22 July 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 25th July: The Value of your vote + NEWS

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: The Value of your vote

The topic was proposed by Alberto and both Alberto and I have prepared a
short essay for the meeting.

The Value of your vote -- essay by Alberto
http://zoonpolitikonspain.blogspot.com/p/the-value-of-your-vote.html

The Value of your vote -- essay by Lawrence
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/the-value-of-your-vote.html

NEWS - In the meantime the meeting on Sunday will be the last until
September, but I will send out an email next week with details on the
next meeting.

In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com


PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 25th July: The Value of your vote + NEWS

The Value of your vote

 

The Value of your vote

 

Topic by Alberto

Essay by Lawrence

 

A search for the discussion subject results in many links on the sale of votes in many countries especially in Asia although not exclusively. Another stream of links concerns the US election system of electoral colleges (not the only country) electing the President rather than by the direct vote of the electorate. Hence, the value of the vote of the individual stops at the Electoral College.

 

The value we are interested in is the “persuading power” of the vote. In other words what are the chances that my single vote can influence the outcome of the election which I believe would be the correct outcome. And when the outcome of an election is not the one we want some people lose faith in the electoral process and may even end up not voting in future elections.

 

Assuming, therefore, that the elections are not rigged or manipulated, the value of a vote in a fair election is the same as the vote of the person next door. But the persuading power of the vote is not in voting who we wish for, but the power of the vote is released when it is used tactically.

 

Tactical voting is when we vote in a constituency to oust or elect a candidate who might not be our first choice but the best choice to get rid of a politician we do not like. This is very effective in electoral system based on the first past the post. That is, the elected candidate would be the one with the most votes but not necessarily the majority of votes.

 

So when parties and independent candidates decide to cooperate together to oust an incumbent, they do so by only fielding a candidate from the party or group most likely to win. This has been successfully employed in the UK recently to deprive the government from some seats in parliament. In the by election when the smaller parties did not employ tactical voting the government won the by election.

 

Tactical voting is a form of ganging up against an undesirable candidate or party who might command a simple majority but not necessary an absolute majority if the other parties did not cooperate together. But it might be argued that this works when no one candidate can achieve an absolute majority. Under the American system, where for practical purposes there are only two parties, it is not feasible to use tactical voting. Tactical voting depends on shifting a small majority to the desired candidate. As I said this works well in the UK because although the UK has a two party system there are enough political groups at the local level to prevent an absolute majority.

 

Under a tactical voting strategy one’s vote has more persuading power than a vote for one’s preferred candidate. Although this strategy works, it is very difficult to get the different groups to cooperate with each other. Cooperation in politics is very difficult to achieve.

 

It is commonly believed that a proportional representation electoral system is much fairer since as the name implies it elects candidates from diverse and different interest groups. Under a PR system one’s vote passes on to the next choice on our ballot paper when the first choice gains enough votes to be elected.

 

But the PR system is not free of serious drawbacks. The most important drawback is that a PR system cannot prevent a single party from gaining absolute power in parliament. This is especially true when there is a huge disparity between two parties and the rest of the political groupings. Whilst tactical voting can also work under a PR system, the chances are that the persuading power of our vote will be diluted when parties of the same ideology split from one another. The more parties there are in a PR system the more diluted the value of our vote becomes. This is partly because there are not enough like minded people voting for the same group.

 

The idea that our vote is not worth anything or we cannot change things with our vote is false and dangerous thinking. Many a dictator was elected because people thought there was nothing they can do.

 

If how we cast our vote determines the persuading power value of the vote, then surely our mind set about voting must also determine the value of our vote. Uncast votes do not have a value at all and those who did not vote can hardly complain about the resulting political situation.

 

People who vote on party lines, might be justified to favour one party and not another, but the success of our party being elected depends on enough swing voters voting for our party and not the competition. But our vote can have null value when our party splits away from its ideological partners. Groups who think they can revolutionise the world by splitting away from the parent political group are disillusioned on one hand and arrogant on the other.

 

Arrogant because they think they can change the world when they cannot even change their colleagues inside their party, and they are disillusioned because they are putting too much unreasonable trust in the voters.

 

Finally, the value of our vote also depends on whether we are good at evaluating the facts or whether we are easily infected by false propaganda.

 

Best Lawrence

 

 telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

 Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

 http://www.philomadrid.com

17 July 2021

How to avoid the fatality of eternal return

 

How to avoid the fatality of eternal return

 

Topic by Sara

 

Essay by Lawrence

 

The demon thought experiment by Nietzsche introducing the idea of “Eternal Recurrence”, or Eternal return” is not supposed to be taken literary. But the idea of repeatability, which in this context is best described as “history repeating itself” is neither new nor a literal statement of fact.

 

Having rejected the physical or cosmological interpretation of the idea that we are bound to repeat the same mistakes (or good events) we need to understand how we come to have this idea of repeatability in the first place.

