I’ll expand a little bit more on a topic that I’d like to devote some time in the future to investigating.
Its almost impossible to come to any major topic without a good deal of prejudice. If you didn’t already believe there was some important and powerful insight its hard to motivate yourself to devote a lot a time to an area.
So if I were to create a good arms-length research question it would be something like this: “Is democratic politics as distasteful as popularly portrayed and if so why do the dynamics of popular selection, select for an equilibrium that is so unpopular.”
My hidden motivation is this: despite nearly ubiquitous cheerleading to the contrary republican democracy promotes a state of affairs that is on its face horrifying. It takes one of the nastiest and most unfortunate aspects of human life – political struggle – and designs a system in which that struggle is endless.
A war for which there can never be peace.
Moreover, it perverts the natural political process – a struggle over the control of resources – into a struggle almost for struggles sake. While there are times in “natural politics” were a battle is simply not worth fighting, this can never be the case in republican democracy. All battles are worth fighting because the zero sum nature of the game means that anything you win the other side loses.
Indeed, one common route to peace – side payments or bribes – are expressly forbidden.
By its nature then republican democracy squeezes out compromise and promotes the most blood-thirsty political operatives.
Why then does it not only survive but thrive?
Can we not think of anything better? Some ideas proposed include futarchy, demarchy, panarchy, constitutional for-profit government, etc. Perhaps, these all contain fatal flaws but is our imagination so limited that we can’t think of anything better republican democracy?
Or is there something about republican democracy that make its flaws not only bearable but desirable?
My guess, is that the constant political warfare inherent in republican democracy is useful when the natural politics of a polity is experiencing a lot of flux. This makes the cost to republican democracy low because there would be struggle anyway. It makes the benefits high, because the struggle can be had by proxy instead of by bloodshed.
However, if this is the case the primacy of republican democracy is dependent on high natural political flux. It might be easy to see why we live in such times, but do we really think this will continue forever?
My guess, again, is that it will not. If that’s the case and if I am right about the origins of republican democracy’s success then we live in a peculiar time with a peculiar form of government.
As humanity goes on we should expect our social turmoil to weaken and republican democracy to whither away.