Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bertrand Russell - Plato's Utopia

In "History of Western Philosophy", Bertrand Russell, commenting on Plato's Republic, writes
"But in matters of government it is difficult to know who has the most skill, and very far from certain that a politician will use his skill in the public interest rather than in his own or in that of his class or party or creed."
This succinct appraisal is just as relevant today. Perhaps the main advantage of Parliamentary Democracy is in our ability to dismiss the government, thus exercising a power that tends to keep their interests focused on the public. Yet if the opposition are an unpalatable alternative, or form part of the same political class, much of this effect may be lost. Not so in Interactive Democracy which empowers the public to challenge each policy; and help create them.
ID runs contrary to Plato's ideal of the best politicians, and their descendants, wielding political power in perpetuity, and supplements Parliamentary Democracy's ideal of politicians wielding power until the next election. Instead it requires politicians to persuade us of the justice of their arguments, policy by policy. The best will win.

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