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Geeks For Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries 730

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-wish-to-subscribe-to-your-newsletter dept.
Third Position writes "Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there's a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution. Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy."
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Geeks For Monarchy: The Rise of the Neoreactionaries

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:53AM (#45513821)
    Get in the kitchen, wench!
    • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:58AM (#45513867)

      Sure, a monarchy works great until you get someone like Kim Jung Il or Kim Jung Un at the top. Then your screwed.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:10AM (#45513997)

        Or a grammar Nazi, such as myself. Then YOU're screwed.

      • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:43AM (#45514317) Homepage

        If you read TFA, the neoreactionaries are proposing that the monarch at the top of the hierarchy be selected by genetic fitness. The smartest, fittest, and most handsome men (one assumes only men) would rule. So there's no danger of anyone from the Kim Jung family being in charge. We're much more likely to end up with Hitler.

        • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jythie (914043) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:59AM (#45514485)
          Eh, when you have that much political power (or the military behind you), the criteria for genetic fitness has an odd way of adjusting to whoever is already in charge.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947)

          The smartest, fittest, and most handsome men (one assumes only men) would rule.

          How funny would it be to get a look at some of these bloggers?

          Something tells me we wouldn't find the "smartest, fittest and most handsome men". So what they're basically asking for is to be put on the dog end of the social scale, when they should be kissing the ass of the current social order, which at least gives them a bit of a chance..

        • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:52AM (#45515083) Journal

          Good grief. Eugenics on top of autocracy. Nazi Germany, here we come.

      • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:58AM (#45514477)
        That tends to be the tradeoff, when monarchies work well they work really well, and when they work badly they work really badly. Democracy tend to pull things more to the center, so things never work all that well, but they do not get nearly as bad either.

        As is often the case with rose tinted glasses, I guess some people are looking back to the best cases and not really thinking about what also goes wrong and why we moved away from those structures in the first place.
        • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Monday November 25, 2013 @01:24PM (#45516173) Homepage

          This is addressed quite well in Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livy. There's three basic forms of government: rule by the one, rule by the few, and rule by the many, each of which has a good form and a bad form. Rule by the one is monarchy when good, tyranny when bad. Rule by the few is aristocracy when good, oligarchy when bad. Rule by the many is democracy when good, anarchy when bad. The cycle of history is that each of the good forms will, over time, degrade into their bad form, until a crisis occurs that topples the government and replaces it with the next form in the cycle.

          The idea of a republic is to have all three running at the same time (the executive is the rule by the one, the judicial system is the rule by the few, and the legislature is the rule by the many) in the hopes that if one went bad, the other two would hold it in check, making the government stable unless all three go bad at the same time.

      • Re:First sandwich (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jalopezp (2622345) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:29AM (#45514783)
        No, monarchy is shit even if you get an enlightened, benevolent, philosopher-king at the top. You cannot live in a free society if there is a class of people that are born with rights to which the majority have no claim. Some people might be happy to be slaves in the off chance that they are treated well and given light work, but it is rude of them to think the rest of us would want anything to do with it, and it is evil of them try and force it onto their children.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 16Chapel (998683)
          > You cannot live in a free society if there is a class of people that are born with rights to which the majority have no claim.

          You just described every society on the planet. Whether it's due to aristocratic privilege or good ol' money, that's how the world works.
          • Re:First sandwich (Score:4, Insightful)

            by jalopezp (2622345) on Monday November 25, 2013 @01:48PM (#45516467)

            No, not money. You are confusing rights with privileges. An aristocratic class enjoys rights granted to them by the law that the majority do not posses. The wealthy enjoy money, and while money might give the rich a lifestyle parallel to that which was enjoyed by the old aristocracy, being born rich gives you (in principle, we are arguing about principles) no more rights than the poor also have. Some people have called this 'equality before the law'.

            You may say that the rich have many things that the poor do not. Well obviously they do. But this is qualitatively different from being born with the right to sit in the upper house of parliament because you are the son of a lord.

