On Sunday 13th May, I will be speaking about my book “Save Democracy – Abolish Voting” at Conway Hall in central London. This is part of the “Thinking on Sunday” series of talks.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of “anti-imperialism” to the modern post-Leninist left. Their highest priority is to spread the word, and all kinds of moral gymnastics can be forgiven if they help to open public eyes to this not-so-obvious cause of all of the world’s problems.
It’s a touchstone. The most important argument to win. Their problem is that it’s also a tough argument to get across. For this reason, Israel is a godsend. It provides a useful, simple, parable that helps make the case for something that is a foundational belief to a political sect.
Please tell me which of these arguments do you disagree with?
1) Democracy is where the best-achievable consensus among the populace get the governance that they actually want to have over a period of time.
2) Electoral politics (with a few caveats in a good representative democracy) is where we all get the government that that the voters (often a minority) *say* they want on one particular day. It’s not exactly the same thing as “democracy”.
I’m on @RemainiacsCast here with @rosamundmtaylor @IanDunt @Dorianlynskey (just after @Andrew_Adonis) arguing that remainers need to be clear on what *they* understand democracy to be and their obligation to give people the governance that they want. https://t.co/Cdmgb5YwPx
— Paul Evans (@Paul0Evans1) January 12, 2018
My latest, in The Independent today.
1) leaving the EU could work
2) deciding to do so with a referendum guarantees it won’t & will also be damaging
3) using a 2nd referendum to exit #Brexit would make a v bad situation even worse
4) Exit-Brexit is a job for parliament alonehttps://t.co/c4mgZacdsf
— Paul Evans (@Paul0Evans1) December 18, 2017
This has just been published:
“A brilliant new book by Paul Evans, ‘Save Democracy – Abolish Voting’…says
“If we wanted to design a system in a way that helps wealthy and charismatic people con everyone easily, we could barely design anything better than electoral politics.”
Although this is a slim volume, it poses some deep questions which deserve far more attention than they’re getting.
…even if you think Paul has the wrong solution, he is at least asking the right question. And given that so few are doing even this, he’s done a massive public service.
— Chris Dillow (@CJFDillow) December 8, 2017
You can feel belief in democracy draining away – me in the Spectator https://t.co/cMEr5JKOXd
— Nick Cohen (@NickCohen4) November 28, 2017
“Paul Evans’s important pamphlet Save Democracy – Abolish Voting is disturbing, and therefore worth reading, because he shows the supposed enemies of corporate power are no less elitist.
…… Drawing on the work of Mancur Olson, Evans says that the inchoate mass of people with poorly expressed concerns have little and, on most occasions, no lobbying power to match them. Laws and regulations are changed by active minorities, who either have money (lobbyists) or the time (activists) to take up politics as a hobby, whether as the highly unrepresentative groups of party members who select candidates and elect party leaders, propagandists for causes on social media, or the supporters of single-issue campaigns.
… What make Evans’s pamphlet compelling is that traditional remedies fail to answer the problems he highlights.
… Evans’s modest proposal, presented with a touch of Swiftian irony, is that rather than give every citizen the vote, the state should give each citizen an equal sum of money to spend on politics. They could then form consortiums of like-minded people to sponsor not just politicians but everyone involved in the political process – civil servants, journalists, lobbyists and so on. Only ‘players’ who secured broad support would then be able to play the game.
….Descriptions of the failures of democracy feel alive and true in the present age. Evans’s polemic is no exception. Proposals for reform, by contrast, seem a waste of breath”
A ballot paper is supposed to send a message to the government, telling it how it should behave. There are plenty of signalling mechanisms that would do the job a lot better, and it’s a mystery why the vote has been allowed to be fetishised as it has.
There are so many different ways of making decisions. Academics decide what they know using the peer review system, or by conducting clinical trials. Judges use a jury to decide what happened so that the law can be applied. Market mechanisms are used to make decisions about production and prices.
Bookmakers, actuaries and stock markets help to decide whether something is likely to happen, so everyone can allocate their risk accordingly. Artificial intelligence makes decisions that affect everyone, and it is beginning to transform the way that professions work, and to influence the decisions that are made.
This is an extract from my forthcoming book “Save Democracy?—?Abolish Voting”. It is taken from the Introduction to the book.
The bug in democracy’s code
The variety of liberal democracy used in Europe and North America has created untold growth, prosperity and inter-democracy peace. It has been a fantastically successful experiment and no generation of humanity is as lucky as ours.
Its continuing positive development is not assured, however. One of its fatal flaws is that politicians are stuck in something that looks a lot like the prisoner’s dilemma where, in a climate of distrust, their default setting is to accuse each other, however opaquely, of being liars and thieves. Because of this, politicians fail to defend the idea of democratic governance itself.