 

Psychologically, we’ve got personal experience from repeating the same error or thing again and again: for example misplacing the house keys or burning the toast. So there is an element of personal behaviour that gives us the idea of repeatability. But in the scheme of things, when we consider the idea of repeatability in philosophy we are not thinking of lost keys, but maybe partner selection, voting record, or support for political ideologies.

 

Our lives are not the same phenomenon as say eclipses of comets. These are all events that repeat themselves because they are following some cosmological laws. But what we repeat in our lives are effects of our personality and character. But we just do not, and cannot, commit the same mistake, as suggested by the Demon thought experiment or a groundhog day as shown the film by the same name. The error of the Demon thought experiment not only requires us to imaging our life repeating itself, but by implication assumes that all other people directly or indirectly involved in our lives are also repeating what they were doing at the relevant time of our life. This experiment also assumes that the cosmos also returns to the state it was in at the time in question in our life.

 

In other words, the same event that we repeat in our life cannot be logically identical to the original event. At best we are repeating a type of mistake: always misplacing my keys. But there is nothing deterministic or fated that I regularly misplace my keys, by virtue that is there is a first event then there ought to be a last event. The idea of being the first implies the idea that it will not be ad infinitum. The end of the world confirms this belief that a first even would not be repeated forever.

 

Furthermore, it makes more sense in English to speak of say “something repeating itself ad infinitum” rather than eternal return. The meaning of eternal does allow for discrete events meaning that the event (or whatever) must continue nonstop forever. Something going on ad infinitum allows of discrete events: there are gaps between the recurrence of the event or act, but does not immediately imply eternity.

 

So what is returning, in the eternal return? Or maybe in reincarnation, or history repeating itself? An esoteric interpretation of eternal return is to imagine we are involved in some form of time travel. We can argue that by some magical time machine we are automatically sent back to a given event in our life so by some deterministic forces we perform the same event. What is usually forgotten by time travel machine proponents is whether when we go back to time 1 in our life, do we also lose our memories we gained between T1 and T1+x, T1+x being the year we travel back in time to T1? And do we gain experiences and memories when we travel into the future?

 

We can even interpret experience and memory as learning and availability of knowledge. Today we are in a special position where knowledge can reside in our memory and a few keystrokes away on our mobile phone (or PC). We can therefore argue that the way to avoid committing the same mistake (or even repeat good experiences) is through knowledge.

 

The worst social disaster in Europe this century was the marginal win for Britain to leave the EU during the referendum of 2016. It was soon established that the level of education of the voter was a relevant factor whether the voter voted to leave or stay in the EU. These results were later “confirmed” during the 2019 Elections in the UK when voters elected the Conservative party who originally proposed brexit with a landslide. Even taking the Corona virus pandemic into account today the UK is in disaster mode both economically and politically. Knowledge does make a difference to events.

 

But knowledge acquisition requires that we first have an interest to acquire knowledge. And this means that we also have to know (or learn) how to acquire new knowledge and how to verify it. At the very least our degree of knowledge should help us distinguish between true information and false information.

 

Whilst we can safely assume that knowledge can help us from repeating some mistakes, we often forget that some people thrive on the misery and failing of others. This is also evident from the consequent events of the 2016 Referendum in the UK. Since the 2019 election the Conservative government have illegally (judgements against ministers) given out contracts to party supporters and donors, and abuse of power and human rights.

 

Thus if we are destined to repeat our mistakes it’s probably because we haven’t been able to learn from our earlier mistakes or even worse, we haven’t realised we’re in an evolutionary arms race and our opponents are very clever at making us fail.

 

Best Lawrence

 

 telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

 Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

 http://www.philomadrid.com

15 July 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 18th July: Eternal Return…..

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: How to avoid the fatality of eternal
return. The topic was proposed by Sara and Alberto and I, we have
written a short essay on the topic.

This idea of repeatability is not new in philosophy, but it is not
enough to discuss the idea of eternal return. In our question we are
asked how to avoid repeating our mistakes; I presume that we would want
to repeat our successful acts. Essays:

Sara - Image
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/sara-image.html

Above the known quote on eternal historical return.
And some questions:
Is it always finally like that?
If so, is there a way to avoid fatality?


Essay by Alberto
The Eternal Return
https://zoonpolitikonspain.blogspot.com/p/the-eternal-return.html


Essay by Lawrence
How to avoid the fatality of eternal return  (sorry, the link is working now)
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/how-to-avoid-fatality-of-eternal-return.html


In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com


PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 18th July: Eternal Return…..

09 July 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 11th July: 20th and 21st Century democracy (cont)

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are we are continuing with the subject: 20th and 21st
Century democracy.