            Economic inequality is a bad thing. The lack of social equality is a very, very bad thing.

        • Re:First sandwich (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Gonoff (88518) on Monday November 25, 2013 @01:31PM (#45516265)

          It depends on what you mean by "the top".

          If you are talking about monarchs of the type that have not been seen in Western Europe for a long type, then you are probably right. They had the power to make/break treaties, declare war/peace, order executions and do on. The nearest to one of them around nowadays is the Pope and he doesn't seem to declare war often nowadays.

          Most European monarchies nowadays are not so powerful. They have things to do but, whether you are talking about Spain, Sweden, the UK or the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe, they do not declare war, they no not make the treaties and are not known for asking for public beheadings any more. No doubt, the Royal Families spread too wide. As a Brit, I hear a lot that the Queen and immediate family are good but it spreads out too far.

          For example, if the Queen was in command, the UK might not have participated in the illegal invasion of Iraq. There was no benefit to this country and there were plenty obvious downsides.
          Another example from a bit longer ago. During the 50s or 60s, the KGB were convinced that there would be a military coup in the UK. The reason it didn't happen has been explained by some as due to the fact that the coup would have had to be against the Queen. That is a non-starter. Your commander in chief may be a politician. The CinC around here is the queen. Not very long ago, after Franco died, Spain found itself on the road back to democracy. The army there did not all like that and some tried to overthrow the government. The fairly new king put on his uniform and walked unarmed into the hostage situation in their parliament and told the Soldiers to stop. They did.

          So you have an elected person at the top who a vocal minority think is some sort of foreign, demon, moslem marxist. A large number of the rest don't like him or what he stands for. A good number of them are the ones with money and power.
          I know who our head of state is. I know her origins. I know who will replace her for several generations. I didn't need to stand up in school every morning to be brainwashed into giving my allegiance to her. As an adult, I did so freely when I put on a uniform. Every time I saluted, I saluted her. Every order I received came with her authority.

          So there is the choice of half of the electorate disliking a leader? No thanks. I will stick to this system.

  • by OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:55AM (#45513831)
    Bringing back serfdom.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:04AM (#45513921)

      The trouble is that folks who are proponents for things like this are always under the assumption that they or like minded people will end up in charge.

      Like the folks who want a Christian Theocracy in the States. They are under the assumption that ALL Christians think the same way they do.

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:07AM (#45513957)

        Like the folks who want a Christian Theocracy in the States. They are under the assumption that ALL Christians think the same way they do.

        Relevant recent research FTW [psychologicalscience.org]

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          Ah you mean those heretical protestant sects that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will be investigating and thats not counting those sects that think they are christian and are not :-)
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        And people like Balaji Srinivasan dont realize that in this brave new world people like them are going to be the "deltas" and "epsilons"
      • by jythie (914043) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:02AM (#45514517)
        Yeah, they seem to have this strange combination of an entitlement attitude and victimhood, blaming the rest of civilization for them not being in a better place and how magically if things were different they would be on top.
    • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:08AM (#45514565) Homepage
      My thoughts exactly.
      We are getting a new form of Monarchy right now via the inequality in wealth distribution.
    • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Monday November 25, 2013 @01:09PM (#45515977)

      Not serfdom. Serfs were bound by traditional duties, but the same traditions bound their liege lords with obligations and to recognize certain rights. So, for example, you cannot turn a serf off the land his father worked. You cannot threaten him and his family with hunger in order to compel new concessions. He has a great many days guaranteed off since they're holy days. Most days of the week, he's actually working for himself and only a fraction was her required to work on his liege's land and projects.

