Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
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17-03-2014, 09:35 PM
Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
This is an interesting topic for debate that came up between a friend and I while we were discussing World War II and a lot of the totalitarian dictatorships that we'd learned of in our Western History classes. Though leaders such as Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler took complete control of their nations, they generally used their power for selfish gain...But what if they hadn't?

What if, as opposed to an intolerant, murderous racist like Hitler; someone with a genuine desire to improve the lives of the German people--Whether they be "Aryan" or Jewish--chose to dismantle the Weimar Republic and become Furor?

Is it moral to take the decision away from the majority and place it into the hands of the minority if the intentions of that minority are good?


Personally, I'm leaning towards no because it removes the concept of having an equal voice in what the country decides to do and takes away a certain level of fairness from the equation. My friend felt that equality wasn't quite as important as getting the job done quickly and bringing about happiness to the masses as quickly as possible. I don't think it matters how quickly the problem is fixed so long as it's fixed by the will of the majority and that everyone gets a say in how they want it done.

What d'you guys think? It's been a while since I've been on the TTA forums but I felt this was the best place beat the idea around a bit.

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17-03-2014, 10:53 PM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
Democracy may be "fair" but it has the unfortunate property of giving all opinions equal weight. Equal opportunity to give voice, but not every voice blindly given equal consideration would produce a better means of governance. It'd raise prickly questions of by what criteria would opinions be ranked by salience, but the flaws in the answers would cause fewer difficulties than giving "fairness" overriding priority.

Thus I'd recast the question, replacing the benevolent human leader with a perfectly programmed computer (and leave alone HOW that would be achieved and by whom). That removes all the sentimental fallacies that afflict all human minds from having any influence.

My biggest argument against single human leadership is that no one human mind can encompass all the information vital to every concern. Many leaderships invoke lieutenantships to ameliorate this problem, but still vest the ultimate decision making to the one leader's mind. The softest hearted human in the world still can't know everything. We employ solitary leader models of government because for the small social groups we started out with 60,000 years ago the rapid decision model saved lives. But for societies of millions rapidity of decision is unnecessary. No social or civic issue on that scale requires decisions in seconds. Better to place the decisions in the hands of many: democracy. But refine democracy, don't make it a cudgel of strict "fairness", give it the ability to weigh salience and depth of knowledge.

That would be better even than the perfectly programmed computer.
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18-03-2014, 02:21 AM (This post was last modified: 18-03-2014 02:31 AM by Free Thought.)
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
(17-03-2014 09:35 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  What d'you guys think? It's been a while since I've been on the TTA forums but I felt this was the best place beat the idea around a bit.

... Yabut, who are you?

(17-03-2014 09:35 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  This is an interesting topic for debate that came up between a friend and I while we were discussing World War II and a lot of the totalitarian dictatorships that we'd learned of in our Western History classes. Though leaders such as Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler took complete control of their nations, they generally used their power for selfish gain...But what if they hadn't?

What if, as opposed to an intolerant, murderous racist like Hitler; someone with a genuine desire to improve the lives of the German people--Whether they be "Aryan" or Jewish--chose to dismantle the Weimar Republic and become Furor?

Is it moral to take the decision away from the majority and place it into the hands of the minority if the intentions of that minority are good?


Personally, I'm leaning towards no because it removes the concept of having an equal voice in what the country decides to do and takes away a certain level of fairness from the equation. My friend felt that equality wasn't quite as important as getting the job done quickly and bringing about happiness to the masses as quickly as possible. I don't think it matters how quickly the problem is fixed so long as it's fixed by the will of the majority and that everyone gets a say in how they want it done.

So, we have a dictator who is absolutely and unquestionably benevolent, acting purely for the good of all?

Based on that assuming alone: I think the morality of taking all the power out of the hands of the majority is immaterial in a way; would it be all that more moral to keep power effectively secured in the hands of the majority?

If we take all the power from the people as a whole and give it to a completely impartial 'dictator', that would effectively end the 'tyranny of the majority', and preclude the possibility of a tyranny of the minority (in reference to the population, Benevodictator exempted).
The fact is, if you actually gave every single person in a given nation equal say, you'll probably have at least equal to half the population in conflicting opinions; if you pick only the majority, the minorities effectively have a voice, but no real say, no impact.

I would not be opposed to the idea, but because we humans are right arseholes by nature, I don't think it would ever work.

