"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:-
- Interactive Democracy presents the debating points prior to the voting part of the web site, boosting awareness of the issues and reducing dogmatic thinking.
- The media increases awareness of the complexity of issues, encouraging people to doubt and change their intuitive views, enhancing liberalism.
- When celebrities have diverse backgrounds and views, the population is likely to become more tolerant.
- Education, multi-culturalism and foreign travel could help.
- Enhanced awareness of human rights, already entrenched in law, and therefore becoming accepted as traditional, provide a stop-loss.
- 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.
- Wide advocacy of equal opportunities and freedom of speech provide good foundations for direct democracy.