- Capitalism and Alternatives -


Posted by: Gee ( si ) on October 18, 1999 at 14:45:02:

In Reply to: There's nothing arbitrary about democracy posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on October 17, 1999 at 17:50:13:

:: Turn it around and imagine the majority were *for* a CFC, lead and mercury fest - then the minority wuld be correct in their beliefs.

SDF: So? Elite rule is no protection from majoritarianism, because the elites must gain the assent of the masses anyway, as you yourself have pointed out.

Right - so in other words - when you point at a minority as being responsible for environmental damage you also appreciate the sanction given to them by the vast majority, and that the dependancy you see as the cause of such sanction (ie, that its unwilling really) was and is also given as sanction.

: SDF: Opinions are arbitrary only to those who believe in an ideology, whose minds are so shut that they can no longer be persuaded of anything true and so they imagine the rest of the human race to be in their condition. Human opinion is in fact formed through enculturation, a process that is social through and through.

In the context I was discussing, I was pointing out regardless of the source of an opinion, whether ideological or via enculturation, the *test* of its validity is reality. Put simply it doesnt matter how much people believe that there are pots of gold at the end of rainbows, nor where that opinion is sourced - its false.

: SDF: And you are powerless to affect the opinions of others?

I would be were I to be against the burning of witches in the late middle ages. There is no gaurantee of defacto freedom of speech even in current society, even less where the law itself is subject to opinion unbounded by a legal framework. Galileo's opinion on atronomy was a worthy one - its test with reality showed it to be superior to other opinions - but the majority was against his opinion and his efforts to affects others landed him under house arrest.

: SDF: I can also appreciate the great danger inherent in the financial rule of the owning classes, a danger even greater than that faced from within the strength of democratic and consensus processes. 'Tis better that necessary group decisions be made through a process that attempts to reconcile all interests rather than that decision-making power be awarded to the cash payment of the highest bidder.

Why not one which refers more to the above 'galileo' test than to opinion? How can such be structurally added to a democracy to make it less likely to descend into the populist equivalent of middle ages witch burning.

: SDF: Some decisions require a short meeting because they're about urgent matters, shall we move now to avoid the path of a hurricane, shall we vaccinate everyone against the plague, what to do about crop failure, etc. Other decisions, regarding the rotation of cooking duties for instance, can be negotiated over a longer period of time. It's a practical matter, not one of competition for personal power. Imposing the social relations of the capitalist world upon a communal society is the easiest way to misunderstand communal life.

I think the scope for extending personal power is greatly increased in urgent situations, its where people drop their gaurds in seeking a quick solution. Its where (I am referring to allsorts of things today!) the angry mobster can invoke the crowd to carry blazing torches to Frankensteins' castle. The only counter I can think of is to have some people invested with authority - 'experts' if you will. And we know what can happen then.

:SDF: The issue of fair-weather friends of democracy doesn't arise in some arbitrary context where some majority arbitrarily supports democracy against some minority which arbitrarily doesn't support it. It's when people pretend to support democracy and then are caught acting in bad faith about matters of community importance.

Ah, I was referring to people who expressed their concerns over democracy fully and explicitly, rather than those who pretended agreement. Even those who actually agree however may be faced with an unacceptable (to them) majority decision which is unforseen by them.

SDF: Maybe it's YOUR double standard.

It isn't

SDF: This is a dubious line of reasoning, gainsaying my fact-based assessment just because you don't understand it. Go back and look at the basis for determining class, it's FACT. Employment is not "subjective," it's a REAL relationship between people, it's the relationship between the working class and the owning class. Dependency is a real relationship, and the members of the working class, each and every one of 'em, are all dependent upon the wages of a paying employer. There's nothing arbitrary about this at all, and there's nothing arbitrary about creating democratic working-class unions of people (preferably communes; I value relative group autonomy) so that we don't live in a society where pieces of money have more power than votes, either.

Ignoring the presumption that disagreement must equate with not understanding you, the above assessment describes only the fact of their employment by others. Essentially - who is spared this? Not the likes of Stuart Gort - employed by his clients, not even McDonalds - employed by whomever eats there. Seperating working class by ownership is problematic - I discussed with RD the possibility of people who own enough to 'live off' but also work further to enhance their own lives, resulting in the question of where to draw the line, where this 'dependancy' supposedly starts and ends.

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