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18-03-2014, 03:06 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
I wonder how many fresh crowned dictators over the centuries started out with selfless intentions only to succumb to the "corrupts absolutely"., as noble as I think myself to be I could not be sure I would not corrupt.

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18-03-2014, 03:45 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
(17-03-2014 09:35 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  Though leaders such as Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler took complete control of their nations, they generally used their power for selfish gain...But what if they hadn't?
I'm not aware of any historical leaders who possessed the traits of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, etc, who have not used their power for extremist purposes. It seems to come with the territory. The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
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Quote:Is it moral to take the decision away from the majority and place it into the hands of the minority if the intentions of that minority are good?
Morality is subjective, so this is unanswerable.


Quote:Personally, I'm leaning towards no because it removes the concept of having an equal voice in what the country decides to do and takes away a certain level of fairness from the equation. My friend felt that equality wasn't quite as important as getting the job done quickly and bringing about happiness to the masses as quickly as possible. I don't think it matters how quickly the problem is fixed so long as it's fixed by the will of the majority and that everyone gets a say in how they want it done.
I agree with your friend.
IMO, many people don't really care about having a say in the democratic process. OTOH everyone cares about happiness, or "getting the job done", so they will support the leader who does that.
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18-03-2014, 06:52 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
I haven't read of any dictator that wasn't "someone with a genuine desire to improve the lives" of the people. They all failed horribly... Consider

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18-03-2014, 07:28 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
(18-03-2014 06:52 AM)nach_in Wrote:  I haven't read of any dictator that wasn't "someone with a genuine desire to improve the lives" of the people. They all failed horribly... Consider

The problem is that every dictator in history that did horrific things in the name of improving the lives of people were only trying to improve the lives of THEIR people. Screw your people, they're not the "right" people...

Even the concept of finding that one "good" person that would work for the benefit of ALL mankind is a non-starter. Different peoples have different ideals for "good". All societies would not automatically become homogenous with a global society because we were all united under one banner. This would cause too many internal differences that are simply irreconcilable. How would this benevolent dictator be able to handle these differences? If there can be no reasoning with both sides, your options going forward are very limited.

As a benevolent dictator, you can't oppress the wishes and rights of one side of the argument, that would preclude you from being benevolent. You can't ignore the issue, as that would cause suffering and strife that could form a schism. Then you have to decide what to do about the schism. Let them go on their own? More who disagree with you will follow, causing foreign nations to form. Back to square one. Subjugation is right out the window for a benevolent dictator as well.

Basically, it simply can't happen. Even the mentioned super computer that made sure everything was perfectly fair would fail. Even if there were some mythical absolute fairness that could be had, someone somewhere would want more. Someone would decide that their cut wasn't fair because they did X, Y, or Z and that other guy didn't.

Even like minded people have vicious disagreements on how things should be run on a small scale, getting everyone to agree that this one person is the best, most benevolent person on the planet is much too tall an order. You'd have to completely re-write every person's brain to have the same values and morals, the same outlook on fairness, etc.

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18-03-2014, 07:35 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
The best form of government is a benevolent dictator.

Maybe not. BUT I spent three years overseas in Venezuela and people I met while there lamented the fact that after their previous dictator was overthrown all public works came to a stop with their new democratically elected leaders.

In some respect I think this is what allowed Chavez to come to power. A combination of longing, ineptitude and oligarchism.

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18-03-2014, 07:49 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
The only fair system would be an emotionless entity that chose the "least unpopular" public choice in any decision. Protecting the rights of minorities seem more complicated the more you ponder how to.

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18-03-2014, 07:55 AM
RE: Is it moral to take absolute power away from a democracy if it's used for good?
(17-03-2014 09:35 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  leaders such as Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler took complete control of their nations, they generally used their power for selfish gain...But what if they hadn't?


Leaders such as: Stalin Mussolini and Hitler? You can't name those who'd Not used their power for selfish gain because if you COULD have you'd HAVE those names.
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Tell you what - let's do this -- Give us the name(s) of leaders who did NOT abuse their power and then we've got something concrete to compare and discuss.
As it is........ your premise is too flawed.

History teaches us that IF you cannot provide a name of someone who'd not abused their power because there's never BEEN such a person then it hasn't happened for a reason and likely shall never happen. Always look to the reality of something before you decide to ignore the reality.

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