Winston Churchill said, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Recently I have been thinking how rubbish democracy is. If the majority of people were intelligent, well-informed and interested in the good of the country rather than themselves, then democracy might be great. But they aren’t, and it isn’t.
One problem with democracy is the idea of ‘equality’. By equality people sometimes mean that we are equally talented and this is clearly not the case. Any honest person knows that talent is not evenly distributed. Just look at the schmuck in the photo above with David Cameron. What talents, do you imagine, he has that could contribute to society?
The other meaning of ‘equal’ is the sense that we are all equal before the law and deserve equal respect. I agree with the ‘equal before the law’ bit but not that all people are equally worthy of respect. How can you respect someone who doesn’t deserve it? Should I respect Fred West, merely because he’s part of the same species as me?
Neither do I believe in the concept of human rights, at least as they are currently understood. Despite what some people believe, human rights are not something that came into existence with the Big Bang and exist in the same way that rocks do. Humans invented rights and they were generally negative i.e. meant to stop governments from imposing their wills on individual people. They weren’t something extra that government granted you, like the right to other people’s money if you are too lazy to work.
Like human rights, equality is also a human invention. If you wish to say that all people are equally worthy of respect, regardless of their behaviour, that’s up to you. I just disagree.
Anyway, I went looking for alternatives to our current idea of democracy and found this blog post. The writer talks about a book he once read, In the wet by Nevil Shute, in which a dying man dreams about a new kind of democracy, which is called ‘The Seven Votes’:
The Seven Votes
- Elections were held in the normal way but the number of votes each elector had was not the same.
- Every person over 21 had the basic vote.
- If you had a degree or a professional qualification or you had been an officer in the armed forces you had an extra vote.
- If you had earned your living abroad for two years you had an extra vote. Our hero had been a pilot officer in World War II, so he starts the story as a three-vote man.
- If you had raised two children to the age of 14 (then the school leaving age) without a divorce, both of you were entitled to an extra vote because you are the glue that holds society together.
- There was a vote based on an income threshold. The thinking was that a man might have fallen out with his wife, but substantial economic achievement deserved that he should have more votes than his junior typist.
- Someone who was doing a real job for his church on a voluntary basis, be it lay preacher or some kind of organiser, was making a substantial contribution to society.
- The Seventh Vote was the personal gift of the Queen, given only for services to the Monarchy or as recognition of some significant achievement outside the given parameters.
I think this is a great idea and under this scheme I would be a three-vote man! I get my one vote like everyone else, I have a degree in German, Eng. Lit. and History (minor subject) and I have worked abroad for 20 years. Even so, there are some things I would change:
- I would start from zero votes rather than one. Someone who has never contributed anything to society or who has been a net burden shouldn’t get a vote.
- Having faces and dressing like these blokes below would automatically disqualify you from voting.
- Anyone who commits a serious crime would be disqualified from voting for life until he mellows and becomes more thoughtful. I would be the judge of each individual case.
- If you studied certain university subjects like Maths, Science, Engineering, Medicine, History, Geography, Law, Economics and perhaps Languages and Psychology then you would get an extra vote. However, if you studied Mickey Mouse subjects like Gender Studies or Black Studies you would forfeit a vote, simply for wasting everyone’s time and money and for spreading resentment between the sexes and races.
- I don’t see why working abroad wins you an extra vote. Apparently the logic is that you will understand your own culture better. Even if this is true, I don’t think it is worth an extra vote so I would do away with this, thus reducing myself to a two-vote man.
The reason I like the idea of Seven Vote System is that ‘the vulnerable’ (i.e. feckless, ignorant, lazy, unskilled, charmless, boorish and vulgar) people in society would have less say in how the country is run. Since these people contribute either negatively or not at all to society then this must surely be a good thing.
Update 4 May 2015: Here’s a recent article in the Spectator about another possible way to improve democracy.