20 votes

Democracy devouring itself: The paper predicting the end of democracy

16 comments

  1. [2]
    spctrvl
    Link
    Not sure how you could look at struggling democracies and come away with the conclusion that insufficient elite rule is the problem. If anything, it seems to me that the rise of right wing...

    Not sure how you could look at struggling democracies and come away with the conclusion that insufficient elite rule is the problem. If anything, it seems to me that the rise of right wing populism, while not the first choice of most elites, has their tacit endorsement, since it offers false solutions to the fundamental problem of the socioeconomic inequality that they are the benefactors of, that don't seriously threaten their position at the top of society. The same energies of discontent could just as easily, if not more easily, be channelled into a revival of social democracy IMO, but that's fought against tooth and nail because it would erode elite power.

    18 votes
    1. moocow1452
      Link Parent
      Yes, and scapegoating is cheaper for everyone involved. (Except the scapegoat, but that's why they're there.)

      The same energies of discontent could just as easily, if not more easily, be channelled into a revival of social democracy IMO, but that's fought against tooth and nail because it would erode elite power.

      Yes, and scapegoating is cheaper for everyone involved. (Except the scapegoat, but that's why they're there.)

      6 votes
  2. [2]
    ibis
    Link
    I think democracy is being sabotaged by vested interests. It's not that people don't care about issues - it's that it is so difficult to separate the truth from the lies. Certain actors in the...

    I think democracy is being sabotaged by vested interests. It's not that people don't care about issues - it's that it is so difficult to separate the truth from the lies. Certain actors in the media and in big business are deliberately spreading misinformation in order to protect their profits. They are deliberately painting experts and academics as untrustworthy. Institutions that were created to protect the people's interests have been slowly eroded, and subject to an ongoing slander campaign by those that want them gone.

    People are tired, disenfranchised, afraid and cynical. Leisure time is limited as it is - they just don't have the time or the energy to shift through the oversupply of information that's available. This leaves them open to manipulation.

    16 votes
    1. papasquat
      Link Parent
      It's not just people with power doing this. People will deliberately downplay expert opinions just to preserve their worldview. Normal, grassroots movements exist that are countering scientific...

      Certain actors in the media and in big business are deliberately spreading misinformation in order to protect their profits.

      It's not just people with power doing this. People will deliberately downplay expert opinions just to preserve their worldview. Normal, grassroots movements exist that are countering scientific and expert opinions just because they challenge a preconceived notion of how the world works, without any external prodding at all. It's rare for someone to see an opinion that differs from theirs, look into it, and then defer to someone who has years of experience in a field and change their world view. More often, people will just either ignore it, or scour the internet for any shred of sources they can use to back up their previously held view. More often than not, the hateful vitriolic views are the ones that get defended, because they're the most cathartic ones to believe in.

      10 votes
  3. moocow1452
    (edited )
    Link
    Something like this has been bouncing around my head for a while now, that people tend towards labor saving solutions, and the far right makes bank on being an emotional and cognitive crutch for...

    Something like this has been bouncing around my head for a while now, that people tend towards labor saving solutions, and the far right makes bank on being an emotional and cognitive crutch for all the problems in the world being someone else's problem.

    There's this cynical part of my brain that says that so long as a particular type of person has responsibility for other people, they will make poor decisions just because it is their decision, and they want power and agency, even if malice doesn't really factor in. Or maybe what is known as malice is really an apathy for other people, asking people like that to put other's needs before their own is a big ask, and there's enough of these types that we can't have nice things.

    8 votes
  4. determinism
    Link
    Why do they have a motivation to support "democratic culture" when they are "holding power" at the top of a non-democratic hierarchy? They have a motivation to maintain their political and...

    The elites, as Rosenberg defines them, are the people holding power at the top of the economic, political and intellectual pyramid who have “the motivation to support democratic culture and institutions and the power to do so effectively.”

    Why do they have a motivation to support "democratic culture" when they are "holding power" at the top of a non-democratic hierarchy? They have a motivation to maintain their political and economic power by subverting and dominating the "democratic culture and institutions" and have done so for generations.