      Compare this with the circumstances your cite. Some rights are granted by our legal system but the obligations owed to a worker (esp. pay) have been in decline since the 1970's. But the employee has no security. High unemployment makes them easily replaceable; Walmart doesn't allow them to organize; they could be left at any moment with more bills than money. Thus, concessions are easy to secure for the employer who knows his employees only work for him because they've few other options. Sure, they don't lower their worker's salaries but they do reduce labor costs by having ever fewer workers perform ever more tasks. And who can complain? As for days off, Walmart workers certainly don't get our civic holidays off. Days like Sunday were once a great and beautiful thing. They were guarantees that an employer was not the master of an employees life. They granted all people the very human dignity of being able to spend time with family. They even allowed time for people to recognize a god other than Mammon. Walmart employees even have to work on Thanksgiving now and the holiday season has the most taxing schedule for them. A retail worker often does not know when he'll be working two weeks hence, and can therefore make few sure plans to spend with family and friends. Oh well, it's easier just to stay home and watch TV ($199 at Walmart!) and eat popcorn than to have to risk cancelling on friends again. As for the fraction of pay, I would be willing to bet that the ratio of profit, Walmart:"associate", is far better for Walmart than ever was the ratio of produce, liege:serf.

      So, I do not think it best to say Walmart wishes to make its employees serfs. Serfs are a meddlesome bunch and tend to riot when their traditional rights are usurped. I think rather that Walmart wishes to leave its employees in a servile condition, as a great master over so many slaves. And while I'm at it, I'll throw this little bomb: the current form of consumerist capitalism undermines friendship, family, the human dignity of workers, and even religion.

  • no thank you (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:56AM (#45513847)

    We kicked out King George a long time ago...we don't want him back.

  • I'm ALL for it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:57AM (#45513849)

    As long as _I_ am the one who's in power.

  • hrm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aryden (1872756) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:58AM (#45513863)
    I always liked the title Jarl, I think I would be a good Jarl.
  • by nickol (208154) on Monday November 25, 2013 @09:58AM (#45513865)

    No, thanks.

    • by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:01AM (#45513909)

      Yeah. Anyone who thinks leadership should be determined by bloodline doesn't spend enough time with their family.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:07AM (#45513963) Journal
        The posited advantage of an hereditary monarchy is not so much that the new is the son of the old ruler, it's that he is raised from birth to rule adn the responsibilities that this entails. This can be a better idea than having someone with a sufficiently big ego to decide that they ought to be in power. The first problem is that you don't have a good fallback - if the next in line to the throne is a poor choice then ideally you'd have a dozen other candidates to pick from. The second is that monarchies traditionally don't provide a good way of deselecting the ruler. Perhaps the biggest selling point of democracy is that you get to have a revolution and overthrow the government every few years, without anyone having to die.
        • by nickol (208154) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:16AM (#45514043)

          Please, put it correct: ... he is raised from birth to rule the country as is was 20 years ago by the people who supposedly knew how to rule it 60 years ago.

        • I'd contend that raising someone from birth with the expectation that they've been raised to rule would almost guarantee an enormous ego.

          Also, raising someone from birth to perform ANY job may get you someone who's better equipped to do that job. I'd expect it would likely also lead to a rather miserable person.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:20AM (#45514063) Journal
          In practice, monarchies are hardly the only political systems that (explicitly or as a matter of practice) have a grooming process for future leaders. If anything, they are among the most dysfunctional because, if #1 Son is a total fuckup, you pretty much either have to kill him quietly or put up with it.

          In republican Rome you had the "Cursus Honorum [wikipedia.org]", an atypically formalized variant; but the general pattern shows up even in places where it is much more loosely mandated: Sometimes it starts with the right school (France's Grandes écoles, or the Ivies in the US), sometimes a certain flavor or military service is involved, sometimes it's a matter of working your way up through a series of local and state offices (state governorships, some judicial or criminal justice positions, maybe some time in state or national congress), or of carrying water and doing errands long enough for a given political party(in and out of office) to get the nod as a serious candidate.

