art with code

2010-06-25

Democracy

You can only call an economy a market economy if at least 60% of the population can fully participate in it on a daily basis and own property.

By this measure, there are several functioning market economies in the world.

You can only call a country democratic if at least 60% of the population can fully participate and vote in a parliamentary meeting about the matters of the state at least once every two weeks.

By this measure, there are zero democracies in the world.

Suppose that you had an economic system similar to a representational republic. Only the members of the parliament are allowed to own property and participate in the economy. Every four years, the people vote to select a couple hundred people who are allowed to participate in the economy. Does that sound sane? A good system of economy?

I blame Socrates and Plato for the travesty that is known as the Republic. They were children of a democracy[1] and wanted to overthrow the system to install a philosopher dictatorship in its place. The only reason their writings have survived is that they were written in a democracy (and hence not summarily burned) and that they have provided a nice argument for rulers ever since.

"We actually have the best system of governance. Only us well-born/popular/rich/divine/ideologically correct should be the ones to have any political power. See, even the Ancient Greeks who lived in an oh-so-terrible democracy agree: the perfect political system is one governed by a perfect philosopher-king who is omniscient and makes perfect decisions. Not one that's governed by flawed people who know nothing and make imperfect decisions. QED."

Compare:

"We actually have the best system of economy. Only us well-born/popular/rich/divine/ideologically correct should be the ones to own any property. See, even the Ancient Greeks who lived in an oh-so-terrible free market agree: the perfect economic system is one governed by a perfect economist-king who is omniscient and makes perfect trades. Not one where property can be owned by flawed people who know nothing and make imperfect trades. QED."


[1] Athens had a population of around 200 000, of which only 30 000 were members of parliament, so it fails to reach the 60% standard. However, that was 2500 years ago, in the times of the Persian and Egyptian God-Kings, the Spartan military dictatorship, the Warring States Period, etc. and should perhaps be judged in that context. In a modern society, where you have equality of sexes and no slavery, they should have had 120 000 members of parliament. Then again, where are the modern countries with even a paltry 30 000 members of parliament.
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Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes, much bad code, much bad art.

Have freelanced for Verizon, Google, Mozilla, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Valve Software, TDK Electronics.

Ex-Chrome Developer Relations.