    Democracy is fundamentally anti-hierarchical. Even the hierarchies present in representative democracies are in some sense consented to. The struggle of democracy has been an ongoing process whose primary opponents are adjacent systems of power, those systems are toweringly hierarchical and non-democratic.

    While the elites formerly might have successfully squashed conspiracy theories and called out populists for their inconsistencies, today fewer and fewer citizens take the elites seriously. Now that people get their news from social media rather than from established newspapers or the old three TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), fake news proliferates. It’s surmised that 10 million people saw on Facebook the false claim that Pope Francis came out in favor of Trump’s election in 2016. Living in a news bubble of their own making many undoubtedly believed it. (This was the most-shared news story on Facebook in the three months leading up to the 2016 election, researchers report.)

    Using Facebook as an example of non-elite media sources is outrageous to me. The proliferation of fake-news on their platform is entirely their fault. The problem for broader society is that Facebook is structured like a profit-seeking dictatorship whereby nobody who is actively harmed by this phenomenon can have any direct influence on the organization. It is in Facebook's interest that fake-news is passed around on their platform. It's so effective at influencing users because Facebook sells their data to PR and advertisement agencies where modern "data science" and statistical techniques allow them to perform their propaganda with a scalpel instead of the blunt instrument that CNN and Fox and NBC have traditionally used.

    7 votes
  5. [2]
    skybrian
    Link
    If you want to read the actual paper, here is a link: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8806z01m

    If you want to read the actual paper, here is a link:

    https://escholarship.org/uc/item/8806z01m

    6 votes
    1. Neverland
      Link Parent
      Oops, thanks. I normally add a comment with the source when I post things like this.

      Oops, thanks. I normally add a comment with the source when I post things like this.

      1 vote
  6. [2]
    arghdos
    Link
    This seems to conveniently ignore how badly those elites have failed the populace in the last few decades, choosing instead to work in their own (or corporate) interests. Give people a guaranteed...

    He has concluded that the reason for right-wing populists’ recent success is that “elites” are losing control of the institutions that have traditionally saved people from their most undemocratic impulses.

    The elites, as Rosenberg defines them, are the people holding power at the top of the economic, political and intellectual pyramid who have “the motivation to support democratic culture and institutions and the power to do so effectively.” In their roles as senators, journalists, professors, judges and government administrators, to name a few, the elites have traditionally held sway over public discourse and U.S. institutions—and have in that role helped the populace understand the importance democratic values. But today that is changing.

    This seems to conveniently ignore how badly those elites have failed the populace in the last few decades, choosing instead to work in their own (or corporate) interests. Give people a guaranteed 4 day work weeks, a (comfortable) living wage, you know... time and ability to give a shit.

    4 votes
    1. spctrvl
      Link Parent
      Yeah, Rosenberg seems to have an unbelievably rosy view of elites. Maybe this isn't an entirely fair reading, but I got the distinct impression of victim blaming from his argument. Almost like an...

      Yeah, Rosenberg seems to have an unbelievably rosy view of elites. Maybe this isn't an entirely fair reading, but I got the distinct impression of victim blaming from his argument. Almost like an abusive spouse, the elites saying "Well maybe if you loved us enough to keep us in unquestioned positions of power, we wouldn't have to take away your democracy! You did this to us!".

      1 vote
  7. [5]
    skybrian
    Link
    I've been reading about early American history and it seems like today's partisanship is nothing new and not particularly bad. Newspapers back then were worse. Both parties ignored the...

    I've been reading about early American history and it seems like today's partisanship is nothing new and not particularly bad. Newspapers back then were worse. Both parties ignored the Constitution when it suited them to try to put their opponents in jail. Institutions we take for granted today were much more fragile and often barely survived. (Consider Jefferson's attacks on the Supreme Court.)

    I don't think history is predictable. Nobody predicted Trump. We can't predict the next election and it's quite possible everything will change again.

    2 votes
    1. [4]
      Neverland
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      This is a really interesting point. Which period of time are you referring to exactly? I do know that 1800's US politics were uglier. My take is that for most of the post-WWII period, appealing to...