          Especially when you count the circle of handlers and technocrats who inevitably stand just behind even the most buffoonish, populist, 'man of the people', it would be absurdly false to deny that there is some fairly serious ruler-polishing going on. Not all of it for the best; but they aren't just picking them off the street...
          • That's so much a problem with monarchy as with primogeniture. The Inca chose a ruler from among the sons of the prior Inca, but rarely was it the first son. The Spanish barbarians considered most of the Inca rulers through history as "usurpers" because of this. This worked quite well until the Empire got large enough that the military leaders at the north end of the Tahuantinsuyo chose Atahualpa while the civil leaders in Cusco chose Huascar. Even then it might have worked (Atahualpa's forces captured and killed Huascar), but the plagues brought by the Europeans cut collapsed the population.

        • The second is that monarchies traditionally don't provide a good way of deselecting the ruler. Perhaps the biggest selling point of democracy is that you get to have a revolution and overthrow the government every few years, without anyone having to die.

          And this is working really well right now in the US, isn't it (not that the UK is doing all that much better)? The two main parties are basically identical and keep themselves in power by arguing about petty points that keep the electorate rooting for their side in the manner of football supporters. Simultaneously, the difference between the two sides is exaggerated by name-calling: e.g. the far right party calling the leader of right party a communist.

          So it doesn't matter who you vote for, because they

        • I think I agree more and more with whoever said, "Anyone who wants to be political leader should under no circumstances be allowed to." (or something to that effect)

  • by paiute (550198) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:02AM (#45513915)
    I bet that women and minorities are underrepresented in this movement to turn the calendar back.
  • by Scareduck (177470) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:04AM (#45513927) Homepage Journal

    Contemporary political thought seems to be about electing the right king.

  • by invid (163714) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:05AM (#45513933) Homepage
    I blame Game of Thrones. Although you'd think Joffrey would be example enough to discourage monarchy.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      I blame Game of Thrones. Although you'd think Joffrey would be example enough to discourage monarchy.

      Hey now .. don't knock GoT. Any new form of government that brings back more boobies has got to be good!

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:05AM (#45513949)

    If you think we got corrupt, selfish, self absorbed and self centered cretins for rulers, ponder how much bigger cretins you get if you give them the feeling that they're entitled to it.

  • Elites (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:06AM (#45513955) Homepage

    Any system is great as long as you are one of the elites, living off the backs of the slaves. In theory that shouldn't be possible in a democracy, which is why the elites in the US keep us as far from a democracy as possible.

  • by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:08AM (#45513969)

    Please! Someone buy these idiots a history book. This is such a perfect example of people who think they're smart but they actually know jack shit about anything except pushing bits. The funny thing is, after the first arbitrary detention and execution of a dissident for "lesse majesty" or "treason against the crown" they'd all be up in arms and in jail. I really hope they're not all really this stupid and this is all just a way to get a reaction.

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      Nah. Just send them to the hereditary monarchial paradise of North Korea.

      I don't know if they will like it there or not, but either way we will never have to hear about it again from them.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:09AM (#45513979)

    "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

    But "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

    • by umafuckit (2980809) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:50AM (#45514411)

      "The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."

      But "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

      But democracy isn't one thing. There are a lot of ways in which democracies can differ from each other. e.g. the Athenian democracy was very different from our own: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy [wikipedia.org] Only free adult males could take part and the political party system didn't exist. In a modern democracy, there are lots of ways you could run the show differently to have different outcomes. Let's take the US. Imagine how different things would be if:

      • A. This endless fund raising was banned and your elected officials just got on with government. A fixed sum might be given by the state to all political parties raising over X votes. The law might not apply to nascent parties who were getting started and not yet in a position of power.
      • B. Lobbyists were banned from making any sort of donation to elected officials or their representatives.
      • C. Elected officials were not allowed external activities which constitute a conflict of interest with their duties in government (e.g. Cheney & Haliburton).
      • D. Regulators should be genuinely independent and without a conflict of interest. e.g. don't appoint Wall St. guys to regulate Wall St.
      • E. You could even reform the voting system. There are interesting alternatives out there.

      In other words, make it once more a government of the people and for the people and don't things that conflict with that. If those things were fixed 30 years ago, we'd be in a much better place today.

