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Direct Democracy as a Constitutional Employment

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I would like to submit the essay for my BA degree for review here.

I'd like to note that in this paper I'm not promoting democracy in the form that contemporaneity embraces it, but rather a form of self-rule and empowered decision-making that is checked and balanced by a powerful constitutional republican structure (called federalism therein).

I haven't had much space to properly develop concepts and the nature of the paper doesn't allow me a wide, research-based approach, but other than that, I'm open to all criticism.

Direct Democracy.pdf

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I would like to ask if anyone has any knowledge of essays/articles/books on the distinction between Republic and Democracy.

There are some entries on capitalismmagazine.com, but I'm looking for something more substantial on which to base a work arguing for a rights-respecting political system, rather than a whimsical, cliche-filed concept of democracy.

Thanks.

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I would like to ask if anyone has any knowledge of essays/articles/books on the distinction between Republic and Democracy.

There are some entries on capitalismmagazine.com, but I'm looking for something more substantial on which to base a work arguing for a rights-respecting political system, rather than a whimsical, cliche-filed concept of democracy.

Thanks.

The Federalist Papers

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The Federalist Papers

Thank you, however it was my mistake that I hadn't made it clear originally :worry:

I intend to use classical works (as in pre-20th century), and the Federalist Papers are most definitely on my list, but I was thinking of something more recent, because I also want to tackle the development of the republic - democracy relationship throughout the last century.

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As far as opinions on democracy go, Anarchists (real Anarchists, not "Anarcho"-"Capiatlists") won't stop talking about the merits of direct democracy vs a republic. Howard Zen, Noam Chomsky, Murray Bookchin, and others associated with them have written extensively on the subject, from a hardline socialist standpoint.

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the merits of direct democracy vs a republic.

I appreciate the listing of authors (I already had some peripheral knowledge of Chomsky) for the democratic perspective, but I am trying to find works on the merits of a republic vs. democracy, which are quite fewer of as I gather...the case for democracy has been thoroughly grounded in theories of democracy and new democratic tendencies in the scientific literature, of which I have more than enough sources to last me this research; what I am trying to provide is a case against "the rule by numbers" and using the republic as a political system that properly defends the rights of the individual.

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I appreciate the listing of authors (I already had some peripheral knowledge of Chomsky) for the democratic perspective, but I am trying to find works on the merits of a republic vs. democracy, which are quite fewer of as I gather...the case for democracy has been thoroughly grounded in theories of democracy and new democratic tendencies in the scientific literature, of which I have more than enough sources to last me this research; what I am trying to provide is a case against "the rule by numbers" and using the republic as a political system that properly defends the rights of the individual.

Just speaking from my experience, I don't know of any such book or article (aside from the aforementioned Capmag articles, which aren't really that clear) that specifically contrasts democracy and republicanism. Indeed, the differences between the two aren't all that hard and fast.

Of course "democracy" has come to represent things such as a vague "self-determination" or "civil liberties," so if we are going to denote a specific, narrow meaning, then as you indicate, it actually denotes a type of polity whereby certain rules are made by majority vote. But your posts also seem to indicate that you want to contrast democracy on the one hand with collectivism and mob rule, and republicanism with individualism and proper defense of rights on the other hand. But I don't know that such a distinction is warranted.

If we understand democracy to mean a type of polity whereby certain rules are made by majority vote, then this means that a republic is not per se undemocratic. "Republic" tells us that the power or legitimacy of the political unit rests in the people themselves, as manifest through organized assemblies and so forth. Usually this means republicanism includes representative democracy, but there's nothing conceptually wrong with a republic being a direct democracy, or being characterized by "rule by numbers." There is nothing that prevents a republican majority from voting for whatever sort of tyrant or tyrannical laws that they like. There is no guarantee, or even likelihood, that laws enacted by a majority or by their elected representatives will tend to have any of those things which characterize individualism (liberalism, private property, freedom of contract, appeals to natural law, and justice) just from being a republic as opposed to direct democracy. In reality, there have been a number of republics, each which are individualist or collectivist in varying degrees. There have also been non-republican governments that are individualist or collectivist to varying degrees. So this can't really be such an essential distinction.

If we're trying to "make a case" against rule by numbers, then the case will be focused primarily on moral principles, and then the question will be asked only afterwards about what kind of political structure or framework provides the best incentives to conform to or uphold those principles and make distinctions from there.

Edited by 2046

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Just speaking from my experience, I don't know of any such book or article (aside from the aforementioned Capmag articles, which aren't really that clear) that specifically contrasts democracy and republicanism. Indeed, the differences between the two aren't all that hard and fast.

Of course "democracy" has come to represent things such as a vague "self-determination" or "civil liberties," so if we are going to denote a specific, narrow meaning, then as you indicate, it actually denotes a type of polity whereby certain rules are made by majority vote. But your posts also seem to indicate that you want to contrast democracy on the one hand with collectivism and mob rule, and republicanism with individualism and proper defense of rights on the other hand. But I don't know that such a distinction is warranted.