This subject offers many options and topics for discussion that we
decided to continue this Sunday. In the meantime Sara has sent us an
image from the internet and proposed the following questions:
Sara - Image
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/sara-image.html

Above the known quote on eternal historical return.
And some questions:
Is it always finally like that?
If so, is there a way to avoid fatality?


Some other issues we can discuss are: Democracy in later years of the
21st century; Education; Equitable voting systems; democracy as a tool
for dictatorships etc etc.

The topic was proposed by Clara and is a follow up from the meeting on:

How much is too much democracy?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/06/how-much-is-too-much-democracy.html

Alberto kindly prepared an essay for us on his Blog:

Essay by Alberto
The difference between democracies in the 20th and 21th century
https://zoonpolitikonspain.blogspot.com/p/the-difference-between-democracies-in.html

Sara has sent us a link to a documentary on Swiss democracy:

Fragmento del episodio de Salvados, "Ciudadano Klínex". (in Spanish)
https://youtu.be/Il3o-aT-KIQ

In my essay I take the view that at the end very little has changed
between the 20th century and the first quarter of the 21st century:

Essay by Lawrence
20th and 21st Century democracy
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/20th-and-21st-century-democracy.html

In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com


PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 11th July: 20th and 21st Century
democracy (cont)

Sara - Image

 

 


 

 

Above the known quote on eternal historical return.
And some questions:
Is it always finally like that?
If so, is there a way to avoid fatality?

01 July 2021

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 4th July: 20th and 21st Century democracy

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing, 20th and 21st Century democracy.

The topic was proposed by Clara and is a follow up from the meeting on:

How much is too much democracy?
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/06/how-much-is-too-much-democracy.html

Alberto kindly prepared an essay for us on his Blog:

Essay by Alberto
The difference between democracies in the 20th and 21th century
https://zoonpolitikonspain.blogspot.com/p/the-difference-between-democracies-in.html

Sara has sent us a link to a documentary on Swiss democracy:
Fragmento del episodio de Salvados, "Ciudadano Klínex". (in Spanish)
https://youtu.be/Il3o-aT-KIQ

In my essay I take the view that very little has changed between the
20th century and the first quarter of the 21st century:

Essay by Lawrence
20th and 21st Century democracy
https://www.philomadrid.com/2021/07/20th-and-21st-century-democracy.html



In the meantime you can link to the current news and notices here:
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/10/news-and-notices.html

-Alfonso has a new website and he gave us link to his latest book of
poems: Después

-Oscar's book on his reflections on COVID-19 is still available

-David J. Butler has published a new book "Absent Friends" regarding the
Cementerio Británico in Madrid

Finally if you have problems with Skype try launching it again if you
have the App or browser. Send me a message for the link.

Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com


PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 4th July: 20th and 21st Century democracy

20th and 21st Century democracy

 

20th and 21st Century democracy

 

Topic by Clara

Essay by Lawrence

 

For our purposes we must understand the term democracy by what people at a given time understand by democracy. This strongly suggests that the meaning of democracy is a moving target for political science, history and philosophy. The separation of powers is a convenient way for students of democracy to understand democracy. But I doubt that voters and people bother about the academic niceties of democracy.

 

But the democracy of academia does not usually include what people understand and think what democracy is all about. An analysis of the 20th and 21st century democracy must by definition include the view of the people for the simple reason that people only became voters, i.e. the electorate, in the 20th century. Twentieth century democracy replaced the privileged, the wealthy, the land owners and the aristocracy from being both the electorate and the legislature with people we would label as people in the street.

 

So what can we speculate about what people think is democracy? What is sure is that people in general (but excluding the said privileged group) think of democracy as a means to solve problems they encounter in life such as their livelihood. The privileged group of the past out of necessity of the times wanted to protect their privileged position.

 

A second assumption is that the voting process is the public face of democracy; maybe seconded by a written (codified) constitution. A written constitution gives people the scope to point physically at something that is supposed to protect their rights. Unfortunately, both constitutions and democracy do not have an automatic trip wire when injustices are committed by the government, or when parliament enacts draconian legislation. We mustn’t forget that parliaments are supreme and not the individuals who voted for MPs.

 

An important factor of the twentieth century is that this century became the century of economic wealth. By the end of the First World War, the industrial revolution had become the foundation of wealth. Steam gave way to petrol and diesel, horses and carts were replaces by trucks and railways and of course, the airplane became a viable battlefield weapon.

 

It is not surprising, therefore, that trade unions and the labour movements took central stage in national and international politics. Those who were creating the unprecedented wealth were now demanding a share of the wealth and the power to manage politics and national economic. For example, the violence of Tsarist Russia gave way to the violence of Communist Russia in 1917.  China this year, 2021, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the formation of the communist party. The irony is not that for practical purposes Russia and China were and are still dictatorships well into the 21st century, but that they justify their dictatorship on the writing of a German political writer living in London.