      Other countries have other problems too. I'm just bringing up the US because I'm living here right now and, as a foreigner, I more sharply see the contrasts with other countries I've lived in.

  • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:09AM (#45513983)

    “If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move,” he writes. “The design is all ‘exit,’ no ‘voice.’”

    Any business can tell you the value of switching costs. Once you reel them in, it is expensive to move. So, even though another city-state might be better, people will still not move since the cost of moving, even assuming the State doesn't actively interfere with exit taxes or similar measures, would prevent most from moving. This is why retail chains all want you to sign up for their cursed club cards, to try to create switching costs that will keep you around even though they suck. Plus, we don't live in Bruce Sterling's cladist space utopia, there are limited options for moving in space while stuck on Earth's surface, even ignoring the costs. Why don't all those North Koreans just move? Perhaps these fellows have answers to these criticisms, I haven't spent all day reading their FAQ or anything.

    • by Bruce66423 (1678196) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:48AM (#45515031)
      In the 17th century as the Divine Right of Kings declined in legitimacy, the race was on for an alternative reason to obey the government (other than that they would shoot you otherwise). Both Hobbes and Locke constructed the idea that there is an implicit contract between the citizens of a country and its rulers: you do your job and we will accept your ordering of society. A small but significant element of this was the right to leave if you didn't like what the government was doing. Interestingly the refusal of this right to the subjects of Marxist regimes marks them out as nastier than their predecessors (the Berlin Wall and the rest of the Iron Curtain was a largely successful attempt to keep East Germans at home). For Hobbes this was the ONLY right of the subject; Locke argued that the contract implied a right to participate in the government, which was seminal in the American revolution.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:10AM (#45513989)

    Apparently somebody's been going to too many medieval reenactments, and spicing them up with some conspiracy theorist meetings. Monarchies were nasty places to live for the majority of people. I like the part about nations being very small and people free to move between them to find one they like. Sure, and communism would have worked great if the people in charge were just nicer! Why would a king not try to conquer more territory, and allow his subjects to take off and leave whenever they want?

    "Neoreactionaries believe 'The Cathedral,' is a meta-institution that consists largely of Harvard and other Ivy League schools, The New York Times and various civil servants" Don't let the pentaverate get you! "I hated the Colonel, with his wee beady eyes!"

  • Neoreactionaries? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:13AM (#45514019) Journal
    Around here, we don't dignify them with such latinate terms, we just call them assholes.
  • I know those guys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus@g ... m minus caffeine> on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:19AM (#45514059) Homepage Journal
    ... for having frequented them in France. The French Neo-Reactionaries are, quite often, staunch arch-catholics and rather vehement racists, who often glorify one form or another of fascism. They are a rancid bunch, IMHO.
  • . . . .but the default tendency of human goverments DOES seem to be the Empire, no matter what name you call it.

    And even sadder, the usual life of a Republic is around 200 years. Which explains much of Modern America, which seems to be in transition to both a Police State AND an Empire. After all, we now seem to have both a de-facto permanent underclass and a self-sustaining de-facto aristocracy. . .

  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:30AM (#45514173) Journal

    ... were against democracy.... that is why they established a Republic.

    For a better understanding of different government systems - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFXuGIpsdE0 [youtube.com]

  • by swb (14022) on Monday November 25, 2013 @10:44AM (#45514339)

    Since 1988, the House of Bush has occupied the Presidency for 12 years, the House of Clinton for 8 years and been a major player in another administration for 4 years as well as having better than average odds of gaining the White House for at least another 4 years if not 8.

    It gets even more like that if you start looking at the House, Senate and Governorships and factor in other family dynasties like the Kennedys, the broader House of Bush.

    Then there are various corporate/government crossovers where scions of capitalists enter politics. Minnesota's governor is the child of the Dayton family (retail shopping, family was behind Dayton's and now Target Stores).

    I'm not sure we need to declare a new monarchy or aristocracy; we've just more less quietly reinstated it.

