19 May 2011

from Lawrence, this Sunday meeting, Democracy without political parties + News

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Democracy without political parties.
Politics is always fair game in philosophy during election time or
economic crisis. In the few paragraphs I wrote on the subject I try to
highlight some issues associated with the relationship between political
parties and democracy.
In the meantime Miguel has sent me this message:
Estimado tertuliano,
Por si fuera de interés, te informo de la siguiente conferencia en la
Academia de Ciencias:
26/05/2011 19:00 h - David Ríos Insua (Académico de Número de la R.A.C.)
Saludos cordiales,

Finally, enjoy your democratic rights if you live in Spain,
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao

Democracy without political parties

At the heart of this issue is the question: can all the people be
pleased all the time?

At least in today's society, political parties function as group
interests for the control of political power and wealth of the nation.
And as we know these are imposed on us by the fact that wealth is scarce
and therefore resources have to be shared and divided.
And political power is so absolute that in a civilised society this has
to be employed with checks and balances.

Thus democracy is a function of justice and fairness and political
parties are a function of wealth distribution.
Of course, democracies can in one sense function without political
parties. Maybe because the wealth of a nation is so huge and the
population so small that we can please all the people all of the time.
In fact given enough wealth each citizen can have a villa and a sports
car and the rest life can offer without the need of political parties or
political ideologies.

Indeed, in theory, we can replace political parties and still find an
equitable way of distributing wealth. Of course, there are always
practical questions to deal with such as what criteria do we use, which
mathematical model reflects the best equitable situation and so on.
Conceptually I don't see any major issues although the practical issues
might be endless.

But if we can create and distribute wealth equitably and everyone is
happy with their equitable share, would we still need democracy?
As I just said, democracy is more a means to control power than to
distribute wealth. One of the functions of power is precisely to protect
the very members of society from those who wish it harm. Thus the
democratic process might be required to choose the methods of how to
protect the nation rather than how much resources should be made
available to protect the nation.

Democracy might also be required as a methodology to choose those people
we need to oversee the equitable principle of wealth creation and
distribution. It goes without saying that by wealth creation I mean the
traditional meaning of business and commerce, and not plundering other
countries. And distribution I have more in mind of fair and reasonable
remuneration for work rather than a physical division of money from a
piggy bank.

But where, in a democracy, do we derive the idea of an equitable and
fair process (of wealth creation and distribution and power exercise)?
Today's idea of democracy is partially based on the concept of wealth
creation and distribution. Some argue that justice is to share wealth in
such a way that everyone has access to a dignified life. Others argue
that the state should not interfere with the private activities of
individuals in their quest to create wealth.

For example, there are some who argue that we should reduce spending on
defence in order to spend the money on more urgent social needs. But
this thinking supposes that wealth (or money) is scare to the extent
that we do not have enough money for both. But if we had enough wealth
for both then there wouldn't be a need to choose between social issues
and protection.

On the other hand there are those who argue, for example, that more
should be spent on defence (it could be anything) in order to protect
ourselves against invaders. These people might fall into the trap that
we might spend so much on defence that we might have nothing left to
defend or worth defending.

Whatever democracy might be, it is certainly a means of keeping away
from extremes. But is democracy strong enough to keep politicians on the
straight and narrow?

from Lawrence, this Sunday meeting, Democracy without political parties
+ News

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