Previous IndexNL Next

Sep 19, 2011           

A better society


"Enjoy and give pleasure, without doing harm to yourself or to anyone else - that, I think, is the whole of morality.


I am not well, but since there well may arise revolutionary times soon (*), let me outline a simple plan for a better society in plain words:

1. The plan

A democracy for educated persons, with everyone capable of getting a good education, without bureaucracy, that is where the actual government is done by the people, on a temporary basis, as a social service.

This alleviates two dangerous weaknesses of western democracies, even if they were a lot better than they are:

First, it limits the choice of socially important decisions to the educated rather than all of the people, to prevent populism, the rise of a dictator, and to make more sensible choices based on some relevant knowledge in those who may vote.

It seems to me, as it did to John Stuart Mill, that it is very unwise and dangerous to give the vote to all adults, whatever their educational qualifications, since this virtually assures that the minority of the informed and rational will be the minority in any voting process on the interests of all, and the future course of civilized society, as it also virtually assures that crafty demagogues can exploit the majorioty of uninformed and irrational, as also happened in Germany in the 1930-ies. (**)

Second, it does away with the dangers inherent in government- bureaucracies: A life long caste of willing executioners for whoever is in power; corrupt administration; institutions without control with professional men with much power and little effective control from the rest of society.

The first is implemented by law, and restricts the vote to the well-educated (whatever that may have been decided to mean precisely, but with references to such education and diplomas and degrees the society provides).

The second is implemented by having all adults do some years of social service in place of what now is a life long bureaucrat, in the kind of work as the adult does in society, perhaps with some special education for the government-work.

This is not restricted to the well-educated and effectively gives the power to the people. It also enables real personal accountability at the end, and allows effective control that the work done was done well and within the law, and therefore helps assure personal responsibility and honesty. (***)

2. Some comments and some background

Actually, the above is a brief summary of two plans, that also have only been sketchily presented by me, that is, without statistical evidence, albeit on the basis of decades of experience with Amsterdam and Dutch politics and bureaucrats:

Bureaucracy plan
Democracy plan

But then I think what matters most is the ideas and ideals rather than extensive argument, and these plans at least address the two greatest failures I have seen - and also suffered a lot from: See ME in Amsterdam, if you read Dutch - in modern Western democracies.

These two greatest failures in modern Western democracies are, to restate it, that the political leaders that get elected by the democratic processes that surround elections are far more often than not the worst rather than the best fit for the job, and that those who effectively exercise most of the power and implement most of the plans are again the usually the least fit to do so, since they are from the parts of the population that are without intellectual talents to make it in a university, without artistic talents to make it as an artist, without the personal guts to make it as criminals, and that often and therefore are the most willing collaborators of those who hold power. (****)

I do not myself have any hope for or interest in any social revolution, of any kind, for any (purported) end or ideal, mostly because (1) I expect it will be a major mess, that will cost very many lives and that wiill probably end up as some sort of dictatorship or authoritarian regime, and because (2) I've learned that only a small minority of human beings is highly qualified intellectually or morally - and see others and me on the theme:

Kohlberg on average morality -
Milgram on average humanity -
Maartensz on a realistic numerical look at human morality
"I have given up on my species" - George Carlin
"On the human species"
- George Carlin

But it seems to me also that (a) as the economy again is faltering and failing, while the politicians and bureaucracies are incapable of solving the problems, and that (b) the proposals I have for a better society can only be realized - if they ever are - after some sort of revolution or social collapse, while (c) these proposals also are sensible in principle, and are also not part of some utopian program and are not being offered in a dogmatic spirit (*****), and without any pretense of solving all problems or bringing about any millenium, - which indeed would be nonsensical and pernicuous ideals, given the proven human incapacities:

 "If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work reprobate." (Hazlitt)

Therefore, I thought it might make sense to write these proposals out in a brief format.

Also, what I offer, I do offer with conviction and based on over four decades of direct personal experience of what happens if the mass of elected politicians are hundredth-raters intellectually and morally, who are into politics as personal careerists and professional liars and deceivers, and of what happens if the bureaucrats are selected from those least qualified to do the job competently and honestly, and most inclined to be social parasites through being willing executioners of the power elites - but I don't offer it dogmatically nor as part of a comprehensive political ideology or religious creed, that indeed are human mind-sets that ought to be avoided rather than cultivated.


(*) As it happens, I do not have access to a tested collection of infallible tealeaves. All I can do is formulate guesses, and it seems as if another economical crisis is about to start, around Greece and the other weaker countries in the Euro-zone, or the ongoing one deepens, what with more and more unemployed and all Western states in enormous debts, caused by helping the banks float and the bankmanagers rich.

(**) Without the democratic vote for all adults, it is very unlikely Hitler would have come to power in Germany. There are more factors involved in his rise, and it is also far from certain that the educated vote for rational, reasonable and practical proposals rather than for utopian or impractical or unfair ones that suit their desires and human-all-too-human inclination to wishful thinking, but I am not speaking of certainties, but of rational probabilities. If you want the people to have a vote on the politics of the state and/or on who will be a politician or belong to "the people's representatives", it is in the interest of all that the people who are allowed to vote are capable of rational judgment on the matters they vote on.

(***) One of the things I have learned in Amsterdam, where the City-government and its bureaucracy and its municipal police effectively are the protectioners of the local drugs mafia for decades now is that the worst and most irresponsible human beings want to become state or municipal bureaucrats, and do become state or municipal bureaucrats.

(****) Another major problem of modern democratic societies, as thier leaders style them, is that they are governed, politically and bureaucratically, by persons who are in their jobs for life, rather than for limited periods. If it makes sense - and it does - to limit the duration of governments to a fixed period, it makes sense to limit the duration of political or bureaucratic work of persons in governments to some fixed period.

And as to office-holders, whether in parliaments, city-counsels, or bureaucracies: In Holland it has worked out since the 1960ies that the office-holders switch between journalism, public relations, a university position, and a political nomination, usually on the basis of a law degree or a degree in some social science.

Thus the political class in Holland consists of folks who in their early twenties or late teens decided on a political career, which they they then exercised and furthered when young as journalists helping a political party, discretely or up front, and by doing "public relations" for a leading politician, lying for pay or Our Party, and when older by getting nominated in some political job - parliamentarian, minister, mayor, alderman - and when that terminates by getting nominated as professor in some Dutch university, from whence they may return again to politics if there is an opening, all career steps being helped by their colleagues in their parties.

Almost none of the members of the ruling political elite - see Mosca - in Holland have ever held a normal job in society, for more than a few months, and that usually when very young; almost none is intellectually or artistically gifted in any way; almost all got their positions by cultivating, protecting and serving political supremos while they were young, as outlined in the previous paragraph.

(*****) I am not being dogmatic and also do not here make any specific proposals or recommendations other than two general policies that seem to me to be essential for having and keeping something like a good society, and that can be realized and filled out in quite a few different ways.

All I am saying in in principle is to the effect that it is most important for a good society to have competent leaders and decent bureaucrats, and that the only ways I can see this happen is (i) by limiting the right of voting to those who are well-educated and (ii) by replacing the existing professional bureaucracies for life by persons from the people, who work for the government for a few years of their lives, as a social service, and in the sort of work they do normally, with similar pay.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

        home - index - top - mail