Quote note (#192)

Eliezer Yudkowsky on the nonlinear dynamics of democratic legitimacy:

The actual number of people who have theistic respect for democracy doesn’t matter. I suspect it’s a lot lower than it used to be 30 years ago. But so long as people go on believing that reporters believe this theistic belief to be widespread, they’ll go on expecting reporters to crucify anyone who speaks openly against democracy, and the public discourse will continue to be unified in apparently supporting that narrative which would if widely believed imply that a coup in the US is impossible, thus making everyone believe that everyone else believes it, thus making everyone believe that a coup is impossible, thus making a coup impossible.


October 16, 2015admin 9 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Democracy


9 Responses to this entry

  • Erebus Says:

    “The actual number of people who have theistic respect for democracy doesn’t matter. I suspect it’s a lot lower than it used to be 30 years ago.”

    A lot lower? I wonder what gave him that idea. To me it seems that, if anything, theistic respect for democracy has shifted into high gear over the past 20 years. Most Americans today cannot imagine living under a different system of government; most are probably only aware of democracy and “dictatorship”, which can then be likened to good and evil, as I am sure they believe that what they call democracy is by its very nature good, and what they call dictatorship is by its very nature evil. (That the USA is no democracy — and is openly contemptuous of democracy — is another matter entirely.)

    …At least in the past the extreme left could point at the Soviets as an example of a large and ostensibly decent non-Democratic society…


    OLF Reply:

    The faith in Democracy, Egalitarianism and Equality is a given today. One doesn’t need to be indoctrinated, or even taught any of these things, for one picks them up [while growing up] simply through cultural osmosis and I don’t have any doubts – this faith is sincere, held as a given, a thing never even thought about. Pondering Democracy and Equality has as much sense to these faithful as pondering the existence of God would have had to a Medieval peasant.


    EvolutionistX Reply:

    I suspect that you and Yudkowsky are defining “theistic” differently. I interpreted it as referring to a quasi-religious reverence for the Constitution and flag that I associate primarily with Republicans, rather than a belief that democracy is the only possible system simply because one has only ever lived in a democracy.


    Erebus Reply:

    Hmmm… I think that would be the case if he had used the word “America” instead of “democracy.” It’s unquestionably true that the Constitution & the flag are less revered now than they were in the past. At the same time, democracy — and particularly the American brand of democracy — has come to represent the only legitimate form of good government, worldwide. I hate to belabor the point, but I don’t think that it would be an exaggeration on my part to suggest that the word “democracy” has become synonymous with “good government.” (Or, at least, always and everywhere “better than alternative forms of government”!)

    I don’t think that people believe that democracy is the only possible system merely because they live in a democracy. There’s more to it than that. I agree with what OLF wrote — and I think that, to some extent, democracy has become a very vital part of Western culture. Europe no longer has Gods or kings — but it does have its unshakable, and sadly misguided, belief in democracy and equality and the inalienable rights of man.

    In any case, you’ve brought up an interesting question: Why does America no longer inspire the reverence it used to? Doesn’t America’s representative democracy itself — with its dysfunctional factionalism and ceaseless discord — have a lot to do with it?


    Posted on October 16th, 2015 at 1:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • Quote note (#192) | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on October 16th, 2015 at 1:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jefferson Says:

    This ascribes far too much power to the commons. We haven’t had a coup (or revolution) since the 19th century because the folks who would carry one out have been fat and happy thanks to economic growth. The last 10-odd years are the first time since the civil war that any given member of the elite has been targeted for destruction due to insufficient piety, and we’ll see how this plays out.


    Grotesque Body Reply:

    We still have coups and revolutions, but they happen on the campus as opposed to the field.


    Posted on October 16th, 2015 at 2:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    his ideas based on – ” Basic coup theory says that coups have been completed successfully when a majority of people believe the coup will succeed and begin to defer to the new rulers. ” Caphedral never had before such control over people’s minds. In modern world people belives does no matter. If elites want people die, they start “Be A Hero” self inceneration program and I have little doubts people will go and burn themselves in large number, just because it right thing to do.


    Posted on October 17th, 2015 at 11:44 am Reply | Quote
  • Lightning Round – 2015/10/21 | Free Northerner Says:

    […] Why a coup is impossible. […]

    Posted on October 21st, 2015 at 5:01 am Reply | Quote

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