Saturday, 25 February 2012

Development, Freedom and Rising Happiness

"Development, Freedom and Rising Happiness" is an academic paper by Inglehart, Foa, Peterson and Welzel, which identifies economic development, democratization and social liberalisation as three factors that produce an increase in sense of freedom, which is strongly correlated with a rise in subjective well-being, otherwise known as happiness. Previous reports about happiness in Switzerland also identified their system of direct democracy as contributing to well being. But what if an enhanced democracy lead to a tyranny of the majority, thereby reducing social liberalisation to the detriment of happiness?
I consider that social liberalisation is a predominantly cultural factor, the opposite of traditional conservatism (with a small 'c'). The previous post identifies Britain as being more traditional than Switzerland, causing me to worry that if direct democracy is applied here, we run the risk of the majority forcing their mores on minority groups. A number of factors may counter this:-
  1. Interactive Democracy presents the debating points prior to the voting part of the web site, boosting awareness of the issues and reducing dogmatic thinking.
  2. The media increases awareness of the complexity of issues, encouraging people to doubt and change their intuitive views, enhancing liberalism.
  3. When celebrities have diverse backgrounds and views, the population is likely to become more tolerant.
  4. Education, multi-culturalism and foreign travel could help.
  5. Enhanced awareness of human rights, already entrenched in law, and therefore becoming accepted as traditional, provide a stop-loss.
  6. When traditional conservative leaders argue for the protection of minority interests that they don't themselves believe in, then it is unlikely that a tyranny of the majority will emerge.
  7. Wide advocacy of equal opportunities and freedom of speech provide good foundations for direct democracy.


Ari said...

Most Finns do not have any idea what's going on in their own country. Finnish newspapers are dependent on Finnish political elite, neighbouring governments and even powerful banks. Citizens are unaware of many subjects in Finland.

The Swedes executed at least 460 Finns in the spring 1918.

In Espoo near Helsinki, the Swedes fenced off the school building with barbed wire, to ban children the access to a Finnish school.

In Finland, Norway and Sweden nobody can have a public post without being a member of a certain political party.

The cult of personality surrounds Finnish Presidents: the Finnish elite has declared November 16th as the Martti Ahtisaari Day since 2011.

Shaun Beaumont said...

Dear Andy,

I have been writing to all WDDM forum users, about my new website that is a modern, dynamic equivalent of it. I arrived here at you blog, and I think you would find my website interesting. Bruce Eggum has already contributed to the forum, I hope you can too, as WLP needs people like you to inspire our tiny community.

the website is:

I thank you for your time.