  • A French Perspective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alarash (746254) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:02AM (#45514515)

    Disclaimer: I'm French.

    At school I was taught how the French Revolution was an amazing thing. It freed us. It was the end of a time of the absolute, divine right monarchy that France and other European nations had for almost a thousand years. I learned later about The Terror, where nobles would get their heads chopped off. Including the wives and kids, and I reckon some servants too. There's probably been a rape or two, as well, since that's what you get when a mob forms up and there's nobody to police them. They don't teach you much of that when you're at school. I guess it's understandable, since you don't want 12 years old to learn about rape and kids their age being killed just because they were born in the right family. Or do you?

    Anyway, I learned much, much later, in my late 20's, that the actual History is much more cynic. It was not "we, the people" (to paraphrase an American concept) who started this. People got riled up by the bourgeois. A bourgeois is a very, very rich commoner. He can hardly hope to ever become a noble. That limits, right there, the richness he can ever hope to achieve. He'll always be looked down from the nobles. He can be killed for talking wrong to a noble. It's better to be a poor noble than a rich bourgeois. So, they didn't like that very much. They started the Revolution. They manipulated the peasants and poorly educated population to do the Revolution. Just so they could usurp the power from the nobles.

    Note that I'm personally fine with the fact that we took the nobles out. Nobody should have a birthright over somebody else, just because. This is unfair, this is archaic, and it doesn't make the society move forward. The problem I have with the Revolution, besides the way it's taught (unless you do a History Major you won't hear much of this), is that it replaced one nobility with another. At least the previous one, the actual nobles, where honest about their absolute power. They said "I'm better than you, you're lesser than me, fuck you and fuck off." But the Bourgeoisie, which is still in power today (we call them Oligarchs, because they are the ultimate Bourgeois and there are not so many of them), is much more hypocritical. They will make you think you're in a Democracy, when really you're not. When the Banks can decide whether or not a state will default its credits, after pushing them towards into a mass debt, it's not a democracy. It's an illusion.

    I'm not sure where I'm going with this, as I just started typing with no set plans for the post. I guess my point is, I'm fed up of hearing we are in a democracy, and we should feel lucky, because more and more I feel I have no choice and no say. Even if my situation isn't as bad as a serf from 400 years ago, it sure as hell isn't as good as the people back them wanted my life to be.

    • by jcdr (178250) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:40AM (#45514937)

      Disclaimer: i'm Swiss

      I fully agree with what you say as the Swiss history have a big dependency with the French Revolution. This revolutionary movement have been the ignition of the last Swiss civil war a half century after the trouble in France. Fortunately, revolutionary movement lost the this civil war with very low fatalities, tanks to a cleaver general from the federal army. This permit a quick reconciliation and there started together to write a new constitution that mixed ideas from the USA constitution, the proved good proportional representation already used in some cantons, and ideas from the French revolution. Pragmatically, I think that the result seem to be worth trying.

      The today French and USA democracies are incomplete from my point of view, by giving to much power to the government of a single party after it have been elected. In both countries this inevitably end up with 2 leading big parties that tend to share each almost half of the suffrage, resulting in about half of the citizen frustrated by the elected government, regardless of the choice. I think that a federal council with a proportional representation is a interesting method to improve the situation and lowering the number of frustrated citizens.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:14AM (#45514635)

    I think it was Churchill who said something like, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others". The problem is not democracy. If we actually lived in a democracy things would be better -- not perfect, by any means -- but better. The problem is that we live in a plutocracy, not a democracy. Life in a plutocracy is not much different than life in a monarchy. It survives because it maintains an illusion of democracy and is less overtly oppressive than a monarchy.

  • by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:28AM (#45514771)

    These guys sound like Bond Villains. And not Bond Villains from one of the good movies. More like the bad guy from Octopussy or For Your Eyes Only.

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:31AM (#45514807)

    ... and they have been with us since before the U. S. Constitution was signed. They had a defining influence on that document, leading to a significant disconnect between it and the principles found in the Declaration of Independence.

