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Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us--it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But, Jason Brennan says, they are all wrong.
In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results--and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse--more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government--epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable--may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out.
A challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable, Against Democracy is essential reading for scholars and students of politics across the disciplines.
He favours epistocracy, a ‘rule of the knowers’, in which suffrage would either be limited or diluted by giving more say to those who prove themselves worthy. Towards the end of Against Democracy, he briefly sketches out a few ways we might formally achieve this, including: restricting suffrage to those who can pass a competence exam; plural votes for the educated; an ‘enfranchisement lottery’, where voters are selected at random then trained in political ‘competence’; a nominally democratic government with an emboldened epistocratic council, able to step in when things go too far; and, most dystopian of all, a ‘simulated oracle’, where experts would draw on survey data to determine ‘what the voting public would want if it were fully informed’.
So you're proud about the recent record of worst surveillance laws ever?
Could we do a better job without a Government structure?
Thomas Paine 1776.
Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government--epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable--may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out.