incredibly small group of people can make all the difference!

    Not idiots as in stupid or too stupid to live or needing to be herded. But how much do you know about atomic reactors? Now how useful is your vote about the topic if one should be closed because it is too insecure. Similar just by logic 99% of people are really uneducated enough of the very topic of one specific vote. They listen to who got the best rethorics/who lies best. Not exactly a good thing, is it?

    My elected leader would probably do the same...

    If you scroll back I did say technocraty not dictatorship/oligarchy. So I got a clear measure about knowleadge of people in an area for it to work as a prerequisite. So actually he could either proove that I am uneducated in that field or I could proove that I am educated (I avoid 'stupid' for a reason. Nobody is stupid, just uneducated on many fields).
     
  7. Ijuin

    Ijuin Admiral

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    To quote Voltaire, "Democracy is the worst possible form of government...except for every other form of government that Mankind has ever come up with". While it is true that in Democracy, the voters are easily misled about issues, it has been shown that whoever is put in charge of any society will invariably choose to benefit himself over the good of the whole. Thus, the only way to have a society that does NOT take wealth and liberty away from the masses is:

    1) It must be possible to dismiss any person in government of any rank in the event that he (or she) becomes greedy or corrupt

    2) There must not be a conflict of interest among the people who decide on which people shall be dismissed from government office.

    For example, if a council held this responsibility, and the government official in question were to succeed in bribing or threatening the council members to get them to rule in his favor, it would defeat the purpose of having the council.

    Or, if the highest government leaders loaded the council with people who shared their own views, then the opposition would disappear and the leaders could use the council to expel whomever they disliked.

    An example of loading the council would be if all members were very wealthy people. Being very wealthy, they would support any policies or actions which would lead to wealthy people having even more wealth.

    Generally speaking, once government becomes dominated by any particular interest group, the members of that group will invariably advance their own interests over those of all other people. This leads to wealth and influence becoming concentrated in the hands of the dominant group. The only way to prevent the dominance of a single interest group is to ensure that the opposition is always allowed to speak.
     
  8. Ijuin

    Ijuin Admiral

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    Certainly the United States has done terrible things, especially concerning racial discrimination, but I do not think that in the US they were shipping people to prisons and mental hospitals by the hundreds of thousands for having subversive ideas. MacCarthyism may have led to many people fearing being labeled "Un-American", but never has speaking out against the government been a capital offense as it was in Fascist and many Communist societies.
     
  9. junior

    junior Spaceman

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    One more point that I haven't seen addressed here.
    The culture as a whole must want democracy, otherwise it won't happen (mind you, its not guaranteed to happen if they want it). That's what has been the downfall of more than one democracy (including the Weimar Republic).
    In a nation such as ours, the transformation to a dictatorship simply can't happen overnight. The example given below was of the nation going to war and the executive declaring martial law and suspending elections. If that were to happen tomorrow, then this is the exact course of events that would occur:
    1.) Protestors would gather to protest the lack of elections.
    2.) Local governments would refuse to deal with the protesters (very unpopular to oppose such a protest).
    3.) The Federal Government would call in the military to deal with it.
    4.) The army would arrive on the scene, be ordered to fire on unarmed protesters, take one look at what was going on, and say, "NO!"
    5.) The army would move on Washington and remove the President.
    Why?
    Voting is a sacred institution in the US. You don't touch voting. While it might be possible to suspend elections, it would have to be for an absolutely dire emergency, and there would need to be guidelines in place almost from the start as to when the elections would be held (probably within a few months).
    Yes, US troops have killed US protestors in the past. But I don't think that the circumstances are similar enough to apply here.
     
  10. Calzone

    Calzone Spaceman

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    uahaha....its so easy. I should lead the world.



    Calzone
    --
    Bin Laden rules
     
  11. Ghost

    Ghost Emperor

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    You make the world sad :(
     
  12. Bandit LOAF

    Bandit LOAF Long Live the Confederation!

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    I, however, lead this world. And as leader I'm in charge of seeing that trolls are banned.
     
  13. KrisV

    KrisV Administrator

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    Yeah, but we have a better Swabbie user group now.
     
  14. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Hmm, I go away for almost a week, and there isn't really all that many posts to reply to... too bad they're long ones ;).

