The "democracy" question

From: Philip Sutton (
Date: Fri Feb 20 2004 - 11:35:03 MST

We are so predictable (me included).

We don't want to live in a dictorship. After all who wants other people
telling you what to do or holding your life in their hands?.

And we like democracy when *we* want to advocate something.

But we don't want democracy if there's a risk that the majority will
disagree with us and will stop us doing what *we* want.

What we want is to be free ourselves but dictators over everyone else!

In some of the earlier discussions people have pointed out how stupid,
poorly educated, superstitious and irrational the majority of the
population is. While I can't disagree with this completely (since the raw
data is rather overwhelming at times!!) I think we hide an even more
important truth under this description/stereotyping.

My personal experience is that people of very widely differing
intelligence can collectively make quite good decisions about wider
issues....if they have lots of experience of trying to make such
decisions, if their education helps to gear them up for such decision-
making, if good information is provided as input to the thinking process
and if they contemplate wider issues in a social context where people
are careful, compassionate and rational in how they approach desision-
making and if there is good facilitation/mediation (by which I *don't*
mean cleverly setting people up to accept a pre-determined decision).

The terrible lack of capacity for wider-issue decision-making that we
see in the community is I believe substantially the result of a lack of
long-time-period investment in decision-making capacity. And it's
agravated by the shocking dumbing-down process that muh of the
media fosters.

So the more we dismiss the majority of people as being incapable of
good decision-making, the more we create the actual incapacity that we
complain of. We are reaping what we sow on this to a very large

But now that we are in this mess, it's going to take some very carefully
thought-out action to dig ourselves out - when we face such important
issues as - what should we do about AGIs and transcension/the

Maybe we have to start investing in community capacity for good
decision-making? - starting early so the capacity is more in evidence
by the time we really need it.

Maybe we can find the few oases where communities are appracntly
more capable of thoughtful/ participatory decision-making and we could
trial discussions on transcension etc. in these contexts. this will seed
some inform,ed ideas in the community and it will give us some
experience in working democratically. And the feed-back we'd get
would be good for us. We will get a much better idea of what people's
concerns and hopes are and we get a mirror on our own ideas/

Cheers, Philip

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