    It was these individuals who invited the King of Prussia to reign over the new United States and it was they who opposed the Bill of Rights. Bear in mind that no small number of the wealthy who came to American shores did so to establish themselves as the new plutocratic aristocracy. Often, they had in their pockets grants of land and privileges from the crown.

    It is simply a symptom of the times that they are coming out of the closet now, though their influence has always been with us. Take for instance, Leo Strauss' embrace of the Platonic "noble lie", which was a touchstone for legitimizing nobility's grip on power long before there was a United States of America.

  • by Theovon (109752) on Monday November 25, 2013 @11:52AM (#45515089)

    In the days of kings, someone would come to power typically because they were a powerful warrior. Indeed, in medieval Europe, the economy was based on a number of monarchs frequently going to battle with each other over land and resources. If you were a king of England, and you didn’t try to take over some part of France during your reign, you were a failure. (This explains the right of succession by blood. They didn’t know about DNA, but they did know that relatives had similarities and wanted people similar to successful past rulers.) Interestingly, the most successful monarchs were those who were loved by their own people (good management ability) feared by everyone else (mindless slaughter of people in foreign lands). This delicate balance between aggression and empathy was hard to find, and looking at the history of the English monarchy, not everyone managed it. This sounds like Ender’s game: In the history of the English monarchy (which I am a bit less ignorant of than others), there were plenty of Valentines and Peters those reigns ended in one kid of dismal failure or another, while the Enders are well-known in history. In the abstract, this sounds cool, except Ender and those successful kings were responsible for wide-spread slaughter of countless.

    So this idea of returning to a monarchy sounds really bizarre to me. Rule by the one or few is not a recipe for peace, security, or freedom. In medieval Europe, if you were a peasant, you might live out your life unmolested, or you might fall victim to the whims of a foreign army or your own. Peasant life was essentially worthless except for the bit of farming they could do. This sort of attitude was the case into the 19th century. Have a look at the way the English treated the Irish when the potato blight killed off their only economical source of food. The Irish were under English rule, but apparently not under English protection, because all Parliament did was quibble while people starved to death. We also tried communism in several countries. The Soviet Union fell due to a collapsing economy, and China systematically converted to capitalism. Of course, capitalism is a system of economy, and China is still a dictatorship, but it’s a step in the right direction. Basically, when your life and your work have no value, then you have no motivation to work, except under the whip. So what these monarchists are suggesting is a return to slavery.

    This isn’t the Christian fantasy of Jesus returning to earth to rule as a benevolent king. People will come to power because they want power, and then they will maintain that power by destroying others. We have that happening in our republics today. The differences are that (a) people are elected or not based on how their constituents perceive the representative to further their interests, (b) there are enough conflicting opinions that sometimes the bad ideas get filtered out, and (c) we have a judicial system that can find bad laws unconstitutional and overrule them. (Frankly, I think the executive branch in the US has too much power and is a vestige of the US legal system being a derivative of the English legal system, which has a figurehead king. We get to elect ours, but ours don’t seem to be very effective at anything other than being a scapegoat for the failures of the legislative branch.) Basically, a republic has problems, but a dictatorship is much much worse.

    And let’s not forget to address the baloney about returning to traditional gender roles. As a society, we’re only beginning to respect individual human rights and dignity, regardless of ethnicity, sex, and sexual orientation. If we’re going to experiment with totalitarianism, why don’t we try putting some women in control? Oh, sure, they’ll screw it up too. Humans in power always do. But at least it won’t be a bloodbath.

  • Summary misleading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:25PM (#45515433) Homepage Journal

    The summary is right about one thing: democracy appears undesirable, or at least sub-optimal, to many intelligent successful geeks.

    The actual support for wanting to "turn back the clock" or to have gender roles or whatever is fragmented, and may range from "this is probably worked better than what we're doing today" to "yeah, I'd enforce this via the sword", with relatively few people advocating the latter.

    In the last 15 years I've given up on the GOP, given up on libertarianism, and now consider myself squarely an anarchist.

