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Democracy | briancapleton.com

Non-Fiction

Sprituality & Transpersonal

The Nonsense Play

Democracy

From the book The Nonsense Play
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The truth is that beyond a certain small size of network, you cannot engineer a democratic system that will be "fair" in everyone’s view. In any election there are always the losers. And from the losers’ point of view, what the winners are going to get up to, sooner or later, is going to be "unfair". The only thing then that’s "fair", if you are the loser, is the fact that you lost by virtue of the system that you considered to be "fair".

We have been talking about network minds. A network mind is a network of minds. Any network of people who connect themselves together through communications, of ideas and thoughts, create a network mind. 

The network mind doesn’t exist without the people. It exists through the people. It is the network of minds.

The network connects patterns of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and tendencies, that occur in the mind of each individual member of a network who subscribes to those ideas, thoughts, and beliefs, that the network mind embodies. 

Any large network consists of multiple smaller networks. So any large network mind will represent multiple network minds, which will be represented differently through different individuals. Families, religions, businesses, and so on.

Different individuals subscribe to, or adhere to, or are "plugged into", or are at least influenced by, multiple different network minds, in varying degrees. We live in a mind complexus. A complex network of network minds.

Wherever a network of people are in agreement, or even just in a reasonable amount of agreement, then there is the expression of a network mind. What is going on in the minds of individuals who are connected into a network mind, contributes to what is going on in the network mind. And what is going on in the network mind, contributes to what is going on in the minds of the individuals who are connected into it. It is a two-way process. 

It is how we get collective psychologies like cultures, and commonplace beliefs and convictions. Including, in the modern Western world, the now popular contemporary belief in what democracy is, what it is about, and particularly, that it is about "fairness".

This idea that democracy is about "fairness", is an idea that many people in the population now subscribe to. It is a concept in the network mind that upholds this idea. And the idea that democracy - which means our actual, political, democratic system -  is about "fairness", is based on the more fundamental network mind idea of "fairness" itself. That’s an idea much more fundamental than the sophisticated political concept of "democracy", as it exists in the developed West. 

The idea of "fairness" exists in children in the kindergarten who don’t understand anything about formal politics or political theory. It even exists in chimpanzee communities. And in other species. There are scientific studies that show this, and they are not difficult to find. And it also exists in people who live under dictatorial regimes.

So for many people, now, when they hear the word "democracy", they think "fairness", in association with the very word itself. The words "democratic" and "fairness" are conflated. Because the connection has been made in the network mind. The thought is that "democracy" is a political system that is about being "fair". 

Talking about "fairness" and doing things in a way that is "fair", is now a big idea in Western politics. The politicians are fully aware of its popular appeal. But in some communism, too, in the theoretical idea or ideal of it, there is an underlying, even if unconscious idea, that everyone should be treated "fairly". Fairness not just a democratic thing. Democracy is not the only system under which people organise themselves according to someone’s idea of "fairness". 

But people in Western democracy wouldn’t think of a dictatorship as "fair". And people in Western democracy often complain that the even the system of democracy under which they are living is not being "fair". 

Nevertheless, there is now a popular and quite common misunderstanding which says that the system under which we are living, called "democracy", is about "fairness". But it’s just not. That idea only exists as part of the network mind, and it’s not a fact about the actual nature of the system under which we are living. 

The truth is that beyond a certain small size of network, you cannot engineer a democratic system that will be "fair" in everyone’s view. In any election there are always the losers. And from the losers’ point of view, what the winners are going to get up to, sooner or later, is going to be "unfair". The only thing then that’s "fair", if you are the loser, is the fact that you lost by virtue of the system that you considered to be "fair". 

But these days, even that doesn’t apply, because the losing side will probably cry foul play, and claim that the result was "unfair".

The word "fair" is a wonderful weasel word, that really, individually, can mean pretty much anything you want it to mean, that roughly speaking, you could stick the label "fair" onto. But of course, not everyone will agree with you.

It’s relatively easy to get everyone in a small network to agree on something. But the bigger the network, the less likely you are to be able to succeed in doing this. So even getting everyone to agree on what is "fair" rather depends on the size of the network. 

Democracy is a system. That’s all it is. It’s a system in which those in power have to be voted into power by the network as a whole, even if not everyone in the network votes. And periodically, they can be voted out again. There are usually other mechanisms too, for removing someone who is "in office". That’s the crude basis of democracy. 

Today, we say there is openness and accountability. But it is still all about those in power, versus those who are not. And it’s about how those who are not in power, can still influence the efforts of those who are. It is still a power network. 

So democracy is still about power, and the distribution of power. And because it’s about power, it is inherently about inequality. Because that’s what power in this context, essentially, inescapably means and implies. As a system, inequality begins right at the top. And begins in the fact that there is a top and a bottom. And there are hierarchies in between.

Nobody really likes the idea of some small network of people having power over the whole "we". But if we tell ourselves that it is necessary for some small network to take the helm, then we can tolerate it through the idea of "fairness". 

And then we extend this idea until we expect everything that follows from this situation, to be happening on the principle of "fairness". And it never is, not according to everyone’s idea of what’s "fair". Not when you really drill down into it and look behind the scenes, into the actuality everywhere, because that’s not what the system is to begin with.

This is the actuality of democracy. This is not to say that other systems are better. It’s just a fact about what is currently considered by those in it as the best system in the world. You can use it to create "fairness" if you want to, within that game, but the rules of the game itself, have nothing to do with "fairness". Rather, they are about power relations and a balance of power.

Which is why it is perfectly possible to use the system of democracy to overthrow the system of democracy. As history has shown.

But today, there is now an established, widespread, popular belief that "democracy" means "fairness". And that "democratic" means "fair". And so anything that anyone considers to be "unfair", they are even quite likely to complain is "undemocratic". Confusing democracy with fairness.   

Democracy is no such thing. It’s a pretty good system because in an evolved democracy you can use it to keep out of the helm, dictators, gangs, ruthless power hierarchies, and those who would just exploit and asset strip the network. You can even use it to implement things that are fair. But fairness itself? Well, that’s another matter. Democracy is not a system of "fairness". There is nothing in the system called "democracy" that ensure’s anyone’s idea of "fairness" is going to be put into practice. It is just that there is a network mind that equates democracy with "fairness". And any mind that confuses the two, is naive.

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