 

Of course, it is not Russia or China who influenced the second half of the 20th century, and the first quarter of the 21st century, but rather Germany. If the First World War was a massive mistake by the Kaiser and Germany, the Treaty of Versailles was criminal recklessness. Everyone agreed in 1919 (activation 1920) that the treaty was too harsh and counter-productive. We can argue that the Treaty of Versailles prepared the ground for the rise of National Socialism and criminal nationalism in Germany culminating in the Second World War and indirectly the Cold War.

 

By the end of the 20th century most of the world population lived under a dictatorship or pseudo democracies. The labour movements and unions became insignificant by the end of the 20th century and as useful as a chocolate teapot in the Sahara desert at midday by 2021. The shame is not that the labour movements within Europe are too busy fighting each other locally, but rather the natural voters of the labour movement have accepted the lies and marketing strategies of the right with their promises of big riches if people voted for liberal capitalism or extreme right wing parties.

 

Maybe the UK is an extreme example of the folly of the working class voting decisions: voting for brexit was certainly a mistake based on false information. Voting for a Tory party in 2019 that is practically pursuing nationalistic policies of the most damaging kind for people and country is an act of political stupidity. But other countries have been challenging democracy on a big scale, the USA under President Trump, Hungary under Viktor Orbán, and Poland under Morawiecki.

 

Although no country or government are perfect some historical political errors are still being committed in the first quarter of the 21st century. Indeed, one of those mistakes is to assume that democracy is voting at an election. Unfortunately, voters, or at least many voters, fail to follow up on their vote, and others just do not vote at all: the delusional apathy that “my vote does not count” is the folly of ignorance.

 

Another mistake voters are making in 21st century and did in the 20th century is to believe promises made by politicians. Many voters fail to and have failed to apply the “Too good test” to a promise. When someone promises us something that solves all our problems, or fulfils our wishes we have to apply the too good test: if something is too good to be true, then it is probably too good to be true. Healthy scepticism should not be something we read in philosophy, but something we should practice every day.

 

Nationalism and racism have been two political forces that have returned to most European democracies. Nationalism, that exploits tribal instincts, is a natural tool for dictators since it is absolute and intolerant towards other people or other opinions thus transferring democratic power into power for dictators. Democracy has also been weak in stopping racism both in the 20th century and today. The cry of “immigrants are taking over our jobs” never ceases to impress the uneducated or the dogma drunk voters.

 

The Treaty of Versailles, or the Treaty of Peace as called in the UK, that came into effect in January 1920 was supposed to end all wars except that within twenty years Europe was at war again. Many reasons are given for the Second World War, but the reality is that, as already mentioned, the treaty punished the German people by having them to work to pay for the unreasonable reparations; the political elite remained the political elite with any obvious loss of power or wealth.

 

The Treaty of Rome came into effective in 1958 and was the first step of alliances that would lead to the European Union as we know it today. Once again this economic and eventually, political alliance was supposed to end all wars in Europe and by and large peace has been maintained for all this time. This success only works if we ignore the disaster of the ex Yugoslavia and the Ukraine and the unsteady progress the new countries in East Europe.

 

But the weakness of the EU today is the same weakness of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920: both alliances ignored the rights and needs of individuals. One aspect of EU failure was that no social and economic provisions were agreed when absorbing the new people from East Europe into the key economies of the EU. There is no point in giving freedom of movement rights to 400 million people without having a centralised social security rights system that cover health care and unemployment benefits. Leaving these safety nets to individual governments is creating problems for the future. The Covid 19 pandemic has demonstrated this inequity with the disparity in evolution of Covid in member states.

 

Brexit has also demonstrated that the EU is incapable of protecting its own EU citizens. The EU rights of 65 million people were allowed to be taken away by a corrupt and criminal party governing a country. And even now the EU still fails to help many EU citizens who have lived in the UK for most of their life: the criminal acts of the present UK government includes forcing people with say advanced dementia to apply for settled status. British Euro citizens who have lived in the various EU countries for a long time have also experienced various forms complications. Fortunately, apart from some bureaucratic failures, the Spanish government have been very generous with British citizens living in Spain.

 

In effect economic turmoil always affects the stability of democracy. As I have argued, voters today are interested in their economic welfare and they use their votes according to their perceptions. Unfortunately, research has shown that there is a direct link between education and voting for nationalistic policies. This means that failure of the EU to protect directly the interests of the people will inevitably lead to chaos and turmoil on the continent. This won’t be new in Europe but it will be the first that twenty seven countries collectively abandon the people of Europe.

 

The consequences of politics and democracy in the 20th Century and the first quarter of the 21st century is that whilst the democratic process has included the general population, governments still function in the age of globalisation with 19th century diplomatic protocol.

 

Best Lawrence

 

 

 telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

 Email: philomadrid@gmail.com

 http://www.philomadrid.com

Amazon.es

Amazon other link