Disillusionment Is Required

Voting in a democracy is a sham because its purpose is not to choose the “best” candidate, or even the most popular candidate. Its purpose is to engage those citizens who are most interested in the outcome, so that they have an emotional investment in the system itself; and to keep politicians babbling about imaginary “mandates” and “public opinion” so that their minds will be constructively focused on the common good, rather than on nepotism and corruption.

In other words, it is a useful lie that pacifies the self-righteous upper-middle-class voter and the underemployed, envious lower-middle-class voter, while also agitating the paranoia of professional civil servants. To the extent it accomplishes those objectives, I think it is a good thing, and it really doesn’t matter how many “undesirables”, theocrats, wingnuts, socialists, clinical morons, or masochists are allowed to vote. By their acceptance that voting = power and arguing = politics, the typically destructive and ill-considered impulses of those least qualified to govern are dissipated as votes and pointless arguments, rather than insurrection and anarchy.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter how venal and cynical a politician is if their primary motivation is to please the greatest number of people in their public actions. Even if “rights” are guaranteed by law, politicians will find a way to scapegoat and oppress people that they are not afraid of. So, fake democracy is effective as long as the politicians are stupid enough to believe that they cannot afford to offend any significant minority group. Of course order can be maintained without broad-based suffrage, but it relies entirely on the virtue of the ruling class, rather than the more reliable motivation of visceral fear.

The problem is not the system–the problem is belief in the system, a belief that the system is intrinsically good and omniscient, rather than merely instrumental and contingent. So, it is not necessary to change the system; it is only necessary to acknowledge the fallible and provisional nature of the system, rather than idolizing it and pretending that it somehow manifests truth and virtue.

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