    At this stage, most countries in Europe and North America fit into this category. None of them are 100% democratic, of course, but they resemble democracy much more than any other system, so they qualify.

    Your mathematics are meaningless, though. You start off with the assumption that 99.9% of the people are stupid, and then you use mathematics based on this assumption to prove the assumption right.

    Of course, not everyone can know about everything - that is indeed the point of a representative democracy, that we should elect the person we believe is best suited to make the decisions. I don't see, however, how this supports your case, though. You might not know about atomic reactos, but why should you give up the right to decide about social security and other things you do know about just because you know nothing about atomic reactors?

    Let me put it this way. Any government built on the foundation of contempt for its people (call it a technocracy, an oligarchy, or a dictatorship, it doesn't matter) is going to have a negative effect on the people sooner or later. It doesn't matter if you can prove that you are intelligent enough to influence their decisions - they are already convinced that you're an idiot. Why should they pay any attention to an idiot's attempt to prove his intelligence? As far as they're concerned, that would be like sitting in a barn and listening to pigs in hope that in between all the squealing, they'll say something in English.

    I don't question the concept of humanity learning new things (duh ;)). What I question is the idea of a crisis forcing us to rethink our morality. I believe you have already proven my point, by saying that the millions who die throughout the world today is not sufficient to change our morality. If that's the case, what makes you think a nuclear "miracle" would bring about such a change? Personally, I'd rather not risk hoping for that.

    My country is ruled by a government consisting of three separate and independent branches - the executive, legislative, and judicial branch. Obviously, each branch is limited in numbers, but they all face a quintuple set of influences - one, from within (the branches consist of multiple people not necessarily sharing the same views), two, from the public which has the power to remove them from office, three and four, from the other two branches, and five, from other democratic governments around the world. This provides *a lot of* guarantees, though obviously without public vigilance, it wouldn't be enough. The public vigilance *is* there, however. In his post, Napoleon used France as an example supporting his case, but he's wrong - France is an example supporting mine. When push came to shove, the French knew bloody well what is good for them.

    As for a malicious government censoring opinions, just let them try it. Even if they controlled both the executive and legislative branches, the media and the public would roast them long before they pushed the proposal through. Same thing goes for cancelling elections. That is the beauty of democracy - in democracy, such losses of rights are an extreme case of "what if". In an undemocratic system, they're facts of life.

    I'm not sure what your point here is... aren't you basically repeating what I said? :p

    I still don't see why on earth you'd assume that people will one day hold the power of a nuclear device in their hands, when everything speaks against it. Like I said, there are many, many powerful hand-held tools of destruction now, but getting them is *difficult*. Some things, like explosives, are used in construction and such, but that doesn't mean you can go into your local grocery store and buy five kilos of C4... even if there is, one day, a hand-held weapon with the capabilities of a nuclear device, the public will only see it in movies. Everything we see now and have seen in history supports this statement. So does your fire example - isn't it funny how in today's world, we see so many regular arson attacks by civilians, but there has probably never been a napalm attack performed by a civilian? The capacity is there, but it's *not* accessible to the public. What is accessible is small arms, like your example of a Kalashnikov. That should worry us a hell of a lot more than a weapon which might never even exist.

    Final note about the religion thing... sure, non-Christians can be concerned by Christian extremist groups trying to use their democratic rights in order to force non-Christians to pray. But wouldn't a much greater worry for them be the possibility of a Christian dictator doing the same thing? That, once again, is why it is so foolish to use the flaws of democracy as proof that a dictatorship would work better - a dictatorship would only serve to amplify those flaws.
     
  15. Filler

    Filler General Graphics Guy

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    my
    what an obese post.
     
  16. Ripper

    Ripper Peace Through Superior Firepower

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    Whats a troll?
     
  17. Ripper

    Ripper Peace Through Superior Firepower

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    And on a slightly related note, I was looking at calzones profile, and it said his total posts was 7. I thought that didnt sound right because I thought I had seen more than that. In the thread Chris Roberts Racism he had at least 10 posts? Do they not count after a while? do some not count if you get banned?
     
  18. Starkey

    Starkey Avenging Rooster

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    Posts in the off-topic zone do not count for your profile.
     
  19. Ripper

    Ripper Peace Through Superior Firepower

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    Ahhhhh. Whats a troll?
     
  20. Ghost

    Ghost Emperor

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    A CZer Troll...

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