If we understand democracy to mean a type of polity whereby certain rules are made by majority vote, then this means that a republic is not per se undemocratic. "Republic" tells us that the power or legitimacy of the political unit rests in the people themselves, as manifest through organized assemblies and so forth. Usually this means republicanism includes representative democracy, but there's nothing conceptually wrong with a republic being a direct democracy, or being characterized by "rule by numbers." There is nothing that prevents a republican majority from voting for whatever sort of tyrant or tyrannical laws that they like. There is no guarantee, or even likelihood, that laws enacted by a majority or by their elected representatives will tend to have any of those things which characterize individualism (liberalism, private property, freedom of contract, appeals to natural law, and justice) just from being a republic as opposed to direct democracy. In reality, there have been a number of republics, each which are individualist or collectivist in varying degrees. There have also been non-republican governments that are individualist or collectivist to varying degrees. So this can't really be such an essential distinction.

If we're trying to "make a case" against rule by numbers, then the case will be focused primarily on moral principles, and then the question will be asked only afterwards about what kind of political structure or framework provides the best incentives to conform to or uphold those principles and make distinctions from there.

Perhaps not contrasting them directly, but a case for a republic, such as that made in The Federalist Papers would be more than welcome.

I agree with your subsequent two paragraphs, however I do not intend to present them as in a dichotomy from where you have to "choose". And specifically the democratic discourse incorporating liberal concepts as well as others I wish to analyze, in contrast to the underlying democratic paradigm. That no matter how free you are, once you allow fundamentals to be ruled by the whim of the many, it all starts going bad pretty soon.

Of course, there can be direct democracies which are republics and nevertheless protect individual rights, despite their democratic methods, better than other republics which lean more towards democratic populism, so to say. The methods for various concretes of course, will always have to be made by democratic means, in a free society (I would argue Switzerland functions better as a protector of rights than France, despite its more democratic paradigm). But as Ayn Rand said (paraphrasing here), you cannot hold the right to life of the individual to a vote (or any other fundamental rights that she made specifically clear in Capitalism: The Unknown ideal). My point is not to be made against the methods, but against the rhetoric and what it underlines specifically, that by popular pressure, "democratic ideals" can be achieved without paying attention to the upholding of rights, yet still bring about disaster. Case in point, Hungary that is on a very authoritarian path specifically because those in power, bolstered by the democratic popular support of over 66% thought they could just rearrange the Constitution to their whim and make the rights of the individual subject to arbitrary change (not even debate, in this case).

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Yeah well as far as the argument agains the underlying moral principles of democracy (as opposed to democracy as a methodological device, i.e. "ballots over bullets") then the argument is the logical one against appeal to consensus. This would be a type of legal positivism, where the source of right is just some decreeing agency, down to its furthest roots is a primacy of consciousness metaphysics.

As far as individual rights go, it should be clear that if a system entails the possibility of expropriation of individuals by redistribution to people who definitely did not produce the income in question, and did not have any contractual claims to it, but can decide for themselves on how far expropriation can go by their own majority say-so, then individual rights don't exist at all, and the group owns the person's life. From an economic standpoint, if it should be clear that if that is so, then the incentive to be an owner-producer is lowered and the incentive to be a "have-not" is raised leading to a lower production and standard of living.

The argument should then go that expropriation by majority vote should be limited (ideally down to zero) and that introducing legal constraints against majority vote should be more beneficial and just.

Edited by 2046

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Since I have switched universities, my new academic coordinator found my interest in Ayn Rand appealing and suggested I approached the subject of democracy/modern polity from her perspective since in Europe there aren't that many academics who have read her and even fewer that have written in regards to Objectivism.

To this effect I was wondering if some of you, as native Americans, can help me by pointing out 2-3 major pieces of federal or state legislation in the past 20-30 years that have been passed by appealing to majority benefits while at the same time severely impacting negatively individual rights.

Oh and, I remembered there was a post on the forum that linked to some journals where academics submit articles influenced by Objectivism, and I am interested in buying some access to those, if one of you can point me in the right direction.

Thanks

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In the meanwhile I have found the journals and have re-titled my dissertation "The Analysis of a Flawed Concept: Democracy, or the

Antithesis to Individual Rights", which seeks an approach to democracy (both to the concept and its referents) starting from Ayn Rand's theory of concepts and ethics.

 

As such I have decided to focus only on one piece of legislation that would allow me to represent the (probably, also) democratic adage of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" and I was wondering if the recently passed bill concerning Obamacare would show such a violation of individual rights by appeal to majority needs.

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As such I have decided to focus only on one piece of legislation that would allow me to represent the (probably, also) democratic adage of "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" and I was wondering if the recently passed bill concerning Obamacare would show such a violation of individual rights by appeal to majority needs.

I think you could make that argument but I think it would be more roundabout because what the liberals would argue is that actually it is the few (the poor people without insurance) that we (everyone who takes care of themselves) are morally obligated to help. That the ones who can help themselves are morally obligated to help those unable to help themselves.

You still could do it though by pointing out that their other argument is that most people's healthcare will improve if we just tax the rich (the few) a little more.

A simpler approach might be to go after the progressive income tax directly; in which the rich (the few) are taxed at a higher rate than everyone else (the many). You could then bring in other Objectivist conceptions such as "justice" and contrast them against the currently accepted concepts of "fairness" and "equality" giving objective definitions of each.

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