Provocative Political Quotes
This website is strongly moderate. Some pages raise issues meant to fuel healthy debates about the goals of good government. This page is more radical. It questions whether all people are democratic in spirit. Perhaps democracy does not suit every person.
“Two very different ideas are usually confounded under the name democracy. The pure idea of democracy, according to its definition, is the government of the whole people by the whole people, equally represented. Democracy as commonly conceived and hitherto practised is the government of the whole people by a mere majority of the people, exclusively represented. The former is synonymous with the equality of all citizens; the latter, strangely confounded with it, is a government of privilege, in favour of the numerical majority, who alone possess practically any voice in the State. This is the inevitable consequence of the manner in which the votes are now taken, to the complete disfranchisement of minorities.”
“[P]olitical philosophers have long perceived electoral democracy itself as a partisan issue. [One] school of thought argues that every political government has partisans who are fundamentally against democratic values (in favor of property rights).” “[T]he movement towards capitalistic free markets and global economic integration require 'less' participatory government at the nation-state level... it's an economic reason, and a fundamental one.”
[They] “would also prefer 'limited government' – and thus would also tend to advocate the curtailment of democratic politics and the role of government. ... Isn't this what the [U.S. Constitution's] Framers argued?”
Early Democracy, Logic and Mathematicsfrom, Mathematics Teaching and Political Freedom: the unnoticed connection by Colin Hannaford
“Democracy can be understood as a science – fundamentally of mathematics; and also as philosophy or religion (depending on whether one sees that it has a spiritual basis or not) that acts not to separate people but to join them.
“The original purpose of mathematics teaching... is unknown to all but a handful of classical historians. They know that the style of argument on which mathematics depends was always intended to give more political freedom to ordinary people, to increase their confidence in democracy. Its purpose is to persuade people to accept logical truths freely and voluntarily, not to be bullied or oppressed by dogma or dogmatists to accept their ideas as absolute truths.
“This pattern of logic had also a definite beginning. It was developed spontaneously in early democratic Greece c. 500 BC to encourage ordinary people to take part in democracy, to help them to resist being over-awed and confused by the rich and their lawyers who were trained in the clever use of rhetoric. Rhetoric was certainly persuasive as well. But rather than logic it used imagery and drama, emotions and myth, and as its teachers proudly boasted it could be used to prove anything to anyone. The truth of this boast was destroying democracy.
“Mathematics was freed from its logical prison by the German Austrian Jew Kurt Gödel in 1931. Europe owes her freedom to him as much as to any figure in history. Gödel showed that mathematics can never be completed as a perfect system. Suddenly totalitarian politics lost their model, as well as their ultimate justification. As Humboldt once remarked, if freedom is to exist there must be diversity. Democracy is the only way to manage and benefit from diversity. This is why mathematics is itself democratic.”
Hannaford does not cite classical sources to prove this original purpose of mathematics. The Pythagoreans certainly were religious about math and relatively egalitarian in their regard for women. There are more recent examples of outstanding mathematicians such as the Marquis de Condorcet or Bertrand Russell who were public proponents of egalitarian democracy. But cases cannot prove a correlation, much less a cause and effect.
It is not surprising that most who create improved voting rules are PhDs of mathematics and logic such as Robert Tupelo-Schneck (Fair-share Spending) or Samuel Merrill III (Standard-Score Voting) or of applied mathematics, particularly economics, such as T. Nicolaus Tideman (Demand-Revealing Process, Ranked Pairs, and CPO-STV).
In The Politics of Math Education, and in “The New Math: A Political History”, Christopher J. Phillips asserts:
“Whereas many conservatives in 1958 felt that the sensible thing to do was to put elite academic mathematicians in charge of the school curriculum, by 1978 the conservative thing to do was to restore the math curriculum to local control and emphasize tradition — to go “back to basics.” This was a claim both about who controlled intellectual training and about what forms of mental discipline should be promoted. The idea that the complex problems students would face required training in the flexible, creative mathematics of elite practitioners was replaced by claims that modern students needed grounding in memorization, militaristic discipline and rapid recall of arithmetic facts.”
