October 28, 2016

Democracy and Control of Citizens

Democracy and control of Citizens

We have recognized that humans in groups larger than 150 require an external form of behavioral regulation that is ephemeral and must be renewed continuously. The invention and enforcement of rules occur within hierarchical organizations that, by their own nature are autocratic and self-serving. Citizens living in democracies must prevent subgroups with vested interests from achieving control over critical functions such as the money supply, police, courts and military forces. Subgroups are always competing for resources and control so that the freedom promised in an ideal democracy cannot be considered stable and enduring. The preservation of democracies requires an energetic and well educated population of activists who are prepared to defend freedoms and privileges on a daily basis. The preservation of freedom in democracies also depends on a well educated and dedicated population of civil servants who can administer complex infrastructures competently and honestly.

Elected politicians are seldom competent administrators and must depend on senior civil servants for management skills. One weakness of democratic governments is that personnel and policies are in constant flux because of the instability of political processes. This weakness is also strength since truly democratic elections can shuffle the deck so that power bases, among both elected official and civil servants are disrupted at regular intervals. The trade-off is less competent administration in favor of less dictatorial government. The greater evil is clearly the emergence of a powerful government that assumes dictatorial powers and cannot be opposed or displaced. 

Another weakness is that governments grow large and unmanageable. Bureaucratic inefficiency, indifference and incompetence is well known and tolerated only because there is no obvious alternative. In Canada, optimism and idealism is sometimes expressed as compassion for refugees and a willingness to welcome immigrants from all over the world. While the result has been mostly positive, newcomers are sometimes hostile to Canadian culture, disregard laws, engage in criminal activity and dream of taking over the country sometime in the future. Group identity and affiliations established early in life tend to endure and will often override later alliances established after immigration. The tendency in Canada is for immigrant groups to maintain their native language and traditions and to resist assimilation into Canadian culture. A host society has limited capacity to assimilate newcomers. When this capacity is exceeded, the newcomers change the society more that the society changes the newcomers.

Canada, like the USA and many European countries has become mosaic of different ethnic groups with the separate, sometimes incompatible, traditions, languages, beliefs, values and goals.

From Surviving Human Nature by Stephen Gislason