      I've been reading about early American history and it seems like today's partisanship is nothing new and not particularly bad.

      This is a really interesting point. Which period of time are you referring to exactly? I do know that 1800's US politics were uglier.

      My take is that for most of the post-WWII period, appealing to reactionary base instincts was frowned upon. We had seen what happens when that is done, and generally we had moved past it. We also mostly agreed that there was "truth" which could be agreed upon. Then News Corp happened. Now there are 2 Americas, 2 Englands, and 2 Australias.

      This is an example from my G News feed today, and what we are dealing with now: Fox News - Tucker Carlson hails firing of John Bolton: He was 'fundamentally a man of the left'. (Outline.com link)

      Carlson's statement is pure insanity. Yet Fox News has reached its 17th year as the top cable news source in the USA.

      Until News Corp is destroyed in the court of public opinion, or changes tack, we are all screwed IMO.

      3 votes
      1. skybrian
        Link Parent
        Mostly I've been reading about the American Revolution. I started out reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton that the musical was based on and kept going from there. My basic take on it is...

        Mostly I've been reading about the American Revolution. I started out reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton that the musical was based on and kept going from there. My basic take on it is that almost all history is terrible and a lot of crazy and stupid things happened. If you think any time in history was fairly normal, you're probably not reading the right books.

        Benjamin Franklin is interesting from a news perspective because being postmaster in the colonies got him distribution as a printer and he often made things up. It was unusual back then for people to publish under their own name. Sometimes it was pretty funny stuff, like trolling his main competitor by predicting the death. It reminds me more of online comments than today's serious newspapers.

        2 votes
      2. [2]
        arghdos
        Link Parent
        Yeah, that one was a real head scratcher... For instance, his opening lines: is something most people can probably agree with, and (not shockingly) was a big feature of mainstream media coverage...

        Fox News - Tucker Carlson hails firing of John Bolton: He was 'fundamentally a man of the left'.

        Yeah, that one was a real head scratcher...

        For instance, his opening lines:

        In his opening monologue on "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Carlson looked back on his March 2018 interview with Bolton, recalling that Bolton displayed "selective amnesia" about the consequences of "regime change" in the Middle East.

        is something most people can probably agree with, and (not shockingly) was a big feature of mainstream media coverage of Bolton over the last year

        ... and then he immediately launches into this insanity:

        "If you are wondering why so many progressives are mourning Bolton’s firing tonight, it's because Bolton himself fundamentally was a man of the left. There was not a human problem John Bolton wasn’t totally convinced could be solved with the brute force of government. That’s an assumption of the left, not the right. Don’t let the mustache fool you," said Carlson, accusing Bolton of "promoting Obama loyalists within the National Security Council."

        Yes, we're all really broken up by John Bolton's departure, and not at all worried about the fact he was nominated and confirmed in the first place, or what that implies about who his successor will be. /s

        Also, this line:

        "In some ways, the story isn't simply about John Bolton, it's about the countless John Boltons who currently staff the federal bureaucracy. Deeply mediocre lifers, drunk on hubris, protected by bulletproof job security. They're more likely to die on the job than be fired and they know it.

        You realize you started that sentence talking about a man who was just fired, right Tucker? That one kinda got away from you, didn't it lil' buddy?

        1 vote
        1. determinism
          Link Parent
          If they want to coopt the position that John Bolton is a "big government" warmonger and pretend that "the left" regrets his departure from this administration, it seems like a perfect opportunity...

          If they want to coopt the position that John Bolton is a "big government" warmonger and pretend that "the left" regrets his departure from this administration, it seems like a perfect opportunity to call for the removal of the war criminal's head and settle for a fair trial in the international criminal court.

          1 vote
  8. DonQuixote
    Link
    My monkey sized brain tells me that some country somewhere is eventually going to attempt automating the whole governance decision making process as a desperate last ditch effort. But more likely...

    My monkey sized brain tells me that some country somewhere is eventually going to attempt automating the whole governance decision making process as a desperate last ditch effort.

    But more likely seems to be a caste society which it appears we're moving closer to every day.