Old and New Classics on
|Egalitarian versus Authoritarian Values|
|Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
|Be strong, look rich and successful — for as your strength must control your weakness, strong people must control the weak.|
|Votes Rule, Democracy
Right to an effective Vote
Equal Opportunity in money & power.
|Money Rules, Oligarchy
Right to Trick Voters
Set Privileges in money & power.
Freedom of the Press & information
Women’s Suffrage (Voting)
Equal Pay for Equal Work
|Corporate Property Rights:
Freedom to Own the Press, secrecy
Slavery, people as property
Segregation by race, wealth
Poll Taxes and Intimidation
Traditional Roles & Rewards
|Right Makes Might.
Reason from Evidence.
Speak Truth to Power.
It’s what you know, Meritocracy.
Loyal to Principles
Rule of Law, honesty.
Election, nonviolent resistance.
|Might Makes Right.
Obey Orders, follow doctrine.
Use power to shape Perceptions.
It’s who you know, Cronyism
Loyal to Leaders
Rule of Men, corruption
Coup d'état, death squads.
Sex is healthy, Roman god Eros
Health & education funding
Seduce for information.
Regulation of Violence:
verbal assault laws, gun control.
War is noble, Roman god Mars
Weapon & prison funding
Torture for information.
Regulation of Sex:
gays, abortion, contraception.
|The Enlightenment: rationalism, |
Lateral thinking, connections.
Flexible creativity & improvisation: jazz, Paris 1900, 1960s.
|The Inquisition: blind faith,
Linear thinking, categories.
Rigid order & discipline: Sparta, Rome, totalitarian Germany & USSR.
Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, MLK,
Class traitors? the Kennedys, the Roosevelts Teddy and Franklin, the Marquis de Condorcet.
Many prophets, non-violent rebels, philosophers & scientists.
Hamilton, JD Rockefeller, Class heroes? JP Morgan, Reagan, the Bushes, Louis XIV of France.
Many executives of religions, nations
|Attractions for adherents:
Seeing life thru others’ eyes
Wonder, learning, discovery.
|Attractions for adherents:
Strength & safety
|Related Terms: democratic, free, classless, equal, open.||Related Terms: hierarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy, elitist.|
|Cooperate for the common good.
Reciprocity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
|Compete for personal power.
Dominate or be dominated.
How Moms Make a Difference
In May 2011, Newsweek's science writer Sharon Begley wrote the following with fine humor. (Emphasis added.)
“The successful ones [children] give mom no credit, while angst-ridden misfits tend to blame mom for everything.” ...
“[R]eward kids for good behavior. That can indeed affect whether children become delinquents. But it accounts for just 11% of the difference between kids' levels of delinquency.” [Authoritative mothering,] “being firm, consistent, and setting limits — but with love and kindness — also reduces delinquency, accounting for another 11% of the difference, while being authoritarian (dictatorial, controlling) increases delinquency, accounting for 12% of the difference, found a 2009 study.”
“In short, people who feel that mom (and dad) was reliably available to comfort them when they were hurt are characterized by what psychologists call secure attachment. Those who feel mom was only sometimes or never available are insecurely attached. “In dozens of studies, psychologists Phillip Shaver of the University of California, Davis, and Mario Mikulincer of Bar-Ilan University in Israel have found that people who are insecurely attached learned that they can't count on the most important people in their lives. They fear the unfamiliar, and need to reflexively defend what they believe even when confronted with evidence that it is wrong. They distrust people who seem different from them, have a greater fear of death, and show little altruism. (Readers are invited to muse about the parenting style of members of their most-disliked political groups.)”
Some people waste whole lifetimes trying to convert good democrats into good authoritarians or vice versa. Each philosophy has its uses and in some situation can work well for those who like it — but don't expect an authoritarian philosophy to build a real democracy.
The next page gives some humorous quotations on democracy as a question & answer game. It teaches players to distinguish between democratic and authoritarian points of view.
|Electoral Systems||Legislative Systems|
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