    There's a strain of people, lets call them "technocrats", who are probably very smart, and believe that if only they were in charge, they could make things better.

    These people want to believe in democracy, but they see the very real impediment it presents to them getting anything done. It's ridiculous to them that they must put up with climate deniers and intelligent design blowhards (and critically, those that these groups elect to office) when there is critical work to be done.

    They may be right, but invariably the powerful institutions they build will be co-opted by people who are either less capable or less moral, or often, both. You build a state science department, and invariably, Pat Robertson is going to end up running it somehow.

    Then you have people like me, who have become so disillusioned with government that I contend the whole affair should be done away with.

    I was fed a steady diet of government school growing up, and I've found out how much of that was pro-state mythology. And so one naturally questions other parts of the mythology. Is our government good? Is it effective? Does it have the right goals? What about the "right" to vote? Who really ought to have it? Why?

    I, for instance, take the unpopular view that voter suppression is probably a good idea - as long as it is done for the right reasons. Voting in this country is by no means an "absolute right". Felons don't get the right to vote; neither do children or the mentally handicapped (beyond some level). So let's dispense with that claim entirely. Society has always had (and will continue to have) rules on who may vote.

    Some percentage of the voting public is clearly dumber than I am, and clearly unable to manage their own affairs and well-being appropriately.

    So a rude question emerges: Should people who cannot manage their own lives get any role in managing mine? (e.g., a "vote")?

    I'm persuaded that the answer is, "no".

    The difference between an anarchist and a technocrat, on this issue, is that an anarchist ALSO doesn't recognize the right of a successful man to govern an unsuccessful one.

    The tech crunch article listed Herman Hoppe as one of the members of this club. I'm a fan of Hoppe, and he in no way is an advocate of Monarchy. He is a critic of the state, and specifically a critic of democracy. He has an excellent bit of writing that explains immigration policy from the POV of a monarch vs. an elected official, and in his conclusion, the self-interested monarch has a much better set of incentives for a positive immigration policy than does the elected official who panders for votes. Pointing out situations where a monarch behaves preferably to a democratic body does make one an advocate of Monarchy, any more than saying "the trains ran on time!" make one an advocate of Mussolini.

    What you're seeing here is a group made up of successful, intelligent people, who grew up with the internet in its wild-west days -- there was no authority to crush dissent and no censorship.

    They're questioning the mythology of society. Either our society is on firm enough footing that it stands, or it isn't, and these ideas spread.

    It's worth pointing out that the fastest growing socio-cultural group is socially conservative Islam. Proponents of progressive social democracy had better have some pretty damn good answers (and more kids), because there's a storm coming. Not helping the impending clash is the reality of this article: Some of the best and brightest that our progressive society has produced are having second thoughts about the society that birthed them.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday November 25, 2013 @12:41PM (#45515633) Homepage Journal

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill. The problem is not the type of government, but rather that people suck. People are selfish, biased, territorial, cliquish, bribe-able, stubborn, irrational, etc.

    Asking for a new or different government system to compensate for ALL the crappiness off human nature is simply asking too much. It can compensate for some of the weaknesses, but not all. And it's often a trade-off such that compensating for one weakness may magnify another.

    That being said, I'm all for small-scale tests, just not on me. If you can form a voluntary colony somewhere to test a different kind of government, that's wonderful. Just don't invade and force it.

  • Plato's Republic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mx+b (2078162) on Monday November 25, 2013 @01:30PM (#45516247)
    Wasn't this basically Plato's argument a long time ago? The best theoretical form of government is to have a "philosopher king" that has a lot of power but always acts in the interests of the people, this way things get done efficiently and even if the uneducated people think its not correct to do. But of course the problem is making sure the king is a philosopher -- most of the time, these type of people are not the ones that even want to be king. Otherwise, you end up with a very bad situation. Democracy is not perfect but it tends to smooth out the problem of not having philosophers as leaders, but we don't always know what is best for ourselves.

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